Mobile menu

Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Ethics, Ethics, Ethics (among translators when proofreading)
Thread poster: Mireille K
Mireille K  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:47
French to English
+ ...
Feb 23, 2007

Hello all,

I did hesitate before I posted this thread, but I had to. For the longest time I have been reading about unethical behavior of agencies and such, but rarely did I see any posts about unethical behavior by translators.
I was asked by a client of mine to take a 150 words translation test and I was told if their client likes it, they will give me the job which consists of several thousands words.
I did the test and I was told that the client was very pleased.
Yesterday I get an e-mail from my client asking me to respond to the corrections and comments of the proofreader.
When I looked at the proofread text, I was in shock, it was unbelievable, (if anyone wants to see it, I would be more than happy to send it to you).
It would never cross my mind to do that to anyone, the 150 words test was full of changes which made me look like a complete amateur.
I showed the translation to a trusted and valued colleague who agreed that it was unethical behavior on the part of the proofreader.
Just one question, how far are some people willing to go to get the job?
Is it worth it to put your reputation on the line?
Any thoughts are more than welcome.
Mireille

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2007-02-23 08:18]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ivana de Sousa Santos  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 05:47
French to Portuguese
+ ...
Some proofreaders have got no ethics at all Feb 23, 2007

I had a recent problem with a proofreader of an agency to which I translate for years and never had a problem.

And she even makes comments in her proofreading such as "Do you think this is a good Portuguese structure?", "Don't you know this or that???", or she just puts the words I mistranslated (and sometimes not, it's her mistake as well) with ???. Other times she writes "xxx??? You should consult dictionary XXX" and others she corrects me somehting which I saw in the very same dictionary she had recommended before and it's not what she corrected.

She also corrects words by words with the same meaning... It's really frustrating!

I complained to the client and the client agreed that she was really rude.

I ended by giving up doing those translations for that client. I had a lot of pleasure doing that and not anymore since that lady started to be the proofreader. I'm always afraid of writing something bad, searching for the great word, ans sometimes I end by doing silly mistakes. It only happens when I think the translation will be corrected by that proofreader in particular...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 23:47
English to Spanish
My two cents... Feb 23, 2007

About two months ago, a proofreader also destroyed my translation by means of changes of style and synonymous.

The client (an agency) sent it to me asking that if "it was fair they paid for this". I was so tired after having finished another work of thousands of words for another client, that I did not want to discuss both the proofreader and the agency stupidities. I sent them all to hell, but I was not paid for my work.

I wish I could know the name of this proofreader!

Perhaps I do not write a good English because it is not my mother tongue; but I am a professional linguist and I know that I write my language perfectly well. My clients' portfolio can testify it.

Hugs,
Tadzio.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:47
English to French
+ ...
I have a client who handles this brilliantly Feb 23, 2007

When I get work from my client, they get everything edited by an editor (proofreader, if you prefer, although there IS a difference). That client wants me to look at the edited version and the comments that were added to it, and then they let me decide whether I accept the changes or not. The last say is mine. They also set things up so there is no competition possible between me and the editor - most of the time, I translate a part of the project, s/he translates the other part, and we edit each other's work. If the whole project goes to one translator, then the editor is always one they have been working with for some time and know they can trust his/her work because they know the person is not overly zealous.

The same client also asks me to comment on the work of persons I worked with for the first time. They probably do this with all their freelancers. Then, they try translator A with editor A, translator B with editor A, translator B with editor B, and so on. They are pretty quick in finding the bad link. This also helps them to see who performs best with whom or who gets along best with whom, and after a while, they get likeminded people to work together, which always turns into jobs that are more enjoyable and of superior quality.

I totally agree with you - some proofreaders/editors can be a pain in the butt when they try to prove they are not being paid for nothing. Sadly, it is a reality we might as well learn to accept. Too many people of completely different backgrounds with completely different motivations are now trying to get their share of the pie on the market. Not many of them are for real, and those who are eventually bump into those who aren't. The only advice I can give you is to stick by your principles and if you feel cheated or that someone is having a power trip with you, let the client know. Don't let such people trample you, and your reputation as you mentioned. Both are precious. The client also needs to know they are working with the wrong person. If that client is worth it, s/he will eventually see that you are only being honest and will appreciate your loyalty.

P.S.: Just wanted to add that it is always best you have the name and e-mail address of the proofreader/editor you are working with. When they know that you know who they are, all of a sudden, they start making more sense. The client I mentioned above mentions names and contact info right from the start, and they encourage communication between freelancers.

[Edited at 2007-02-23 02:23]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Mireille K  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:47
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I do know who the proofreader is Feb 23, 2007

and unfortunately I do know his/her reputation. it might be the world wide web, but it is small enough to get a reputation. Like I said before, I do not get bothered by much, but this thing for some reason is really bothering me, maybe I need a vacation

[Edited at 2007-02-23 02:33]and to Tadzio, if this is really your picture I would be glad to accept your hugs)

[Edited at 2007-02-23 02:35]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 23:47
English to Russian
+ ...
Mireille, lighten up! Feb 23, 2007

Suggest your client to ask h/h grandma to bake an apple pie and give a piece to your grandma for a peer review:-).

Some self-proclaimed "editors" simply can not bear the sight of words written by somebody else, which is a clear indication of not only an utter unprofessionalism but a psychopathic condition called 'pathological egocentricity'. A non-recoverable failure. Can you avoid further "cooperation"? Do just that.

Life is still beautiful:-)
Irene


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Gillian Scheibelein  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:47
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Go on the offensive Feb 23, 2007

Hi Mireille,

as I see it, you have two main options:
1) ignore it (and it will bug you for a good time to come and your reputation with this agency will be damaged)
2) defend your translation - analyse the corrections and split them up into grammar/orthography/terminology and then subdivide into necessary/unnecessary/equal alternatives. You will then have a better idea of how to approach the agency with a reply.

Option 2 means that you will have to spend extra time on the test and thus lose income from another translation, but the upside is your peace of mind, less or no damage to your reputation and a better idea of how your translation techniques may be improved (e.g. from the equal alternatives, rephrasing). You could also request that the proofreader is given your reply and asked to comment on it.

Good luck
Jill


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:47
English to Dutch
+ ...
Damage control Feb 23, 2007

Hi Mireille,

the exact same thing happened to me just this week. The client is still not sure what to do, they call it 'conflicting opinions', but I'm angry. It was the first translaton I did for this agency, and I know it was good.

So, I guess I will not get any more jobs from this particular agency, but I don't understand why anyone would do this at all. Bad thing in my case: it is a translation into Dutch for a company where nobody reads or speaks Dutch, so they cannot really decide for themselves.

Me, I wrote a very general e-mail (it was a 10.000-word job, so I couldn't go through all the details) and pointed out:
a) my experience in the subject matter and
b) that I believe the proofreader was trying to impose personal opinions on my work (with a few examples)

Also, this particular proofreader (I don't know the name or anything else) made comments such as: this translator has never seen a dictionary in her whole life and has never heard of spelling or grammar - that, to me, is just mudslinging. So I tried to be rational and businesslike in my email and hope that will help to control the damage done.

But, as it is, there isn't much we can do about this. I just try to be more civilised when I do proofreadings and treat the translation and the translator with respect. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you....

Best wishes,
Margreet


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Marta Fernandez-Suarez  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:47
English to Spanish
I thought I might defend them for a change... Feb 23, 2007

Hi

Mireille, I am sorry to hear that. It certainly sounds excessive and I hope that is not your only proofreader. I would like to express a different view from some of the answers given before me, in this thread, however.

Some of you are expressing an opinion as if there was a kind of official war between translators and proofreaders, were translators have to be on the defensive.

I think this is more about unprofessional behaviour than about proofreaders in particular.

*********************************

FROM A TRANSLATOR'S POINT OF VIEW (WORKING FOR AN END-CUSTOMER)
As far as I am concerned, I have always been very grateful to get any feed back whatsoever on my translations. When I was working as a full-time in-house translator the proofreaders were also our editors/revisers. It was rare (though it happened) that they overdid it or changed things that were right; I believe that doing it indicates, in any case, a clear lack of experience*. Some people are just too fuzzy (changing a term by a similar and sometimes wrong one, choosing a term for a source word and two different ones in the next translation..), but they are the exception.

You can learn so much from the people who revise your translation, normally because they are far more specialised than you are. Sometimes a translator lacks enough context or reference material, and s/he does not always get an answer to queries; then the reviser comes in and gives you an idea of the sort of style and lexical choices that the customer prefers. As far as linguistic issues are concerned, you might be able to teach the proofreader and the revisers a thing or two, and they are normally grateful for your opinion.

In my case, the revisers were specialist in the products I translated about, without their help (given that I have languages studies and not an engineering degree), I would have been so lost as to which of the the many technical terms to choose from I had to opt for, I would have taken me ages to get were I got.


FROM A NEW PROOFREADER'S POINT OF VIEW (WORKING FOR A TRANSLATING AGENCY)
I do not revise/edit, and I don't think I might do it for the next 10 years at least, maybe after doing a degree in a technical subject... I have though proofread recently some long documents (one was about 35000 words long) and I am seriously thinking whether I should continue doing it.

I had the very clear impression the document had been split and bits sent to different translators. In theory (according to the agency procedures), documents would have been revised by an experienced translator on the subject and I was just to do keep an eye for grammar, consistency, typos, etc. The text was an update in a previous version, but the new translated version was not consistent at all with the terms chosen in the previous version. After three hours getting shocked by what I was seeing and an e-mail to the agency, I was told that the translator was given 7 to translate the updated version... I am sure there were a lot of fuzzies and 100% matches but I do believe you have to read through 100% matches anyway, can you possibly read 35000 words in 7 hours, let alone translate them...?

*************************************

I could not agree more with what Jabberwock said just after me,

The whole discussion proves to me again that there is something utterly wrong with the system.

it is the system that is wrong, but possibly the agencies's tight budget orientated system (as far as I have seen, they are frequently the unethical ones). We can only do our best to change it by being professionals: the translators say "no" to impossible deadlines and conditions, the proofreaders learn to proofread, and so on...

Jabberwock wrote:
As for Mireille's situation, I would ask for another editing/proofreading. I would say that I am willing to pay for that, if the second editor's changes match those of the first one. If the second editing turns out to be good (or there are many changes, but different ones), this should prove your point.


Great solution!

Kind regards,

Marta

*I prefer to think (although maybe out of naiveness) that few do it in order to look "better" themselves, as, sooner or later, someone will see through all that... I personally never try to correct someone to look better myself and I do not think I am an exception.

[Edited at 2007-02-23 13:58]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:47
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Translators and editors... Feb 23, 2007

The whole discussion proves to me again that there is something utterly wrong with the system.

I think the root of the problem is the assumption that any translator can be an editor... while their roles are completely different, therefore their skills should be different. You might think about the relation between a writer and his/her editor - no one in their right mind would suggest that they can freely trade places, would they?

My clients are often surprised when I tell them that editing is not included in my services. I am a translator, that's all. That is what I am best at, editing is not.

Of course, proofreading is somewhat different, but it is mostly irrelevant as the jobs described as proofreading usually require editing as well...

As for Mireille's situation, I would ask for another editing/proofreading. I would say that I am willing to pay for that, if the second editor's changes match those of the first one. If the second editing turns out to be good (or there are many changes, but different ones), this should prove your point.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 23:47
English to Russian
+ ...
Absolutely! Feb 23, 2007

Jabberwock wrote:

their roles are completely different, therefore their skills should be different.

editing is not included in my services. I am a translator, that's all.


Same here.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Mireille K  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:47
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I do accept corrections usually Feb 23, 2007

I do not have a problem with that at all, if it is done in a fair fashion. In this case however, it was very obvious what the person was doing. I did show it to someone else whom I trust and respect. It is a very specialized translation in the medical field and it happened to be exactly my field. There were no changes whatsoever in the terminology just stylistic changes and ADDITIONS. I did send comments to the company but I guess they lost the job too to this other person, so they are not happy. As for me I am already working on something else.

I do not believe it is a case of corrections as much as it is a case of unethical behavior, it was 150 words, how many mistakes can one make !!!
Mireille

[Edited at 2007-02-23 14:58]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Jeremy_Chen
Australia
Local time: 15:47
English to Chinese
+ ...
not your problem Feb 23, 2007

Jabberwock wrote:

I think the root of the problem is the assumption that any translator can be an editor... while their roles are completely different, therefore their skills should be different.

...

As for Mireille's situation, I would ask for another editing/proofreading. I would say that I am willing to pay for that, if the second editor's changes match those of the first one. If the second editing turns out to be good (or there are many changes, but different ones), this should prove your point.


You hit the nail on the head. I am a starting translator but also notice there is a big difference between a translator and an editor.

Sometimes it is very difficult to "switch" your style as a translator. Translators are paid by word so usually they choose a style and go through the text as fast/accurate as possible. On the other hand, editors have to accept that there are many different ways to say the same things. Also there are many things relating to editing which translators are often unaware of.

I think language is art so one can always find ways to criticise a work. But here we are trying to make a living from translation, humbly. I guess a business standard is needed here. I support the way to find another editing/proofreading. However, isn't it the job of any qualified agencies? If we need to take care of all these troubles, why do we need them?

So Mireille, I don't think your agency is qualified if they can't find a way to tell your work is okay.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Nadejda Vega Cespedes  Identity Verified

Local time: 06:47
Spanish to Russian
+ ...
All of this Feb 23, 2007

makes me think of a related issue. I am right now proofreading a translation made by a colleague who definitely overuses nouns. English "press the button to select " becomes "press the button for selection of " in Russian, etc. This is technically correct but makes the whole thing sound sort of ponderous. Trouble is considering the number of such verbs translated by nouns, if I correct them all, the translation will look terrible (which it is not) to someone who does not speak Russian (read the PM). So, what's more unethical, to rewrite every second sentence in a decent translation and maybe spoil the image of a colleague who doesn't deserve it, or deliver a text that is not as good as it could be and endanger my own reputation of someone who values flawless style?

Direct link Reply with quote
 

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:47
English to French
+ ...
Reply to Nadejda Feb 24, 2007

I think the situation you're in is pretty simple to solve. In fact, what I am going to propose to you here is something I use a lot, to avoid redlining people's work so it doesn't look like they do terrible work when otherwise their work is of good quality.

Why not simply make one comment instead of many corrections? You could tell the translator - maybe also copy the project manager on this one - that it is best to not use nouns as much as she does at the moment. If you were to redline many occurrences of the same error, that would make her look like a novice, whereas there is really only one error being carried over constantly. Now, if she made three such errors instead of one - well, pretty much all her work would be redlined. She would hate you for scrapping her work and the project manager also might find you somewhat overzealous.

I always send a comment file along with the edited/proofed file. In the comments file, I outline errors that are repeated several times in the document, and I only redline errors in the document itself when they are errors made only once or twice. I think this is an acceptable solution for all parties involved.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Ethics, Ethics, Ethics (among translators when proofreading)

Advanced search


Translation news





Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »
Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs