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How to deal with reference material
Thread poster: Sonja Allen

Sonja Allen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:50
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
Nov 9, 2006

In a couple of occasions I received translations done by another translator on the same subject as a reference material for the job I had to do. As so often, this reference material contained a sentence or paragraph that also occurred at some point in the translation job I had to do. As the agency had said that the client had been very happy with the previous translation, I took over the repeat sentence or paragraph one-by-one. The proofreader, however, wasn't happy with that and changed that paragraph in question to her/his style. So next time, when I was in the same situation (but with a different job and text) I didn't take over a previously translated paragraph but adapted it to what I thought would sound better in that case. But then the proofreader changed it all back to the way it had been translated in the previous translation and told the agency that I was not adhering to the reference material (which made me look a bit silly first, but I could explain).

In both cases it was just a matter of style, so I am not talking here about proper translation errors. But I somehow felt like you can never do it right and my question is, how would you deal with reference material that contains a paragraph or sentence exactly like in the translation job you have to do? Just copy it seems to be the easy solution (why bother with changing it if the client has already been happy with it?) but somehow this does feel a bit cheeky and the paragraph might not match the style of the rest of the translation. I therefore much prefer it to do it my own way (taking of course certain terminology used by the previous translator into account) but this seems a bit risky. So what is your opinion?


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:50
English to German
+ ...
Do what your customer wants, as long as you can live with it Nov 9, 2006

If my customer asks me to include parts of a previous translation without changing them, then I do this.

If they are wrong or bad style, I point this out and ask whether they still wish to keep them. If yes, it is out of my hands and their proofreader's job. If they ask me to make changes, I do it and then the proofreader can have a look at the new version.

Whenever I have the freedom to translate a text from scratch I do my best. Whenever I have to include previous translations (e.g. "untouchable" 100% matches) I do my best as far as the customer allows it.

As for proofreaders: so much in a text depends on taste and personal style - apart from real mistakes I just would not bother. Unless, of course, it is a literary work published with your name in it. Then the proofreader has to convince you that his or her version is really better. Otherwise let them have their little piece of fun, too. Just make sure they do not ask for a discount because their proofreader had an extra creative day.


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Hector Aires
Local time: 05:50
Member
English to Spanish
Do as Claudia says, don't worry, be happy... Nov 9, 2006

Claudia Krysztofiak wrote:

If my customer asks me to include parts of a previous translation without changing them, then I do this.

If they are wrong or bad style, I point this out and ask whether they still wish to keep them. If yes, it is out of my hands and their proofreader's job. If they ask me to make changes, I do it and then the proofreader can have a look at the new version.

Whenever I have the freedom to translate a text from scratch I do my best. Whenever I have to include previous translations (e.g. "untouchable" 100% matches) I do my best as far as the customer allows it.

As for proofreaders: so much in a text depends on taste and personal style - apart from real mistakes I just would not bother. Unless, of course, it is a literary work published with your name in it. Then the proofreader has to convince you that his or her version is really better. Otherwise let them have their little piece of fun, too. Just make sure they do not ask for a discount because their proofreader had an extra creative day.


I have a story on that. Last year I performed several E>>Spa translations (with QXP edition) for a direct customer I "catched" surfing over the net. I was also in contact with plant engineers and salesmen in order to perform an accurate translation and made some good friend as well !! Their users Spanish manuals were the worst translated I ever saw, not a matter of style, they are full of inaccuracies and ortographic, grammar mistakes and typos, in fact what in Spanish we called "burradas" (dovel of donkeys); however I used them as a guidance. I told them the manuals were very bad writen but replied they were not willing to correct those documents.
This year the firm decided to concentrate all their translation tasks over several languages with an Europen agency and suggested me to contact the agency because they were quite satisfied with the work I did.
I did it and agreed a better rate per word so I'm very happy with this. However, I noticed the agency to be carefull with my now, former customer manuals because they were full of mistakes, missing concepts and so.
I currently receive two or three files a week with litle technical changes over those manuals and translate just the changes. I usually find "untouchable" sentences, in such cases I cannot resist the temptation and let them as they are but notice the agency how should it be. Then they'll decide what to do.
Hope this helps. Sorry my English, I really envy yours.
El Étor


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 04:50
English to French
+ ...
If the client wants you to keep it as it is, then keep it as it is Nov 9, 2006

I think in this particular case, the client is not managing the job(s) right. If s/he tells you to keep the segments that their client was happy with, then he should also tell the editor/proofreader this, to avoid corrections that are truly unnecessary (this can even lower costs for your client), and clearly in your case, to avoid any misunderstanding and frustration. It could be that the proofreader/editor is just trying to prove to the client that s/he is worth the money s/he's being paid (happens once in a while) although it is not necessarily the case.

As mentioned many times before, your contract is with your client. Therefore, just follow the instructions you get from her/him and don't worry about the proofreader/editor too much. Also, when such situations arise, gently educate your client so s/he learns to communicate to all members of the team what is expected of each of them and what they should know about the work of the other members. Sometimes, you have to let them in on what others do so they fully understand their role in the team - and this is necessary to do a good job.

All the best!


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funlad
China
Local time: 16:50
English
thanks for sharing Nov 10, 2006

Dear colleague,
I am kevin from China, in Chinese-english interpreting .
I appreciate the post you sent here, and you see, I am needing the materials like this . personally , a s an interpreter I feel that the reference things should be as many as possible, BUT you do have to have enough time to make them available in your brain .
best wishes,
kevin
cell :86-13610892307


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Sonja Allen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:50
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Just to clarify Nov 10, 2006

Just to clarify: The client wasn't specifically saying to me what I should do with repeat paragraphs. Don't think he was even aware that they existed. The reference material was just given me "to ensure continuity of terminology" and I was just generally told that the client had been happy with this translation.
So in the end, the two proofreaders and me each just applied their own interpretation of whether to copy a repeat paragraph 1:1 or change it according to once own style.


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 10:50
French to Dutch
+ ...
Next time, ask the client Nov 10, 2006

Sometimes clients don't like if you change one word of the texts in the reference material (or TM), especially if it has been "validated" by someone. In other cases there are errors or things that can be said better, and the client doesn't mind or is happy with it. Why don't you ask the client?

Please mind that having reference material means that you have good working conditions. I was translating for years without any feedback (even not internet sites). Now things are changing, most clients understand that they have to provide you with a basis.


[Edited at 2006-11-10 13:34]


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