$%^& happens… (overzealous proofreaders)
Thread poster: Uldis Liepkalns

Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 14:42
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Aug 27, 2003

This is just a story about how it goes; I actually do not expect any advice...

Yesterday we delivered to a client an urgent job (about 30 pages to 2 languages overnighth). We did it.

The client initially insisted on _VERY_ precise wording, which we did observe.

Today we received the news from the client, together with "corrected" versions that he will not pay for such a bad job, as he had to make so many corrections in the translation. Track changes shows 4 to 5 corrections in every sentence, none of them correct or unchallengeable. You know, one proofreader adores participles, another one hates them, one every “ignitable substance” changes to “substance which can be ignited”, the other one- the other way round. In every sentence many corrections were made, mainly the word order (in every language any longer sentence can be constructed in umpteen ways, none of them incorrect, as we all know), and our correct terms- e.g., mansion, which was “mansion” also in the original text, was changed to “private house”, which doesn’t exclude specifically “mansion”, but can stand also for the Empire State Building, but in the original text there definitely was "prices of mansions in the suburbs”…
The “production facilities” client’s proofreader had replaced with “production area”, though in the original text there definitely was "premises" and so forth...

Of course, we will haggle on with the said client, but: “So it goes”, as Vonnegut said

Uldis


[Edited at 2003-08-27 22:13]

[Edited at 2003-08-28 08:16]


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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:42
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Sad, but it does happen at times... Aug 27, 2003

In most of these cases, the editor is very inexperienced. They look specifically for changes. One of the first lessons I got when I worked as an in-house translator/editor was this: "When editing, change it only if it is wrong and/or does not make sense. Otherwise, leave it as it is."
But it seems that some editors do not know/apply even the basic rules of our profession. The worst cases are (at least in my experience) when the editor does not even use the proper (Albanian) characters, but replaces Ëë with Ee or Çç with Cc. So instead of trying to receive a better material, the client (who usually does not have any clue) ends up with a material that is difficult to be read by Albanian speakers...
Monika


Uldis Liepkalns wrote:

This is just a story about how it goes; I actually do not expect any advice...

Yesterday we delivered to a client an urgent job (about 30 pages to 2 languages overnighth). We did it.

The client initially insisted on _VERY_ precise wording, which we did observe.

Today we received the news from the client, together with "corrected" versions that he will not pay for such a bad job, as he had to make so many corrections in the translation. Track changes shows 4 to 5 corrections in every sentence, none of them correct or unchallengeable. You know, one proofreader adores participles, another one hates them, one every “ignitable substance” changes to “substance which can be ignited”, the other one- the other way round. In every sentence many corrections were made, mainly the word order (in every language any longer sentence can be constructed in umpteen ways, none of them incorrect, as we all know), and our correct terms- e.g., mansion, which was “mansion” also in the original text, was changed to “private house”, which doesn’t exclude specifically “mansion”, but can stand also for the Empire State Building, but in the original text there definitely was " the prices of the mansions in the suburbs”…
The “production facilities” client’s proofreader had replaced with “production area”, though in the original text there definitely was "premises" and so forth...

Of course, we will haggle on with the said client, but: “So it goes”, as Vonnegut said

Uldis


[Edited at 2003-08-27 22:13]


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 14:42
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, Tayfun, Aug 27, 2003

one of the target languages was Russian and was done by a native speaker, the second one was English, but both translators are professionals, and I speak both languages freely and therefore I think I can judge. The gravest objections was to Russian part.
Which I would consider funny, weren’t I involved. I myself know Russian better than most of the so-called “Russian-speaking minority” in this country, and if the proofreader substitutes Latvian “un” (and) translated by as as “i” to Russian” with “ilji” (“or” in Russian), and marks it as our mistake, I do not know whether to laugh or cry…
Anyway, there is no arbitration or any other instance here in Latvia to complain to. That’s the reason why I posted this in the first place- just to ease my heart

Uldis


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
my frustrating day! Aug 27, 2003

Just to ease my heart here's my story! I did a very difficult, technical translation, which the client accepted (happily) and will pay for. However, when we sent it to the Spanish-speaking AUTHOR, he EDITED it even though he is barely fluent in English. Among other things,put parentheses around prepositions and wrote his choice next to each one, with a little question mark added on. There so was much more! At no extra charge, I had to clean up the mess and justify my choices, too. I felt I had no alternative. Thanks for listening...

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Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 09:42
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It happened to me, too! Aug 27, 2003

If the language pair had been English > Spanish I would have thought that it was my story!

I really understand you!

Sorry!

Clarisa


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Aleksandra Mandrapa  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:42
English to Bosnian
+ ...
It happens... Aug 27, 2003

I guess it can happen to everybody, and you should consider yourself lucky, since it wasn't such a large project. The same thing happened to me, but the project was huge, and it was me and several other translators that worked on it for a few months, 12+ hours per day. At the end, the agency decided to (substantially) lower our fee unjustifiably, with the same kind of excuses. Since I took over the project, and I coordinated the translation of the whole team, I had no choice - I subtracted the amount from my earnings, and paid the other fellow translators from my team the full amount, that was agreed upon, and that they earned. Basically, it turned out that I translated 15000 words for free.
Now you can feel better, knowing that the worse things happen. You should consider yourself lucky - at least you didn’t waist that much time.
And also, fortunately, it doesn’t happen that much. Just today for example, as a total contrast, somebody called me to say that they are in shock, (literally her words) how good the translation that I sent them is. It was quite time consuming, legal terminology with a lot of tables and formatting, but oh man, it’s good to hear something like that!
Good luck, I hope you feel better now.


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Alexandru Pojoga
Romania
Local time: 14:42
Japanese to English
+ ...
Try to be pragmatic Aug 28, 2003

Uldis Liepkalns wrote:

You know, one proofreader adores participles, another one hates them, one every “ignitable substance” changes to “substance which can be ignited”,

mansion, which was “mansion” also in the original text, was changed to “private house”, which doesn’t exclude specifically “mansion”, but can stand also for the Empire State Building


Hi Uldis,

Unless the client is intentionally trying to swindle you, there may be a chance you can help him see things right.

Point out the instances where one proofreader turned “ignitable substance” to “substance which can be ignited” and the other one turned them around. That's undeniable evidence that his proofreaders aren't all they claim to be, so he shouldn't take their word for it when they say they found N mistakes.

Explain calmly and without superior overtones why mansion is better than 'private house' and let him make a decision without being insulted.

If he's just counting the 'mistakes' that his proofreaders 'found' then there's no talking to him and it's a lost case. Just try to talk some sense into the guy before giving up.


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xxxT_Herrmann  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:42
German to English
+ ...
Yeah, I know... Aug 28, 2003

This is how it occurs to me. Especially unexperienced proofreaders feel an urgent need to justify their invoice by a lot of "red" on the document. It'll ease up after a while. On the other hand, I did a really huge project once for a large U.S. telecommunications provider. The "honorable" proofreader (upon noticing that it was a project providing work for years to come) all in a sudden found nothing but errors, even telling the client there were "typical American" mistakes in my translations, which is plain bull**** since I lived, studied and work in Germany.
And oh what a coincidence, he could just manage somehow to free up some resources to handle the clients now very urgent remainder of the project. It was just ridiculous, and they even went for it. Funny part is, after all the haggle the client got tired of it, and went to one of the really large global providers (I think SDL)for the final edit. Now those guys told him that the first part (namely the stuff done by me) was excellent, maybe some suggestions what could be done different, but no discrepancy at all. The remainder on the other hand, was plain crap, idiomatics were translated completely wrong changing their meaning, standard business terms were at best guessed, etc. etc. etc.
So my two cents is, you don't know the motives of the other person. Some of us just sniff the juicy ham, are happy for you to have it, and say it smells good. For others it is just to tempting. It just happens. Anyway, that's just my 2 cents, sorry you had so much trouble. Better luck next time...


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:42
English to German
+ ...
My story Aug 28, 2003

I just had such an experience myself.
I did a translation for an agency. The end client sent this translation to some German employees and it was marked to be "bad from beginning to the end".

Since I felt that some changes were unjustified I asked another translator to do the proofing. She applied the requested changes (even though I don't think they are all justified) and made some changes herself. We returned the document, and got it back this Monday saying "it still is bad from the beginning to the end". This time, the client did not suggest any changes or so.

The agency now asked the client's employees to translate one page themselves. This translation will then be back-translated into English to see whether their translation is better than ours.

I am really curious to see what is going to happen.


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Martine Etienne  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 13:42
Member (2003)
English to French
+ ...
It has also happened to me... Aug 28, 2003

As belgian translator, when you happen to be proofreaded by a french translator from France who wants to be zealous and to show that these belgians do not speak the correct language from France, then it can become a hell because you have to justify everything. You use an adjective, she/he transforms it in a noun or finds that a verb is "lighter" and so on.

When you have a consciencious proofreader, you can learn much about source and target languages. Personally, I do not like proofreading, I have always the impression of stealing somebody'swork to try to make something better, and it is quite easier when you already have a solution beforehand.

I think there should be a concrete definition of the job of proofreading, editing.... To avoid the situations all of us have already encountered.



[Edited at 2003-08-28 17:35]


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 05:42
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Some people always want to be 'right' Aug 28, 2003

I edited (not translated) a document written in English by a foreign client whose English was very poor. After it was finished, he argued with me about every suggestion I made and in the end he wanted everything changed back to the way it was before. Needless to say, he refused to pay me. Fortunately, I did not lose a lot of money - it was a day's work but oh well, you always learn something.

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