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Are you supportive of dividing up a large translation project amongst a group of translators?
Thread poster: Imad Almaghary
Imad Almaghary
Local time: 20:54
English to Arabic
+ ...
Apr 4, 2006

A nice warm welcome to all of you

Are you supportive of dividing up a large translation project amongst a group of translators? Even at the expense of professionalism and quality.

Are you supportive of dividing up a large translation project amongst a group of translators? Even at the expense of professionalism and income. Would you allow this without telling your client? Would you say to client that you will do it solely and then divide it up and share it with other group of translators? If you divide it can you guarantee that it will be done quite perfectly as if it is done by one translator? Would you quite genuinely though think of income rather that project quality?

Thank you very much indeed. I would love to hear from you all.

Best Regards
Mr. Imad
Translator, writer and lecturer


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Mary Lalevee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:54
French to English
Dividing up a project Apr 5, 2006

In my experience, dividing up a project is almost always a disaster. I know sometimes it may be necessary but such a lot of work is involved in making sure the translations are consistent it hardly seems worth it.

To answer your question - no I would not do this. I would tell the client and ask for extra time either to be able to do it all myself or to coordinate and harmonise the translation by several translators.

One bad translation can destroy your reputation.


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KLS
Local time: 18:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Client education is required here Apr 5, 2006

Splitting a translation into a number of smaller units always leads to issues of quality and consistency, and is generally to be avoided if at all possible.

Unfortunately, experience tell us that there will always be occasions when a client absolutely must have a large document translated very quickly, and in these circumstances there may be no alternative other than to split up the job.

However, you should never do this without making the client fully aware of the risks involved. You should explain that there will inevitably be differences of style and approach in the various sections and that, no matter how much work you put in on standardising the terminology, some inconsistencies will remain. The client must then decide whether these risks are justified in view of the urgency.

Incidentally, it may help you to know the purpose for which the translation is required. If your client intends to publish the translation, for example, then questions of style and overall impression will no doubt be important, whereas if the translation is required only for information purposes, then the client may be prepared to sacrifice some quality in the interests of speed. But it should always be the client's decision.


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:54
Member (2005)
French to German
+ ...
Avoid if possible; but it's not always possible to avoid Apr 5, 2006

Imad Almaghary wrote:
Are you supportive of dividing up a large translation project amongst a group of translators? Even at the expense of professionalism and income.

If you find a way to avoid it, then by all means do so. But it is not always possible to avoid. This mainly depends on the size of the job to be translated and the time frame to do it in. Suppose, for instance, that a customer has 100.000 words to translate within three weeks. Suppose a translator can do around 20.000 words per week in that particular field and language combination. How do you do it without splitting the work? You evidently can't.

Would you allow this without telling your client?

The governing rule should be that the client should not be mislead. Naturally. You might plead that the client will understand on his/her own that the work will have to be split when s/he hands out impossibly much work for an impossibly short time frame.

If you divide it can you guarantee that it will be done quite perfectly as if it is done by one translator?

“Guarantee” is a big word. You should certainly dedicate significant time to the task of harmonizing the parts and co-ordinating the translators involved. This is what quality oriented agencies do, too, when they split jobs.

Would you quite genuinely though think of income rather that project quality?

Money doesn't come into this significantly. If it can't be done in the timeframe given, then it can't be done, no matter how much money is put onto the table. However, it is certainly fair to ask for pay for the co-ordination work involved when a job does have to be split.

P.

[Edited at 2006-04-05 07:53]


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Dina Abdo  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 20:54
Member (2005)
Arabic
+ ...
Mostly not! Apr 5, 2006

Just as simple as that!

Large volume projects are different. When talking about variable texts at once, you may select several translators to help you easily. When talking about one subject matter, selecting translators is for sure way harder.

I did it once or twice, and always told my client about it. Still, the results were always a disaster, and with most of the output I received, I had to work all the translation all over again AND pay the translator at the same time! i.e. it was a loss of both time and cash.

You may start dividing work when you know the translators you're sending for help. By time, some groups manage to understand eachothers in terms of style, rules and methods. It happens when they assign each others complete jobs not parts. The one sending the job will always send comments leading his/her colleagues at the end to what changes required and why. And by time, both parties start knowing what the other side exactly needs. Still, this needs a long time of co-operation between the group members; something that may take years to be established.

Out of my own experience, I wouldn't do that on a one topic project unless I know I'm ready, willing, and having time to FULLY over work the jobs sent later.

[Edited at 2006-04-05 08:38]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:54
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some answers... Apr 5, 2006

Imad Almaghary wrote:
Are you supportive of dividing up a large translation project amongst a group of translators?


Yes, as long as there are measures in place to ensure consistency where consistency is required. For example, if you regularly work along with one or two other people and you know how to translate in a common style, and you make sure the document is proofread by a single person who deliberately checks for inconsistencies, then you should be okay.

Would you allow this without telling your client?


No.

Would you say to client that you will do it solely and then divide it up and share it with other group of translators?


No... but nothing stops you from telling the client that you've run into problems and that you'd like to share the job with other people, and ask the client for permission to do this.

If you divide it can you guarantee that it will be done quite perfectly as if it is done by one translator?


No... but you can take steps to ensure an acceptable level of imperfection.

Would you quite genuinely though think of income rather that project quality?


Ethics. A professional translator is an honest translator.


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Cecilia Vela Segovia-Frund, CT  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 14:54
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
My two-party team... a positive experience Apr 5, 2006

I've been working with a translation partner for the last seven years.

My experience is very positive. Whenever any of us receive a project we discuss with the client the possibility of splitting and cross-editing.

Clients generally accept our suggestion, and they are unanimously happy with the results.

It is very good with rush projects, because we can accommodate them even if they are assigned while we are dealing with a longer work.

I think the keys of our success are:

-We are two professional translators with similar expertise and specializations. We both have +10 year experience, BAs in Translation and in BAs in other specialization subjects. Synergy is also a key factor in the association: my partner has a near-native level of English, while I'm very proficient in Spanish Grammar & Linguistics.

-Even if we live some 1,000 km apart, we have a very fluid communication, and we share frequent continuous education events and "business" meetings during the year. We also share our glossary building activities and have a shared virtual library of books and magazines which we discuss when the work is less demanding.

-Cross-editing is essential --after reading thousands and thousands of words written by the other person, and after editing each other on a daily basis, it’s easier to uniform your writing style.

-As you can offer competitive rates living in a low-budget country like Argentina, our marketing strategy is to apply regular global rates and give our clients a plus in quality. We then share our income at previously stipulated percents. Our accounting work is consolidated, thus less time-demanding. Besides, using high quality instead of low price as a trademark, we avoid battering the Eng>Spa global market.

This kind of association has worked for us. I think some team projects may work if conditions are professionally established. Obviously, client should always be aware of what you are doing.

Regards,

Cecilia Vela-Segovia


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Trevor Butcher
Local time: 19:54
English
Teamwork is key Apr 5, 2006

Splitting a job means you need a good management system and everyone must know what is expected of them. It is best if you can sit everyone in the same room so that issues can be discussed as they arise - but even here you cannot expect it to just 'happen' because many translators are very much used to making their own decisions.

If you cannot manage to get everyone together then you need to choose a suitable instant messengering/voice-over-internet system and make sure that everyone takes part.

However, what can be the most difficult part is accepting that you, as a translator, only have an opinion on how they text should be translated, and that your idea on how something should be translated may be no better or even worse than someone else's.

From my point of view, as a proofreader/copy-editor, watching a translator coordinating a joint project is highly satisfying - they start to use exactly the same expressions of outrage that I often use when doing a text


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Imad Almaghary
Local time: 20:54
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Being under pressure Apr 6, 2006

A very nice warm welcome to you all once again

I do respect and more than that appreciate your comments this is from one side, from the other side, the client has to agree for deadline grounds but the question in effect is whether he or she is satisfied and comfortable when dividing up the project!

Waiting for your kind comments and experience.
Yours
Mr. Imad Almaghary
Translator, writer and lecturer


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gad
United States
Local time: 13:54
Member
French to English
I'm suprized at the answers here Apr 7, 2006

Since I would think splitting up huge jobs would actually be quite common. If only one translator were to do the job, then the end client would have to wait quite awhile, but if the work is split up then the time frame is cut down considerably. The project manager then would be responsible for providing a general glossary and associated instructions regarding terminology, doubts, etc., and then makes sure that the entire project is proofread and edited for consistency.

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Imad Almaghary
Local time: 20:54
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Clients are not fully aware of many facts Apr 7, 2006

A very nice warm welcome Gad

Clients are not aware that the translator must read and understand the entire work.before beginning of translation.

Clients are not aware of the nature of the translation science.

Clients are not aware of the style accuracy.

More than one understanding would trigger some weakness to the work because no one can guarantee that too many people would have the same degree of understanding and the same level of conveying the idea since we all have different levels of education and style.

Translators only are aware fully of this fact.

More comments please
Mr. Imad Almaghary
Translator, writer and lectrer


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Katherine Mérignac  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:54
Member (2004)
French to English
It can be done Apr 7, 2006

I'm inclined to agree with Gad - I did this quite recently for a large project, and spent time proofing and checking for consistency at the end. The client then proofed at his end, and was delighted with the work.

If it's proofed properly, which I agree can be time-consuming, but less so than translating the whole thing, it can work quite well.

K


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Giuliana Buscaglione  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 19:54
Member (2001)
German to Italian
+ ...
Yes, to some conditions Apr 7, 2006

Hi,

It is possible, provided that there is a good editor, who assures consistency and quality throughout the text, as if it had been translated by one person only and that translators fully understand what *team work* is and exactly means. In my experience, some good translators simply can't work in a team.

On the contrary, working in a team and sharing experience improve the quality of the end product, provided that each member is ready to give and learn.

I'd never split up an assignment without asking my client first.


Giuliana


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gad
United States
Local time: 13:54
Member
French to English
But agencies ARE aware of those things Apr 7, 2006

Imad Almaghary wrote:

A very nice warm welcome Gad

Clients are not aware that the translator must read and understand the entire work.before beginning of translation.

Clients are not aware of the nature of the translation science.

Clients are not aware of the style accuracy.

More than one understanding would trigger some weakness to the work because no one can guarantee that too many people would have the same degree of understanding and the same level of conveying the idea since we all have different levels of education and style.

Translators only are aware fully of this fact.

More comments please
Mr. Imad Almaghary
Translator, writer and lectrer


The agency IS aware of these things and as I stated above, the PM oversees the project to ensure these things. This is not an uncommon thing, and it's not necessarily just a bunch of unrelated and inconsistent translations thrown together, if the project manager takes ownership for the project.


[Edited at 2006-04-07 10:34]


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Imad Almaghary
Local time: 20:54
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I think there is a difference between client and agency Apr 7, 2006

Welcome once again

Dear, Giuliana Buscaglione, why you need to ask the client first if you are sure about what you say?!

Katherine Mérignac and Gad, I think, if I am right, that there is a difference between client and agency. "Client" is someone who is not aware of translation science and how it functions. "Client" is a person like being a student or one ordinary member of the public who only is aware of transferring information from one language to another without understanding the concepts of localization, word for word meaning, subtitling, and so on. I find a great deal of difficulty explaining to non-translators how Trados functions. I hope I succeeded in conveying here what is in my mind and what I am thinking of.

"Client" is concerned when to get the work ready and how much to pay for it. And he or she thinks about your permission to split the work thinks of it as a form of respect and recognizing him or her and therefore will say YES.

"Agency" has awareness more than translators who are beginners because it has been indulged in this word for dozens of years and usually the board of governors is groups of translators or some people who usually communicate with translators on a daily basis.

You are right "agencies" are aware of risk but "clients" unfortunately are not.
Try asking any client simple questions about basic concepts of translation and you will find out that he or she will not be able to provide an answer.

Your comments are valued
Imad
Translator, writer and lecturer


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