Errors in somebody else's translation - tell the agency?
Thread poster: Charlotte Blank

Charlotte Blank  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
Czech to German
+ ...
Nov 9, 2005

Hi all,

yesterday I got a list of words for translation, without any context, and asked the agency for some more material because of the ambiguity of certain terms. They sent me the whole text in both source and target language (it had already been translated) which did help a lot but now I'm facing another problem: The translation is very good, apparently done by a native speaker, but there are some rather strange errors which IMO can only have happened when a person not speaking the target language is copying the text from dictation. There are letters and sometimes articles lacking and - what is worse - I found even wrong words which sound equal or similar to the correct one...

I'm inclined to tell the agency (they are one of my best clients) about this but I don't want to interfere with their job, after all they only sent that text out of friendliness and did not ask me to correct it.

What would you do? Have you ever been in a similar situation?

Many thanks in advance for sharing your opinions!



Fred Lessing
English to Portuguese
Errors in somebody else's translation - tell the agency! Nov 9, 2005

I have this situation all the time (because I provide language quality assurance to my customers, i.e. I'm a sort of proofreader), and I would say: yes, tell them. They need to be aware.


Deborah do Carmo  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:56
Dutch to English
+ ...
IMO Nov 9, 2005

Hi Charlotte,

IMO you should simply return your job and point out to the agency that you although you believe the overall standard of the translation is very good, you couldn't help but notice certain errors which seem to have possibly crept in during dictation. Perhaps mention one or two.

They can then decide whether to give it a further check themselves, ask the translator to proofread it again or ask you for further details.

I'm sure they'll appreciate the warning. Far better coming from you than a disgruntled end-client.

Best regards

[Edited at 2005-11-09 11:44]


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Has the translator used a speech recognition program? Nov 9, 2005

This is just a wild thought, and I have no experience of speech recognition, but it is something people use to avoid repetitive strain injuries from using the computer mouse ...

I would certainly tell the agency as diplomatically as possible.

If this is a possible explanation, you can elegantly blame the computer and perhaps give the translator a hint about being extra careful with proof reading. The spell checker is totally useless in this situationicon_biggrin.gif

[Edited at 2005-11-09 11:31]


Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:56
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Could well be a voice recognition program Nov 9, 2005

I think Christine's suggestion is very likely correct. I use such a program myself, and it does require careful proofreading. E.g., I once dictated a company's business as "engaging in tourist activities", and it typed "engaging in terrorist activities". Yes, I think you should point out the problem.


Local time: 14:56
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Tell the client when returning your translation. Nov 9, 2005

I would definitely tell the client that I had used the context as much as possible, but that I did notice a few problems along the way, which is why there may be inconsistencies between the previous translation and the translation I just delivered.

I have been in this situation a couple of times, and the client has always been greatful that I pointed this out.

The client often has to rely on the translators/proofreaders for quality, therefore they are very likely not to be aware of the fact that there may be a problem with parts of the translation.

Also, any inconsistencies with the previous translation may eventually fall back on you, and you might need to explain these facts at a later time anyway, so it's better to do it right away.


Charlotte Blank  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
Czech to German
+ ...
Problem solved :-) Nov 11, 2005


thank you all for your comments! I told the agency and they were quite happyicon_smile.gif As they told me the text has not been published yet and they are going to correct the whole book now. Unfortunately I could not find out whether the translator had used any speech-recognition software but this really is an interesting idea.



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