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Providing an agency with your translation memory
Thread poster: Kathryn Malan

Kathryn Malan  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 08:10
French to English
Mar 13, 2013

Hello all!

I recently came across a fellow translator who was refusing to provide the translation memory from a project to the translation agency she did a project for, and I wondered if this is a normal stance?

I thought that if you translate a document for an agency or client, they are entitled to ask you for the resulting translation memory (subject to your contract with them). Of course, I create a clean, new memory for each project so I am not giving away anything that does not relate to the current project.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you provide your translation memories every time or upon demand? Or not at all?

Thanks everyone for your help!


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:10
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Depends Mar 13, 2013

If the work is CAT-based, the answer is obvious: the customer will expect a translation memory, either immediately or in the long run.

If CAT tools were never in discussion, the matter is a bit different since the translator will have the option to A) not give the memory, B) give the memory for free, C) sell the memory.

The implications are very varied depending on the size of the memory and its time span, and every person has a different opinion as proven by other topics raised on this matter in the past.

My stance about this is that we are here to serve our customers, and that what we sell to them is our expertise. A translation memory can never replace our expertise, so I am quite open when it comes to showing a cooperative attitude and giving their memory to my good customers. I have to say however that I have a translation memory for each agency and, within each agency, for each end customer. End customers never get mixed.


 

Αlban SHPΑTΑ  Identity Verified
Albania
Member (2008)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Unclean files Mar 13, 2013

Usually the clients ask for unclean files, and they harvest the TM from those files. But even if a client asks for the translation and the TM of a specific project done for them, I don't see why I shouldn't send it to them.

 

Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:10
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Lots of opinions Mar 13, 2013

This has been discussed a few of times in Proz forums and may other translation related sites, if you search a bit on Google you will see there are all sorts of opinions about the subject, personally this is what I think:

1) The client already paid for the translation so it's not like I'm giving them anything they didn't pay for.
2) As this was one of my initial considerations when I started working with CAT tools I keep client specific TMs (my CAT tool allows multiple TMS so in a job I have all my TMs activated as read only except for the client-specific TM, so I can take advantage of all my TMs but keep each client separate) so if a client asks for a TM it's not a problem to give it to them and entails no more work than attaching a file to an email.
3) Some people believe this gives the agency the chance to use other translators, my take on this is that if they want to use other translators failing to give them your TMs won't stop them.
4) What's the problem anyway? After all unless most of the files are PDFs the client would be able to easily set up their own TM using an aligner (though it would take them time to do this they could do it).


 

William Tierney  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:10
Member (2002)
Arabic to English
TM is your Work Product Mar 13, 2013

If you make arrangements to provide the TM at the time of assignment, then provide it. Since this is added value, you should increase the rate to cover the value you are providing. If there is no agreement from the start, do not give the TM to the agency if they ask for it. I follow the analogy for legal practice. The legal memos etc. provided by the law firm are what the client is paying for. Documents internal to the law firm, such as research, etc. are considering "work product" and are not required to be provided to anyone, not even to the opposing party in discovery. The TM is your internal document, your work product. I don't make arrangements to provide the TM.

Ask yourself this, did the agency pay for the CAT tool? Did the agency pay for your training time on the CAT tool? Did the agency pay for all the time needed to solve technical problems (especially if you use SDL)


Beta Cummins
 

Nikita Kobrin  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:10
English to Russian
+ ...
Quite normal Mar 13, 2013

Kathryn Malan wrote:

I recently came across a fellow translator who was refusing to provide the translation memory from a project to the translation agency she did a project for, and I wondered if this is a normal stance?


Yes, in most cases I do the same.

NK_TC_Logo_30x31.png


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:10
Member
English to French
CAT tools are tools Mar 13, 2013

Most agencies require bilingual files. So unless they don't know how the CAT tool they require works, they don't need any TM. If you don't want to send a TM, send bilingual files.
As standard, I send bilingual files to agencies who require me to work in a CAT tool, so I don't get odd requests for TMs.
If somebody who didn't require a CAT tool asks for a TM, you can always play dumb and reply that you did the translation without CAT tool.
William Tierney wrote:
Ask yourself this, did the agency pay for the CAT tool? Did the agency pay for your training time on the CAT tool? Did the agency pay for all the time needed to solve technical problems (especially if you use SDL)

No. It doesn't pay for my computer or my Internet subscription either, and I can choose to not invest in them and knock on doors to find customers who accept handwritten or typed translations from paper source docs.
Actually, as a customer, I would find it strange to contribute to the diagnostic tool of my mechanic when he checks my car. But I'm sure he somehow includes this expense in his hourly rate. Just as we (should) do.

Philippe


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:10
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Entirely agree Mar 13, 2013

Alex Lago wrote:
1) The client already paid for the translation so it's not like I'm giving them anything they didn't pay for.
2) As this was one of my initial considerations when I started working with CAT tools I keep client specific TMs (my CAT tool allows multiple TMS so in a job I have all my TMs activated as read only except for the client-specific TM, so I can take advantage of all my TMs but keep each client separate) so if a client asks for a TM it's not a problem to give it to them and entails no more work than attaching a file to an email.
3) Some people believe this gives the agency the chance to use other translators, my take on this is that if they want to use other translators failing to give them your TMs won't stop them.
4) What's the problem anyway? After all unless most of the files are PDFs the client would be able to easily set up their own TM using an aligner (though it would take them time to do this they could do it).

I entirely agree with all this. If they want to dump you, it is because they do not like your expertise (or lack of). As for the memory, they will manage to create a relatively useable memory in a matter of hours.


 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 00:40
English to Hindi
+ ...
There is also a legal angle to it Mar 14, 2013

Many agencies require you to sign a non-disclosure agreement before giving you work, in which you are required to agree not to disclose the files and information they provide you to translate, to a third party.

Now if you use a common TM for projects of a similar nature (for example, all legal translation work, or all medical translation work) then the TM will contain material received from such agencies with whom you have signed a non-disclosure agreement.

If you share your such TMs with another agency, you are technically breaking the non-disclosure agreement which can have legal consequences for you.

So be very careful while sharing TMs with any agency. You should first ensure that the TM contains only those entries that were originally received from the agency and has no entries of a confidential nature.


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
I second the comments Mar 14, 2013

made by Alex Lago, Tomás Cano, and L. Balasubramaniam.


I believe that refusing to give a client a TM shows ignorance of what a TM is. It is simply the bilingual version of your translation in a CAT tool format. It is nothing secret that you've developed by yourself. It's the work you've done for the agency and for which they are paying you.

Of course it means that they can then share this TM with other translators working on translations for the same client so that these translators can do concordance searches but it's only logical that they would use new translators if you're not available and/or if they're not happy with your work. They could do this with or without the TM though so it makes no difference. They'd only need to align the source text with the translated text.

I think that some translators refuse to hand over a TM because they don't know what it is. Perhaps they think that the agency wants their glossary or their term base.


Of course this is only true providing that, as L. Balasubramaniam says, you create an individual TM per job which is the only logical thing to do.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Bespoke Mar 14, 2013

If you have created a clean, new memory for that particular project, I don't see why you shouldn't hand it over along with the finished translation. Having said that, I must add that I wouldn't normally part with my own TMs, as they tend to be specifically created for a particular client or group of the same working in the same or closely-related fields.

 

Sarah Kasperek  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 20:10
German to English
+ ...
Why not? Mar 15, 2013

William Tierney wrote:
Ask yourself this, did the agency pay for the CAT tool? Did the agency pay for your training time on the CAT tool? Did the agency pay for all the time needed to solve technical problems (especially if you use SDL)


I don't know about you, but when deciding on my rates, I consider the costs to myself including the costs of running a business (internet, electricity, software, hardware, training).

For me, it doesn't make a difference. I am paid to provide the translation, I used a CAT tool, I am usually provided with a TM for the specific client whose translation I am working on - of course I provide them with the TM, but more likely a bilingual file.

As most people have said, agencies usually know the basics of CAT tools and specifically ask for bilingual files or TMs. If they specifically ask for the TM and you don't provide it, you're seen as a "difficult translator" and probably won't get business from them as often as you might have otherwise. But, if you don't provide it, they can certainly align the texts. I was an intern - it happensicon_wink.gif


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:10
Russian to English
+ ...
Why would anyone want the translation memory from a translator, in the first palace. Mar 15, 2013

Why would you even assume that all translators have it. Very professional translators don't really need any translation memory. I would never give anything like that to any translation agency. Absolutely not. What is the purpose that someone may want it ?To transfer it to some other translators, and pay them $.05 less the next time? If you want your own glossaries, you have to pay very specialized linguists to create them -- you cannot expect a translator translating your text to do it for you, for free. The rates for glossaries are at least four times higher than the rates for translation, because this requires a lot of research.

 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
A TM is not a glossary Mar 15, 2013

LilianBoland wrote:

If you want your own glossaries, you have to pay very specialized linguists to create them -- you cannot expect a translator translating your text to do it for you, for free. The rates for glossaries are at least four times higher than the rates for translation, because this requires a lot of research.





A TM is not the same as a glossary.


 

Kathryn Malan  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 08:10
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Getting back on topic Mar 15, 2013

Thanks Marie-Héléne for getting us back on topic, I was also going to point out that they are two completely different things and that my question focuses solely on translation memories.

Picking up on some of the interesting points raised so far, I too think that your equipment is your own concern and the costs associated with it should be built into your rates.

I also agree that memories for different clients should be kept completely separate in order to respect any non-disclosure agreements. I generally create a clean TM for each new project and use it alongside my ongoing TMs when agencies ask me to return the translation with a TM.

I also liked the point about if you don't provide a TM when asked, you may be seen as a "difficult" translator and the agency may go with someone else, but of course that works both ways as you can choose not to work with an agency if they ask you for a TM and you don't believe you should provide it.

I really appreciate all the responses so far and look forward to seeing what other people have to add!


 
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