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Bad reviews and corrections
Thread poster: Umang Dholabhai

Umang Dholabhai  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 02:30
Member
English to Gujarati
+ ...
Mar 24, 2009

Could anyone help me on this?
Recently one of my clients sent me a matter which was reviewed by them. They suggested that I change some spellings and translate a couple of words/phrases in a different manner, which in my opinion could not be done on looking back at the source.

My action : I obliged by accepting some of their suggestions and in most of them provided a link to each of the word in question to prove my point, it may have ruffled a feather or two but I could not bring myself down to 'correcting' a correctly translated document. In some instances I even gave them references to Glossaries which had those words along with the page nos.

Could any one tell me how did I fare on this one? Ideally what should have been done? How appropriate is it to defy the client's reviewer's opinion?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions and advice.

[Edited at 2009-03-24 08:09 GMT]


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Katja Althoff
Germany
Local time: 23:00
English to German
+ ...
Approach to client feedback Mar 24, 2009

Dear Umang,

I also get some feedback from clients on my translation now and then. This is my approach: First of all I check if client comments includes proper mistakes I made. If yes, I correct them all for free and make sure the translation is then without mistakes.

In case clients send me also preferential changes – changes which are not necessary as the translation was correct in the first place – I check them too and provide an explanation why my translation is correct. (Sometimes clients are not so familiar with proofreading and tend to correct everything – even if it’s correct…) However, I implement preferential changes (unless they don’t make sense at all) as well as I understand this as a customer service. But it strongly depends on the number of preferential changes of course! If it’s quite a lot and would take too much time I prove that my translation is fine as it is and suggest to implement the changes for a small fee.

I think you did the right thing to explain why this or that change is not necessary, just to tell them you did not make so many mistakes. Changing your translation for free in all points the clients suggests depends on your client relationship and how time-consuming it is. I don’t think there is a general rule. Sometimes it helps to ask the client beforehand if there will be a round of corrections so you can charge a higher word rate for example.

Best regards,
Katja


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Spencer Allman
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:00
Finnish to English
Hierarchy of expertise Mar 24, 2009

Hi

In the industry there is a tenbdency to assume the revisor is always right. Why is that? They are OFTEN wrong.

spencer


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:00
English to French
+ ...
You are the expert Mar 24, 2009

If they are paying you for the work you do, that means they rely on you because you know better than them - you are the expert and they aren't.

I can understand that some clients have their preferred terms (e.g., client vs. customer), but for anything that goes beyond that, I would do one of two things: either charge extra if they want me to implement unusual wording (after all, I'll be spending time to transform what I first delivered) or refuse to do it altogether and explain why (if I have good reasons, e.g., when I know that the client is wrong because they lack sufficient knowledge).

Would you tell a doctor what caliber of stitches to use? I didn't think so...


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Umang Dholabhai  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 02:30
Member
English to Gujarati
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agencies do understand.. Mar 24, 2009

Katja Lisa Renate Müller wrote:


In case clients send me also preferential changes – changes which are not necessary as the translation was correct in the first place – I check them too and provide an explanation why my translation is correct. (Sometimes clients are not so familiar with proofreading and tend to correct everything – even if it’s correct…)


Thank you Katja, your comments were reassuring.

In the industry there is a tenbdency to assume the revisor is always right. Why is that? They are OFTEN wrong.


Thanks Spencer, I second you. I think the reviewer would feel lost and may even feel certain pangs of guilt if he does'nt get to 'correct' some things in the least.


If they are paying you for the work you do, that means they rely on you because you know better than them - you are the expert and they aren't.


Viktoria you summed it up all in a sentence.

But then most of the times I find the project managers of my agency which retained me in the first place, to be extremely helpless and more importantly always on my side. They do understand and appreciate our expertise. Thus, the reason I did a few syntactic alterations was to save them a little from the glares that they would face from their client.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:00
French to English
On experts and suchlike Mar 24, 2009

ViktoriaG wrote:
If they are paying you for the work you do, that means they rely on you because you know better than them - you are the expert and they aren't.

Often the case, but it would not do to assume it is always so.

Sometimes the client is perfectly able to do the job, but has not got time, or has other, different tasks to perform that cannot be outsourced as easily as the translation.
It can be a mistake to assume that one is always in a position of superior knowledge relative to the client, either linguistically or in other regard.
Just my quite literally humble opinion


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:00
English to French
+ ...
Quite right, but they do hire the translator for a reason Apr 2, 2009

Charlie Bavington wrote:

It can be a mistake to assume that one is always in a position of superior knowledge relative to the client, either linguistically or in other regard.

You are right about that, Charlie. Still, whatever the reason behind the company deciding to hire a translator, it must be a valid one if they are willing to pay for the translation. In that sense, if they do hire a translator (versus someone who 'can English' or just leaving it to the secretary), that does mean they want someone who is knowledgeable.

Let's look at it this way: if I hired a professional gardener, I would be a royal pain in the butt if I kept asking the gardener whether he is sure if that plant needs all that water or if I told him I prefer for that plant to get less water. The gardener would pretty soon ask me if I'd rather do the job myself...


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adedamola
Nigeria
Local time: 22:00
English to Yoruba
+ ...
BE CAREFUL Apr 3, 2009

There are times clients want to twist translated work for a selfish reason and you may be the implement used. not be too lucky if your work will fall into the hand of intelectuals who would take you to be a "language multilator". This can dent ones expertise image. Let your conscience be your judge.

Adedamola


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Umang Dholabhai  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 02:30
Member
English to Gujarati
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Evolution of a mutilated text Apr 3, 2009

The point raised by Adedamola is absolutely valid. Is it not possible that while we are busy discussing the valid corrections, reviewers might attempt to manipulate a translator by challenging and re-challenging his decisions to evolve a text which suits him. I can easily see this happening, especially with legal texts. The million dollar question is who's the ombudsman?

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Correct is correct - Defend it Apr 3, 2009

Umang Dholabhai wrote:
Could any one tell me how did I fare on this one? Ideally what should have been done? How appropriate is it to defy the client's reviewer's opinion?


I hope you have firm spelling rules in your target language. In the case of Spanish, we still have some grey areas in which discussion continues today, and shall continue for ever as ours is a very lively language which is hard to harness down.

In any case, if you have firm proof that you are right and that your translation was correct, stick to it and defend it, thoroughly explaining the reasons as you did. Agencies prefer people who know what they are doing!

(Of course, if something is a matter of opinion, i.e. it could be said in a different way without triggering intense laughter in the audience, it's best to make the change as requested by the agency, as they might know better from information you did not have access to.)


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Deborah Hoffman  Identity Verified

Local time: 17:00
Russian to English
+ ...
Funny I should see this topic today... Apr 6, 2009

I had a review come back and I'm trying to decide how to respond. Most of the changes were synonyms and/or personal preference. There was also the "different varieties of English" factor along with some legitimate errors I made, though nowhere near what the original document looked like when it was returned to me.

I'm trying to figure out how to respond - I don't want to overwhelm the PM with detail, but most of this I feel is unjustified. I do however want to acknowledge the things I did not catch, numbers and so on.

Any advice?


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:00
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
Be honest Apr 7, 2009

Deborah Hoffman wrote:

I had a review come back and I'm trying to decide how to respond. Most of the changes were synonyms and/or personal preference. There was also the "different varieties of English" factor along with some legitimate errors I made, though nowhere near what the original document looked like when it was returned to me.

I'm trying to figure out how to respond - I don't want to overwhelm the PM with detail, but most of this I feel is unjustified. I do however want to acknowledge the things I did not catch, numbers and so on.

Any advice?


IMHO, how much detail you provide will depend on how much (if at all) they want to cut your payment by. Otherwise, I would apologise for the genuine mistakes and list what they were, and then just gloss over the rest as differences in style/opinion/etc.


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Alaa Zeineldine  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 23:00
Member (2002)
English to Arabic
+ ...
I try not to take it personally Apr 7, 2009

That is a hard rule that I try to apply when I get back a reviewed translation.

Consider each change on its merits. If it is a genuine correction, you should accept it. If it is a style change, apply it if improves the text or if it is more in line with the client's instructions/conventions, and decline it if is otherwise inferior or equivalent to your original translation.

Whether or not to explain these decisions to the client depends on the client and the situation. Some clients trust you and the reviewer and just want the work flow phases to go through with the least amount of noise. On the other hand, after reviewing a translation for a long term client, I am sometimes asked about my opinion of the work if it was done by a new translator. So if you are doing a job for a new client, you may want to be a little bit defensive if you suspect unreasonable nit-picking by the reviewer.

In general, returning feedback to the translator is a good practice rather than a bad one. To me, this is better than changing my translation and sending it out without my knowledge. I also do not think that one second run through the translation following review or to check sanity following DTP should be considered as additional work. This should be allowed for as part of the job.

- Alaa

[Edited at 2009-04-07 12:38 GMT]


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Geraldine Oudin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Japanese to French
+ ...
I appreciate Apr 8, 2009

I always appreciate when a client sends me some kind of feedback, because it means they consider translation to be a serious matter.
Most of the times it is just suggestions about preferred terms, and once you explain your choices, the client is satisfied. It doesn't hurt to follow the client's opinion either, when the words have almost equivalent meaning. After all, you work for THEM.

I also regularly get some proofreading jobs sometimes, but I do it more as a favor for a client who gives me a lot of work than for the fun, because believe me it can be a real nightmare.

I heard from several sources that some clients pretend to be unsatisfied about the job and then ask for a discount-or say they won't pay. That has never happened to me, but I wonder what I would do.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:00
English to French
+ ...
Problem with the definition of reviewing/proofreading Apr 8, 2009

Over the course of my career, I have been offered so many reviewing/proofreading jobs that I think I can safely conclude that there is a pattern of people being confused about what reviewing/proofreading means. For one thing, reviewing a translation is not the same as reviewing a monolingual document...

I would say the majority of agencies (the kitchen table variety included) has no clue of what reviewing and proofreading actually consist in. Many of them can't even tell proofreading and reviewing apart - they think the two are exact synonyms of each other. Most of the time, your client sees the reviewer/proofreader simply as the person who ensures that everything is fine. This is too simplistic for a view. Because of this, many agencies blindly trust the reviewer/proofreader, without questioning their judgment, and by default, the one who is blamed if the "corrected" copy is too red is the translator.

I think that the problem is that, since many agencies have an excessively simplistic view of the question, they don't understand it. Hence, they fail to clearly define the reviewer's/proofreader's role and tasks. This means that too many reviewers will correct certain phrases purely based on personal preference, even though the phrase was correct to begin with. So, we often think the reviewer is zealous, but in fact, the reviewer simply doesn't have a clear idea of what they should and should not do, because the client hasn't defined their tasks clearly. This is how many reviewers/proofreaders become royal pains in the butt despite themselves.

One way to work it out is to require that the agency provide both reviewers/proofreaders and translators with a clear definition of the reviewer's/proofreader's job. As a translator, when you get a vague one-sentence definition along the lines of "to ensure that the translated copy is true to the original and it reads as though it was written in the target language", I suggest you steer clear from such jobs. I always do. I refuse to work with people who don't know what they are doing and who can't clearly tell their contractors what is expected of them. That spells trouble.

Don't worry, there are also agencies (and potential direct clients) out there who do take reviewing and proofreading seriously and who make the effort to ensure that everybody knows what is expected of them. Strangely enough, I always find that the colleagues I meet through these clients are as good as it gets, and they are also usually the most pleasant to work with.


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