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Thread poster: Kevin Schlottmann
Kevin Schlottmann  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:49
German to English
Mar 1, 2002

This is thorny, unclear question, but here goes:



I am translating a very technical text for a law firm. The lawyers are not experts in this particular field, nor am I. In doing the translation, I have done extensive research and learned quite a bit about the field.



The question is, to what extent should I define words and phrases that I have figured out, and happen to know are not in the dictionary?



An example would be \"sem\", as in \"Mittelwert +/- sem\". It turns out that sem is an English contraction for standard error measurement. However, it took me some digging to figure that out.



The obvious answer is play it by ear, on a per job basis, or something similar. However, I am always uneasy doing anything that isn\'t my job (i.e. translating). Research is part of our job, but only with the goal of delivering the most accurate translation possible.



Thoughts?



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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 19:49
German to English
Research issues Mar 3, 2002

If the law firm knows you were translating text in an area outside your expertise, you might consider discussing the issue of compensation for your research time (usually this is best done beforehand, but sometimes it\'s not always possible). If you represented yourself as an expert in the field, then you\'re not going to get much sympathy from the firm. I do a fair amount of work for an intellectual property law firm and vary my rate, depending on how much research I will have to do (and refer jobs in fields outside my expertise to other translators).



With regard to terminology, it never hurts to put in a translator\'s note explaining the term or abbreviation. If the reader knows the term, then your note is easily ignored. If not, you\'ve made your text more understandable. In either case you\'ve added to your word count.

Kevin Fulton


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AmiHH  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:49
Member (2008)
German to English
research is part of the job Mar 3, 2002

My feeling is that research is part of the job and should not be charged extra. Some jobs require a lot of research to understand what is going on in the text or figure out complex abbreviations while others are in your fields of experience and you need less time to do the job (just require usual dictionary work). In my experience, the jobs seem to level out. I have a few assignments here and there which, though legal texts, also incorporate a lot of material I am not familiar with. But, these seem to be balanced out by those jobs I am more practiced in. I think my clients would think I am out of my mind to charge extra for research. I am already charging them for each line I translate. If I felt the research required would not be worth the end payment or if they could not provide me with some sort of additional help, then I would decline the job up front and make a note to try not to take on jobs in difficult technical areas.



Those are just my thoughts on this.



Good luck!



AmiHH


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AmiHH  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:49
Member (2008)
German to English
Note to my text Mar 3, 2002

Whoops! I am obviously not working today. I totally overlooked the real issue. Regarding your question about how much you should include in your text about your research, I think you should be nice about it at and spell out the words on the first instance. It could very well be that someone not knowledgeable in the field will read your text and won\'t know what the abbreviations stand for. Of course, I would not give the company copies of your sources or provide any additional information about your knew knowledge.



AmiHH


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Kevin Schlottmann  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:49
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Mar 4, 2002




All three messages were enlightening, and I am going to include more notes in the future, based on this. Thank you!





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jccantrell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:49
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
spell out abbrevs., use a note for other Mar 4, 2002

I agree with both posters: spell out abbreviations the first time you use them (unless they are VERY well known, such as AM and PM) and, for anything else that gives you heartburn, put a note in with the translation.



I have found that, even after doing considerable research on topics where I *DO* consider myself knowledgeable, I may not be certain about some terms. In these cases, I will include a note describing what I found and why I chose one term over another.



As was stated, if the customer is knowledgeable about the subject, he can toss your note or change your translation to the correct term (and he will inform you, we hope). If the customer is not knowledgeable about the subject, you have at least given him the pointers he should need if he chooses to get an expert to go over the translation.



You will have done your job carefully and will have satisfied all but the most demanding customer.


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Raisa Gertsberg
United States
Local time: 16:49
Russian to English
+ ...
Time-consuming research should be paid for Jul 12, 2002

No matter how much you try to specialize and stay within a limited subject area, most technical translation projects do require substantial research.



My primary subject being Information Technology, I spend hours on terminology and subject matter research before I can start translating. And that\'s despite the fact that I worked in this field for many years as a computer programmer.



In all high-tech related subjects, and not solely in those, new concepts evolve continuously and one must research in order to make a perfect sense of the source material.



In my experience, good translation agencies, certainly, realize that and allow some time and money from their project budget for research. And these are the ones worth working for.



With direct clients, it shouldn\'t be a problem either. Unless it\'s a very familiar subject, any reasonable person is very likely to agree that a certain amount of research is going to be involved and, therefore, paid for. Of course, with direct clients it can also be achieved by charging higher per word rates to cover the research.



In any case, I think, as professional translators who pride on high-quality work we should make our clients/agencies aware of the research time required and make it clear we expect to be paid for it one way or another.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:49
English to German
+ ...
Use additional research when negotiating prices Jul 13, 2002

We often provide additional input, either as a result of own professional experience or based on research. The way we provide it is by embedding comments (if it\'s a Word text), or by way of a separate message.



With legal texts in particular, we frequently add a comprehensive term list that may also contain additional references.


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