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When a text translation turns into a glossary...
Thread poster: Fabio Descalzi

Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 23:55
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 28, 2007

Maybe this has been asked already - but nevertheless I wanna post it on purpose. Some would say that I am asking "How much do you charge for a glossary". But that is not the case.

Let's take a mock example.
Suppose I am given a text to translate, which goes like this:
Das Fürstentum Liechtenstein ist ein Staatsverband von zwei Landschaften mit elf Gemeinden. Das Fürstentum Liechtenstein soll den innerhalb seiner Grenzen lebenden Menschen dazu dienen, in Freiheit und Frieden miteinander leben zu können. Die Landschaft Vaduz (Oberland) besteht aus den Gemeinden Vaduz, Balzers, Planken, Schaan, Triesen und Triesenberg, die Landschaft Schellenberg (Unterland) aus den Gemeinden Eschen, Gamprin, Mauren, Ruggell und Schellenberg.
Vaduz ist der Hauptort und der Sitz des Landtages und der Regierung.
Das Fürstentum ist eine konstitutionelle Erbmonarchie auf demokratischer und parlamentarischer Grundlage (Art. 79 und 80); die Staatsgewalt ist im Fürsten und im Volke verankert und wird von beiden nach Massgabe der Bestimmungen dieser Verfassung ausgeübt.
Die im Fürstenhause Liechtenstein erbliche Thronfolge, die Volljährigkeit des Landesfürsten und des Erbprinzen sowie vorkommendenfalls die Vormundschaft werden durch das Fürstenhaus in der Form eines Hausgesetzes geordnet.

The text is very long and I have no time to do it, so I say "no thank you".
Some hours after that, I am asked once again by the same client "please translate me 500 words". Here a sample of the words to translate, according to the same example:
Fürstentum
Staatsverband
Landschaft
Gemeinde
Thronfolge
Volljährigkeit
Landesfürst
Erbprinz
Vormundschaft
Fürstenhaus
Hausgesetz...

You see: they got someone else to do the job, but maybe not a very good one, so they are asking me to do "the hard part of it". And let's speak clearly: I am supposed to be good at this sort of text, so the work shouldn't really be "a hard task". But nevertheless, you know: to translate the "hardcore" contents demands more work than translating a text full of prepositions, repeated words, etc.

So, the question in short goes like this:
if I charge, say, EUR 0.09 per word for the "normal" translation, how much should I charge for the word list? Any experience of what "a fair deal" would be?

[Edited at 2007-11-28 21:53]


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Riens Middelhof  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:55
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
I don´t think there's a fair deal here... Nov 28, 2007

Landschaft is "paisaje". But in this case it would be "Landschäfter (distritos)", something that you know because you saw the complete text.

Still, even if you are able to translate everything according to the use in the forementioned text, somebody with not too advanced courses in Spanish will be able to cook a mayor mess out of it. Something for which the client might think you are ultimately responsible, because you didn´t help them in the first place and after all, you did "the important part", right?

With this story behind it, not even a double rate would do...

[Editado a las 2007-11-28 22:25]


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 23:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Paraphrasing ... Nov 28, 2007

Fabio Descalzi Sgarbi wrote:
The text is very long and I have no time to do it, so I say "no thank you".


-->

The list is quite short but even if I have time to do it, I still say "no thank you".

MediaMatrix


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 23:55
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanx Mediamatrix Nov 29, 2007

Your contribution sounds like a well-intentioned piece of advice. Thanks for it.

But let's further suppose two different kinds of client:
1) An "agency" with no particular connection with me whatsoever (that is the case more or less portrayed on the example) - then, OK, Mediamatrix, I would accept your suggestion.
2) A person I know well - and a well-intentioned one. And that person knows I am "one of the right ones for that job". But I already have too much ado. But that person needs my help all the same, feels ready to do the grammar part of the translation but needs to properly know the terminology. So... OK, I'd accept the 500-word list. In which case, I'd rather ask Riens. He says "not even a double rate would do". Sure, not even twice as much...?


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:55
Dutch to English
+ ...
Anything from 7 to 10 times your normal rate Nov 29, 2007

I have translated glossary entries in the past and I usually ask 10 times my normal rate. Last week a very good customer asked me to do one (1200 words) for my normal rate and I turned it down.

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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:55
English to Dutch
+ ...
Hourly Nov 29, 2007

The few times that I've done wordlists, I've always been paid my hourly rate.
But I don't like wordlists - the lack of context makes it real hard to do a proper job. I wonder why agencies/clients work like this. In many cases, it's a recipe for disaster...


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:55
English to Dutch
+ ...
Another option Nov 29, 2007

Hi Fabio,

Am I right in understanding that your client may try and work out his own translation with your glossary?

As for your list of words, I don't really speak Spanish, but a good dictionary (even on-line) should go a long way here. I've managed to find quite a few of your words in Spanish through dictionaries on the Internet.
So, if the purpose of this glossary is to help another translator, I'd say this translator isn't really a good one.

Do you not want to do this text or is it that you cannot meet the deadline? Because it seems to me, your client would be much better off if they had the job done by you. Even if that means waiting.

Personally, if I had to do this glossary, I think I'd give all the possible meanings of these words, since you don't have any context, do you? Which may take as much time as simply translating the text, and still leaves the hard choices to the poor translator.... Charge by the hour, I'd say.

Best,
Margreet


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LoyalTrans
Local time: 10:55
English to Chinese
+ ...
Try automatic translation? Nov 29, 2007

Maybe it makes sense to use some automatic translation tool here?

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Daniel García
English to Spanish
+ ...
Terminology / glossary work is charged differently Nov 29, 2007

I have seen this kind of terminology work (translation of a list of terms) paid either by the hour or at fixed price per term of 1 euro.

I would not go for anything less of that.

Daniel


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 23:55
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not a question of "good translator" but of "very specific speciality" Nov 29, 2007

Margreet Logmans wrote:
Hi Fabio,
Am I right in understanding that your client may try and work out his own translation with your glossary?
As for your list of words, I don't really speak Spanish, but a good dictionary (even on-line) should go a long way here. I've managed to find quite a few of your words in Spanish through dictionaries on the Internet.
So, if the purpose of this glossary is to help another translator, I'd say this translator isn't really a good one.

Hi Margreet
Thank you for your kind help.

The first line is right: the client-translator tries to make the translation with my glossary.

Regarding the second paragraph: I deliberately put a mock example in German, of the Constitution of Liechtenstein (which I have never been offered to translate). And I can assure you, no easy thing to find those words in a common online dictionary.

The third point, which is the important one: suppose my client-translator is a lawyer who has already translated constitutional documents... from Latin America (you'll never see a king in Latin American constitutions). But has not the least idea about constitutional monarchies. And I happen to be an expert on that, I like the specific field, and I do know all the wording he never uses working as a lawyer. That is the point of my question this time.

I might have put another example, a real one, for instance with Architecture (my field). Suppose that a lawyer-translator has a document which is basically a commercial contract, but includes some parts related to the conservation of a building. That lawyer-translator has no idea whatsoever about a "plumber's round iron", a "brandrith" or a "fire bat". Is that translator doing a bad translation? Is he a bad translator? Or is he asking the right advisor for help?

Robert Cai wrote:
Maybe it makes sense to use some automatic translation tool here?

Thanks for your suggestion, Robert... but that is the last thing I would ever do: automatic translation. This is all about "human translation". Software or CAT tools are quite meaningless as concept here.


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Agua  Identity Verified
Spain
English to Spanish
+ ...
Consulting per hour Nov 29, 2007

Hello again,

Seeing the situation, I think the best thing would be to make yourself an "expert consultant" for this particular project, let the person send you the word with the sentence (maybe an Excel table with word, sentence, translation), you give a specific meaning to the word and then charge by time spent on this.

Then, once the work is finished, the best thing would be for you to have the last read of it, just in case.

Best,

Mar


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 23:55
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The habit for teamwork Nov 29, 2007

Agua wrote:
Hello again,
Seeing the situation, I think the best thing would be to make yourself an "expert consultant" for this particular project, let the person send you the word with the sentence (maybe an Excel table with word, sentence, translation), you give a specific meaning to the word and then charge by time spent on this.
Then, once the work is finished, the best thing would be for you to have the last read of it, just in case.

Thanks Mar - you finally got the point! I don't quite use the concept "I am an expert consultant in Architecture, Construction... and Constitutional Monarchies" but OK, that would be the idea. That is what I actually do every day (with Architecture and Construction, of course).

What you put concerning "the last read of it", is part of the logical process in such a team-translated document.

Personally: I have been asked before to translate glossaries, big and small. The more context provided, the more accurate the result.

And in this mock example with the Constitution of Liechtenstein: as I said in my first post "I am given this text to translate". So I absolutely do know the very precise context. Which means: the 500-word list will have a limited scope of use... to this very constitutional text, not necessarily being applicable to more general contexts.

As Riens put it: "Landschaft" means landscape (in everyday German, in 99% of the cases or more). Not in this very context, where it means something like "territory of the Estates".

[Edited at 2007-11-29 10:56]


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Elena Robles Sanjuan  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:55
English to Spanish
It´s a double-edged sword... Nov 29, 2007

Hi Fabio,

I know that the answer you´re after has to do with how much you should charge for a project like this.

I can´t really offer you a good answer to that dilemma, but I´d like to ask you this: If, in your opinion, they came back to you because the quality of the translation was poor, don´t you think you take too big a risk by participating in a clumsy way of fixing the problem?
Yes, you might translate every word perfectly, but they will incorporate your work in a translation that is still wrong.
I don´t think the final client will appreciate the difference between your work and a badly done translation to start with.
These bad solutions backfire, unless you come up with a way of isolating the quality of your work.
Good luck !


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 23:55
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Who is responsible before the final client? Nov 29, 2007

Elena Robles Sanjuan wrote:
I can´t really offer you a good answer to that dilemma, but I´d like to ask you this: If, in your opinion, they came back to you because the quality of the translation was poor, don´t you think you take too big a risk by participating in a clumsy way of fixing the problem?
Yes, you might translate every word perfectly, but they will incorporate your work in a translation that is still wrong.
I don´t think the final client will appreciate the difference between your work and a badly done translation to start with.
These bad solutions backfire, unless you come up with a way of isolating the quality of your work.
Good luck !

Thanks Elena for your kind words. And thanks for caring about this issue.

Let's see in short the "final client" issue in particular.
I don't know that final client. In general: all the times I worked out a big glossary for an agency, it was for "an important client of the agency" - no clue whoever it was. And the agency always turned back to me to ask for more work.
In this other mock case brought forward by me, it is about how to find the precise combination of human forces to achieve a combined result.

This sub-topic is very interesting and important, but I guess we should discuss some of its aspects in a separate thread devoted to ethics of the translator, confidentiality, etc. That is where the real "double-edged sword" is to be found.


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 23:55
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A special disclaimer is a must! Dec 1, 2007

I have just been chatting about this issue with a good friend from far away... who has already faced this situation many times.
He says: he charges 1/3 more on top of the usual rate, and before starting to work he requires the client to sign a disclaimer that "he does not accept any responsibility for errors resulting from translating terms without any context (as in Excel tables)".

Good to know this!


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