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End-client "improvement" of your translation
Thread poster: Gisela Greenlee

Gisela Greenlee  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:41
German to English
+ ...
Jun 13, 2008

I guess it happens to all of us sooner or later - the end-client "improves" your translation! I was advised that the client liked my translation overall, but made a correction and changed the term "medical product" to "medical device". Problem is, the item in question is not a "medical device" and I provided the definition of "medical device" by the FDA, so the client can see that their choice of terminology does not fit, but apparently they are sticking to their choice. The product in question is a type of OTC weight-loss product.
To make matters worse, this is not just going to be for in-house use, but was intended as a press release! Yikes - I don't want anyone thinking that the poor translator (me)was responsible for this, but aside from letting the agency know that this is incorrect, it seems there is little else that I can do. It appears that they have used "medical device" in previous versions and are convinced that this is the correct term!

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-06-13 15:02]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:41
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Very simply: Who's responsible Jun 13, 2008

Translation is a service. If you paint a client's office or home walls - which is also a service - and then they decide to graffitti all over them, it's their problem!

A different case is a sworn translation. Of course, this varies a lot from country to country, but in Brazil it could be considered a product. It is always delivered in hardcopy, the certified translator is responsible for its accuracy, and any change thereto would be forgery.

If the FDA has any rule on whatever you did, it's your client's problem. The FDA won't chase who translated it, but who published it. Had it been your fault, your client could then come after you, but it's not the case, as you did your job properly.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:41
English to Spanish
+ ...
Right Jun 13, 2008

José Henrique is right, I could not have said it better myself.

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Gisela Greenlee  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:41
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Their problem Jun 13, 2008

You are right in that it's the client's problem, but if a painter paints a client's house and the client then "improves" it with graffity and invites the public to view the rooms, the obvious assumption will be that the painter created the rooms and that's why they look this way. I am also concerned that when or if down the road, someone else points out the incorrectness of this term, they may no longer remember that they were responsible for the change and simply blame
"the translator".


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:41
Member (2008)
French to English
they may have chosen device on purpose Jun 13, 2008

In some countries, "treatments" cannot be patented but "devices" can be. I just read about something else that was referred to as a device that you would really call a "product" in everyday English, but the inventors were able to get it classified as a device and this was to their advantage. Don't know if this applies in your case, but you shouldn't sweat it anyway, you did your part.

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Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:41
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
That's what I hate about translation ;) Jun 13, 2008

- the lack of control. The client can do anything he wants with your translation. At the moment, I don't want to show anyone any of my translations that are available online, because that have been altereed by the end client - or worse, the "proofreader" at the agency!

I really try to make myself NOT check the final product if it is online, but I find it imposible to resist...


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:41
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Don't lose any sleep Jun 13, 2008

Hello there

You have done everything you possibly could; don't worry about it any more.

If you are worried in the future, just keep a copy of your email correspondence and have it all in black and white, so you show you are not to blame!

But, sleep soundly tonight

Liz Askew


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xxxPeter Manda
Local time: 20:41
German to English
+ ...
agree with JH and related question Jun 13, 2008

I agree with Jose Henrique. It's not a matter of translation substance, but a matter of advertising substance. The strange thing is that they are pointing it out to you - It's like the owner calling the painter up after the job and saying "Hey, I put graffiti all over your wall!"

Someone asked me recently about liability insurance - whether I have professional liability insurance for translation. I think something like that would be needed maybe for certified translations; but do I really need something like that for regular translations too?

thanks.


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ditto Jun 13, 2008

liz askew wrote:

Hello there

You have done everything you possibly could; don't worry about it any more.

If you are worried in the future, just keep a copy of your email correspondence and have it all in black and white, so you show you are not to blame!

But, sleep soundly tonight

Liz Askew


I agree with Liz. I've been through your situation more times than I care to think about. The only thing I would add is that, however difficult it is to let go, final translations are not our property and even though we've put our heart into translating them, we lose control once they're sent off to the client.

I know that doesn't soothe that frustrating feeling one can get after doing the best job possible and seeing it altered by someone who thinks they know more than we do, but believe me, it happens all the time.

Enjoy your weekend!


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Gisela Greenlee  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:41
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
"Verbesserung" Jun 13, 2008

What is even more puzzling to me is the fact that the German source document used the word "Produkt". And since the translation was into English, I doubt that it's for any market were you could just arbitrarily name something a device to get approval, without having to fit into a definition of sorts.
The reason I was advised of the change was "to make a note for future reference", which seems to indicate that they want to use me for future translations, so it may not be as easy as it seems to just forget about it, because this may crop up again in future assignments.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:41
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Now figure this out Jun 13, 2008

Ivana Friis Wilson wrote:
At the moment, I don't want to show anyone any of my translations that are available online, because that have been altereed by the end client - or worse, the "proofreader" at the agency!


You are talking about written material. I also translate video for dubbing. There are some 500 traning videos out there that I translated.

I know that my translations will most likely be dubbed by top-notch voice artists, directed by highly skilled pros in this trade. This stems from me being considered "expensive" by the commercial film & TV industry, due to my specialty. So my clients are not cutting on quality to save a few bucks.

However in 99% of the cases I don't know who will direct the dubbing, nor who will dub each voice. It's simply not my business. Furthermore, I've personally met only about two dozen dubbers and half a dozen dubbing directors. So it's absolutely normal for them to change a few things on-the-fly, whenever they feel it's gonna 'sync' better. There are spots here and there when the outcome is not exactly how I'd like it to be. I think to myself: If I knew s/he would do that, I'd have translated it like this.

But they are all great artists, and as a whole I'm proud that my work makes it possible for them to do such a superb job rather effortlessly. I've sat in enough dubbing sessions to have seen what happens when the translation (fortunately, not mine!) drives the dubbing to a screeching halt until someone fixes the script.

So I know that a few things inevitably will be changed in the process, and got used to live with that. I translate for dubbing in an attempt to make most changes unnecessary, but they'll always happen. The fewer, the better.


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Gisela Greenlee  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:41
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Potential repercussions Jun 13, 2008

I understand that anything I translate is ultimately not "mine" to keep and may be changed, but there is a difference in changing something in a movie or in other text that is ultimately not of any great consequence in the scheme of things. However, this is a product that the company may or may not potentially try to gain regulatory approval for in other countries, and if they submit it as a "medical device" especially in the US, it will be denied at least in the initial attempt, if they submit it as a device.
That will result in a delay, which results in a potential loss of
revenue and potential embarassment. Of course I can always provide evidence that I used the proper term and tried to convince them that their term is incorrect for their product, but who's to say that the part of the company that submits the product for approval is the same department that farmed out the translation, and in the end, will the person or persons responsible for the change even speak up and admit that they made the change, or are they just going to point the finger in my direction. I may well never be contacted about this in the end, but may still end up with a big hickey on my good reputation.


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:41
Member (2008)
French to English
It is odd Jun 13, 2008

giselrike wrote:

What is even more puzzling to me is the fact that the German source document used the word "Produkt". And since the translation was into English, I doubt that it's for any market were you could just arbitrarily name something a device to get approval, without having to fit into a definition of sorts.
The reason I was advised of the change was "to make a note for future reference", which seems to indicate that they want to use me for future translations, so it may not be as easy as it seems to just forget about it, because this may crop up again in future assignments.


However, even though this marketing document is for the US, it can still be submitted by the opposition if they get into a patent dispute in another country. This happened to one of my clients who had posted something on their marketing website that belied one of their arguments in a long-standing dispute. Oopsie! Part of this dispute did hinge on whether the thingy was a method or a device. But I have not idea if that is what's going on, it was just a wild guess on my part. I really don't know why they are being so stubborn on the point, just document everything you told them/they told you in case there ever is a problem. As for future occasions, I can see why you are uncomfortable. Maybe you'll be too busy when the next job comes up.


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ragnare  Identity Verified
Iceland
Local time: 00:41
English to Icelandic
+ ...
I agree Jun 14, 2008

John Cutler wrote:


I agree with Liz. I've been through your situation more times than I care to think about. The only thing I would add is that, however difficult it is to let go, final translations are not our property and even though we've put our heart into translating them, we lose control once they're sent off to the client.

I know that doesn't soothe that frustrating feeling one can get after doing the best job possible and seeing it altered by someone who thinks they know more than we do, but believe me, it happens all the time.

Enjoy your weekend!



I wholeheartedly agree. You have to become Zen about these things. Just do a good job so that, as long as you are happy with it, once you press "send" it will be erased from your mind completely.

However, I am interested to know if anyone has ever had their translation used for "nefarious" purposes or translated a text they had an ethical problem with, e.g. something you knew to be part of a scam, a faulty device being passed off as functional, questionable weapon manuals, anything like that?


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NR_Stedman  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:41
French to English
Disagree with most answers to this post! Jun 14, 2008

In my opinion the client is nearly always right and translators should beware of being big-headed or oversensitive. Also when a client changes a document he does not always do this because he thinks the translator has made a mistake. The client is often completely immersed in documents extremely similar to the ones we are translating in all languages and may often know better than a translator who skips from one field to another 5 times a day. The particular decision about what is a medical product and what is a device is a legal issue up to the client
The day a translation leaves your office, forget about it unless you get an official letter or call saying you have made a mistake.


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