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How much comment does the customer need?
Thread poster: Anne Lee

Anne Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:51
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Jun 9, 2003

My translations (usually of long academic texts) used to be accompanied by 'notes' explaining why I seemed to have deviated from the original text to avoid misunderstandings, sexism, or to correct inconsistencies in the text. I no longer offer the customer a 'choice' of different terms as I used to, after reading somewhere that it implies the translator shifts his or her responsibility to the customer. I now tend to drop the comments altogether, unless I see a fragrant inconsistency in the statistics. But I wonder how much explanation other translators give with their work...

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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Some customers want it, some don’t. Jun 9, 2003

Some like to discuss comments and explanations additionally to any mentioned severe issues,
others even demand it,
others prefer to stick to the dull dogmatic hierarchy in which they are embedded,
others don't care at all.

The difficulty is to find out who is who.

[Edited at 2003-06-09 14:34]


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nettranslatorde
Member
Russian to German
+ ...
That's exactly how it is. Jun 9, 2003

Harry_B wrote:

Some like to discuss comments and explanations additionally to any mentioned severe issues,
others even demand it,
others prefer to stick to the dull dogmatic hierarchy in which they are embedded,
others don't care at all.

The difficulty is to find out who is who.

[Edited at 2003-06-09 14:34]


Just give it a try - and then continue providing explanations to this client - or leave it. that's what I do.


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 10:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
Customer service Jun 9, 2003

Part of customer service is knowing each of your clients and their needs and preferences.

Whether they want a choice, or want you to decide, depends on a large list of variables, starting with their reasons for having the text translated and their intended use for the translation. Other factors could include the client's personality, TL and/or SL competence, business sense, sense of involvement in the translation process, etc. Furthermore, it may also vary depending on whether they are the end user of the translation or an intermediary (agency).

Your interactions with the client; your queries about difficult or ambiguous passages---or mistakes in the source text---will quickly give you a feel for what the client's needs and preferences are in relation to this and other options.

The customized treatment that you give the client according to the client's needs and preferences is part of the difference that sets you apart---that makes them want to come back to you for their next translation.

[Edited at 2003-06-09 16:57]


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Todd Field  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:51
Member (2003)
Portuguese to English
Gather clues from their writing style... Jun 9, 2003

We try to learn about their needs based upon what they provide us in their communications:

-- If they tend to average two sentences per communication with us, we try to hit the same average. In other words, we force ourselves to be painfully brief with agencies and customers who tend to use email as an "instant messenger".

-- For more thoughtful clients who tend to ask a lot of questions and/or write us lengthy communications, we offer the same level of detail when we write to them, including more elaborate notes on our finished translations (i.e. how we dealt with source text inconsistencies, how we handled tricky terminology, formatting changes, etc.).

In short, we feel it pays to learn about each client's individual needs, and target our communications to match them, whatever they may be... and the clues can usually be found right in their faxes, emails, and phone calls.

Good luck!

Todd


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 18:51
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Discuss it first Jun 9, 2003

My experience is working for publishing houses, and I know my translations will be always reviewed by an editor.

I add my comments to editor whenever I feel I have to. And I found that generally editors love this. It helps them and shortens their time to check arguable points of the translated text.

I think freelancing is not very different. Just discuss the question with the customer. The more clear points, the better!


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:51
English to German
+ ...
I always include comments Jun 9, 2003

...lots of them, in fact - but 95% of these comments refer to errors or inconsistencies in the source text.

Just recently hit a new record, with 115 comments on a 30-page text... (ouch!)

The best way to find out how much is "right" is to discuss this with your customer - I find that most of them appreciate the extra review.

Best, Ralf


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Anne Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:51
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Useful feed-back - thanks! Jun 9, 2003

Many thanks, everyone! I had no idea at all as to what other people did. I've decided I will start adding more notes again when I think the customer is interested. Better too much information than not enough. (Although, over 100 comments, Ralph?!!!... )

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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 10:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
Work it out before delivery Jun 10, 2003

In almost every case, even clients who like detailed discussions usually prefer to receive a finished translation with all the bugs worked out. In other words, it is preferable to resolve all the problems before the final delivery. Rarely the client says "just leave that point unfinished and highlight it so we can fix it".

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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:21
English to Tamil
+ ...
My experience as translator as well as interpreter Jun 10, 2003

First the translation side.
The source text contained some equations of the form: a+b+c..=x+y+z....The terms were all having their own units. Any physics student will tell you that any derived unit like velocity, force etc. can be expressed in the form of three fundamental units, namely: length, mass and time (L,M and T). For example, force equals mass X acceleration = MLT power minus two and so on. Another point is that in the equation shown above, all the terms should have the same unit say MLT. It was here that a few equations in the source text did not satisfy the rule of dimensional analysis. I pointed out this to the client, who thanked me profusely. It seems there was a printing mistake.
Compare this with my experience as a French interpreter. The client and the French visitor were furiously discussing a discrepancy in the numerical value of pressure at a certain point. The discussion threatened to prolong. I casually threw a look at the figures and realized that my client was referring to pounds per square inch and the French expert was talking in terms of kilograms per square centimeter, without mentioning the respective units. I pointed out this to both of them and the discussion came to an end. Afterwards my client took me aside and told me angrily that he was very well aware of the discrepancy but was just prolonging the discussion to divert the attention of the visitor from another embarrassing point and I had to come along and short cut the discussion. He gave me very strict instructions to confine myself to just interpreting and not be too helpful like I have done in this case. At that time I was angry but complied after shrugging my shoulder. But now after more than 10 years since the above incident, I see the client's viewpoint as well.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 18:51
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
censor at work? Jun 10, 2003

I wonder what you mean with sexism? surely its not the business of the translator to censor the author?
If the author of the original text is mentioned as author of the translated text the translator should avoid interfering with his/her intentions. In this case not the customer should decide but the author, who shuold be contacted in cases of inconsitencies.

Anne Lee wrote:

My translations (usually of long academic texts) used to be accompanied by 'notes' explaining why I seemed to have deviated from the original text to avoid misunderstandings, sexism, or to correct inconsistencies in the text. I no longer offer the customer a 'choice' of different terms as I used to, after reading somewhere that it implies the translator shifts his or her responsibility to the customer. I now tend to drop the comments altogether, unless I see a fragrant inconsistency in the statistics. But I wonder how much explanation other translators give with their work...


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Anne Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:51
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No censorism Jun 10, 2003

No, I certainly would not censor the work, Heinrich. I know very well that censorism is not in the translator's brief. I meant the problem of sometimes having to get around the 'his/her' dilemma. For instance, if the source text is continuously written in a passive mode, whereas the target language lends itself better to the active mode, the translator herself/himself must watch over what gender to insert.

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