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Clients who alter the translation.
Thread poster: Lesley Clayton
Lesley Clayton
France
Local time: 12:23
French to English
+ ...
Sep 8, 2002

Why do clients employ a translator and then change little things in the translated text without saying anything?



I am in the middle of translating a website and my client is putting the pages on the web as she receives them. I downloaded the site onto my hard disk at the beginning of the project and this is the version I\'m working from. Knowing this, my client e-mailed me this morning saying how well we were working together and had I visited the site lately? I hadn\'t, so I had a quick look.



Oh my God! She\'s changed some picture titles to a mixture of English and French, so we now have \"Bécasse on a Bike\", she\'s changed all the surnames of people into capitals, she\'s changed \"favourite\" into \"favorite\"... there\'s more, but I\'m sure you get the gist. I\'m now going to have to spend ages going through every page online and then spend ages explaining to her why my original was right and her changes are wrong.



This is the second time this has happened to me with a direct client, but the first time wasn\'t so serious, just a space meticulously inserted before every colon.



I\'m feeling a bit demoralised, but I\'m sure I\'m not the only one to have had this problem. What can I do to avoid this in future? I\'ve thought about making a list of differences between French and UK English punctuation, and a few basic rules, but where do you stop? I gave my previous client a French version of ITI\'s \"Translation, getting it right\", which explains all the do\'s and don\'ts of buying translation, but she didn\'t bother to read it.



What do others do to avoid this problem?


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Karin Adamczyk  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:23
Member
French to English
This happens all the time, unfortuantely Sep 9, 2002

[quote]

On 2002-09-08 16:09, LJC wrote:

Why do clients employ a translator and then change little things in the translated text without saying anything?



I am in the middle of translating a website and my client is putting the pages on the web as she receives them.



What can I do to avoid this in future?



KA - Sometimes you can\'t do anything. Sometimes explaining their errors will help, but not always. One situtation is where the client believes she is right, but another situation is when new content is added. They might have the new content translated professionally or they might feel they can handle it themselves.



I\'ve thought about making a list of differences between French and UK English punctuation, and a few basic rules, but where do you stop?



KA - It would be better to tactfully point out a couple of mistakes and suggest that your client ask your opinion before she makes any changes.



For example, even though they may be in Europe, someone may have decided that they should be are trying to attract US visitors. Your contact may not be the person who is making these decisions.



I gave my previous client a French version of ITI\'s \"Translation, getting it right\", which explains all the do\'s and don\'ts of buying translation, but she didn\'t bother to read it.



KA - That isn\'t unusual. I find it better to explain problem situations as they occur.



What do others do to avoid this problem?



KA - You cannot avoid the problem, but you should *never* provide a URL as a reference for work you have done. You have no control over what is done after you submit your translation.



FWIW,

Karin Adamczyk


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Karin Adamczyk  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:23
Member
French to English
I meant *unfortunately* of course ;) Sep 9, 2002

Silly keyboard!!

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Marijke Mayer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:23
Dutch to English
+ ...
fax the translated pages at the same time to cover yourself Sep 9, 2002

I wholeheartedly agree with Karen. This happens all the time. I\'m afraid we are just another \'tool\' to be used at will. A webpage is not so bad, albeit irritating if they change it, but once the translation gets more serious, such as legal or medical, I always fax the pages to cover myself.

Marijke


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Eivind Lilleskjaeret  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:23
Member (2004)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
I don't care... Sep 9, 2002

what the client does with my translation after they receive it and pay for it. Don\'t get me wrong, of course it\'s sad to see your language, and the fruit of your hard work, being mauled beyond recognition, but if that\'s what they want to do, I can\'t say I lose a lot of sleep over it.



If your name can in any way be connected to the translation, it\'s another cup of tea altogether. Then you should demand the right of final proof. That applies to book translations in particular.



Cheers, Eivind


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Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 07:23
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
But I do care Sep 9, 2002

[quote]

On 2002-09-09 15:09, fidotext wrote:

I don\'t what the client does with my translation after they receive it and pay for it.

[/quo

te]

Eivind: when the client changes my translation is changing my work. For instance, a few days ago the client -after hard critics to my translation job- changed my Spanish translation of \"liver damage\" (daños hepáticos) y wrote \"daños a la sangre\" (confusing \"blood\" and \"liver\"!). It`s not the fact that the client has paid me; the problem is that I can\'t use my work for future references...

Of course, I\'m writing a letter explaining the reason why some of the changes are unacceptable. But, in such circumstances it\'s very hard to be polite (and I should).

Regards,



Clarisa



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Karin Adamczyk  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:23
Member
French to English
You must Sep 9, 2002

Quote:


But, in such circumstances it\'s very hard to be polite (and I should).

Regards,



Clarisa







Yes, you really must be polite (tactful) because this is exactly where you will demonstrate your professionalism. Doing anything else would prove the opposite.



Good luck,

Karin

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Silvina Beatriz Codina  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 07:23
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
This happens all the time Sep 9, 2002

And I mean it like this: All The Time .



Sometimes we don\'t even find out, especially if the work has been done for an agency, and sometimes there isn\'t much we can do. But I agree with the others in the sense that, if the work is going to be attached to me in any way, I fight these \"incorrections\" to the death.



Anyway, I don\'t use work that has gone outside my control as reference. I prefer to give samples that no one else has manipulated. And Karin is right: you should never, ever, ever, ever give a Webpage you have translated as reference. When I was younger and stupider I used to do that. I did check the site first to see whether it was still online and whether no funny additions had occurred. Once, when I checked one such website, I found that the client had updated the site, but instead of calling me to do the translation (or in fact, instead of calling any translator), he had just processed the site through a machine translation software. Imagine the results. I cannot describe my feelings. \"Horrified\" isn\'t even close.



And I know Clarisa will be incredibly polite in giving her explanations. But I understand her feelings. Such occasions, they call for Mahatma Gandhi-like restraint.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-09-10 17:43 ]


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Arthur Borges
China
Local time: 18:23
English
+ ...
Humility Sep 10, 2002

Translators are like utilities: zhen someone talks about plumbing or local water supplies, then it is because they are not functioning properly. Ideally, we are indeed silent tools.

The favourite-2-favorite glitch, however, is your own doing: it is up to us to get maximum context, including the identity of the intended readership.

With new clients, it helps to make an appointment for a joint re-read. This should help establish a bit of trust, and you can explain how the substance of a noun ended up in an adverb.

Moreover, some clients get very neurotic when you use words they don\'t know. They also get neurotic when say, you don\'t transalte \"actuellement\" as \"actually\". You have to be there with a minidictionary in your back pocket. At least the first time.

All of the above will only contain the problem but I notice that my own worst bloopers always happen with words I\'m 100% dead-certain positive of knowing. So if the client insists, I try to get him to agree on a wordier turn of phrase. But confidence-building takes time and we too are but errant erring beings upon this planet all too skeptical of what we\'re up to.

AND ABOVE ALL CHEER UP IN TIME FOR THE NEXT ONE.
[addsig]


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Kevin Harper  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:23
German to English
+ ...
Very difficult subject Sep 10, 2002

I find this one of the most difficult things in translation. You can choose your words as carefully as possible, but the customer does not always understand that it is in THEIR interest that we enter such a debate with them.



I have had a couple of experiences of this. In one case, it got into a machine translation vs. human translation issue (the customer saying machine translation is just as good). On another occasion, I used an end-customer\'s website for terminology. The agency I was working for then changed the terminology in my translation. The end-customer made comments on their version of the translation, villifying my point of reference. The agency sent these to me, even though it was their version the end-customer was complaining about. I pointed out that my original translation had, in fact, used the customer\'s preferred terminology anyway. I have not heard from the agency since.



This, of course, opens a whole new issue of inexperienced translators being used to proof-read experienced translators\' work. It\'s practically impossible to get the right balance, and I know, because I\'ve been there. You either accept it as correct, and just check spelling and grammar, or you over-check and end up building in mistakes due to lack of experience. Either way you lose.


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Lesley Clayton
France
Local time: 12:23
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Oh dear Sep 10, 2002

I have been using URLs as references and I have gained some clients that way, but now after reading all your experiences, I’m wondering how many clients I may have lost as well.



I e-mailed my client saying I thought it would be a good idea if we met to go over the work done so far and I’ve just spoken to her on the phone. After I explained a few things (very politely, of course) she agreed to have a meeting at the end of the project to go over the whole site together. As I pointed out to her, there may also be some things that she may want translating in another way, and that’s fine, but we must do it together to get it right. I’m not against changes in my translated text – I would just like to be consulted so that the changes are done correctly. After all, I know English better than she does, but she knows the subject better than I do. I have a good relationship with this client which I do not want to jeopardise as she could be a source of future work.



I feel a bit better now that I’ve tackled the problem, but I still find the whole thing very depressing. Fro what you all say, I suppose I’ll just have to get used to it.



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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
Better not to get too attached to our "creations" Sep 10, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-09-09 17:19, Clarisa wrote:

Eivind: when the client changes my translation is changing my work.





Not really.



As soon as they pay for it, it\'s no longer your work. It\'s theirs to do whatever they want with it.



It\'s understandable that you might want to educate the client but, more often than not, it\'s better to take the money, forget about it, and move on.

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John Kinory
Local time: 11:23
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Par for the course Sep 10, 2002

You say:

I gave my previous client a French version of ITI\'s \"Translation, getting it right\", which explains all the do\'s and don\'ts of buying translation, but she didn\'t bother to read it.



Few do. It can be very disheartening, but what can you do? A colleague of mine, an excellent inhouse translator at a law firm, is still regularly told by one of the partners, \"Please type this into English\" [sic].



With this attitude to our profession, which I also come across all the time, we do need to educate our clients (even though after we get paid, the text is no longer our property). It\'s in our long-term interest to have clients who understand that there is more to it than \'typing into language X\'.
[addsig]


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aivars  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 07:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
If they knew the language they wouldn´t have hired you Sep 14, 2002

So you, the doctor, are asking the patient not to be sick?

Translators usually have work because people don´t master a given language.

I hope that this is the worst that ever happens to you in your life.

A perfect customer will probably do the translation herself.


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Clients who alter the translation.

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