How to handle the receipt of a poor translation?
Thread poster: Rebecca Lyne

Rebecca Lyne
France
French to English
+ ...
Feb 19, 2010

Hello,

What is your advice for when you receive a poor translation back from
a translator?

In this instance, the final translation was read by two native speakers
who both confirmed that the translation was of very poor quality.

So, what is/should be the policy for dealing with this kind of a circumstance in terms
of how to deal with the translator?


Thanks!

[Edited at 2010-02-19 21:49 GMT]


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:15
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
What does the contract say? Feb 19, 2010

I assume you had some sort of contract or PO signed when you outsourced this job.
What does it say about quality issues?
Katalin


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jaymin
Canada
Local time: 06:15
Member (2009)
German to Korean
+ ...
what was the per-word rate? Feb 19, 2010

was it urgent? how did you find the translator?
i'm curious to know how you deal with this type of worst case scenario from your point of view.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:15
French to English
+ ...
Discuss with the translator... Feb 19, 2010

rebeccalyne wrote:
What is your advice for when you receive a poor translation back from
a translator?

In this instance, the final translation was read by two native speakers
who both confirmed that the translation was of very poor quality.


I've sometimes come up against this problem and confess I haven't honed my approach just yet, and welcome other input on the subject too, but what I've done which has worked to varying degrees is essentially to put the problem back to the translator in the first instance:

- firstly, I explain that the translation wasn't up to the standard I was expecting, highlighting examples of problems, and offer the translator a little bit more time to fix the issues;
- if this still doesn't resolve the issue, I offer a halfway house, for example offering half of the price.

I also try to weigh up how much of the problem was down to a bad recruitment decision on my part. For example, if the translator claims to have 10 years of experience in the field in question but turns in work that clearly doesn't reflect this claim, then I would feel completely justified in asking for a price reduction. On the other hand, if I had chosen a translator less specialised in the field-- e.g. because nobody else was available-- then I would have to assume part of the responsibility for that decision and be more lenient towards the translator.

I should say that on a few occasions, I've explained to a translator that I'm not entirely happy with the work but will pay them the full price anyway, and they've actually themselves offered not to be paid or offered a reduction.


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Nadejda Vega Cespedes  Identity Verified

Local time: 12:15
Spanish to Russian
+ ...
Agency or end client? Feb 20, 2010

If you are an agency, it's your fault. Pay and never work with that translator again -- or with any other translator, for that matter, until you figure out a way to check qualifications before assigning jobs.

If you are the end client, in my opinion you are entitled to full refund.


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Mien H. Luu  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 18:15
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
The translator should be advised of the problem Feb 20, 2010

One of my clients recently asked me to proofread a translation. I offered her my normal rate, only to find out later that the translation was of very poor quality. Anyway I went ahead with the proofreading without commenting on quality of the translation. However, my client must have found out from the proofread version and sent it to the translator for his comments. As it turned out, the translator admitted that I "did a good proofreading job". I don't know what happened between them after that, but I think in cases like this the translator should offer a reduction in their rate to acknowledge their shortcomings.

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Karen Tkaczyk  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:15
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
Track changes Feb 20, 2010

One option:
Have one of the respected translators track changes on the first page of the document, send it back and ask the translator to fix the rest.
Another: make sure your reviser tracks changes all the way through, send it back and ask for the translator's opinion.
If the translator does not offer discount then he or she shouldn't have been hired in the first place, in my opinion as a professional should offer a discount when he does a bad job.


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Aside: Agency's "fault" Feb 20, 2010

Nadejda Vega Cespedes wrote:

"If you are an agency, it's your fault. Pay and never work with that translator again..."


I beg to differ with this blanket statement, although perhaps you are using the word "fault" to mean "liability", in which case it depends on which party the agency is liable to.

Most agencies (or even outsourcers who are not technically agencies) establish some kind of contractual relationship with the linguist, and again in most cases, this covers situations in which quality is not acceptable and/or corrections have to be made.

We don't really know the OP's exact situation (contractual terms, if any), but based on my experience, almost every situation in which the relationship between the agency and the linguist is formally defined, the contract will state that the agency is not obligated to pay/not obligated to pay in full in the case of verifiably unsatisfactory quality, and may stipulate other conditions as well (third-party review, if and when corrections by the linguist are expected, whether and how much linguist is to contribute to the costs of third-party correction or sacrifice their remuneration as penalty, etc.).

However, a dilemma arises (as may very well be the case here) when that relationship is not formally defined (in writing)...


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:15
English to German
+ ...
Send it back for correction, of course. Feb 20, 2010

I do have a problem with the term "final translation" in this context. The final translation is the ready-to-print product that will be sent to the end client AFTER it has passed various instances of quality assessment.

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Rebecca Lyne
France
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Final translation Feb 20, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:

I do have a problem with the term "final translation" in this context. The final translation is the ready-to-print product that will be sent to the end client AFTER it has passed various instances of quality assessment.



In this instance, I am the end client. So, it is a bit of an odd situation for me.
In any case, the two native speakers are my business associates who actually said that it
read like a Babel-Fish translation. I feel that there is no way I can send it back to the translator as the entire text was simply dreadful, in the opinion of my associates.

So, am I obligated to pay this person?


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Claudio Porcellana  Identity Verified
Italy
not elude one's responsibilities Feb 20, 2010

even if a professional doesn't receive a PO, this is not an excuse to deliver a garbage and if a professional brags about a fake expertise, it's even worst

one time in my early career, (and other very rare times, luckily ) I delivered a garbage and I accepted a 100% discount without breathing a word, and it was a great lesson to me.

In other domains, professionals not only are not paid, but can be prosecuted, so I think that to accept a discount or no payment at all is already a fortune in our case

Claudio

[Modificato alle 2010-02-20 10:47 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:15
English to German
+ ...
It should have been sent back for correction after the first editor considered it sub-standard. Feb 20, 2010

rebeccalyne wrote:
In this instance, I am the end client. So, it is a bit of an odd situation for me.
In any case, the two native speakers are my business associates who actually said that it
read like a Babel-Fish translation. I feel that there is no way I can send it back to the translator as the entire text was simply dreadful, in the opinion of my associates.

So, am I obligated to pay this person?


If it takes TWO persons to discover that the translation sounds babelfishy, you are losing your credibility.


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Rebecca Lyne
France
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Why? How? Feb 20, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:

rebeccalyne wrote:
In this instance, I am the end client. So, it is a bit of an odd situation for me.
In any case, the two native speakers are my business associates who actually said that it
read like a Babel-Fish translation. I feel that there is no way I can send it back to the translator as the entire text was simply dreadful, in the opinion of my associates.

So, am I obligated to pay this person?


If it takes TWO persons to discover that the translation sounds babelfishy, you are losing your credibility.



How? When they say this simultaneously, there is nothing else one can do. I don't understand your logic on that one. These two persons were sent the translation at the same time, not one after the other. They both independently stated similar criticisms about the translation. So, the fact that two persons simultaneously had similar comments would make the criticism more credible it seems to me.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:15
English to German
+ ...
Have you talked to the translator? Feb 20, 2010

Have you confirmed that the translator is a native speaker and can you provide and forward a list of the mistakes to the translator? How does your contract look like and what does your PO say?

Sorry, I am not a goody-goody-goody-speaker for bad translators. However, I have been married too long to a lawyer to notice that there is not much of a case here. Otherwise you wouldn't need a public forum for advice.


rebeccalyne wrote:

Nicole Schnell wrote:

rebeccalyne wrote:
In this instance, I am the end client. So, it is a bit of an odd situation for me.
In any case, the two native speakers are my business associates who actually said that it
read like a Babel-Fish translation. I feel that there is no way I can send it back to the translator as the entire text was simply dreadful, in the opinion of my associates.

So, am I obligated to pay this person?


If it takes TWO persons to discover that the translation sounds babelfishy, you are losing your credibility.



How? When they say this simultaneously, there is nothing else one can do. I don't understand your logic on that one. These two persons were sent the translation at the same time, not one after the other. They both independently stated similar criticisms about the translation. So, the fact that two persons simultaneously had similar comments would make the criticism more credible it seems to me.


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