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Dilemma regarding client reviews
Thread poster: Cecilia Falk

Cecilia Falk  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:59
English to Swedish
Nov 15, 2007

I have been working on a few large medical projects for years. I have a very good overview of the UI and mistakes that have been made in the original text over the years. I have queried and pointed out these mistakes to the bureau and client many times.

However, there are constantly new PMs and new client reviewers, and they do not seem to have access to this passed information, so they keep changing things that should not be changed. I have patiently pointed this out, and it is fine for a while, until a new PM/reviewer enters the stage.
The new PMs do not really want to hear these things, and prefer to stick their heads in the sand, which is perhaps understandable, as they deal with at least 10 languages on these projects.

It is causing me a lot of extra work and is starting to feel like a Sisyphean task.
Should I give in and just implement their incorrect changes? It does not feel good or right, but maybe there is no other solution.

Best regards,
Cecilia


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:59
Italian to English
+ ...
I wouldn't give in Nov 15, 2007

I understand how you must feel, as the same thing happens to me whenever a new end client interface comes along. Fortunately for me, my main agency is very strong on consistency of terminology and uses a small group of translators/revisers who share a common glossary of terms, hammered out over the years and agreed with the varous end clients.

I suggest this could be a solution for you: create a glossary of commonly disputed terms, what you consider the correct translation to be and why. You could also include incorrect translations and why they're incorrect. This can then be shared with your client and the end client. At the very least, it'll mean you won't have to waste time explaining the same problems over and over again (you can just refer them to the glossary, or copy and paste the info they need). At best, you'll educate your client and not have them keep asking you the same questions. Of course, you'll have to update it whenever a new term crops up, but the main work is in creating it. And in the long run it should save you time and frustration.


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Jalapeno
Local time: 12:59
English to German
... Nov 15, 2007

If pointing it out repeatedly doesn't solve the problem, there's always the more drastic approach: Stop working for the client (if you can afford it).

Maries idea of creating a glossary is an excellent alternative, of course. You could suggest this to the PM and have him/her forward your glossary to the end client for approval.

[Edited at 2007-11-15 10:24]


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Rui de Carvalho  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:59
English to Portuguese
+ ...
growing problem nowadays Nov 15, 2007

This is indeed a growing problem nowadays and was caused by the bunch of ignorants who devised the ISO standard for the translation sector as well as all those people who stick to this weird standard.
In fact, who is a reviewer? Not a real, ethical translator, because our deontology does not allow to mix up with the work of a colleague. They are young, unexperienced want-to-be-translators, revising the work of, normally, seasoned and experienced translators. They just makes changes for the sake of show off, trying to denote some level of competence they will probably acquire 20 years later.
I don't even look at any revision and take the care of letting the client know my posture beforehand. Any change he makes it's his responsibility.


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:59
Spanish to English
+ ...
Amen Nov 15, 2007

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:

I understand how you must feel, as the same thing happens to me

I suggest this could be a solution for you: create a glossary of commonly disputed terms,



I understand you too Cecilia. I guess it's a common problem and a very frustrating one at that.

Marie's advice is priceless; I'd implement it if for no other reason than to maintain your own mental health.

Good luck!


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Cecilia Falk  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:59
English to Swedish
TOPIC STARTER
Very frustrating Nov 15, 2007

Hello all,
And thank you for all good suggestions and comments.
This is indeed a growing problem! Reviews often take place exactly as you describe, Rui.

Over the years I have used the approach suggested by Marie-Hélène. I have also written long documents describing why reviews should not be conducted this way and suggestions for guidelines to the reviewers, I have compiled excerpts from various Style Guides to emphasis my points (when the reviewer clearly is not a linguist), etc.

My views have been valued, and I’ve had a very good working relationship with many of the PMs over the years. But now there is yet another round of new PMs and reviewers and the same thing starts over again.

Stop working for this client is an option, especially in view of the exchange rate for the dollar. The reason I have not done it yet is that it is a client I’ve had for many years and been very happy to work with in the past.

Anyway, thanks for your support!

Best regards,
Cecilia


[Edited at 2007-11-15 14:06]


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:59
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
"our deontology does not allow to mix up with the work of a colleague"??? Nov 15, 2007

Rui de Carvalho wrote:

In fact, who is a reviewer? Not a real, ethical translator, because our deontology does not allow to mix up with the work of a colleague.


I agree that a review done by a less experienced translator is often unhelpful, and might in fact introduce errors, but it looks like you are saying that any translator (no matter how experienced) would behave unethically if he or she edited the work done by another translator.

Perhaps I misunderstand you, but do you care to elaborate?


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Rui de Carvalho  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:59
English to Portuguese
+ ...
yes, is precisely what I say... Nov 15, 2007

No real translator shall revise the work of another except when asked by a colleague to give his/her opinion. That's what all of us, real translators, do when we need help from someone we know is specially knownledgeable on a domain. A real translator is someone able to supply a duly revised, final version.
It's true that, like in other professions, this state is reached after many years (at least 20 years in my mind) of hard work. Hard work that, naturally, has to be conducted under the supervision of experienced people. But in that case, you are not revising, you discussing options and teaching your experience.
That's the path I have followed and I owe a great part of my skills to the people who supervised my earlier work. And that's the only way for translation, medicine, engineering and other difficult jobs.
Otherwise, you have what you have: just look at the suggestions considered helpful in that Kudoz thing and you get an idea of what I mean.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
I like that Nov 15, 2007

I never thought that revising another's work could be an ethical issue, it's just something that I have always detested and decline to do. But the next time someone asks me for something like that, saying it is not ethical sounds like a better excuse for refusing. Furthermore, if all good translators did that, then clients would be hopelessly stuck with any bad translations they got and thus would be motivated to find good ones.

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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:59
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Answer from an unreal translator Nov 15, 2007

Rui de Carvalho wrote:
No real translator shall revise the work of another except when asked by a colleague to give his/her opinion.


I disagree: editing by a second translator is essential in a well thought-out translation process. Just imagine what a mess a large-scale translation project, in which millions of words have to be translated by a team of several translators, would be without such essential participants as editors and proofreaders.
Editing, of course, should be provided by knowledgeable, experienced and suitable translators - if not, the process won't work properly.

I also disagree with the tone: "No real translator shall" sounds very much like laws coming down from on high, whereas these are merely your opinions.

Finally, I disagree with this "real translator" label you are using, which in my mind implies that people who disagree with your opinion of what a translator should do are ipso facto not real translators.

A real translator is someone able to supply a duly revised, final version.


For me a good translator is someone who is able to supply a high-quality translation in which, ideally, an experienced reviewer will find no errors, nor anything else to change in order to improve it.

By the way, I do have the 20+ years of experience and hard work you mandate for a "real" translator, plus four years and a degree in translation from the foremost translation school in Italy, more recent experience teaching translation at university level, several years' worth of experience managing translation teams, and quite a bit of work, study and publications on translation quality management.

Unfortunately all that comes to naught: I do revise the work of other translators, and, perversely, even think that this is a good thing. So, sadly, I'm an unreal translator, after all.


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Rui de Carvalho  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:59
English to Portuguese
+ ...
that is another thing I don't do... Nov 15, 2007

..., translating splited jobs, but indeed I've had nice laughing moments looking at the result of splited jobs.
And I remember a funy example. Many years ago, I gave up an interesting client, maker of tractors and earth moving machines, due to their usage of a bunch of reviewers (in fact, salesmen who barely stay one or two months in each firm because they earn commissions so they go to where the commission is higher).
Then, later, I bought a tractor for my estate and choose one from that maker because it fitted my needs.
I took laughing hours reading the Portuguese version of the manual, trying to see how I could drive the thing, till I downloaded the original version and everything got clear.
But this story is a point to your side. In fact, I bought the tractor notwithstand the poor quality of the manual. Why should they use real translators?
Concerning the role of the translation schools, I've already comment on that peculiarity here and would not like to be repetitive.


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:59
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Splitted jobs Nov 15, 2007

Ideally, of course, the quality of the translation would be better if no manual or even set of documentation would be split between several translators: just one translator and one editor, to ensure as far as possible an even and consistent translation.

That is often impossible: the software company I used to work for issued each year several million words of documentation in each of the main languages, with individual manuals ranging from a around fifty thousand words to almost two hundred thousand, on a schedule that was dictated by the release of the software.

The fact that large translation projects are often done badly actually underscores the need for a good documentation and translation process, to coordinate the various players involved: technical writers, source language editors, translators, translation editors, terminologists, etc.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 05:59
English to Russian
+ ...
Seems to be all the same in all language pairs Nov 15, 2007

The entirely separate profession of EDITING seems to be ignored and dismissed, every translator believes that h/h can be an editor, real translators do not need editing at all... Am I really on the most professional translator page?

Did anyone even observe work of a professional editor in progress? Seems like not too many people had a chance. It's like watching flower blossom opening up in slow motion when something beautiful comes out of something that would have been at least partially re-written by 90% of self-proclaimed editors. Yet, the presence of the original translator remains and is not being destroyed. Have you also seen the next work of a translator blessed with such editor? Immediate improvements can be nearly unbelievable. Only don't go into hopeless cases, please. Let's stay professional, you know what I am talking about, way above half-literate imposters.

What if I tell you that real translators do not and should not do editing at all (I accept accusations of 10% exaggeration max), and also that I do not believe that 1 pair of eyes is sufficient for anything intended for publication in any shape or form? For one, this is a violation of our specs and manufacturing process.

Cecilia, none of the described problems arise where professional editors rule and value good translators because those editors do not care about losing or gaining a client as translators. The more good translators they have at hand, the more secure the job of a professional editor is. It's just such a rare commodity these days and what is called editing can now be anything between a tool for extorting part of the fee from a translator to desperate attempts to prove personal ego to smudging a competitor. Of course, the elements of lack of experience or plain stupidity of some PMs should not be excluded.

Regards,
Irene


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Cecilia Falk  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:59
English to Swedish
TOPIC STARTER
Hear, hear, Rui! Nov 15, 2007

I could not have said it better myself!
I have always maintained that review, or editing, is something that starts at the *very beginning* of a project, even before the translation starts - not something that is done at the end. It also has to be done in close collaboration between the translators and reviewer.
When I work on large projects together with my team the reviewer is almost always also the lead translator who makes decisions throughout the project regarding style, terminology etc. This information is discussed and constantly updated and implemented throughout the project.
In large projects it is madness to let the review take place afterwards and then making sure every change is implemented throughout.
I also never take part in projects split between unknown translators with little or no collaboration, only with my team. I also do not take reviewing only assignments for the same reasons.

Best regards,
Cecilia


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Rui de Carvalho  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:59
English to Portuguese
+ ...
editing is a different thing... Nov 15, 2007

This discussion was not about editing, was about the so-called reviewers of, as some of them call themselves, proof-readers.
Editing is a quite different action and, of course, Irene has made a good point.
And I really can't see any ethical problem editing a text an author asks me to edit. I do it almost every day both for translators or writers. And I often ask friends to do the same to my texts. My poor brother, a medical doctor with 40 years hospital experience don't let me lie.
But that's not the problem Cecila has rise and I seconded.
We were talking about scantly knowledgeable people introducing changes and undermining the work of experienced translators who supply duly revised (in some cases by more than two eyes) versions.


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