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When is proofing (or editing) not proofing (or editing)?
Thread poster: Tony Keily

Tony Keily  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:30
Italian to English
+ ...
Mar 15, 2007

There have been posts on proofing and editing in the past, but I feel the need to reawaken the debate. What's the best defence against rubbish passed off as translation landing on your monitor for "proofing"?

I've seen posts about prior examination of material, but I got stung recently working for one of my regular agencies. On Friday afternoon I accepted (sight unseen) a very urgent 'correction' job, mainly as favour to my pals at the agency. The document I received was very substandard; I did what I could with it in the time available, and sent it back with a strong health warning.

But the job stuck to me. I received mails via the agency from the client asking for 'clarifications'. The agency started to give me elementary advice on the ABC of 'correction'. No good my telling them that it's the patient's state on admission that determines their chances of survival, more than the guy in the white coat with the sticking plasters.

I know the easiest thing to say is: don't accept it till you've seen it. But what are the ground rules and how can they be applied? There must be a lot of requests out there for 'correction' of total muck.


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:30
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
you are right Mar 15, 2007

... don't accept sight unseen..

But if you do and they send total muck (and that is simply your professional eye that will determine if it's a readable, bad translation, very bad or total muck), then call the agency immediately and tell them: " hey this is muck, I cannot make a proper text from this before the deadline / or
I can retranslate from the source (providing the source is OK) and it will cost you X amount.

Then the agency will have to go back to the supplier and decide what to do, you should not take the heat for somebody else's shoddy work, or the agency's lacking capability to determine the quality of a text!

Ed


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Tony Keily  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:30
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Ed! Mar 15, 2007

Edward Vreeburg wrote:

... don't accept sight unseen..

But if you do and they send total muck (and that is simply your professional eye that will determine if it's a readable, bad translation, very bad or total muck), then call the agency immediately and tell them: " hey this is muck, I cannot make a proper text from this before the deadline / or
I can retranslate from the source (providing the source is OK) and it will cost you X amount.

Then the agency will have to go back to the supplier and decide what to do, you should not take the heat for somebody else's shoddy work, or the agency's lacking capability to determine the quality of a text!

Ed




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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:30
Member (2004)
English to Polish
DOA Mar 15, 2007

I am sorry, Tony, but I agree with Edward.

This one was obviously dead on arrival, so when you started resucitation efforts, you gave them false hope.

I understand that when you make an obligation, it is difficult to withdraw, but sometimes it is simply necessary...


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megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
Rush, faint project management... bad translations do exist. Don't blame the corrector. Mar 15, 2007

I agree with Ed.

It's a pity that you accept a "rush" job and then the agency is then unable to defend your job. I have been managing projects for years and I know that sometimes you deal with such "brownies". But the role of the agency here should have been to defend their (your) job... pity they did not.

I usually have a look at the texts and try with a sample (appropriate to the text length). If the paragraph suddenly turns red, blue and yellow with Word's change follow-ups, I simply offer a re-translation... >:)


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Tony Keily  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:30
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Mar 15, 2007

OK, I appreciate the support and advice and think there's one line on this.

This sort of problem often arises from an agency wishing, quite sincerely but not advisedly, to oblige a favoured client by undertaking the impossible and then getting very worried when they see the results of impossible undertakings!

Thanks again.

Onward and upward.


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the Train  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:30
English to Arabic
+ ...
But Hilarious Mar 16, 2007

Tony Keily wrote:

No good my telling them that it's the patient's state on admission that determines their chances of survival, more than the guy in the white coat with the sticking plasters.


Tony Keily wrote:

No good my telling them that it's the patient's state on admission that determines their chances of survival, more than the guy in the white coat with the sticking plasters.


Last week I was asked to proof a 'translation'. Urgent, regular client, etc. In fact I did take a look at the job. I read the first two paragraphs and compared them to the source text. Apart from few typos and silly mistakes, it looked alright. I estimated it would take 3 hours and quoted accordingly. It took 9. Had I chosen sporadic paragraphs instead of the first two.... but I had a great laugh.

It turned out that the translator was having a translatory condition I dub 'the Amateur Pizza Cook', or APC. The more you throw the dough high up in the air, the more it gets bigger [and biggerrrrr] until you go home wearing it.

The source text was a mess. The writer used sentences that were too long and incoherent to translate in one go, but our APC did not budge. Varoooom.

I spent nine hours working and laughing my head off instead of thinking that thanks to my hasty quotation, I was working for free….and on this!! [as compared to working for free on the Kama Sutra].

These are some hilarious examples of his translation - a rhetorical speech made by the political front of his country from Arabic into English-:

Source: 'The Front will take sides to avoid being in the middle of an argument.'
APC writes;
To avoid an argument, there will be middle front side.
Source: ‘This saying bears resemblance..'
APC writes;
This word is carrying faces.
Source: ‘Its length did not conform with...'
APC writes;
The length was short.
Source: ‘a multi-faceted problem that opens the door….’
APC writes;
This problem is a porter of faces. [This takes the biscuit.]
Source: ‘There are hidden issues and agendas that can be detected in the lies promoted by…’
APC writes;
Issue is be [yes, is be] hiding and lying under market and write in agenda.

At one point I thought it had to be machine translation. But, machines do not give you ‘this have’, and the legendary 'is be'. I e-mailed the ‘proofing’ job to this first thing in the morning as they requested. Subject: Janitors have embarked on a new career.


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Tony Keily  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:30
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hilarious indeed Mar 18, 2007

Yes, as I can see, it can get pretty bad. In the translation in question I had to deal with 'fiscal' becoming 'physical' pretty often. Physical obligations, anyone?

That's not as good as a French-English machine translation that turned all of EU fishermen into 'EU sinners', their spouses for benefits purposes becoming 'sinners' wives'.


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Richard Benham  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:30
German to English
+ ...
A possible explanation.... Mar 18, 2007

I have written extensively about this problem on another forum. Part of the problem, I think, is the desire of agents to save money. If they get a half-way competent translator to do the job in the first instance, and then a real translator to clean it up, they may well save money. Added to this is the EU standard calling for all translations to be revised, with higher standards of qualifications/experience for the revisor than the translator. (See my artice: .) However, for this practice to make sense, the original translator has to have a certain minimum level of competence.

On another issue, I suffer from a different problem. Because of the time difference (I normally live in Australia, but all my regular clients are based in Europe), I often get given jobs in the middle of the night, and I know that if I email the agent saying this translation's rubbish, they won't get my answer for many hours, and it will be too late (in many cases) for them to do anything about it. So in a couple of cases I have more or less had to put up with it.

There are other traps too. One guy I got to proofread a couple of times produced beautifully written translations from German into English, but didn't actually understand German. He was extremely skilful at making up plausible sentences on the basis of the words he understood, and was completely consistent and coherent, and so, just looking at the translation, you would swear he was a top translator. Then, looking at the original, it became clear that he had no idea what half the terms meant and no concept of German grammar, and just made things up to fit. He was so good at it that 90% of the time he got it right, but every so often he would make an error that showed he really had been guessing all along.

I have a policy now of not accepting revision unseen, and of not accepting the revision of a translation job I have bid for and missed out on. It saves a lot of stress.


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the Train  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:30
English to Arabic
+ ...
You got it right Mar 19, 2007

Richard Benham wrote:

Part of the problem, I think, is the desire of agents to save money. If they get a half-way competent translator to do the job in the first instance, and then a real translator to clean it up, they may well save money.


I think you have put your finger on the problem. It was indeed a job outsourced to Egypt. From personal experience, I know pretty well that Egypt has more than its share of talented and professional translators. Why it had to be somebody who barely knew anything at all, I don't know. Going for a 'cheaper' option has to have limits.

I believe that guessing and disguising so cleverly a translation to make it look and sound perfect while it has nothing to do with the text is nothing less than criminal.


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the Train  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:30
English to Arabic
+ ...
This one as well Mar 19, 2007

In the Eighties, Margaret Thatcher was quoted in Japan during an official dinner saying "My flesh is tender". This did not sit well with the minister being visited and he let it show. The quote was a translation from English into Japanese by an incompetent interpreter of '[I like] my steak well-done.
One can see that it has been twenty years and somebody does not want to take the hint.


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 14:30
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Moving this thread... Dec 16, 2007

... to Proofreading forum

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