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What would you do if you know you will be reviewed by a translator that is less competent than you?
Thread poster: traductorchile

traductorchile  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 19:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Apr 1, 2009

What would you do if you are offered a job and you discover that the translator that will review your work and turn it in to the client is not a native of the target language and you have evidence that he is less competent than you (as would be the results of a Cambridge exam or you have seen some of his work and it shows various and important errors you wouldn't fall into? Are you willing to have your professional image downgraded by the trimming of a bad review or would you run the risk that the reviewer might be capable of recognizing good work if he saw it in the sake of the money?

I would like to see a discusion on this case, and hear all the different points of view. Probably many of you have had to face this sort of challenge throughout your profession.


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Word_Wise  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:04
English to Romanian
+ ...
a bit frustrating I think Apr 1, 2009

but, as I usually see the "bright" side of things, I think that:

one has to recognize the good work!!!!!
one has to learn from those who know better, not to say best!!!

If I knew the person who checks my work or if I was to be the person to check the work of someone with a clearly high standard of knowledge, I would do my best to contact directly and communicate and learn or explain.... so on. I hope I am not too naive thinking this way. And, at the same time, I hope it is still possible to be able to get in touch directly, not only through intermediaries...

[Edited at 2009-04-01 04:27 GMT]


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Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:04
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Less competent does not mean less intelligent or professional Apr 1, 2009

In my opinion the less competent reviewer is not a problem, after all if she/he is less competent it just means she/he would have done a worse job of the translation, so in theory at least, when she/he sees your translation they should recognize quality and not mess with your effort.

I don't believe that less competent means less inteligent or less professional, after all we can't all be the same, there will always be people who translate better than others, either by study and dedication or by genetic advantage, or for whatever reason; in my opinion, most professionals would recognise quality work.

If however you are certain that this person is going to lower the standard of the final document, you should insist on being able to see their review and discuss any changes.

As final note I would like to mention that the fact that you have a better score than someone else on an exam like Cambridge does not mean you are a better translator, they could have had a bad day and you could have had an exceptional day, the test text happened to be easier for you than them, they took the test years ago and so did you but they have gotten better at a faster rate than you have and they are now better translator than you are, or any other possible scenario.

I do agree that if you have seen their work (recent work) and it is not up to your standard that is certainly a good indication, if it were really that bad I would definitely talk to the Pm about it.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:04
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
... or a native of the target language. Apr 1, 2009

It's not just non-natives that are prone to this kind of thing. A few years ago my work on an architectural piece, where I had considerable experience, was questioned by an end customer, suddenly panic-stricken because "someone at the office" (who turned out to be a British stagiaire on her year out from university) had found "serious mistakes" in the text, and had kindly offered to revise, since she was the only native speaker there.

She said, for example, it was impossible for an architect to "execute" a wall, claiming only people could be executed by firing squad, electric chair, lethal injections etc. (?)

The customer went into paranoia mode since, if doubts had been cast on such "elementary" stuff, what would the more technical pieces be like? The tougher sections on transepts and altarpieces had, unsurprisingly, been left completely untouched.

It's easy to come along and criticise, but it's not just non-natives that do it.


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Sushan Harshe
India
Local time: 03:34
English to Hindi
+ ...
I just workout the things in professional mannar! Apr 1, 2009

What would you do if you are offered a job and you discover that the translator that will review your work and turn it in to the client is not a native of the target language

1] In most of cases, I cannot identify the reviewer.
2] It is not important whether the client should be a native speaker.

and you have evidence that he is less competent than you

3] I evaluate reviewer, on their suggested preferential translation, and consistency in there suggested terminology
as would be the results of a Cambridge exam or you have seen some of his work

4] It cannot be a standard, for measuring knowledge level of a professional, based on their educational qualification.
Are you willing to have your professional image downgraded by the trimming of a bad review or would you run the risk that the reviewer might be capable of recognizing good work if he saw it in the sake of the money

5] I do not feel downgraded, just because of a bad review, as the review is confined to a specific client.
In my opinion, review is clients’ responsibility, not reviewers. If the client is least knowledgeable about selection process for a translator, least aware about creating reviewing guidelines for task review, language specific issues, etc. etc. he must pay in terms of getting substandard translators (and reviewers).
For me, whenever I come across bad review of translation, I request agency/company for report. If sent; I give them my comments. In some cases I found that, after my comments on review, PMs accepted my comments and reviewed back there reviewer itself, and started business with me. In some cases, I did not get the review report. Estimating their inferior standards, I just put the client in my black list.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:04
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Two answers Apr 1, 2009

traductorchile wrote:
What would you do if you are offered a job and you discover that the translator that will review your work and turn it in to the client is not a native of the target language and you have evidence that he is less competent than you...


Well, if I know this beforehand, I'll make sure my work contains no quirks.

Are you willing to have your professional image downgraded by the trimming of a bad review...


If this is done via an agency, odds are the client won't know who you are regardless of how good or bad your translation is.

If you worry that the agency might get an incorrect view about you, just make sure your text flawless and hope that whatever the reviewer corrects, you can prove is correct from a good reference work.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:04
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I am often revised Apr 1, 2009

... and often have no inkling of who is revising and how competent they are. However, the PM always asks before implementing changes, and there is no problem. She listens to the reasons on both sides (and both sides can be equally reasonable, or one side may be more informed than the other).

I've also had to contend with in-house bilingual secretaries (or assistants) and refused to accept any liability arising from any changes, etc.. This usually brings people around to their senses.

In a word, I'm not touchy about it. I've even had revisors who consulted first (and they're very useful for pointing out overtranslation, especially when you've had a hectic deadline to cope with).


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traductorchile  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 19:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I should add a few details: Apr 1, 2009

- This issue came up following the procedures of a public tender where two positions were being searched: a translator and a reviewer that couldn’t be the same person or company.
- In a tender all tenderers are visible, so the possible winning reviewer can be estimated, and one can research what he/she has done.
- I don’t want to be cynical, but as the devils lawyer, the reviewer gains a contract and has to justify his work, that is, he may feel he has to correct something. And although there is not such thing as a perfect translation if he/she is not competent, he/she might “correct” the “wrong” thing. Although we move about in a competitive world, and I’m surely being a bit extremist, one should expect and trust that the reviewer (although less competent) is just as honest and professional as the translator.
- “Native of the target” has been expressed in regard to the usual advice that one must translate to one’s own mother tongue and if one doesn’t , one should have a reviewer that can identify errors that might deform the message for readers that are natives of the target language.

I must say I love your answers, they are very enlightening, and the creativity of each answer makes it clear to me that the solutions aren’t just “give up” or “accept”.


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 17:04
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
An inexperienced reviewer, maybe Apr 2, 2009

traductorchile wrote:

the reviewer gains a contract and has to justify his work, that is, he may feel he has to correct something.


As I mentioned elsewhere, I regularly review a peer's translations, even though I have rarely made corrections to her work.

Why don't I make corrections? Because none are needed. Why mark up a perfectly good translation?

And why, then, if no corrections are made, does the agency continue to pay me an hour minimum for every 250-word translation review? Because sometimes I catch a typo or missed punctuation mark. Nothing big, but a correction that must be made before final submission to the client. So I'm paid to be a second pair of eyes before that final submission (Quality Assurance). A review does not necessarily entail a flow of red ink on the page. Very often it can be an email that looks like this: "Great job, no corrections to be made! Keep this translator."

All the best,

Nancy


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anca nicolau  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 00:04
English to Romanian
+ ...
Personal experience Apr 10, 2009

Hello,

Normally I work with a reviewer, just to be sure that the quality provided is the best and this is a person I trust and with whom I discuss any change or choice.

However, last year I had a customer who specified that the proofreading will be done by someone else (assigned by him). In that case I informed my customer that I would like to know what are the comments of his proofreader.The comments were a very diasapointing surprise, because they showed an obvious lack of knowledge in the native language.
So I just had to explain clearely, with details, references and links, my reasons in selecting a certain word. I have sent all these new comments to my customer.
The result was that my version of the translation was accepted as final.

I believe that the translator and the reviewer should communicate at all times because this way you can either avoid a low-quality reviewing or, you can improve yourself by understanding some "weaknesses" in your translations. Nobody should forget that the translation activity is first of all an intellectual activity, and to ERR IS HUMAN!
so stay sharp!


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B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:04
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Depends what you mean by less competent Apr 11, 2009

As has already been said, it can be difficult to define what is meant by "less competent" and authors are regularly reviewed by people who would never have been able to have written similar books themselves.

I did once have a problem with a proof-reader who changed my translation and where neither she nor the agency could understand that some of her changes were based on a lack of specialist understanding of the subject matter. I made my comments, but the agency was responsible to the client, not me. How could they make the judgement anyway? Well they should have allowed more time so that I could have liaised properly with the proof-reader, but their client might not have allowed them that extra time and the proof-reader might have stuck to her guns for all sorts of reasons (like not losing face, just plain obstinacy...). It was annoying, but not a really big deal. The translation still made sense, there were just passages that read as though drafted by someone unfamiliar with professional language. It was annoying that the agency accepted the proof-reader's judgement, but I can live with that.

On the other hand, if I am working for a direct client, then I generally have control. If I were given the opportunity to be credited in the finished document, then I would only accept this if I had approved any important revision.

More usually the proof-reading, review is really useful and I am much happier working for agencies that give me that feedback than for those that don't. Actual collaboration with the proof-reader is even better as it improves my skills and sometimes leads to third and better solutions, rather than either of our initial ideas.


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Tsu Dho Nimh
Local time: 15:04
English
I have been the reviewer you fear Apr 14, 2009

traductorchile wrote:
What would you do if you are offered a job and you discover that the translator that will review your work and turn it in to the client is not a native of the target language and you have evidence that he is less competent than you


I was in charge of reviewing translations from English > Spanish for a museum. I was definitely not as good a translator as the translator who did the material, but I was reviewing the material as Spanish text, for completeness, flow, and accurate presentation of the facts.

My less-than-native ability worked in our favor, because if I could easily read it, it was simple enough for our visitors.


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Kroz Wado
Japan
Local time: 07:04
Japanese to English
Reviewing is a good thing Apr 17, 2009

I do a lot of reviewing and my company always reviews back and forth 3 ways between two native checkers and a translator. It's a great process and it smooths out the document and improves the quality. Even though each person has different levels of ability in each language it's generally a good thing to question the translation where there's uncertainty. It's very rare that anyone is completely out-classed and unable to contribute any improvements to the document, the more passes the better.

However, every now and then a client will send their own non-native review back and it's annoying to have to justify each change. One customer literally threw a translation back litered with non-grammatical, mistake-ridden, unnaturally phrased changes at us claiming it sounded non-native. Things are still up in the air on that one, we explained we couldn't recommend most of the changes and they are passing it to a third-(fourth-?!)party reviewer. One thing we're worried about is that they'll simply reject our translation, refuse to pay and then make off with our translation.

Advice for difficult customers: stay professional, justify your stand on points of contention (if the whole review is garbage then systematically destroy your way through the first page of comments to prove that point), explain that if they want to make those changes then they are welcome to, but you won't put your name to them and endorse them.


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