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Off topic: What am I, a handwriting expert?
Thread poster: Anthony Baldwin

Anthony Baldwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:58
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Mar 2, 2006

I thought I had advertised myself as a translator.
I just agreed to translate a series of documents, únaware, until they arrived, that they are scans of
completely illegible handwritten documents.
Does this happen frequently? I´m very new to the industry, and this is my first experience of this kind...


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 21:58
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Moving this thread Mar 2, 2006

... to the Translation Techniques forum

Nancy


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:58
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes it does. Mar 2, 2006

It frequently does. In many cases, clients assume that you can read it (after all, you know the source language better than the do).

I imagine that by now you have informed your client that you can't or, if you can, only with difficulty. You could, perhaps, find a source language typist to retype them for you or spend large amounts of time staring at them. If these items involve additional fees (which they probably do), you should be able to discuss specific figures with your client. Or you can simply recommend that they find someone else.


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Amy Taylor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:58
Member (2002)
Italian to English
A basic rule Mar 2, 2006

I know this won't help much right now, but you are learning the hard way that you shouldn't ever accept a project sight unseen. "A document" can mean many, many different things.

If the handwriting is truly illegible, you should contact your client immediately and inform them. If the document they are paying for ends up reading "Mr. [illegible], writing in his capacity as [illegible] declares [illegible]" etc., what good will it do them?

If you are really, really lucky, you might get someone at the agency (if your client is an agency) to type in the text that can be deciphered.

In the meantime, chin up! Most of us know just what this feels like. It will only happen once, right?

Amy Taylor


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Amy Taylor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:58
Member (2002)
Italian to English
Revealing assumptionss Mar 2, 2006

Paul Merriam wrote:

It frequently does. In many cases, clients assume that you can read it (after all, you know the source language better than the do).


Paul and I (Hi, Paul!) have both just revealed our own assumptions about the way we work. I receive the lion's share of this sort of work from agencies in my source language country, so often someone at the agency can be better equipped to interpret the handwriting than I am.

But when the client is from the target language country, you are indeed the expert, and Paul noted. That may play into your decision about what to do next.

Again, good luck.

Amy Taylor


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes Mar 2, 2006

That can be part of the deal, for an extra charge, of course. The alternative of getting the client to have these documents transcribed and typed out legibly at the origin is also a good one.

It just depends on what you think you can and cannot do. It's something that goes with the territory. However, document legibility must always be a factor in cost, or in accepting or declining the job as appropriate.

[Edited at 2006-03-02 03:14]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:58
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Cooperation with a native speaker Mar 2, 2006

I have an arrangement with a native speaker of my source language, whereby he helps me with handwriting and I do some proofreading for him. He can get far more out of the handwriting than I can.

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Iza Szczypka  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:58
English to Polish
+ ...
Bah Mar 2, 2006

What would you say to a package of about 90 pages of medical and psychological observation-diagnostic-treatment cards, written in medical scribble and then poorly photocopied? My February job
Even the assistance of native professionals didn't help at places, but definitely educated them as to the necessity of clear writing


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James Fite  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:58
Member (2004)
Russian to English
Fight fire with fire... Mar 22, 2006

You should fax them a third generation copy of a handwritten note stating that you'll translate their handwritten documents for twice your normal charge, plus $50 per hour with payment due three days prior to receipt of invoice. Just make sure you make your handwriting as illegible as possible. Not very helpful advice, but I hope you got a smile out of it anyway. ; )

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