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Off topic: Jobs that make you lose your will to live
Thread poster: Marie-Hélène Hayles

Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:07
Italian to English
+ ...
Jan 17, 2008

I'm pretty good at refusing jobs I don't want to do, but there's one exception - a colleague of my partner who's a researcher in abstruse computer technology and sends me huge research papers for revision and whom I feel unable to refuse, for various reasons.

It's just that his English is so bad and the subject so boring and I've got 9,000 words of the stuff to revise for tomorrow....

So what jobs have had you reaching for the cyanide capsules?

[Edited at 2008-01-17 11:10]


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Catherine Christaki  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:07
English to Greek
+ ...
That happens a lot! :-) Jan 17, 2008

Unfortunately, I am terrible in turning down jobs I don't want, even when I say that I'm busy or something similar when the client pushes a bit I cave in immediately

The most recent example of a job that drove me crazy was a mere 255-word job, of which all 255 words were fish names! And each word required about 10 min. to find. But the best thing is that for someone unknown reason I had agreed to do the job for a min. of $20 (I am also terrible in negotiating rates).

In terms of boring, I once had to review 40k chemical glossary, I was really looking for a high-enough balcony to jump during that one...

Cheers,

Catherine


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Sara Mullin  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:07
Member (2007)
English to French
+ ...
I'm working on one right now Jan 17, 2008

When the client first contacted me, she wanted me to translate a scientific article for her. But, she found my rates to be too high so she decided to translate it herself and has asked me to proofread it.

Needless to say, it's painful! Normally, I would need maximum 5-6 hours to thoroughly proofread a paper of this size, but it's taking me literally almost a week. I end up struggling through one paragraph and then I reward myself by doing something else (like posting this, updating my blog, checking out music videos on YouTube, etc), just to escape for a bit! I'm trying to push myself as hard as I can, just so I don't have to even think about this job anymore, let alone look at it, but it's proving difficult... ok, I'm going back to it!
Cheers,
Sara


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:07
English to Arabic
+ ...
Same here! Jan 17, 2008

Catherine Christaki wrote:
Unfortunately, I am terrible in turning down jobs I don't want, even when I say that I'm busy or something similar when the client pushes a bit I cave in immediately


All the client has to do is to ask me nicely and appear desperate and all my resistance crumbles.

The job that made me hate life and everyone in it was a SERIES (yes, never commit yourself to translating a series of anything) of very detailed technical manuals for polytechnic students learning about grinding machines, lathes, boring machines etc. I felt it was actually grinding away at my brain. Pure torture!

My heart has hardened a bit since then though and now it's an unnegotiable "NO" to any kind of technical manuals. (Oh well, I try! )

[Edited at 2008-01-17 11:44]


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orientalhorizon  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:07
English to Chinese
+ ...
Just some fun Jan 17, 2008

I was asked to proofread a translation of a menu from Chinese into English, and most of the dishes names are just esoteric, even most Chinese would not know what they are meant to refer to, and the end-customer clearly knew this and make some notes in parentheses to the effect that the names were not meant to be what they seemed to be, but required any translator to put them into English and get the same effects. I told them something was very culture-sensitive, or even sub-sub-sub-....-sub-culture sensitive, even specific to a certain person, like the dishes, maybe only the cooks or name-givers knew what their meanings were, not understandable to other people even living next door, so I couldn't make it. Then I was told, "if you can't, nobody can, do make it for us". So I just made some try and sent them back, telling them I can't guarantee the accuracy, and indeed nobody can in this world. I know many many famous language professors have been trying to unify some translation of Chinese dishes from Chinese to English, but never ever come to any real conclusion.

So it's not necessary to reach for cyanide capsules, if you do, somebody may provide more.


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Once was enough Jan 17, 2008

Nice eye-catching title for the forum Marie-Hélène! You'd be a good headline writer.

To answer the question, I can only think of one particular example: it was a machinery manual that left me with a sinking feeling. It was sort of like using the "eeney-meeny-miney-moe" system of translation (pre-internet, inexistent dictionaries, client didn't have a clue, agency totally unhelpful, etc.). I hated every minute of it and swore I'd never do it again.


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Yvonne Gerstheimer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:07
Member (2007)
Japanese to German
+ ...
I'm working on one right now Jan 17, 2008

I haven't decided if the job I'm working on at the moment is a:

tag nightmare
abbreviation nightmare
badly prepared file nightmare
unexpected-tight-deadline-considering-the-unexpected-additional-work-because-of-badly-prepared-files nightmare.

It is very hard to restrain my head from banging on the keyboard right now...


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ivo abdman
Indonesia
Local time: 10:07
English to Indonesian
+ ...
why problem have to face Jan 17, 2008

why problem have to face
due to there are gift waiting you there
its right isn't it


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Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 23:07
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Easy- no contest Jan 17, 2008

I got a new client over the summer, (who has since delivered good quality, well paying stuff, so I forgive her), who offered me a series (about 300 pages) of very general pharmaceutical trial reviews, whose Spanish translation needed to be cleaned up a bit, and missing words from the pfd entered. Brainless, right?
I humbly admit to being less than computer savvy in many areas, so when the files started bouncing and disappearing off the page as I made corrections, I felt a nasty sinking feeling. In the end it took WEEKS of chasing letters back onto the page and finding that corrections made yesterday had now disappeared.
Luckily the PM was fabulous and sympathetic, and was happy to pass on my message to the clients that the price would be HIGH, since they had misled us.
Nice chunk of cash, big headache, not worth it....


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:07
French to English
+ ...
Sheaf of painting and decorating timesheets - yawn! Jan 17, 2008

A whole sheaf of painting and decorating timesheets with loads of figures and just the odd few words added in, always in slightly different combinations - sand and emulsion, gloss, fill plaster etc. Huge yawn! Fortunately I'd had the sense (after previous BIG mistakes) to insist that they sent it in Word format rather than the original pdf files they'd sent at first, so at least I didn't have to type the figures as well. For some reason Wordfast didn't always transfer the lists of figures accurately, so I still had to check it all very carefully though. Definitely ranks up there with the most boring things I've ever translated!

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:07
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Building materials inventories Jan 17, 2008

Rather similar to Claire's: consisted entirely of tables, full of figures, and as this was in the days before computers, all the figures had to be carefully copied and checked, and could only be corrected with Tippex if you made mistakes, and of course if you made too many, you'd have to do the whole page over again.
I did three or four of these, all for the same agency, which never sent me anything else, and after that I refused to do any more. The agency persisted for some time after that trying to persuade me to do more of the same, but I never would.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:07
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Never again! Jan 17, 2008

Sara Mullin wrote:

When the client first contacted me, she wanted me to translate a scientific article for her. But, she found my rates to be too high so she decided to translate it herself and has asked me to proofread it.

Needless to say, it's painful! Normally, I would need maximum 5-6 hours to thoroughly proofread a paper of this size, but it's taking me literally almost a week. I end up struggling through one paragraph and then I reward myself by doing something else (like posting this, updating my blog, checking out music videos on YouTube, etc), just to escape for a bit! I'm trying to push myself as hard as I can, just so I don't have to even think about this job anymore, let alone look at it, but it's proving difficult... ok, I'm going back to it!
Cheers,
Sara


That kind of job I never accept. After you give this your best shot, don't be surprised if the author then starts to argue with you about everything you have done. I had one such client once who changed each one of my revisions back to what it was before. Never again!


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Ágata Sousa  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:07
English to Portuguese
2nd Round Jan 17, 2008

About two weeks ago, I had to translate and adapt documents and certificates of quality assurance. Boring and difficult, my boss send me the wrong file, personal computer not collaborating, I didn’t had nightmares with that only because I’ve couldn’t even sleep while that thing was in my hands.
By Monday, my boss came to me with a smile on his lips – it is never a good sign.
“Hey, remember that translation so and so?”
“Yes”
“The client just loved it! He said it was very good.”
Well, is always good to have your work recognized, specially when it gives you so much trouble. My boss was still smiling. I waited a little more.
“Well… he liked so much that he send us more things to do, much alike the ones you did. And he specifically requested the same translator.”

Right now I’m here with that same stuff, asking to whomever controls this world if once in a lifetime was not enough… =P


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:07
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The insurance claim or the tractor manual? Jan 18, 2008

See, this fire was so big, the files kept pouring in all year and the technical experts were dyslexic.

To make things worse, the client expressly decided to stick with the same translator who read some sense into it. All year. And then some. Was I happy to see that quitclaim!

At least the tractor was a one-shot affair. Every single nut of it (Parrot peering up from under the chassis....)


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Vadim Poguliaev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 06:07
English to Russian
a few months ago... Jan 18, 2008

...i accepted 200k review of networking training materials and it was the most frustrating experience in my career. Translators managed to make mistakes in such terms as "switch" and "wireless"; style, accuracy and even grammar sucked as well.
Later I happened to know, that it was performed by J. — Russian agency, well known for its dumping.
They pay 0.02 usd to translators, can you imagine that?
I'm glad that it's over anyway.


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