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Translator duties: post-proofing proofing?
Thread poster: Mary McCusker

Mary McCusker  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:05
German to English
+ ...
May 26, 2009

I have been working successfully as a freelance translator for a good few years now.

Recently one of my longest-standing clients, an agency, has adopted the practice of sending
completed translations to a proofer and then sending the proofer's changes/comments back to the translator with a request to accept or reject the changes/comments. This is the first time I have encountered this practice.

The first instance of this practice was tolerable, although I had to take time out from another project to respond; the proofer's one or two comments were quite sensible. The second time this occurred, however, the proofer was clearly a non-native speaker and several of the changes were either grammatically incorrect or simply poor wording in English. The other changes were all of an arbitrary nature, i.e. simply terminology preferences.

I object to this practice for two reasons. On the one hand, it's a bit annoying to have to defend one's terminology choices to an unknown and possibly underqualified third party. On the other hand, once I have completed the translation to the best of my abilities, I feel that my job is done and I do not budget for additional work on the project either in terms of time or money. Since I'm pretty tightly scheduled, receiving an unanticipated and unscheduled 'assignment' in the middle of another project is awkward and the subsequent project can suffer.

I'd be very interested in hearing from other translators on their experience with such requests - have you been asked to modify your own translations based on a proofer's comments? If so, how do you plan for this? Would you/do you refuse? Would you/do you welcome such 'input'? Thanks in advance for sharing your experience...


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:05
French to English
I have mixed feelings about this practice May 26, 2009

I wonder if they have started this as an attempt to comply with ASTM F2575-06? It seems to be all the rage currently. On the one hand, I agree it is a problem when you are very pressed for time. On the other hand, I would rather be asked for comment about a change that I believe is incorrect than have it go out to the client without being consulted. In this case, I try to politely explain my choice, then put it out of my head. And on the other other hand (paw?), once in a while the proofreader makes a valid point, and I am glad they caught it. On the whole, I would rather be given a chance to comment than have something go out with a proofreader's mistakes on it without being consulted. Perhaps if you very carefully and professionally explain why you disagree with the changes, your client will realize that this person is not a good choice and you wont have this problem again. You might even take the opportunity to comment on what you liked about the first proofreader, whose comments you found sensible.

[Edited at 2009-05-26 22:43 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:05
English to German
+ ...
Excellent client! May 26, 2009

Most of my favorite and largest clients send me the edited files. I appreciate that, because:

- It indicates that top-notch quality is important to the client
- You have total control over the finished product
- You develop a true partnership with your editor
- If you don't like a particular edit, "decline" is just a mouse click away. You don't even have to explain, why.
- You can be sure that the final version is up to your standards and is usable for your portfolio.

If webdesign or typesetting is done at the client's office, they will send the link / proof as well.

Finally! - I can be absolutely satisfied with the product. Of course such services are already included in my rate.

I call this procedure "the whole nine yards". 100% effort for a perfect result.




Edited for typo

[Edited at 2009-05-26 23:49 GMT]


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Mary McCusker  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:05
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Depends on the quality of the editor... May 27, 2009

Nicole and Joan,
Thank you for your comments.
Of course it is better to have one's work returned for a final review (provided the time is budgeted and charged for) than sent out to the client directly after - possibly incorrect - proofing changes.
If, however, one finds that one is spending one's time correcting a non-native speaker's English mistakes, I'm not sure that anyone's time is well-spent, even if one has incorporated the extra time in one's rates.
I think we may be talking apples and oranges here, since the assumption that the editor is a competent one has not held true in this particular case. (My experience with in-house editors has been fine).
At any rate, thanks for sharing your experience.


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:05
French to English
Yes, I understand your frustation May 27, 2009

It is hard to explain yourself to a client when what you really want to say is "your reviewer is an idiot" but can't think of a polite way to express it. Maybe Nicole's approach of declining without comment is the best in this particular case. My original thought was that if you explained things carefully this time, you may not have to see work from this particular reviewer again. But how do you call someone an idiot without calling them an idiot? It is tricky. And it is even possible that the reviewer in this case is actually the end client who is a native speaker of the source language rather than the target language. Otherwise, I can't imagine why the agency would even accept comments from a non-native speaker.

[Edited at 2009-05-27 00:13 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:05
English to German
+ ...
It's a test for the editor May 27, 2009

If the translator disapproves of too many edits because they are unjustified, then the client wants to hear about that, and they may not want to use this editor again.

Clients who put that much trust into you as translator should be cherished.


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Mary McCusker  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:05
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Apples and oranges... May 27, 2009

Joan, yes, you have hit the nail on the head re the delicacy of the issue. Indeed, it is all about the quality of the proofer. In-house or expert editors (to whom I believe Nicole is referring) are a different kettle of fish entirely. Declining without comment is of course an option, but it is difficult to do when one sees egregious grammatical or stylistic faux-pas. I think this particular proofer bills himself as bilingual to the agency and my client is possibly not aware of his deficiencies, although I actually think their written English is superior to his.

And Nicole, I believe that all my clients trust my expertise and professionalism and of course I cherish each and every one...I think you have implicitly answered part of my question at any rate regarding rolling this post-proofing work into my rate for the client.


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 17:05
French to Dutch
+ ...
Mixed feelings too May 27, 2009

Of course it is better to have one's work back with feedback from someone. But one of my agency clients always had proofed my work by beginners (the only ones who were available for proofing, because translators don't like it, and there is a big lack of translators in my language pair). So it came back, I accepted some changes and rejected most of them and it was then sent to the client, who had comments too, which had to be validated. In a later stage, the agency gave the work to one of us and another one proofed: we ended up in modifying A into B and then B into A again, and the client wanted C, but when we implemented C someone changed it back into A or B. It became a big mess, nothing to do with 'top-notch translations' and I suppose the client was asking himself what we were doing. I stopped working for this agency.

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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:05
Member
French to English
+ ...
Tell the agency May 27, 2009

I would not hesitate to tell the agency that you question the editor's grasp of the language and that you doubt that s/he is a native speaker. Give a few examples to back up your case.

Explain that you appreciate being edited by a competent professional, but that you do not have time to waste on correcting basic grammar mistakes added to your text by the editor.

An agency that pays people to edit translators' work will likely appreciate your honesty. They may not realise that they are working with a non-native who may be doing more harm than good to their business (and to the reputation of all of us who edit!).

It would probably be best to bite the bullet the first time it happens and say that you will go back over the text this once, but that you do not intend to have your time wasted in the future.

If you are dealing with a professional agency, I don't think that you've got anything to lose in giving them your take on things.

Best,
Jocelyne


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Ana Irena Hudi
Local time: 17:05
English to Croatian
+ ...
Mixed feelings here as well! May 27, 2009

I must admit that it is not easy to see your work edited/ changed, but at least they professionally let you know about it, plus the fact that they asked you if you agreed with the changes or not.

On the other hand, I think that, if the editors make grammar mistakes, the agency should be informed about it, tactfully though.

Best wishes,

Ana


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Most of my clients tell me beforehand May 27, 2009

Mary McCusker wrote:
Recently one of my longest-standing clients, an agency, has adopted the practice of sending completed translations to a proofer and then sending the proofer's changes/comments back to the translator with a request to accept or reject the changes/comments.


I believe that this is quite acceptable in terms of quality control, but the client should tell the translators beforehand that the reviewing of the reviewing is regarded as included in the translation rate. I have one or two clients who don't or didn't tell me that they regarded reviewing the final product as part of the translation job (and included in the stated price) but most clients do tell me beforehand what future steps will be included in the job, and this gives me the opportunity to charge extra for it straight-away (though I seldom do).

Some translators are highly protective of their work and they regard a reviewed copy as a type of error report. I tend to look at a reviewed document not as a report of errors but as a version of it that has been improved by a second party. For this reason, I tend to accept any change that I don't disagree with. If the reviewer made changes that are clearly stylistic preferences, I simply accept them, unless I strongly disagree with the change. I know that some translators worry that if they don't defend their work, the client will think that they admit to having erred. I don't have such worries -- to me, a reviewed document is not an error report, and I will not lose face if I accept most changes. I do include a note in the e-mail to the client if I think most changes are purely preferential, even if I do accept the change.

What I would do with a Tracked Changes file is to go through it very quickly and mark only the changes that I strongly disagree with (eg by putting ### into the text), and when I'm done, I go to each ### and reject the change manually, and then I go "Accept all changes". Easy.

I object to this practice for two reasons. On the one hand, it's a bit annoying to have to defend one's terminology choices to an unknown and possibly underqualified third party.


Are you sure you are asked to "defend" your terminology choices? Are you not perhaps asked merely to provide a second opinion about the reviewer's terminology choices?

On the other hand, once I have completed the translation to the best of my abilities, I feel that my job is done and I do not budget for additional work on the project either in terms of time or money.


I agree. The only time that a client can reasonably expect you to take out *extra*, unpaid time is if the client has queries about the quality of your translation. But then the client must specifically state that they are questioning the translation, and not merey asking you to review their reviewer's changes.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:05
English to Portuguese
+ ...
One possibility... May 27, 2009

If it's a long-standing client of yours, you are probably their "yardstick" for quality. However as a freelancer, one day you might not be as available as they need, or out on vacation, so it's a sound measure to have a reliable backup in your pair, just in case.

A good way to assess one, instead of merely giving a translation test, is having them proofread your work, and then let you do the assessment for them by accepting or challenging their inputs.

In this case, it seems they found a good one first, and a bad one later.

One agency I often work for uses a T-R-T-R four step cycle. They usually pair me up with a colleague (that they introduced me to), and we rank each other as "equals". We often swap T-R roles, and don't refrain from messing up the other's work, while trying - as a team - to get to the best translation possible. When we change anything, it means one of us didn't like that as it was, and the suggestions from one often prompts even better ideas to the other.

Now and then they pair me (and possibly her too) up with someone new. I've realized that this is a way to test new candidates.


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
how about hour rates? May 27, 2009

1) you have *already* done the job, right?
2) you don't have a contract obligatng you to re/post-proof, do you?
3) what *exactly* that proofreader does except caviling at every word?
4) why should you do *his job* - correct the inaccuracies?
( and reject some new ones)
5) why don't they pay you for re-proofreading?
6) why should you suspend your current job(s) anyway?
7) what mutual concessions do/would you have?
IMO it requires clarification and negotiation.

Well, yes, as José says 'pair interaction' method is quite often used for both checking and training. Even during my work experience at school I gave tests to students and after it they exchanged their papers, corrected mistakes (if any) and marked. Indeed they had two marks for their test and for checking too.

Cheers

[Редактировалось 2009-05-28 06:05 GMT]


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Umang Dholabhai  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 20:35
Member
English to Gujarati
+ ...
About Translator's duties :Filling a glossary May 27, 2009

Though this forum is more about proofing, I take the liberty to ask this since it is also about translators' duties. Could anyone guide me on this : My agency tells me to fill up a long glossary sheet and send it before the delivery of the translation. Should I be charging extra for this function? I am a little puzzled since this is a recent development. It consumes quite some time and I am getting wary of this duty. Could someone help me on this please? Thanks in advance.

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Mary McCusker  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:05
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Completing a glossary May 27, 2009

Umang, I've been asked to do this once or twice. As I recall my client agreed to pay a fee for this. In one case, however, the glossary was so small that I didn't bother to charge. I'm not entirely clear whether you are being asked to create a glossary from scratch or whether you are filling in terms in the target language only.

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