Poll: Do you prefer viewing a document before taking on a job?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 00:06
SITE STAFF
Oct 11, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you prefer viewing a document before taking on a job?".

This poll was originally submitted by Norman Buhagiar

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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jccantrell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:06
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
View the document before the job, if at all possible Oct 11, 2006

I ALWAYS want to look at the job. I do technical translation, but my fields are limited.
The agency will say, "This is technical" but until I look it over, I have no idea if it is electronics, properties of materials or nuclear fusion.
Only then can I accept the job.

There are exceptions. If the agent can read German and says this is about electronics or if it is an agent I have worked with before and whom I trust.

Best tenet: Look it over (or at least some of it) first!


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:06
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
A best practice Oct 11, 2006

I think that looking at any potential job before agreeing to take it on constitutes best practice for both the translator on the one hand and the outsourcer or direct client on the other. Simply knowing the general subject matter of a translation really doesn't tell you very much. A given document could (for example) deal with an aspect of that general area that you have no familiarity with, or be so poorly written that it will end up involving a good deal more effort than you might have anticipated based merely on knowing the word count and subject matter.

There are also good extralinguistic reasons for reviewing potential jobs. To mention a few:

1.) Portions of a document may be illegible.
2.) An outsourcer may expect or require a good deal of time-consuming formatting for which no extra fee is being offered.
3.) It is not always possible to download an e-mail attachment that you are sent.
4.) The initially stated word-count may be inaccurate.
5.) Portions of the document may be written in a language that you don't know.

I encountered this last circumstance with a series of medical documents that I was told were in Spanish. A brief perusal of the file I was sent revealed that about a third of the text was in Catalan. I alterted the agency immediately.

I received no note of thanks for giving the heads-up, the entire job was given to someone else, and I haven't heard from this company since.

Well, honesty is its own reward....

Bob

[Edited at 2006-10-11 23:28]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:06
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The question was phrased as 'Do you prefer viewing... before taking on the job Oct 12, 2006

So I voted always.

In fact with clients I know well I have long-term agreements that probably mean I have taken on whole series of jobs without seeing more than the first few instalments of text.

Even if you do see the text, there isn't time to look carefully through all of it, and what looks fine on page 2 may have some nasty surprises on page 17. (Thank goodness for helpful PMs and KudoZ!)

But there is the chance to say no, sorry, I'm out of my depth here if you've seen the text.

Insist on a realistic deadline too - what looks like a couple of quick, easy pages to your client may not be half as quick for a translator who is not a specialist in precisely their exclusive field, and has to find the terminology in both languages before starting out...

Happy translating!



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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:06
German to English
+ ...
"It's a technical job"... Oct 12, 2006

or maybe: "It's a PPT presentation or - it's business or - it's marketing."

I've even been told "it's in German".

Oh really?

Send me the file please. Every time. Do the client a favour and do yourself a favour.

Chris


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:06
Italian to English
+ ...
I said "depends on subject"... Oct 12, 2006

but I'd always check the contents with a new client before accepting a job.
I didn't click "always" because I do a lot of very similar types of documents for the same client, where I know what's involved just by looking at the document title. In all other cases, I want to see the document before I agree to translate it.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
I always *prefer* it, but it's not usually an option Oct 12, 2006

With direct clients, who already know they want to work with me, I can usually get a copy before accepting the job. But if I'm bidding on an urgent job for an agency, I usually have to assume their general description of the project is accurate.

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:06
English to German
+ ...
It's not technical - no Latin words at all! Oct 12, 2006

Textklick wrote:

"it's in German".



Grin. Then it turns out to be an intricate description of a tiny machine part that only the most minuscule part of the world's population has ever heard of. Insider lingo preferred.


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Pundora  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 12:36
English to Hindi
+ ...
Depends on subject. Oct 12, 2006

With regular local clients who call me, I just ask about the subject and they send me the job when I say ok. If the topic sounds new to me I ask them to read out a few lines and I judge the stuff. Some of their guys who handle the jobs are non-translators and they would say,"It's very easy for you sir. You will do it in 30 minutes." And I know, it may take me that much time to scan the dictionaries alone. So, I ask them to read out or send the file to me first, depending on the matter, and then I decide.
Regards,
Pundora


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You're absolutely right, Robert! Oct 12, 2006

Robert Forstag wrote:

2.) An outsourcer may expect or require a good deal of time-consuming formatting for which no extra fee is being offered.

4.) The initially stated word-count may be inaccurate.

5.) Portions of the document may be written in a language that you don't know.


Well, honesty is its own reward....

Bob

[Edited at 2006-10-11 23:28]



I agree that we definitely must see the document before taking the assignment. Without, how we can be sure we do the job right.
I especially agree wtih your points 2) and 4) for these are my own experiences too.

As for 5) however, I've never come across such, but I would do the same as you did. Indeed honesty is one's own reward, or to put it differently, honesty is another name for professionalism.


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Marius Reika  Identity Verified
Member (2006)
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Do you prefer viewing a document before taking on a job? Oct 12, 2006

Always. No exceptions - whether it is a new client or the old one.
To buy sight unseen is not my business strategy.

Marius


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Sophie Dzhygir  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:06
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
Depends on client Oct 13, 2006

Actually, I'd say Yes, but there are some regular clients (and also some subjects) where you really don't need too see anything because it's just always the same stuff.
Actually, I insist on viewing the job only in case of a new client, or in case I suspect the subject might differ from the usual one for a regular client.

As for Robert's comments, I personnally do not understand their relevance: in the very situation you described, what would it have changed if you had seen the document before accepting? You would anyway have had to reports the problems, they would anyway not have given you the job and you would anyway have just wasted your time. I don't see that viewing the doc in advance would have saved the situation.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:06
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Reply to Sonka Oct 14, 2006

The extralinguistic reasons for checking source documents before agreeing to translate them seemed obvious to me, but here is a brief explanation of their importance:

1.) Portions of a document may be illegible.

This allows you to alert the outsourcer that there may be words that cannot be translated because of illegibility. The outsourcer might then rectify the problem by either securing a more legible copy of the document from the end client or obtaining clarification from them re the illegible terms. Even if none of this is done, you will at least have spared the outsourcer the nasty surprise of receiving a translated document with missing words, and he will know up front that there will be words missing in the translation unless he takes corrective action.


2.) An outsourcer may expect or require a good deal of time-consuming formatting for which no extra fee is being offered.

If such is the case, then knowing so in advance allows you to do one of the following:

a.) Negotiate an additional fee for the additional work.
b.) Negotiate an extended deadline if additional time is needed to handle the required formatting.
c.) Give the outsourcer the option of handling the formatting themselves.
d.) Refuse the job altogether if no agreement can be arrived at.

It is much more professional to clarify all of this up front than it is to raise the issue only *after* you have committed yourself formally to working on a project.

3.) It is not always possible to download an e-mail attachment that you are sent.

You can't work on a document that you can't access. Thus, the importance of identifying any problems in this regard prior to undertaking a commitment to complete a project by a given deadline is self-evident.

4.) The initially stated word-count may be inaccurate.

Significantly inaccurate word counts make a difference in terms of both the final payment due and the time needed to complete the project. Identifying the inaccuracy allows you to determine the payment due and, if necessary, to renegotiate the deadline based on the correct word count *before* you commit to working on a project.

5.) Portions of the document may be written in a language that you don't know.

If you don't know a language, then you can't translate it and you can't verify the quality of a translation done by someone else of said material on your behalf.

I have enountered each of the above circumstances, so this is far from a theoretical discussion. I hope that my explanations have provided the needed clarification as to the extralinguistic reasons for checking source documents before agreeing to translate them.

Bob


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:06
English to German
+ ...
Sometimes simply viewing it is not enough.. Oct 14, 2006

Recently I accepted a 40+ pages job with a very tight deadline. I reviewed the file (pdf) and agreed to the deadline. When I wanted to start translating it turned out that the file was so secured that I couldn't even make a print-out, copy contents into a new (printable) file, nothing. Obtaining a non-secured version took forever due to time zones and time was running...

Well, I learned my lesson.


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