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Poll: Have you ever delivered a translation you knew was not good enough?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 06:14
SITE STAFF
Jul 21, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever delivered a translation you knew was not good enough?".

This poll was originally submitted by Jon O

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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María Eugenia Wachtendorff  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 09:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never! Jul 22, 2007

Should/could/would a professional translator EVER do that?

Our profession is as serious as any other one. Who would take an assignment that is not within their area of expertise and dare deliver a poor or useless version in the target language?

I am sure that, for different reasons, all of us sometimes do accept to explore fields that are new to us. But with so many resources available to us, you've got to be too negligent to get and deliver poor results.

However, I often have to use translation memories provided by clients and I have found such things as "impulsor de tornillo" for screwdriver and "tornillo" for bolt in huge (> US$100,000) projects. NO WONDER THE AGES-OLD "TRADUTTORE TRADITTORE" SAYING CONTINUES TO BE USED AROUND THE WORLD!!

I do hope the result of this poll will reveal just a few cases of colleagues ever having failed to use a dictionary or post a Kudoz question when in doubt

Cheers,
mew

P.S.: I am not saying I have never delivered a translation containing mistakes; everybody gets confused once in a while. But I have and would never knowingly do so


[Edited at 2007-07-22 08:21]


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xxxzsuzsa369
Local time: 14:14
English to Hungarian
+ ...
My translation was as bad as the source text Jul 22, 2007

Once I worked on a document that somebody had previously translated from Dutch into English. I had to translate it into Hungarian, but as my English (secondhand) source text hardly made any sense, I really struggled with it. I told the company about it, but they just told me to do my best. Well, I did the best I could, but I wasn't very happy with the results. Still, my translation wasn't worse than the source text they gave me, so I didn't lose much sleep over it. They paid me and they never complained about it.

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Deschant
Local time: 14:14
Once... Jul 22, 2007

After giving blood, I fainted and took a good time to recover. I would prefer to spend the rest of the day lying in bed, but I had a deadline the morning after and insisted on meeting it. Now I see it was not a wise decision - should have asked for an extension.

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 14:14
Dutch to English
+ ...
Question Jul 22, 2007

Not good enough for use in a professional situation or not good enough according to your own normal standards?

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Evija Rimšāne  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 16:14
Member
English to Latvian
Quite the same Jul 22, 2007

Zsuzsa Karoly-Smith wrote:

Once I worked on a document that somebody had previously translated from Dutch into English. I had to translate it into Hungarian, but as my English (secondhand) source text hardly made any sense, I really struggled with it. I told the company about it, but they just told me to do my best. Well, I did the best I could, but I wasn't very happy with the results. Still, my translation wasn't worse than the source text they gave me, so I didn't lose much sleep over it. They paid me and they never complained about it.


I was in the same situation once. I really did my best, but still, I was not happy with the outcome because I knew that my translation would be much better if I had "normal" source material


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:14
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
A translation that is not good enough has no financial value Jul 22, 2007

I would not expect to be paid for a translation that was not good enough, because, in my opinion, a sub-standard translation is not worth any money at all - regardless of whatever time may have been spent on it. That was also what was impressed upon me as the criterion for whether or not a candidate passes an Institute of Linguists exam. The translation has to be 100% accurate, as well as written in an appropriate style, for a pass.

If I outsource work to someone, and the result is sub-standard, I will be of the opinion that the work is not worth anything and should not be paid for. However, at the moment, if that happens, I do pay for it, and find somebody different the next time, since it saves a lot of hassle all round. In that case, I would, however, obviously not give the translation to the client, but get it done a second time and give the client the new version.

I would not expect anyone in the habit of delivering sub-standard translations to be in business for very long, anyway.

Astrid


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Luciana E. Lovatto  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:14
English to Spanish
It happened to me once! Jul 22, 2007

It happened to me once when I had to deliver a rush project, and I didn’t have the time to even review my translation. It was about 2,000 words to be finished in 5 hours. Of course, I explained that to the client, but he preferred to have the translation in time, rather than a good job.

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Sian Herrera-Delgado
Local time: 14:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
Good answer Lawyer-Linguist! Jul 22, 2007

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

Not good enough for use in a professional situation or not good enough according to your own normal standards?


That is a very good point, I answered that I had, and when I thought about it, I really meant that it was perhaps not up to my usual standard, rather than not good enough for a professional situation.

[Edited at 2007-07-22 19:02]


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 09:14
English to Spanish
Never Jul 22, 2007

By which I mean:

Have I ever delivered a translation that I knew, for certain, that it was not good enough?? Never.

However, I once delivered a translation that I thought might not be as good as it should have, and warned the client. The situation was similar to the one described by Luciana: deadline was too tight for a top-notch work, but they insisted that they preferred to have it by the set date because it was "for internal use only".

[Edited at 2007-07-22 19:53]


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Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 08:14
English to Spanish
What I cannot understand... Jul 22, 2007

...is that a 2.5% answered "Yes, many times"! (¡oo!) I am astonished.

I remember when my little brother was 5 or 6 years old, I told him once: "Sandro, please take a bath. You stink like an old skunk!", and he replied without stopping to play: "Yes, everybody say the same thing".

That's what that 2.5% remind me.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 08:14
English to Russian
+ ...
Pointless question Jul 23, 2007

Everybody is in love with their creation, and each translated text can be re-written and criticized endlessly. Personal standards are not necessarily the beginning and the end. We've seen a few here:-) Yours truly included. As long as everything is correct and that particular client reached the goal, for which he needed a paid translation, the job is done. As outrageous as it sounds, the clients do not need translation, they need information. Nothing more, nothing less. Art and literature excluded.

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Good point, but...... Jul 23, 2007

IreneN wrote:

Everybody is in love with their creation, and each translated text can be re-written and criticized endlessly. -- omission -- As outrageous as it sounds, the clients do not need translation, they need information. Nothing more, nothing less. Art and literature excluded.


A forum I am associated with has posting each week in which they solicit transltion from members for very short, mostly one sentence English. Each week at least 30 people post their answers. The variety of expressions used there are quite astonishing! Knowing that, I have to ask myself "Where the distinction between "good" and "bad" transltion?"
I see bottom line standard for "good" for kind of translations we mostly do in daily basiss is "information" indeed.
Irene, you said it well.
But then, how about stylistic issue? You all, have you ever dissatisfied your clients in this aspect of translation? If you failed to satisfy them, that's "bad" translation. Let's face it, it happens to us every now and then.


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Isabelle Oros  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:14
English to French
+ ...
Who is to blame? Jul 23, 2007

I think that as in any other life situation, it's really a question of “give and take”. The translation world has become one where more is expected for less. So of course, the quality of the deliveries tend to suffer, not always, but sometimes. And who is to blame?
I have very often run into situations where unreasonable expectations were set, especially in terms of volume and time, not even to mention rates. I often turn down those assignments all the while knowing someone else won't, but once in a while it gets difficult to say no, either because I haven't had enough work in a while or because the overall pressure has got too high. In those circumstances I have accepted jobs I should have turned down, thus delivering a "not so good translation".
And I have also seen translations that simply did not sound like the target language they were supposedly in, which I have never done.
So I think it’s important to accept the reality of a changing world. Translators are no longer on a pedestal. We are expected to produce more in less time for less money. It’s part of a changing set of rules we are powerless to reverse. All we can do is adjust, be kind to ourselves in terms of expectations, and remember that to do something we love remains one of those opportunities rarely offered in today’s world and certainly never served on a golden tray.


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Eliza-Anna  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:14
Member (2002)
Danish to English
+ ...
Never Jul 23, 2007

None of us should ever deliver a translation that they know is not up to scratch. If there is an emergency I prefer to ask for an extension, and if that is not possible, ask a colleague to proofread.

I do sympathise with Emoreda. If she had told the client that she was feeling unwell, I feel that her client was being unfair. Of course, she should have asked for an extension, but when people feel below par, they do not think straight and the very act of asking may seem too much, i.e. in the past I have been afraid of the 'over cynical' client assuming that I am not telling the truth.

I think there is a need to discuss strategies we should take when we do not feel well or if other unpleasant events crop up.


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