low quality source text
Thread poster: Heike Reagan

Heike Reagan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:42
German to English
Feb 27, 2005

Hello all,
I'm sure that this has been mentioned somewhere before, but a quick search of the forums turned up nothing.

What can I do if I have a bad quality source text from which to translate?
I think I might be translating from a text that has already been translated from another language. I have worked for this client before, and when I proofread the text he sent me, I had the impression it was not written by a native, or anyone with a very good knowledge of the source language.
Some samples from the text:
-information on the medical leave coincides with the health deterioration
-short description of medical insurance, with disabled travel abilities

Maybe I'm just really tired, but these sentences don't really make much sense to me. What can I do?


United States
Local time: 22:42
English to Arabic
+ ...
Ask for the source document, and start over Feb 27, 2005


Rather than agonize and become embroiled in the tribulations of trying to deduce the **intended** meaning of a piece of text that apparently has passed through several treatments and translations, you might well ask for the source document, and start over.



Stephen H. Franke
(English Arabic,
Kurdish, and Farsi)
San Pedro, California


Heike Reagan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:42
German to English
Ask for source document... Feb 27, 2005

Well, I guess that would make sense if I spoke or understood the source language. But I doubt it would be either one of the two languages I know, otherwise he wouldn't need me to translate it....


Lia Fail (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
A possible approach Feb 27, 2005

First of all, tell your client, and check whether you should go ahead.

Secondly, assess the extent of the problem; how many thousand words long is the text, and what approx % is affected. If it's not too long, ProZers might be able to help, especially native EN speakers. If it's very long, you might consider not doing it.

Thirdly, devise a way for 'marking' incomprehensible EN in some way. EG, using a SIC to indicate that that was exactly the way it was expressed in the original (if totally incomprehensible), footnotes/another symbol to explain that this is a translator educated guess, etc. And/or a general footnote, to indicate the fact that the EN was poor.

The important thing is, if you do the job, to make sure that you disclaim reponsibility for the translation of items in unintellegible EN.

[Edited at 2005-02-27 08:50]


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:42
German to English
Happens a lot with German source documents Feb 27, 2005

I've noticed a significant rise in the past few years of German (sort-of) language documents that were obviously created by non-native speakers of the language. Sometimes the terminology was correct, but the syntax was English, French or some other language. I've also received documents that have undergone no quality control process: Misnumbered lists, contradictory statements ("To save, press F2. Press F2 to cancel"), etc. The greater offender, at least in terms of what I see, is one of Germany's best-known automobile manufacturers. Unfortunately, their lack of quality control extends also into their manufacturing processes.


Heike Reagan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:42
German to English
Thank you for your help Feb 27, 2005

I translate into german, and boy, I hope I never deliver a text like that (or the one I've gotten from him previously to proofread)!

At least when I translate into english, I make sure a REAL native speaker proofreads it, to make it as good as I can possibly make it.

So I will let him know that the source text was not a good quality and point out that I'm not to be held responsible for any translating mistakes, as the source text was not that great anyway.

It's part camp ground description and part terms and conditions for a boat charter contract, and I am a bit worried about anything legal coming back to me from the contract part. (who knows)..

Thank you all for your help!


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