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URGENT! Advice about a problem with an agency
Thread poster: Huw Watkins

Huw Watkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:56
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Jan 24, 2006

Hi all,

I have recently been sent a legal translation by an agency consisting of three scanned PDF documents. The first two where fine and I translated them within the deadline agreed. However the third document (1 page) was not scanned properly (IE it must have been fed into the scanner off centre) and the vast majority of the sentences are cut off in the middle. Nothwisthstanding the fact that it is already a very difficult text, I simply canot get the meaning of the sentences when I have to guess the second half. On receipt of the project and before agreeing to its translation, I stated that I would need the document to be re-scanned before translating it. This was initially agreed to by the agency, but a day later (when I was already half way through the translation of the other two documents) they came back to me stating that the client was unable to provide another scan of the document. I was instructed to 'translate what I can and leave the second half of the sentences with ...'. I did not agree to this in writing, but tried it anyway, without success (I simply couldn't get the meaning of the sentences). I have now delivered the first two documents and the agency are pressuring me for the third one (as we speak). I have repeatedly told them that the translation is impossible under these circumstances, but they keep coming back to me and I am afarid that they will now not pay for the first two documents. What can I do?

kind regards,
Huw


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Alicia Casal  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 22:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
? Jan 24, 2006

When you accepted the translation, did you agree on the third document? I mean, did you accept a P.O. containing the 3rd document?

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Richard Creech  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:56
French to English
+ ...
Hourly Rate Perhaps? Jan 24, 2006

This project seems to have changed from a strict translation to something more akin to deciphering a long-lost language from fragmentary texts. This can, as you are discovering, be extremely difficult to do. It may be possible to discern some (if imperfect) meaning, but I would think the best way to compensate you for this would be on an hourly rate. A reasonable agency and client should be amenable to this idea in light of the circumstances.

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Huw Watkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:56
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Accepting the PO Jan 24, 2006

I did indeed accept the PO, but on the understanding that the agency would ask the client to re-scan the document, which was agreed to by the client - who later changed their tune. I think that I will just try and deliver something. But I am worried about lack of accuracy, maybe I should send a disclaimer with the translation????

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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:56
German to English
+ ...
URGENT! Advice about a problem with an agency Jan 24, 2006

I have repeatedly told them that the translation is impossible under these circumstances, but they keep coming back to me and I am afarid that they will now not pay for the first two documents. What can I do?


Continue to refuse, whatever the consequences. No one can expect you to do the impossible.

Marc


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 04:56
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Send them a machine translation Jan 24, 2006

or something like that and leave it at that.
Hope you get paid!


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Eva Blanar  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 03:56
English to Hungarian
+ ...
I would deliver a bilingual document... Jan 24, 2006

...say, in a table, with the text "as is" in the left column and a "this may mean:" heading in the right one (even in 2 versions, if you feel necessary) - this is additional work, an additional burden for you, but it clearly shows the point. And if the "translation side" turns out to be a complete nonsense, don't worry: you have at least an indication of what you have been working from.
Don't hesitate to use questionmarks for doubtful portions in the source text and ___ for missing words in the translation and you might add a translator's note confirming again that the quality of the source text was unacceptable. If the agency pushes you to do "whatever", they are probably dangerous...


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:56
Dutch to English
+ ...
Impossibility of performance Jan 24, 2006

In law your position is generally covered (from the facts as you describe) by supervening impossibility of performance.

You have the document before you and so can judge whether that is absolute or relative impossibility.

If absolute, tell the agency so. If relative, do what you can with a disclaimer both pertaining to the translation and late delivery (including a copy of the scan you were sent so they can see why).


D.



[Edited at 2006-01-24 15:38]


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Dina Abdo  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 04:56
Member (2005)
Arabic
+ ...
Good Idea! Jan 24, 2006

Eva Blanar wrote:

...say, in a table, with the text "as is" in the left column and a "this may mean:" heading in the right one (even in 2 versions, if you feel necessary) - this is additional work, an additional burden for you, but it clearly shows the point. And if the "translation side" turns out to be a complete nonsense, don't worry: you have at least an indication of what you have been working from.
Don't hesitate to use questionmarks for doubtful portions in the source text and ___ for missing words in the translation and you might add a translator's note confirming again that the quality of the source text was unacceptable. If the agency pushes you to do "whatever", they are probably dangerous...



I totally agree with Eva. Doing that should take some time from you, but it'll save your payment AND your position in this trouble as a professional. If the agency didn't like it, then they can create a new document out of the table you're providing with the target text only. Would be their problem by then .. not yours.

Good luck, and hope you'll get paid


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Huw Watkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:56
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yep that's it Jan 24, 2006

Deborah do Carmo wrote:

In law your position is generally covered (from the facts as you describe) by supervening impossibility of performance.

You have the document before you and so can judge whether that is absolute or relative impossibility.

If absolute, tell the agency so. If relative, do what you can with a disclaimer both pertaining to the translation and late delivery (including a copy of the scan you were sent so they can see why).


D.

Great thanks for the info. The truth is that is relative (three quarters of the sentences are readable and it gets better further down the page). I'll send a disclaimer.



[Edited at 2006-01-24 15:38]


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Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:56
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Don’t send machine translation or guess. Jan 24, 2006

Hi Huw
I’d just translate the sentences you can read and put (illegible) for those you can’t either read or understand because part of the phrase is missing.
Your idea of writing a (short) disclaimer explaining the situation when you deliver the job is a good one.


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Huw Watkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:56
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No I won't guess or machine translate Jan 24, 2006

I hate those machine translations anyway.

Thanks ever so much to all of you - you've set my mind at rest.

Huw


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Egmont
Spain
Local time: 03:56
Afrikaans to Spanish
+ ...
translating is not deciphering anyway... Jan 24, 2006

Huw Watkins wrote:

I hate those machine translations anyway.

Thanks ever so much to all of you - you've set my mind at rest.

Huw
I guess so...


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adv Linguado
Local time: 03:56
Portuguese to Italian
+ ...
May I help you ? Jan 24, 2006

Hi Huw,
I'm an italian lawyer. I think I could try to rebuild the missing parts. Please, contact me through my Proz profile.
Antonio


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