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Poll: How often do you warn clients about grammar / lexical mistakes in the source text?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 21:54
SITE STAFF
Mar 6, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How often do you warn clients about grammar / lexical mistakes in the source text?".

This poll was originally submitted by Gary Smith

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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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:54
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Depends on intended use Mar 6, 2008

It depends on the intended use of the source text. If it is a website or a text for publication, I would definitely point out any errors. If the source is an existing document that has already been used, then it usually makes little sense to point out errors.

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:54
Italian to English
+ ...
Always Mar 6, 2008

If there's something I think is wrong (beyond the odd typo in a scanned document) in the source text, I always tell the client.

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neilmac
Spain
Local time: 06:54
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
At last an interesting poll! Mar 6, 2008

I answered "often" because although I would like to do it ALL THE TIME, there are some clients who
a) don't care/think it's not all that important;
b) are unable to grasp the value of a properly drafted, crafted and revised text, and
c) consider it the translator's duty to correct the text BEFORE/WHILE translating it.
The funny thing is, some are even unable to COPY translated texts correctly (this often happens when documents in Word are transformed into other formats and uploaded onto a website). I have been embarrassed several times when citing web sites translated by me (in Word) which once uploaded are full of typos, to the point of subsequently having to remove the offending websites from my CV.
Maybe it's not all that important to them, but still, to me it's a case of "subtracted value".
I even have one client (I don't nag them too much about it, since they give me lots of work, and I'm used to them now) whose original texts I have to run a spell check on and revise BEFORE starting to translate, otherwise my CAT tools churn out drafts full of their mistakes. This is probably because they're in marketing and do everything on a slapdash, ad hoc, always in a hurry basis, which is known in this part of the woods as "pensat y fet"... (Valencia, Spain).
PS:) I am currently re-reading "Eats, shoots and leaves" by Lynne Truss and as far as use of the apostrophe (in English) by a large percentage of native speakers is concerned, I too despair...


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Iffat Chowdhury  Identity Verified
Bangladesh
Local time: 11:54
Member (2009)
English to Bengali
+ ...
Occasionally Mar 6, 2008

Very occasionally I inform my clients about the grammatical and lexical mistakes in the source text, but I am increasingly getting frustrated on the quality of source text. Sometimes I feel whether the poorly written text really deserves high quality translation with no grammatical, lexical or spelling mistakes.

I do not usually inform my clients about the mistakes in the source text as long as there is no major ambiguity that might distort the meaning in the target text because many people do not appreciate it. Some even think that the translator is not competent enough to understand the 'hard' English/Bengali!

To my misfortune, I am getting more and more 'badly' written texts for translation in recent times. There are grammatical mistakes, spellings mistakes (mostly in case of Bengali), poor expressions and what not. Sometimes I feel like asking the client to assign me to rewrite the text and then translate it. But I do not do so quite often because the client then may assume that I am trying to make some extra bucks by my offer for rewriting.

Finally, I feel pity for the (direct) clients who insist on 'super' quality translation of their substandard writing. I wonder whether this text deserves a quality translation!

Kind regards
Iffat


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DDraganova  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 07:54
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
I absolutely agree with a) and b)! Mar 6, 2008

neilmac wrote:

I answered "often" because although I would like to do it ALL THE TIME, there are some clients who
a) don't care/think it's not all that important;
b) are unable to grasp the value of a properly drafted, crafted and revised text, and
c) consider it the translator's duty to correct the text BEFORE/WHILE translating it.
The funny thing is, some are even unable to COPY translated texts correctly (this often happens when documents in Word are transformed into other formats and uploaded onto a website). I have been embarrassed several times when citing web sites translated by me (in Word) which once uploaded are full of typos, to the point of subsequently having to remove the offending websites from my CV.
Maybe it's not all that important to them, but still, to me it's a case of "subtracted value".
I even have one client (I don't nag them too much about it, since they give me lots of work, and I'm used to them now) whose original texts I have to run a spell check on and revise BEFORE starting to translate, otherwise my CAT tools churn out drafts full of their mistakes. This is probably because they're in marketing and do everything on a slapdash, ad hoc, always in a hurry basis, which is known in this part of the woods as "pensat y fet"... (Valencia, Spain).
PS:) I am currently re-reading "Eats, shoots and leaves" by Lynne Truss and as far as use of the apostrophe (in English) by a large percentage of native speakers is concerned, I too despair...


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 06:54
English to Norwegian
+ ...
occasionally Mar 6, 2008

I usually translate technical/medical texts.
Sometimes the source files are very clumsy or ambiguous. That can make the translator's job very difficult.
Sometimes the source file is a poor translation of a source file in another - completely different - language.
If there is something I abosolutely do not understand, or am in doubt about, I ask questions.
If I think the source file is absolutely horribly bad - I say so.
Correcting spelling mistakes or obvious typos in the source file is not my job and certainly not worth the effort.

[Edited at 2008-03-07 02:41]


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Laureana Pavon  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 02:54
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...

MODERATOR
I never warn/tell my clients about linguistic problems in their source texts... Mar 6, 2008

.. because there would be no point in doing so.
I only translate technical documents, and these are always final and absolutely full of all kinds of mistakes, not only grammatical/lexical but also technical which is even scarier (tender specifications prepared by government organizations, anyone?).

Anyway, I always try to do my best with what I'm given and the only mistakes I've ever pointed out to a customer are technical.

By the way:

neilmac wrote:
I am currently re-reading "Eats, shoots and leaves" by Lynne Truss and as far as use of the apostrophe (in English) by a large percentage of native speakers is concerned, I too despair...


That's one of my favorite books! Sometimes I feel exactly like Lynne.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sometimes Mar 6, 2008

Those "sometimes" are when the client has generated the material, then I point out the problems so they can correct them. When that is not the case, apparent inconsistencies or mistakes are shown by (sic) and a note.

Poor writing is a common problem, but I deal with that merely by producing a translation that is better written.


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Never - I don't go looking for problems Mar 6, 2008

It is probably because I almost always work for agencies but the texts I receive are always well written, I've really never meet the problem of a poorly written source text. But I think my approach would be the same regardless. If there are "siglas" that I haven't been able to attribute a meaning to them then I point that out, but this has only happened on a very few occassions, and not recently. I like a quiet life, I don't raise queries. I simply take a really close look at the text, in conjuction with research and experience and I can usually work it out. Otherwise I would ask for help on proz.

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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 01:54
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Always--but that's because of the clientele I have. Mar 6, 2008

I get poorly-written texts too, no doubt about it. But because of my particular clientele, most of the documents are going to be used again (or go into permanent record, or be published in a second edition, etc.). I always accompany my translation with a "translator's note" in which I diplomatically point out the errors in the original, "just in case." Not all clients have thanked me for it, but not a one has complained. Most are very grateful, and some have even told me that they requested my services again precisely because of the great care I took with fact-checking and correcting the original.

I just sent off a medium-sized translation this morning, charging them my highest rate, and they're falling all over themselves in gratitude for the two extra documents I sent (one with notes relevant just to the English translation, one with corrections to the original).

I think I'm very lucky.


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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:54
Russian to English
+ ...
Sometimes Mar 6, 2008

I mainly translate technical material that is in final form. Then, too, most of the material I've translated has been fairly free of errors. Pointing out minor typos usually would be a waste of time for me and my clients. I do make exceptions when a mistake prevents me from producing a translation that accurately conveys the intended meaning.

As another exception, I take great pains to point out errors when doing a back translation. My concern there is that by conveying the intended meaning in my translation, I may conceal problems in my source document.


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Wouter van Kampen
Thailand
Local time: 12:54
Danish to Dutch
+ ...
only semantics Mar 7, 2008

Since I translate technical documents, I only and always notify my customers of semantic mistakes. I think it's rather pointless to point out grammar and lexical mistakes in these kinds of texts as there are usually many and they don't influence my capability to render a translation that reads better than the original. If however a grammar mistake makes a passage ambiguous or incomprehensible and I start to have doubts about the intended meaning, I do of course inform my customer.

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Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 23:54
German to English
Ahh, but...is producing a better text really "equivalence of effect"? ;-P Mar 7, 2008

Henry Hinds wrote:
Poor writing is a common problem, but I deal with that merely by producing a translation that is better written.


Surely, Henry, your duty as a translator is to produce a translation in the same style and register as the original, warts and all?))


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Gary Smith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:54
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
always Mar 7, 2008

I nearly always point out mistakes, more for ethical reasons than anything else, though I can understand a translator not bothering with a text completely riddled with faults. Once or twice I have had clients who seem to think they know English better than me (and I wonder why they bothered hiring a translator) who insist on using incorrect vocabulary, but then the customer is always right...I don't agree that we should produce texts that are badly written simply because the source text is too, except for literary or journalistic texts that must maintain the same style. The customers are usually grateful to have their mistakes pointed out. Except when it may mean more work for them, as with civil servants...

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