French agencies: are they different?
Thread poster: Irène Guinez

Irène Guinez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:49
Member (2009)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Jun 15, 2010

I have a doubt.

May be I am not the best translator in the world, but in one year working as a free lancer I had more or less 5 complaints from translations agencies regarding the quality of my work.

I assume it, in some cases agencies are right and in other cases, not.

But , the point is all the complaints I received are systematically from French small agencies located in small cities.

I wonder if this situation is normal; why do I only have problems with theses French agencies and of course, big problems to be paid (inclusive after accepting a discount).

I dont know: am I totally paranoiac or there is a specific problem with dealing with small French agencies?


Irène


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:49
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Good experiences with French agencies Jun 15, 2010

All I can say about this is that one of my main customers is a French agency and they are really professional, pleasant, and reliable people. No complaints at all about them.

I have also worked for smaller French agencies for some time, and during my cooperation with them they were also professional and reasonable. Unfortunately smaller agencies are not always willing to pay my usual rate, although they must pay high rates to French fellow translators...


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Irène Guinez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:49
Member (2009)
Spanish to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Rate Jun 15, 2010

Tomás,

I don't even receive a better rate and I am French!
And the payment is normally superior to 30 days (45 or 60 days).

I will probaly refuse any other translation paid in 45 days or more.

Irène


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polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
a number of comments Jun 15, 2010

First and foremost, I do not work with agencies, in France or elsewhere, so I cannot judge on that specific point.

However, I have had a look at your profile and note a number of things. You seem to have studied languages specifically and to have had actual training in translation. Surely you know from that period how your teachers rated you? If you are still in contact with any of them, maybe they could look at your work that has been criticised and state what they think? Or maybe a peer translator ?

I also notice that the rates you charge are at the low end of the scale. This suggests that you attract the bottom end of the agency market, the sort of people who advertise here for "el cheapo" translations. For example, only yesterday, I saw a job advertised ENG-FR for someone with the knowledge to handle a text on logistics. The word price offered was 0.05 USD. Frankly, if someone has the knowledge to deal with such a text, they surely deserve more than that? And if an agency wants good results at cheap prices, they may also be the sort of people who also want to sneak out of paying by deliberately finding fault. I also suspect that they may be the kind of people who set up shop in smaller towns to keep a lowish profile.

That said, if you are the target of frequent criticism, then maybe there is a real problem. Not everybody who sets out to be a translator is destined to succeed. You may just not be cut out for the job. But the only way you can really judge is a) to conduct a lucid and realistic self-analysis and b) to contact someone you trust and who has the qualifications to give you an honest appreciation of your work.
I'm neutral: it may be you, it may be the agencies or it may be a mixture of the two.
But is is also important to be able to read the writing on the wall.......


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Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:49
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
French agencies or translator's skills Jun 15, 2010

Hi Irène,
My experience of working with French agencies is pretty limited, but I haven't ever had problems with them.
You may have very bad luck, or you may need to check the quality of your work. Profiles are often very revealing, and this can be good or bad news depending on what they disclose about you. I am struck by two things on your profile.
1. Answering 417 Kudoz questions and having 96 points to show for it does not look good.
2. The Blue Board entries you have made are mostly 5's (good, that's what we'd all hope to see) but you have given some much lower scores (presumably what this post is all about). So, it may be bad luck again, but the return comment from one outsourcer was "Your translation was absolutely awful and you only sent half of the work". And this is from an outsourcer who has only ever received 5's, except for your score. Hmmm.

I must agree with Polyglot about low rates attracting bottom-end of the market agencies. And if you choose to charge these rates, I don't understand your complaint about "ridiculous rates" in one of your Blue Board entries, although this is certainly interesting information for translators.

In short, check out your profile and see what it is telling you and others about the quality of your work. And steer clear of French agencies if you are really sure that the problems stem from them


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Louisa Berry
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:49
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Lots of source languages Jun 15, 2010

You also seem to translate from lots of source languages. Would you not be better off concentrating on one of them for a while?

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Rifraf
Local time: 09:49
perhaps complaints are justifiable Jun 15, 2010

There is another option:
the 5 complaints were all appropriate and there's nothing wrong with (small) French agencies or any other agencies that would let you know that they were not happy with the work you provided.

It is a well-known fact that nobody (especially translators:) likes to receive complaints!
And mostly people reply: stating that the fault is not theirs; yeah sure....


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:49
French to English
+ ...
Maybe... Jun 15, 2010

Were the translations where your work was criticized into French or into Spanish?

If the translations were into French, could it be that, maybe, the reason you've encountered some criticisms from only from French agencies is that the project managers are native speakers?

I looked at a couple of the EN-FR translations on your profile and it seems to me perhaps the glitch is that you seem to stick really close to the source text, which can make the translation sound a bit unnatural at times.

Just to give you an example, in the Code of Conduct sample (an HR/internal comm' document) you translated "We do what's right" by "Nous faisons de notre mieux"; "Working with reputable business partners" by "Travailler avec des partenaires de réputation", or "we strive towards our vision to be a world-class
service provider" by "nous luttons pour notre vision de prestataire de service de classe mondiale."

It might be helpful for you to take a project you've already done and try it with another approach, i.e. reading the source text (sentence or paragraph), understand it and its goals, and then put it into your own words in French, as you, a native speaker, would express it. See how a sample page or two turns out. You can always tighten it up afterwards if your client's instructions are to stick really close to the source document.

Let us know how if that helps?

Patricia


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Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:49
Member (2008)
English to French
Sorry to say I agree with the above comments. Jun 15, 2010

After reading the thread I took a look at your profile and sample texts. I won't tear them apart as I believe it's cruel and unfair to do so on a public forum but I second the suggestion that you might need to take a long, hard and dispassionate look at your texts - at a glance I noted punctuation and grammar mistakes as well as shifts of meaning and mistranslations. Also may I suggest that you request this thread be deleted as it will probably hamper your ability to obtain further work if it appears in your profile.

A good tool that might help is Antidote (I often mention it on Proz, let me say that I am in no way involved with them other than being a fan of their software) - it will help identify many mistakes, false friends and suggest co-occurrences and in-context examples of how words are used. For example this is the type of software that would highlight "levée de fonds" and inform you that it is a calque (as opposed to a simple spellchecker which would let this through).

Another way to keep your ear to the ground and boost your writing skills and sentence structure would be to read official publications daily in French, back in University my professors suggested "Le Monde" as being one of the best references for European French (being Canadian and living in China, I read at the very least the headlines from Le Devoir daily).

Please forgive me for being a(nother) bearer of bad news however I hope that these few tips will help you put this all behind you and move on with your career


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:49
French to German
+ ...
Threads such as this one... Jun 15, 2010

Threads such as this one would not exist if there were no horror tales (yes, even in the BB) about clients trying not to pay - or to pay much less - on "quality-related claims" grounds, even if there is nothing to object regarding the translations in question.

This being said, the French agencies I work with since 2007 have all been fair and straightforward.

There certainly also were agencies which acted in an IMHO unfair way (unilateral rates reduction at the beginning of a new year with the argument of volume, for example), but the only thing to do in such cases is to drop them as clients.

[Edited at 2010-06-15 16:28 GMT]


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claude
Thailand
Local time: 09:49
English to French
I confim Jun 15, 2010

I am a french eng-fr translator, and I had some complaints about how expensive I was, and some exaggerated quality complaints from my long time french customers. These same customers asked for some discount due to crisis time.

But meanwhile, my foreign clients, for whom I practice higher fares, give me more and more jobs.

I think this "you are too expensive" which is equivalent to "page 14, line 1, you missed this comma", etc. is typically french as I have nothing similar with my Uk and north america customers.

Forget these prima donna agencies, they have the choice, let cheap agencies work with cheap translators, and let competent translators work with wealthy agencies.


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Irène Guinez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:49
Member (2009)
Spanish to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Claude Jun 15, 2010

Claude,

Thank you for supporting me.
I am feeling quite alone....

Irène


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:49
French to German
+ ...
This I confirm too... Jun 15, 2010

claude wrote:

I think this "you are too expensive" which is equivalent to "page 14, line 1, you missed this comma", etc. is typically french as I have nothing similar with my Uk and north america customers.


This I confirm too. But I have also heard the "too expensive" line from German agencies (although I must admit that it was less frequent).

And... not really On Topic but quite relevant when it comes to an overview: some French agencies are the only ones (together with Italian ones, but here the rates "offered" are way too low) insisting on 60 to 90 days payment terms. One more reason to drop them.

[Edited at 2010-06-15 19:58 GMT]


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French agencies: are they different?

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