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editing the target text...what's the objection?
Thread poster: Patricia Rosas

Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jan 3, 2008

I've just had a rather tense exchange
http://www.proz.com/kudoz/2334914?pwd=Fxie&eq=y

that revolves around a suggestion that I'm making to my client that he round up his figures that are in the billions. The text is meant to be a persuasive piece of writing, and all the figures are documented (in other words, should someone want to see the figure to the peso, they could find it in the referenced material).

I don't understand the vehement objections that my colleagues have to this suggestion, and I'd like to hear from others.

I bill myself first as an editor, and second, as a Spanish-into-English translator for academic authors writing in the social sciences. Almost all my clients have higher degrees from U.S. or British universities, even though they write in Spanish. An exception is a faculty member in Israel, who speaks and teaches in Hebrew, but who is fluent in English (he, too, prefers to write in Spanish). In some cases, after I've translated a piece, it goes to colleagues who critique it and then the author rewrites it; in other cases, the work is for publication, and then one or more editors review it and correct it. I also work for an art publishing house in Mexico City.

Every last one of these clients expects me to query them on anything that I find unclear; to make suggestions to improve the argument or the flow of the text; and to obey all the standard rules of style that are followed in the US (per the Chicago Manual of Style). I work as hard as possible to deliver a text that will need a minimum of further work. (Obviously, in some areas, I can only provide minimal substantive input--such as philosophy--and that has to be left to reviewers and colleagues to critique if they are still in the loop.)

On the rare occasion that I'm faced with someone who doesn't read English, I do less editing, but to the degree that I do, I take pains to explain my proposed changes, and I've found that this input is also heartily welcomed.

Since my clients are so happy, why should I refrain from doing this sort of editorial review at the point of returning the translation?

Looking forward to hearing from you!


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:34
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Make it clear beforehand Jan 3, 2008

When you're working with people you have worked with before and who expect you to do these things, I see no problem. If you're working with someone you've never worked with before, I recommend you indicate to him/her how you work. In many cases, our clients are lawyers who like to see the figure to the peso and like to have ambiguous wording pointed out to them in material provided by the other side. But as long as you and your client are both certain that the client doesn't fit into this category, I don't see a problem with what you're doing.

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:34
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I've always suggested a round-up in press releases myself Jan 3, 2008

Where I'm not free to make that decision (client not a direct contact), I don't make changes but put this observation in a footnote.

The number of decimal places? I go as far as two for general reading (who knows, sometimes my reading public are stockholders). And Europe being what it is, the second figure could be significant.

However, I don't change financial statements - obviously (even where there's a note that they've been rounded to the thousands).

Just a position I've found myself taking in the interest of my clients' clearer communication. Maybe others have different ideas.


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Ken Cox  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:34
German to English
+ ...
it's a judgement call Jan 3, 2008

As it happens, I just saw your Kudoz question a little while ago and was about to make a comment, but it was already closed. I see no harm in rounding the figures if it is acceptable to your clients (and especially if they know that you do this and even expect you to do so). After all, US$1.7 billion is a lot easier to read and adequate for general purposes (but not in a costing or statement of account, of course).

In defense of your critics, this should be regarded as editing rather than translation, but that's clearly how you see it, so I don't see any problem.

As to the number of digits after the decimal point: there are no rules, only style guides and good judgement.

[Edited at 2008-01-03 22:47]


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
only direct clients Jan 3, 2008

Paul Merriam wrote:
But as long as you and your client are both certain that the client doesn't fit into this category, I don't see a problem with what you're doing.


Paul,
Thanks for your comment. I take it you work for agencies. I only work directly for the author or the publishing house. When wearing my editing hat, I get direct access to the authors; with the publishing house in Mexico (where I'm a translator), I don't, but that's because they usually have very complicated multi-author projects. I do have direct access to their inhouse editors, so I can discuss issues with them, and they can pass on doubts etc.

Thanks for your input.
Patricia


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Parrot and Ken, thanks, too! Jan 3, 2008

Ken Cox wrote:

In defense of your critics, this should be regarded as editing rather than translation, but that's clearly how you see it, so I don't see any problem.


[Edited at 2008-01-03 22:47]


Thanks to you both for your input. In the KudoZ question, I tried to make it clear that I work in a specific field (not doing legal texts or financial spreadsheets), and I do work directly with the author. The point above is one that I entirely understand.


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:34
German to English
+ ...
I would have reacted that way, too Jan 4, 2008

if I had seen the question listed under Business/Financial - Finance (general) and had not known the exact circumstances, but then again I do work with the type of text where we are not allowed to change numbers ever for any reason. That said, I do query ambiguities and make notes to the client on stylistic or cultural issues. Now that I read your explanation of how you work, it makes much more sense to do what you've suggested.

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editing the target text...what's the objection?

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