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Disagree with clients glossary
Thread poster: Heike Reagan

Heike Reagan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:58
German to English
Dec 8, 2006

I am currently working on a technical translation, ventilation technology, and the client has graciously provided previously translated material that I should use for reference and please, do use the same terms... etc.
I'm sure you're familiar with this.

Now, for the most part I am very happy with this arrangement and can understand that the client wants the same terminology

However, when "Nachlaufzeit" was translated with "slowing down time" (I'm working German>English) it seemed a bit odd, but ok, whatever the client wants.

Now... "Abluftventil/abluft-anything" is translated with "sucking off valve"
And I am pretty #@%& sure that this is not good English as "sucking" IMHO should not be used in a technical translation at all - or very very sparingly.

What would you do?


Carmen Hernaiz
Local time: 07:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Tell them Dec 8, 2006

Hi, Heike,

I don't do your pair, but that happened to me some time ago.
I wrote to my client explaining the problem and they took it very well. They were very happy I found mistakes and decided that after that translation, I had to proofread their glossary.

Good luck,



Margreet Logmans (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:58
English to Dutch
+ ...
Change it, and report to the client Dec 8, 2006

Hi Heike!

I'd change it, but then what?

It depends, I guess, on whether or not your client speaks English or German themselves (is this correct English? I never really know what to do with 'they' if it's meant to avoid choosing 'he' or 'she').

If they are English-speaking, I'd provide them with a list of correct technical terms, point out where the glossary/TM they provided you with is incorrect and mark the changes you've made.

If they are German-speaking, they might not understand the English terms. In that case, I'd mark the changes in the text and list them in a separate document, with a very short explanation of the reasons why you changed it.

Of course they might want you to change it back, since they've probably used these terms and phrases in other documents and want to be consistent. In that case, Word has this wonderful tool 'search and replace'.
Not a pleasant thing to do, but after all, they're paying you to do this job, so you may have to swallow your pride here.

On the other hand, if they accept your changes, you'll know they value your opinion and you'll have made life a bit easier for anyone they'll pass this TM/glossary on to in the future.

Good luck!


Vito Smolej
Local time: 07:58
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
sucking-off ventil... Dec 8, 2006

Oh my... I could tell stories about this kind of horrors. What I did was:

i) I looked up / sweated it out the correct expression
ii) corrected the database or whatever it was
iii) let the client know about it

I did that not because I wanted to earn money, it was just ... the professional kick in the a*ss in the sense "you CANT allow it like this..." If your clients are not half-brain dead, they will REALLY appreciate what you would be doing.

Regarding the lament "it's our client's terminology" I feel its our right/duty to play God and say "I dont give a d*n, this sucks". As Martin Luther said "hier stehe ich und ich kann nicht anders".

btw Id say it is a "venting-off ventil"


[Edited at 2006-12-08 21:31]


Marie-Céline GEORG  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:58
German to French
+ ...
Agree with the others: change and report... Dec 8, 2006

... and hope that the client will accept it!

I worked for a company specialising in automatic doors some years ago. They provided a quite large multilanguage glossary that I was generally very happy to use because it was a good glossary and they corrected small mistakes without problems. But when I told them that "Not-Aus" could not be translated "Secours Hors" in French (would be equivalent to "Urgent Out" in English, i.e. totally meaningless) they stubbornly refused to change their glossary. The reason was that the emergency stop devices are supplied by another company and it's their term. Even when I argued that it didn't mean anything, which is quite dangerous when it applies to safety devices, they didn't want to change.
So I became more and more reluctant to accept jobs for this customer and finally stopped working for them altogether... and I don't miss them.

As for your current problem, if you have time before the delivery deadline, tell them right now about the terms you wish to change so that you can adapt your translation according to their answer. I hope that they will understand your point of view!



Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:58
French to English
Report, but think twice about changing it Dec 9, 2006

In my experience, when most clients say "use our glossary", they mean iticon_smile.gif

Obviously, the best solution is to check before you do anything, but I would guess that on Friday night, that might cause some delay, and if you were planning to work over the weekend, is not much help now....

Personally, I would err on the side of caution, and keep the "bad" translation, but make a note of it. Either ask the client later, if deadline allows, or leave as it is, and point out the changes that you would have made when you deliver it.

There is no hard and fast rule, of course. But the point is that this "bad" term may have taken root. I worked for a company once where, in the early days of a huge project, a French speaker had used "hand made" where "manual" was really the right term in English.

We outsourced quite a few translations, and it was really quite annoying when documents came back with "manual" where we had explicitly provided a glossary. Translators playing God, indeed, but they only did it once! What they hadn't thought of was that "hand made" appeared on dozens of computer screens, hundreds of documents, was all over the user guides, etc. Not obeying instructions, even ones that seem wrong, can loose you the client.

Of course, this was a very "mature" project. If yours is relatively new, there may be hopeicon_smile.gif

One rather hopes that "sucking off" is not plastered all over computer screens in your client's company, but you never know - I can't help feeling that no native English speaker would ever put those two words together other than in a fairly specific contexticon_smile.gif


Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:58
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sucks, man Dec 9, 2006

"Suck" is problematic enough. Obviously, "sucking off valve" is just not an acceptable technical term.

In cases like this, I usually send the client an e-mail explaining that part of my job is to help them look good in the target culture, and specifying why their chosen term is not compatible with that goal.

Keep the message very positive and cooperative, but make it clear that their chosen term is not just wrong, it sounds obscene.

There is hope. I just convinced a client to change the official target-language name of their nonprofit organization. (It wasn't obscene but did sound illiterate.)

Good luck.icon_smile.gif


John Fenz  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:58
German to English
+ ...
Suck - may sound obscene, but it is a technical term.... Dec 9, 2006

Personally I would transalate *Abluftventil* as *exhaust fan*,

I have nothing to add to the very sound advice others have already given concerning how you should handle terms provided you in a glossary, which you know to be wrong.

However, on the subject of what sucks, or what doesn't suck, you might still want to consider:

sucking booster (electr) / Saugdynamo m, Spannungserniedriger m, negative Boostermaschine
sucking coil / Tauchankerspule f
sucking fan / saugender (o. saugend wirkender) Ventilator, Lüfter m, Exhauster m
sucking injector / saugender Injektor
sucking jet pump / Saugstrahlpumpe f
sucking pump / Absaugpumpe f, Saugpumpe f
sucking table (pap) / Saugkasten, -tisch m
sucking valve / Ansaugventil n

And then the English word *Sucker* may be translated as

4. TECH.
a) Saugkolben m
b) Saugventil n
c) Saugrohr n
d) Saugfuß m


Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:58
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Consider the next step Dec 9, 2006

If your translation is edited by a second independent person (as it should) he will probably correct all terms he thinks inappropriate, no matter what your glossary says. Then the agency will send it back to you and you have to explain why there are so many corrections.
But perhaps you are too sensitive on the matter of sucking. That's what the device does.
Happy you, you can simply use search and replace in English. When writing German you would have to check also the grammar, change des into der, dem into den etc.



Manuel Rossetti (X)
Local time: 06:58
reply to glossaries disagreement Dec 9, 2006

I hope I'm not off topic or too off-topic,
however, my experience with client glossaries is that many outsourcers do not provide me with one. If they do, in most cases, the glossary has very basic terms, ones that I already know and are not useful for me.


Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:58
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Location, location, location... Dec 9, 2006

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
But perhaps you are too sensitive on the matter of sucking. That's what the device does.

The problem isn't suck by itself: it's the phrase "suck off" which in English, 90+% of the time, has only one meaning. Trust a native speaker; it's an unfortunate word choice.


Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:58
Member (2004)
English to Italian
are you completely bilingual? Dec 9, 2006

not that I'm saying that the terminology is correct, but if you are translating out of your mother tongue, then you are putting yourself in a difficult position when arguing with the client about the correctness of the terminology. Well, you are not English mother tongue, are you, could your client argue. But then, why would he/she give a translation on ventilation technology to a non mother tongue? It baffles me. Good luck!


[Edited at 2006-12-09 11:25]


Cetacea  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:58
English to German
+ ...
Change and justify Dec 9, 2006

Personally I would transalate *Abluftventil* as *exhaust fan*,

I may not be an engineer, but personally, I don't think a "Ventil" is a fan... An "Abluftventil" is an exhaust air valve.

Having said that, I would point out all the terms I do not agree with to the customer in a separate e-mail, giving a valid reason for all changes I suggest, including expert sources, if possible.

I am just in the process of doing that in a large project, and the client is very grateful. They have put me in charge of revising the whole project because they appreciate my commitment to quality. I think what convinced them was that I did the editing of the old version of the first text I received (which I was supposed to use as a basis and simply add new elements) for free, explaining to them that I could not bear to have them publish something so full of errors again. (The translation had obviously been done by someone who was neither a mothertonguer nor knew anything about the subject matter.)

Of course, if those terms are already in countless manuals and/or on countless computer screens, you might have to use them anyway. But I always point out terminology errors--before the editor does...icon_wink.gif


Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:58
German to English
+ ...
Any pictures? Dec 9, 2006

A "Ventil" is a valve. Oh yes! But is it? It might be a fan, as John Fenz suggests, or even just an extractor hood.

Digressing, I recently found it useful to go to a customer's site and download their parts list. If it has illustrations, as this did, it can be bloody useful, especially in ambiguous cases.

Returning, I have to confess that I exploded with laughter when reading your client's suggestion.


Recently, I saw a translation where a colleague had used an English word for "Ventil" that a Schmitt dictionary lists as being "colloq." (brief silence while all Schmitt owners dash off to check out what this word was). Now that, added to your client's suggestion, would have been one of the funniest terminological disasters I have ever seen (although keen Kudoz answerers would be able to say that Google listed 627 hits).;-)

I agree with the Lutheran sentiments mentioned by Smo. Shout!

If you are not going to tell them - then who is? IME they are usually grateful for a justified and well-reasoned departure from/amendment to their glossary. If they still won't buy it , then it is they who are the suckers.


[Edited at 2006-12-09 14:24]


Local time: 01:58
German to English
Suction, not sucking Dec 9, 2006

Suction is the proper term, not sucking, as in:

SUCTION booster (electr) / Saugdynamo m, Spannungserniedriger m, negative Boostermaschine
SUCTION coil / Tauchankerspule f
SUCTION fan / saugender (o. saugend wirkender) Ventilator, Lüfter m, Exhauster m
SUCTION injector / saugender Injektor
SUCTION jet pump / Saugstrahlpumpe f
SUCTION pump / Absaugpumpe f, Saugpumpe f
SUCTION valve / Ansaugventil m

Saugkolben m = suction piston
Saugventil n = suction valve
Saugrohr n = suction pipe
Saugfuß m = suction cup


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