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How to deal with non-native PMs
Thread poster: casey

casey
United States
Local time: 20:59
Member
Japanese to English
Jun 20, 2007

I'm facing a dilemma right now. I received a new job that is due tomorrow. It is a continuation of a previous job I did for the same company. The PM told me to follow the wording of the previous file and included it as a reference.

At first I wondered why such a request was necessary, since the original translation was mine to begin with. When I looked at the file, however, it was heavily modified. The (intended) meaning was still the same, but there were loads of grammar mistakes that had been introduced making the text incomprehensible in some places.

I don't know if it was the PM (not a native English speaker) or the end client that made these horrendous changes. My question is, should I mention the mistakes or just deliver the translation with no comments?

Obviously, I am not going to purposefully insert grammar mistakes into my translation. Should I, however, point out that whoever updated the file needs to go back to school?

My concern is that if it is the PM that has made these changes, they may have slipped by the client this time, but the end client may notice in the future and stop sending the files. And I like the subject matter, so I don't want that to happen....


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:59
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Suggestion Jun 20, 2007

Let them know of grammar mistakes and suggest to have them get it reviewed by another *native* speaker. Otherwise YOU will be at risk of being blamed for the mistakes, if the client or the agency comes around to the same conclusion (getting it eviewed).

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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 20:59
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Comment about it, politely Jun 20, 2007

Hi Casey

Who edited your translation isn't your problem. The PM shouldn't be the proofreader, so comment about the mistakes you noticed without asking who did that. Your duty is mentioning but not judging (don't "point out that whoever updated the file needs to go back to school"). You can aslo say that you're afraid this could be noticed by the client.

And do your translation as always, unless there's something good to take from the revised translation. They won't be able to reproach anything to you later.

Claudia


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casey
United States
Local time: 20:59
Member
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
I thought so, too. Jun 20, 2007

Your duty is mentioning but not judging (don't "point out that whoever updated the file needs to go back to school").


Ha, ha. That was only a joke. I wouldn't actually say that.


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Eva Blanar  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 02:59
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Looks like client job Jun 20, 2007

I think you ought to ask that question (without giving your evaluation and definitely without mentioning grammar and school) - but I am afraid it was the client. If it were people from the agency, they would have told you about that, pointing out "typical mistakes" etc. - I don't think they insist on extra work to be done by themselves.

The only solution to the problem I can think of is to prepare a "terminology list", including the expressions changed in your first translation, requesting the client to review. This might save you from the problem of having a different proofreader/ editor/ controller now, who insists on your original versions... would be funny, but inefficient.

Well, a silly situation, but finally the client (and not you) shall be happy with the result. Unless the translator's name is mentioned, I would not care about grammatical mistakes either.


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casey
United States
Local time: 20:59
Member
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
An example Jun 20, 2007

One example of what I'm talking about is this:

"Dirt and grime may get tracked into the vehicle by the workers' shoes" got changed to "Dirt and grime may get the vehicles tracked."

There are worse things than this, but posting them might give away what I'm working on. Anyway, nothing has been improved; that much is certain.


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casey
United States
Local time: 20:59
Member
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
This happened to me once before, actually Jun 20, 2007

One of the reasons I ask is that this happened to me once before with a different agency. I got a steady flow of press releases from a major company in Japan, and the PM changed my translations introducing several grammar mistakes (such as adding "the" in front of "Japan's largest") that a native speaker would never make. The job was lost, and I never got to do the press releases again. I pointed out the mistakes, but the PM said, "That is how we turned it in, so I can't tell the client now."

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casey
United States
Local time: 20:59
Member
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
For those not in Japan... Jun 20, 2007

This is apparently pretty common practice here. Many agencies get a native English speaker to do the Japanese to English translation, and then they hire a native Japanese speaker to check the work. Due to cost constraints, if the Japanese speaker finds a "mistake" (usually because their English skills are not high enough to understand what was written) they are the ones that change it, and the lower quality translation is then delivered to the client.

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Henrik Pipoyan  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:59
Member (2004)
English to Armenian
Hi Casey Jun 20, 2007

I agree completely with Claudia.

The PM could hardly have edited your translation, so feel free to let them know politely that the translation has not improved after editing, and quote some obvious grammar mistakes. Even if it turns out that it was the PM, who had edited the text, you didn't know that, so you obviously had no intention to insult the PM. And of course, you don't have to copy the grammar mistakes. The client is always right, but not when he is wrong:) If they have used some less successful terms in the translation, and want you to keep consistency, I think you can go to this sacrifice, but still I would let the client know why my term is better.


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casey
United States
Local time: 20:59
Member
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Henrik Jun 20, 2007

Henrik Pipoyan wrote:

I agree completely with Claudia.

The PM could hardly have edited your translation, so feel free to let them know politely that the translation has not improved after editing, and quote some obvious grammar mistakes. Even if it turns out that it was the PM, who had edited the text, you didn't know that, so you obviously had no intention to insult the PM. And of course, you don't have to copy the grammar mistakes. The client is always right, but not when he is wrong:) If they have used some less successful terms in the translation, and want you to keep consistency, I think you can go to this sacrifice, but still I would let the client know why my term is better.


In fact, it is not terminology. They kept my terminology; they just ruined the grammar. I think some of the sentences were difficult for the non-native checker to understand (because it is not a machine translation), so they tried to "fix" it. I wouldn't mind if it was just terminology, because in Japan sometimes strange terminology is used and everybody in the company understands it anyway.


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Anita Cassidy  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2005)
English to German
tell them as soon as possible Jun 20, 2007

This has happened to me before, too. Just to cover yourself, you should probably let your agency know sooner rather than later that you don't agree with all (or any) of the changes they made to your previous translation. That way, even though you can't stop them from butchering your translations after you've handed them in, you might be saving yourself a lot of hassle later if the end client complains about mistakes introduced by someone else.
All the best
Anita


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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:59
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Translation from native-speaker English to "learner English" Jun 20, 2007

casey wrote:

"Dirt and grime may get tracked into the vehicle by the workers' shoes" got changed to "Dirt and grime may get the vehicles tracked."



casey wrote:

Many agencies get a native English speaker to do the Japanese to English translation, and then they hire a native Japanese speaker to check the work.


The person who has "corrected" the translation has translated native-speaker English into what I charitably call "learner English".
This is no longer YOUR translation, and you should make this clear.


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Anne Goff  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:59
French to English
+ ...
Curious Jun 20, 2007

I agree with everyone else, be polite, but point it out soon.

Let us know what you do and how it turns out!

[Edited at 2007-06-20 18:01]


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Owen Davies
Japan
Local time: 09:59
Member (2007)
Japanese to English
+ ...
You're not alone... Jun 21, 2007

Hi Casey,
Yes, I have come across this a number of times in Japan. It's quite disheartening to be honest. One translation I did was for a website - the site was selling products and so all the translations were aimed at "painting the best picture" of the product. Something that was requested by the client. I checked the website after delivering the translation and everything had been changed. I contacted the agency and inquired politely whether there had been a problem with my original translation as I notice they had all been changed. They assured me there was no problem and that they were perfectly happy with my translation. The client had decided to use their own in-house translation instead...I still receive work from the client, and even from the same company! Anyway, it's quite likely that your PM didn't make the changes, but perhaps the client did. Especially if the agency are happy with your work, as they clearly are. A friend of mine had this problem with a direct client using the phrase "internet access can be hijacked without the user's knowledge". "Without the user's knowledge" caused all kinds of uproar. The client used the following example of why this translation was wrong. "I failed the test without my knowledge" They were adamant...
Anyway, I have found that asking if there was a problem with the initial translation is a good way to get into a polite discussion about the changes you have noticed and the problems stemming from them.
Good luck!
Owen


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casey
United States
Local time: 20:59
Member
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, everybody Jun 21, 2007

I'll let the agency know when I turn in the translation this evening. If I hear anything back from them I'll let you know how the story ends.

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