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Poll: Do you ever ask your customers for terms support?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 01:46
SITE STAFF
Feb 22, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you ever ask your customers for terms support?".

This poll was originally submitted by McNohara

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Mrudula Tambe  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 14:16
English to Marathi
+ ...
The poll combines two questions Feb 22, 2006

or either the question should be.

I think there should be 2 questions 1) How many times you ask your customer for term support 2) To which kind of customer do you ask for the term support.

Here when I voted I wanted to vote for two answers in the given poll.

Let your question and options be accurate next time.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 04:46
SITE FOUNDER
Blame me... Feb 22, 2006

Mrudula Tambe wrote:

or either the question should be.

I think there should be 2 questions 1) How many times you ask your customer for term support 2) To which kind of customer do you ask for the term support.

Here when I voted I wanted to vote for two answers in the given poll.

Let your question and options be accurate next time.

Blame me for the survey format, not the member - I edited it substantially in this case.

It is not uncommon for two questions to be rolled into one around here, though. Since we have more surveys coming in than we can run, I try to economize (to run two surveys would take two days). I reason that this is ok because the polls are primarily intended to kick off an exchange of views.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:46
English to German
+ ...
I voted No Feb 22, 2006

I guess that's because I got lucky so far. I rather break my back doing research, even doing phone calls to foreign countries at bizarre times.

One thing that I learned while being self-employed, long before I got into translating: "Never let your clients see you sweat."

Besides, the colleagues at proZ are helping a lot..

Thanks!


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 09:46
Dutch to English
+ ...
Point taken but ....... Feb 22, 2006

Nicole Schnell wrote:

One thing that I learned while being self-employed, long before I got into translating: "Never let your clients see you sweat."



There are many instances where it is obvious clients have preferred terminology but due to a lack of communication - often between end-client and agency - one doesn't receive it. In those cases, we would be remiss in our duties as a translator if we didn't enquire.

I don't view that as "sweating". I view it as responsible behaviour.

An obvious example would be a tender: recently I translated an extensive set of tender documents for a bidder and was provided with the relevant State department's preferred terminology. Another colleague received the identical document for translation from another bidder, far later, less organised and with no terminology lists at all.

All the sweat and research in the world would not have helped as they were in-house terms, specifically coined for this tender.

He contacted me and I, knowing there were lists, suggested he enquire. He then received the lists. In his case, he'd just had the initial misfortune of a PM who didn't know enough about the project type to realise there must be lists and an end-client who just wanted the job done, was obviously disorganised and would have complained bitterly afterwards - even though he would have used valid terms, they wouldn't have been "the terms".

Of course, we should only use preferred terminology that is valid. I have no qualms about telling a client why I can't use a particular preferred term (ambiguity in law, grammatical errors, etc) - which I am able to do with confidence as I'm also a lawyer and translate solely in my specialisation areas -and they are then generally happy to adapt them.

Translation is a two-way street. In many cases - and I imagine literary would be another area where author contact would be vital - the only way to produce the best possible translation is to ask for terminology lists, further clarification etc. That shouldn't be followed blindly however. WE are still responsible for the end product.

Debs



[Edited at 2006-02-22 11:02]


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 11:46
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
I voted `Sometimes' Feb 22, 2006

Nicole Schnell wrote:
One thing that I learned while being self-employed, long before I got into translating: "Never let your clients see you sweat."


Instead, I learned that `the result of your work is the most important thing'. If I want to do my best - and I suppose everyone of us shares the goal - I will use anything to make my final translation better. If it implies asking my clients - it's perfectly OK. I do it sometimes when I feel it's necessary, and I've never had any problems with my clients because of it. They want good translation, and so do I - it means we are collaborators, not enemies. And I'm not afraid to show that there are things I don't understand or I don't know yet.

Also, I believe that many of us establish nice, not very official relations with our clients (especially regular clients), and this is great, it's not only `pro-pro', but also `human-human' relationships.


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xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 10:46
French to English
+ ...
As a client, I always say "please ask"..... Feb 22, 2006

I answered this poll but in truth I had to fudge because I never deal with agencies, except when placing work.

When I worked full time as a translator/interpreter, I would always ask if there was any specialised vocabulary. For interpreting I/we would always ask for past documents, in-house literature (this was before the days of websites, not SO long ago!), etc. The clients lapped it up because it showed we were serious and prepared to spend time researching the subject, especially when it was for highly technical congresses.

The same applied/s to translation.

In addition, I have just handed in a huge text together with a list of comments regarding errors I have found in the text. Again, if you handle it tactfully, the customer loves it because it shows you are thinking about what you are doing. For years I have been handling an annual report and the client relies on me to do the final proof-read on the original at the same time as translating. It is a good card and one that can pay dividends.

I say this because, as a client placing work, I far prefer to work with people who do their job intelligently and that means swallowing your pride and asking politely if the end client has any preferences in terms of vocabulary and any material that can help. Asking for a contact to the original author or commenting on things in the text that seem wrong is not offensive (unless you are aggressive). For me, as a client, it is a plus point.

So I would say that, far from making you look unprofessional, asking the RIGHT questions (not asking each and every word, of course) should make you more friends than enemies. And you learn a lot as well.


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 10:46
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Spot on Feb 22, 2006

CMJ_Trans wrote:

So I would say that, far from making you look unprofessional, asking the RIGHT questions (not asking each and every word, of course) should make you more friends than enemies. And you learn a lot as well.


A translation for a customer is not a test - the aim is to produce a product that meets the client's needs. And if you're stumped with a terminology question then the best course of action is to ask - and not to guess. I've often asked questions about terminology - in many cases only to find out that the client has used the wrong word in the original text. And they're (almost) always thankful because they want the text to be right in both languages.

FWIW

Alison


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:46
English to German
+ ...
Thanks, Deborah and Kirill! Feb 22, 2006

I should have mentioned that I am specializing in advertising/copy writing. I am supposed to do freestyle. And localizing. That's what I am being paid for and my clients have full trust in me, which is hard to build up in the first place.

In case I would have problems w/technical terms or similar I would pester my client night and day via all media available.


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Maria Tulbure  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:46
Member (2005)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Definetely YES Feb 22, 2006

I voted 'Yes - regardless of customer type'

I always ask customers for terms support when I am not sure about a certain term. However, I do this only after I have exhausted all the other possibilities: dictionaries, internet, friends ... etc., and only after I have finished the translation and found out that it was impossible at least to guess the meaning from context. I prefer to get in touch with the end-user if possible. I usually try to sort the matter out by e-mail, almost never on phone.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:46
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Occasionally Feb 22, 2006

although I had the same experience as CMJ. However, now that we have more free access to documents, the occasions became less frequent.

Take the case of companies who, you discover, do not use dictionary-standard translations (distributors are "dealers" in an increasingly horizontal structure, contracts fall under specific categories, the terminology of some new EU directive conflicts with their rendering...) THEN I think questions are indispensable, and not exactly to be solved by KudoZ.


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JackieMcC
Local time: 10:46
French to English
customer's in-house terminology Feb 22, 2006

Another aspect not mentioned so far is checking the customer's in-house terminology. I often work for big banks, investment firms or big groups in other sectors. They tend to already have their own way of saying things, so when there are two or more accepted ways of translating a term I often check which they prefer.
Also, it makes sense to ask customers how they translate the names of their internal departments etc. This saves the customer having to go through changing names, and will also improve the customer's general impression of the translation, I believe.
FWIW
Jackie


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Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2002)
Swedish
+ ...
Of course "YES" Feb 22, 2006

Surprisng to see that 43 % percent of all participants voted for "Only in rare cases". As for me, I always contact my client, if end client or agency, if there are any terms I need to get clarified.

Any client who is interested in a high-quality translation should be happy for these term questions, as it's simply an indication that the translator wants to deliver a best possible translation. 99 % of my clients appreciate getting questions.

In some cases there are also technical details which need to be clarified, e.g. size if cables (client's text mentioned a cable of 1,5 square metre, which turned out to be 1,5 square millimeter).

It was obvious client's mistake, but client appreciated us telling them about their mistake.

Erik

**********************************
Erik Hansson ( SFÖ )
Technical translator DE-SV
Hansson Übersetzungen GmbH
Am Birkenwäldchen 38
D-01900 Bretnig-Hauswalde, Germany
Phone +49 - 3 59 52 - 321 07
Fax +49 - 3 59 52 - 322 02
E-Mail info@hansson.de
Internet www.hansson.de
Internet www.technical-translators.net
Internet www.wintitus.de
ProZ profile http://www.proz.com/pro/21654
***********************************


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:46
Member (2004)
English to Italian
agree entirely with Erik... Feb 22, 2006

Erik Hansson wrote:

Surprisng to see that 43 % percent of all participants voted for "Only in rare cases". As for me, I always contact my client, if end client or agency, if there are any terms I need to get clarified.

Any client who is interested in a high-quality translation should be happy for these term questions, as it's simply an indication that the translator wants to deliver a best possible translation. 99 % of my clients appreciate getting questions.

In some cases there are also technical details which need to be clarified, e.g. size if cables (client's text mentioned a cable of 1,5 square metre, which turned out to be 1,5 square millimeter).

It was obvious client's mistake, but client appreciated us telling them about their mistake.

Erik

**********************************
Erik Hansson ( SFÖ )
Technical translator DE-SV
Hansson Übersetzungen GmbH
Am Birkenwäldchen 38
D-01900 Bretnig-Hauswalde, Germany
Phone +49 - 3 59 52 - 321 07
Fax +49 - 3 59 52 - 322 02
E-Mail info@hansson.de
Internet www.hansson.de
Internet www.technical-translators.net
Internet www.wintitus.de
ProZ profile http://www.proz.com/pro/21654
***********************************





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Dusica Cook  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 10:46
English to Bosnian
+ ...
i always ask, but almost never receive Feb 22, 2006

as many words can be translated in two or more ways, i prefer to use the client's preference... that is why i ask, but - unfortunately, not many of my clients have glossaries... well, then i translate and made glossaries as i go, checking with the client when it comes to terminology i am not certain about or if i want to confirm the use...

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