Mobile menu

Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Anything to do against butter-finger proofreaders?
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 06:29
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Mar 2, 2007

Sorry if I did not search the forum for similar topics before posting. And I think this issue is not new. However, I decided to share some of my worst „after proof-reader“ situation in my 11 years of practice because it caused quite a mix of humour and black humour.

I just had the following situation:

One agency contacted me offering an interesting, big volume project in the area I know and like most of all. They appeared to be reputable people (like an agency) with a good name (I collected some info about them). They have asked to do a test translation. Based on their reputation, there could not be such a possibility that they could send a "free-test" as a real translation (here it is not the case). So, agency seemed really serious, brand was reputable and they wanted kinda insurance for quality. I am actually a little bit reluctant about free test translations and even considered stopping these, but decided to make it - the text was simple, I knew the area very well, with such texts I have been working for almost 7 years and knew all the nuances. So, did, sent, they replied „thanks, received“ AND...

a couple of days later I got the "evaluation" – at first I thought they have sent me some wrong or another text. Then started to read in a more detail and felt a little bit crazy...Well, imagine that - the text size was ~1200 characters, and it appeared that I managed to make 3 omissions, 4 technical miscomprehensions and 8 grammar mistakes - yes, GRAMMAR mistakes working as a free-lancer for 11 years. OK, I do not say that I never make mistakes. I have asked to substantiate the grammar mistakes at least (because I saw none), and, to substantiate or, or at least, to explain briefly in general why the proof-reader changed a correct text into nonsenses.

Now listen:

1) the proof-reader himself/herself managed to insert some ELEMENTARY school grammar mistakes (yes, these can be proven) into the sentences and parts of the sentences where he/she „corrected“;
2) the proof-reader managed to insert 20 complete technical nonsenses (it was ONE page of text about safety systems of a passenger vehicle). Why technical nonsenses - just a couple of „illustrative examples“:

a) source was something like "SRS Airbag deploys in 0,4 seconds when the safety sensors register a collision" into something like "A pillow holds up the passenger for 0,4 seconds after the collision takes place" ("SRS airbag" into my language is translated literally like "oro pagalvė" meaning "air-bag" and "pagalvė" also means "a sleeping pillow")...
b) one more - "The SRS airbag system activates after the driver turns on the ignition (i.e. it is „switched on“)" was changed into something like "The pillows blow up when one turns on the ignition"...
c) „remote lock“ (that thing you lock and unlock the doors of the car) was changed in correct translation as „remote control of the car“ (like a toy car one controls via remote radio control)
c) one more - "The SRS airbag system activates after

Well, and some 20 "changes" like that (per ONE page). Yes, and these nonsenses inserted by the proof-reader were true (I am not inventing anything, or whatever).

You know, after reading the text till the end, and finally – the comment of the proof-reader (verbatim sounds like that „that translator makes too many grammar mistakes and is not suitable“) – the first idea that spontaneously came into my head – to take the biggest calibre Winchester gun and blow the head of that butter-finger proofer off. Later started laughing at the stupidity of the "corrections".

3) What I‘d like to discuss here:
a) what would you do in my situation? It is not the case then a professional proof-reader suggested some improvements, had some other preferences, or even found some mistakes I did not notice – these are total absurd and I wrote an email to the client explaining the situation – the answer was something „Sorry, but we do not understand anything in the target language and we trust our proof-reader“ – yes, sorry, your preference whom to trust, but your problem that you do not understand the target language, but you say there were mistakes and did not provide any single substantiation (because the text is simply correct and they cannot substantiate what does not exist).
b) Well, it was not a tragedy or the end of the world, but I spent time, sent a decent text. Do you think I shall invoice them for the "free test" and the time wasted on such an absurd? I feel doing so not for these dozen of euros, but for the principle as such an "evaluation" is nothing less than an insult to the translator.
c) How do you solve similar situations if you had these and how do you solve the requests for free test translations? One extreme - if one takes all free tests anyone requests, well, there will be no time for paid work, but being too stubborn and say "I never do free translation texts" is not the best solution as one has to have some flexibility in the eyes of new clients (there are many decent people who really want to have a proof on quality);
d) the very principle – isn’t if the proof-reader who has to prove if the translation was of insufficient quality with real and/or supposed mistakes (and, at least, give some explanations on the opinion), or is it the translator who has to prove he/she is not a donkey, but a human being?

I would appreciate any ideas, help, and considerations.

Regards,
Marius


[Edited at 2007-03-02 18:33]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Natasa Grubor  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 05:29
Member
English to Serbian
+ ...
Something to do Mar 2, 2007

I had 2 similar cases and I know how you feel. But i had to do something to calm down myself and i did. Unfortunately it was to be regulary paid work and in both cases it was my first work for those agencies. I took texts, went line by line, explained, put relevant links and spent 2 hours on text that was translated within the same time.
The first agency never responded although they had great rate BB here on Proz. Another one openly admitted it was probably was between agencies - end client sent my translation to proofreader of another agency, but they could not trust me 100% because it was my first work for them. It really made me feel miserable and angry and almost in tears! Then, after 2 months i got email and since then the second agency is one who regulary sends me loads of work. Those 2 hours really paid off... huh!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 06:29
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Mar 2, 2007

Dear Nataša,

Yes, good points. And it proofreader's who makes professional remarks is always a pleasure to work with. I havce one client with whom we revise and improve the same translation at least in 3-4 versions - they are very demanding, but the final result (highest level translation) is just a pleasure to read for both sides + the translator gets more and more practical experience in that area - things are well-explained, friendly and ethical approach, and understanding that the translator cannot know things better than a technician of the area.

And even the were cases with minor things - even if the proofreader was not quite right, things were discussed and a compromise was found. And yes, I had cases, when my quality for some "mysterious" reasons was not so OK based on the test translation, and after several months it turned out that it was not test translation, but a higher rate that mattered...The client turned back without even mentioning the test translation, ordered jobs, + had to sort out the mess made by the previous translators whose "test translations were OK" (even translating some texts from 0 as correction of them was too difficult to make due to the number of mistakes).

But imagine the text of one page with 21 technical nonsense inserted by the "proofreader". I think that the proofreader shall be much higher (or at least on the same) level in comparison to the translator doing a test job. In this case there was a total idiot (I cannot find a better word)...Shall it be the translator's problem that the agency "does not understand the source language"? Shall it be the translator's problem that they cannot find a good proofreader? And also - shall the translator prove that the translation was OK or shall the proofreader prove that the translation was not OK? I think there should be the latter option?

They finally hired another proofreader after my detailed explanations, so I will wait for the feedback again - maybe that 2nd person is at least literate on a minimum level


Direct link Reply with quote
 
FJPN  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
I have had two cases myself Mar 2, 2007

One was a sample translation for a translation agency based in Spain. Proofer said I seemed to have sound knowledge of the subject (automotive industry) but said the quality of my translation was not acceptable, pointing out the fact that I had translated into Spanish the names of colours of cables. Some three months later I received a message from the same agency but from a different PM asking me to help them with an urgent job. I did not accept the job but took the opportunity to thell them I was not prepared to work with an agency that hired so unprofessional proofreaders. It really made me mad for I have been working for Daewoo, Ford, Opel and Volvo for more than 7 years now, and have been involved in technical translation and interpretation for over 35 years.

Second case was a paid job for an agency based in Beijing. At the beginning everything was OK with them but seemingly they hired trainees or very young unexperienced people who had learned Latin American Spanish, not very well I am afraid. When I received the proofed text, I could not help blowing my top, not only because that was L.A. Spanish but also because it was Spanglish, so I had to put everything back in order in European Spanish and explained why the "corrections" made by their proof reader were not correct. That was the last job I did for that company, despite their apologizing to me and asking me to reconsider my decision of not working for them anymore.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 06:29
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Second opinion Mar 2, 2007

I think the best you can do is to ask for a second opinion of another proofreader. Then just cross your fingers and hope that that person is sensible and honest.

Direct link Reply with quote
 
Barbara Micheletto
Italy
Local time: 05:29
Russian to Italian
+ ...
So good... Mar 2, 2007

they asked you to do a text in the first place! Imagine what would have happened, had that person proofread the job after you had completed all the translation!
To me, the fact that you spent some valuable time in doing a useless text is unfair, but the worst thing actually is that you lost the opportunity to have assigned a big and interesting job! This is really unfair... Therefore I do wish the second proofreader will get things right, the agency will apologize and they will assign you all the job.
All the best.

B.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:29
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Don't get angry Mar 3, 2007

Dear Marius,

I do test translations. In a world where we're not allowed to talk about previous jobs, test translations are one of the few ways clients can assess our work.

I'll do them for free and never when I don't have ample time to them the best I can. After (just) seven years in this business I don't take any bullshit from anyone, certainly not if I'm thoroughly familiar with the subject. My grammar is immaculate and my translations are faultless and targeted for the given audience.

I'll aggressively and mercilessly attack any proofreader who dares to question any word I've translated in a test translation. I'll dissect any comment the proofreader has made and will refute it with all means available.

Sometimes I'll land a new account, sometimes i'll hear no more of the prospect. That's doing business.

Regards,
Gerard


Direct link Reply with quote
 

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:29
English to French
+ ...
Happens all the time Mar 3, 2007

All I can tell you is to stick by your version. Explain every single "correction" you don't agree with, provide references to back it up and politely ask them to please have a second person take a look.

You have been labeled a "bad translator" by someone who seems to have no idea of what translation actually is. Saying that you are a bad translator, in your current situation, is simply a lie. Will you let the potential client believe that?

Just stcik by your translation and let them know, politely, that their proofreader is dead wrong. If this ends up not turning into a job, so be it - but your reputation is still important.

All the best!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Irene Elmerot  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 05:29
Member (2005)
Dutch to Swedish
+ ...
Proofreaders are humans also :-) Mar 3, 2007

Since I get some 50% of my income from being a proofreader, I must say I'm sorry on behalf of that colleague. That's not the way to treat a translator.

A proofreader should give comments on test translations, and explaining what kind of mistake the translator might have done, preferrably quoting some work of reference. And of course, if the proofreader is not a native of the language, or (as happened to me once when I made a test translation from Dutch) has lived in another country for too long, so they've made mistakes in the proofing, you should tell them immediately, preferrably by quoting some reference work yourself, or just explaining (like the example with Spanglish here) that it's a different kind of language.

When I did this the only time I got a bad proofreading (that was told to me), I simply sent a comment telling the proofreader what book to read to learn more, and after that I got a lot of jobs from that agency


Direct link Reply with quote
 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 06:29
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yes Mar 3, 2007

Irene Elmerot wrote:

A proofreader should give comments on test translations, and explaining what kind of mistake the translator might have done, preferrably quoting some work of reference.


Yes, EXACTLY - the proofreader HAS to provide some substantiations - maybe not even to any change he/she has made, but, at least on the most critical things - whether it was a real or just a supposed error. However, their first proofreader has not managed to send any explanations, substantiations or whatever despite that I asked the client for at least 3 times. For a very simple reason - how one can substantiate a correction for a non-existing mistake ?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Elena Robles Sanjuan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:29
English to Spanish
I don´t even get a proper assessment of my test Mar 3, 2007

My experience in Spain is very negative in this sense, as I have never, ever managed to get a decent explanation on why I didn´t achieve the quality that they consider to be standard.
I have fought with many agencies to get a response other than "we´re sorry to inform you that we won´t be considering your application this time". They never come back to me offering what should be an account of the proofreader´s work.
Even worse, sometimes, when I ask them to be more specific, they never reply.
The last experience was with a big, very well-known agency in Spain.
I applied for a freelance position with them through an employment portal. I never got any feedback from them.
Then, they sent me an e-mail asking me if I´d be interested in taking a test, as they´re currently expanding their database. I sent it and heard nothing for a month.
When they sent me an e-mail again, it was to ask me once again if I was interested in taking a test. I explained that I had already sent them the test, and that was when I found out they had lost it, together with my cv from the previous application. As I fumed about their lack of professionalism, they immediately replied saying that I hadn´t passed the test.
I really look forward to the day when a Spanish agency takes a translation test seriously enough to stop making excuses and offer a decent evaluation.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Iza Szczypka  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:29
English to Polish
+ ...
My 2 cents Mar 3, 2007

In such situations a translator MUST fight - not for the job, not for the prospective client, but for his own reputation and self-esteem.
I remember a 2-page job where a proofreader made 30+ corrections (with no substantiation whatsoever) - it took me full two hours to substantiate my responses to every single one of those, but I couldn't resist the pleasure of providing a few references to most basic dictionaries Needless to say I had to approve of just TWO (minor) corrections out of the 30+
Still, I consider the time well-spent - reputation and self-esteem are not easily earned. What does it matter if you get jobs from agencies relying on low-quality proofreading or not? The sooner they disappear from your professional life, the better - less hassle, less adrenaline ...
On the other hand, cooperation with a good (non-aggressive and knowledgeable) proofreader is a blessing - you learn sooo much ...

[Edited at 2007-03-03 13:22]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Inge Gomez-Michel  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
Simultaneous interpreting test Mar 4, 2007

My experience was about a simultaneous interpreting test on US Patrol Borders over a regular telephone, (long distance). Oh Boy!!

First, I asked the client for some material to prepare myself for "the test", such as subject matter so I could learn the technical vocabulary, concepts etc. Since I didn't have any experience interpreting for The US Border Patrol and I am not a walking encyclopedia!

They e-mailed me a general very broad web page which was not helpful at all because it didn't really tell me what they were going to be talking about. The web page was not focus on the test subject and had hundreds of links. I had no clue where to go and my client was not able to get the text that was going to be read for "the test" from her clients (US Patrol Borders) either. I got the web page an hour before the test and I kind of glance at it 'cause I had agreed to take "this test" at 5pm that same day and I got home at 4:30pm. After a day's work and it just happened that that day I had a trial. Needless to say I was exhausted! Here, when we do trials we don't work in teams, (like taking a break every 20min), no, we do it alone.

It's 5pm and they call for "the test".
First problem: the communication is atrocious, there is static.
Second problem: I can hear my own voice loud and it is interfering with the voice of the person that is reading the text, so I have a problem hearing the long distance voice reading the text, therefore I keep asking her to repeat the sentence, which obviously is not a good sign of a professional interpreter.... and so on..It went for about 15min. but it seemed like an hour.
Well, what a nightmare...

They didn't pick me for the job obviously, I didn't expect them to, under the circumstances, but I felt awful for days...

I am a certified court interpreter and I do between 15-20 hrs. of active interpreting a week. I do the 3 modes: consecutive, simultaneous and sight translation.
And I have been doing this for 20 yrs.
I have two certifications.

After a few days of recovering, not that I needed the job but sometimes I like to take different assignments, since court can become a little boring. But it was recovering from the awful feeling of failure, incompetency.. I arrived at the conclusion that I will never, ever put myself in an unjust situation such as this, without proper preparation, equipment, and specially without being able to hear...
How ridiculous was I to accept such a ridiculous request and put myself into the hands of people that are not even interpreters and don't understand anything about this sophisticated skill and think that interpreters are machines!
How ridiculous! My fault!!!!
Lets stop throwing our pearls to the swines!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 06:29
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yes, but time is money Mar 4, 2007

Iza Szczypka wrote:

In such situations a translator MUST fight - not for the job, not for the prospective client, but for his own reputation and self-esteem.

On the other hand, cooperation with a good (non-aggressive and knowledgeable) proofreader is a blessing - you learn sooo much ...

[Edited at 2007-03-03 13:22]


Yes, I agree - even if there is no further feasibility, nor even wish to cooperate or have anything to do with such a client who hires illiterate proofreaders, the translation has to protect his/her own self-respect (just on the matter of principle).

But, as you said (I also did it) - these explanations take time - I have also spend more than 2 hours clearly substantiating why these things are NOT mistakes (with references, explanations, etc. making it more than obvious) and also indicated several examples of the nonsenses of the proofreader. On the other hand - time is money. Why we should spend time on such absurds when we could spend time on paid jobs or, at least, spend it on our leasure time.

And finally - WHY THE TEST TRANSLATIONS ARE USUALLY FREE-OF-CHARGE ? "If, Dear Sirs, you are so serious and so cautious about quality, work on the highest standards and have a policy and technical procedures for quality set out in 32 pages (well, it is just a trivial thing if you do not understand a single word in the target language - but you are VERY serious about the quality - it is the most important thing - where is the problem to give a couple of pages to the translator you want to check on his/her usual rate and you will have no further moral obligations to give him/her any further feedback why or if you want to work or do not want to work with him/her?" Why be so serious requesting free test jobs and then hiring some freak to find non-existing mistakes? This is not the matter of money here, just the matter of principle...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 06:29
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
and yes Mar 4, 2007

Working with a high-level proofreader is more like a pleasure, than work...However, such a pleasure does not happen often (as any other pleasant things)

Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Maria Castro[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Anything to do against butter-finger proofreaders?

Advanced search


Translation news





Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »
TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs