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Where does a translator's job start and where does it end?
Thread poster: 00000000000
00000000000
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:36
English to German
Feb 1, 2010

Hello everyone.

I have been working as a technical translator for a number of years. Recently I have started to work freelance for a UK publisher, translating articles from a diverse variety of English or American publications into German for their release on the German market.

Whilst I have been carrying out my translations vigorously, the publisher wants me to sub-edit the texts as well, to make them more readable.

I have a contract which requires me to translate 2000 words per day, which I can manage. But having to sub-edit as well, will mean I will need to work considerably longer. I am just wondering whether this is the norm?

Any advice is much appreciated.



[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2010-02-02 11:51 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:36
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A translator's job is to translate faithfully Feb 1, 2010

I.e. you are normally not expected to edit the text for another purpose. If your customer now wants you to add work to the translation itself, maybe you should renegotiate the deal?

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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sub-edit Feb 1, 2010

So what do you have to do extra? I try to make my texts are readable as possible, part and parcel of a translation I would say. Could you be a little more specific...

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hyperlingo.com
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:36
make sure all parties are clear on definition of services, communication is key Feb 2, 2010

During my time as a freelancer, I found it very important to set terms very clearly when working for direct clients - that way clients know what kind of services they are paying for, and translators know what they are charging for.

Communication between the client and translator is critical. I found that in many cases, clients may not fully understand terms like 'sub-editing', 'editing', and even 'proofreading', and I have spoken to a lot of other translators who feel the same. As a result, it can often be a good idea for translators to try to gently educate their clients. This looks professional and makes the client more aware of the value and diversity of the services that are on offer - they will rarely be annoyed to learn more about what they are paying for. It's important for clients to realise that language professionals don't just change words from one language into another one!

Guy

[Edited at 2010-02-02 15:41 GMT]


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xxxGrayson Morr  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:36
Dutch to English
Editing Feb 2, 2010

It sounds like Viola's employer wants her to edit the articles to have better flow, more punch, and so on. Rearrange sentences, perhaps paragraphs, perhaps omit some information and expand elsewhere. If that is so, then I agree with Tomás: this is definitely not part of a translator's job, and not part of your original employment agreement.

We all try to make our translations sound native, with no hint they are translated works. Aside from the time/money issue, however, I think editing a translation to be "more readable" is in fact unethical. The job is to reproduce the author's intent, content, and voice in a different language. If the author is a monotonous, repetitive, confusing bore, well, that is what he must be in the target language as well.

(Unless, of course, the author wants his text edited--but, again, that is not part of the translation process, nor is it included in time and price estimates.)

Viola, can you renegotiate your contract, as Tomás suggests? I would try to lower the daily word count obligation, if it were me, though you could negotiate additional salary instead, depending on whether you'd rather earn more for more work (and more hours per day), or safeguard your non-work hours.


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Nadejda Vega Cespedes  Identity Verified

Local time: 10:36
Spanish to Russian
+ ...
Do what is right for you Feb 2, 2010

You are a freelancer, which means you don't have a job description imposed from outside. As a business owner, you are free to decide what services you would like to offer. If editing is one of them, that's fine. If it is not, that is fine, too.

I'd say the norm (or, more accurately, the right thing to do) is to focus on the area where you comparative advantage lies and to target clients who want exactly what you offer.


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00000000000
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:36
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Feb 2, 2010

Thank you for all your replies, which are all much appreciated.

My problem is that I have got a contract for one year with a company who have bought the rights for some American and UK magazines to be published in Europe. I do the German translations. The titles are rather diverse: computing, software, digital cameras, gardening with children, Harleys, Fitness etc.

They not only want translations and proof-reading but some tweaking as well, to make them more flowing and readable for the target audience. If necessary that includes editing, taking away and adding content. I have got a target of 2000 words per day and feel I am rather stretched...

Until recently they also used some translation agencies, which they have just stopped in order to save costs. They now only use Freelancers and I am their main one on a full-time contract covering 2000 days per day, 5 days per week (albeit as a freelancer).

At the moment I very much feel a failure...


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:36
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
this could work for you Feb 2, 2010

if "they" say they want it more readable, specific to the target audience, it could also mean you are allowed to leave out the "fully bits" which only a UK or US reader would understand. You do not need to translate everything anymore, but only, say 80%-90%, and you could use your own language to describe in German what the author is saying - giving you more freedom !!...
So, translation has become internationalisation and you can decide what goes into the German version...
I say a translator's job starts when he gets up and ends when he goes to bed, it's just a question of how much effort you want to put into it. Techically if they are chaning the request/contract from pure translation to marketing it for the Germans, you should be able to renegociate the contract, saying "listen" this is not what we started out with, I can help you, but... (more pay, less words, longer deadlines)... Any business (including translation) is giving your customers what they want, (at a price they can afford).

goodluck!

Ed


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:36
Member (2004)
English to Italian
you have to be firm... Feb 2, 2010

it's not in your contract, is it? So, you won't do it or renegotiate the contract to include the sub-editing and less words per day... if they refuse, they can keep their job... it's exploitation...

[Edited at 2010-02-02 13:25 GMT]


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Keep an eye on that contract! Feb 2, 2010

My problem is that I have got a contract for one year with a company who have bought the rights for some American and UK magazines to be published in Europe.
...
They not only want translations and proof-reading but some tweaking as well


What they say they want and what is in the contract are Two Completely Different Things (depending on how well they worded the contract).

So what *exactly* does the contract say? How does IT define your services?

Because unless it specifically includes this "sub-editing" or tweaking or whatever you want to call it, then you can politely tell them "that is not in my contract, we will have to sign a separate contract for those services".

I hope for your sake that's true!


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00000000000
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:36
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
@ Janet: Feb 3, 2010

Janet Rubin wrote:


What they say they want and what is in the contract are Two Completely Different Things (depending on how well they worded the contract).

So what *exactly* does the contract say? How does IT define your services?

Because unless it specifically includes this "sub-editing" or tweaking or whatever you want to call it, then you can politely tell them "that is not in my contract, we will have to sign a separate contract for those services".

I hope for your sake that's true!




My contract states the following:

The role includes (but is not limited to) providing teh following day to day services:

1) Cover translation into German
2) Content translation into German
3) Proof reading of translated magazine content

The Consultant will be expected to translate up to 2000 words per day.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:36
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some comments Feb 3, 2010

Viola Sander wrote:
Whilst I have been carrying out my translations vigorously, the publisher wants me to sub-edit the texts as well, to make them more readable. ... I have a contract which requires me to translate 2000 words per day, which I can manage. But having to sub-edit as well, will mean I will need to work considerably longer.


There is no such rule that "translators should remain faithful to the source text in all situations". That rule (if it exists) only applies to situations where the client or the situation doesn't specify otherwise. In your case, the client wants you to add an element of precis to your translation, and I see nothing ethically wrong with that.

I think some translators do sub-editing of their source texts mentally anyway. After all, a poorly written source text doesn't have to have a poorly written translation.

My own style of translation is to mimic the tone, register and logical flow of the original as far as possible, but I must confess that I tend to keep the target reader in mind as well, which means that my translations are typically somewhat easier to read than the originals anyway, unless I'm translating something really technical.

So, while there is nothing wrong with the client's request, I agree with you that doing it would require more time (and would therefore warrant a higher rate). In some cases, the client's request can be a blessing, because if you encounter a particularly difficult section, you have the client's permission to paraphrase more liberally than you'd normally allow yourself to do. But doing this consistently is actually more work, not less.

My suggestion is that you tell the client that such sub-editing will actually take a lot more time to perform, and that instead of asking you to deliberately sub-edit the work, he should just give you permission to sub-edit at your discretion in cases where there seem to be a dire need for it.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:36
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Adding content crosses the line Feb 3, 2010

Viola Sander wrote:
They not only want translations and proof-reading but some tweaking as well, to make them more flowing and readable for the target audience. If necessary that includes editing, taking away *and adding content*.


Adding content definitely crosses the line. Adding content isn't even sub-editing anymore -- it's pure writing (or journal writing, or whatever you want to call it).

Removing content is still part of sub-editing. Adding explanations or little bits of information to the translation that wasn't there in the original may also be seen as sub-editing(*), but if you have to do research and add lots of content, then it's a completely different thing.

Remember, you may be responsible for errors that you introduce when you add content.

(*) What I mean here is if for example the source text mentions "Einstein" and you translate it as "Albert Einstein", or, at a stretch, if the source text says "late 19th century" and you translate it as "1880s" (if those are the correct years). I would not charge extra for this if the client had merely given me permission to do it.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:36
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
What proofreading is Feb 3, 2010

Viola Sander wrote:
My contract states the following:
1) Cover translation into German
2) Content translation into German
3) Proof reading of translated magazine content


Two questions:

1. Does #3 mean that you should proofread your own translations, or does it also mean that you should possibly proofread translations done by other people?

2. What does the client understand under "proofreading"? In my country, the term "proofreading" is often used by lay people to mean "improve the text by removing spelling errors, grammar errors, style errors, tone errors and register errors" (although admittedly different people include different things in their definitions). Is it possible that the client meant that you should do all the things I mention here (including the correction or adjustment of tone and register)?


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