Clients "proofreading" languages they don't know
Thread poster: Taija Hyvönen

Taija Hyvönen
Finland
Local time: 22:52
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Aug 3, 2010

I have been running into this problem more and more lately with clients who don't know a word of Finnish. And all have been translationg agencies. I thought they know there are different languages in the world.

For example, an expression consisting of five words in English may translate into Finnish as only one word due to the structural differences of the languages. Then I may have a client demanding corrections, because I have left something out - all the words are not there! Well, for starters we have no articles or prepositions...

Then there are case endings, which are added to names as well, such as "to ProZ" - "ProZiin", "from ProZ" - "ProZista". This makes it fairly easy for clients to go ahead and "correct" the text by removing the endings, then send the text back to me - so I can spend a lovely sunny afternoon patching them back in. Yes, I will start charging for this. You wouldn't look at an English text without knowing English and decide to remove all the useless extra letters such as "a", "the", "to" and "in", would you? Or at least you wouldn't send that to your client...

They may want corrections, because one word is constantly misspelled. Hmm... could that be because with case, number, possessive and clitic particles any Finnish noun can take 2253 different forms?

I don't generally mind explaining things, but this goes a little too far sometimes. Questions are ok, what is not ok is demanding "corrections" just because you think hey, ymmärtämättömyyttään can't be a word, it just looks weird.

Sometimes I am just asked for corrections. Just that. Which gives me a feeling of someone trying to proofread, not actually knowing the language and not understanding for example more complex verb structures.

Do you run into this and if you do, how do you educate your clients? How much time do you "waste" (don't get paid for) on lecturing about the grammar of your language when the job is already done and there is nothing to correct?

Edit. Most of my clients are of course smart and pleasant professionals, who don't question the text just because they don't understand it. There are only a few clients as described above, but the amount of extra work they demand is an issue.

[Edited at 2010-08-03 14:11 GMT]


 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 21:52
English to Czech
+ ...
Automated QA Aug 3, 2010

Hello Taija,
IMO, this often happens when the client uses automated QA checkers. Automated QA checks are fine, provided the clients know how to work with them. I understand that Finnish is an agglutinative language. In that case, if the client configures the QA checker to report any segments shorter by more than 20% of words, this may become a problem in your language.

I believe instead of explaining the specifics of your language, it could be worth the while to educate the client in how to use their QA checker properly.


 

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:52
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
simple Aug 3, 2010

Taija Salo wrote:

How much time do you "waste" (don't get paid for) on lecturing about the grammar of your language when the job is already done and there is nothing to correct?



That's simple: none at all, of course. Sometimes, a client may specifically ask me a question about German grammar, which I'm absolutely happy to answer at no cost, as a favour they sometimes return when I ask about some peculiar expression in my source language (which is most of my clients' native language).


 

InfoMarex
Ireland
Local time: 20:52
Member (2008)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Proofreading Aug 3, 2010

Taija,

If your client does not speak Finnish, simply say that Finnish has a different grammatical and syntax structure to English, and leave it at that.

If the client presses, then simply say that it takes many years to learn Finnish, would take several weeks to explain the grammar of the text, and politely finish the conversation.

My difficulty is with those clients [two previous ones whom I dropped, and one present one] who think they should correct my English. Coincidentally, all three clients were/are French.
Kind regards,

Michael J McCann
InfoMarex


 

Tarja Braun  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:52
Member (2008)
German to Finnish
+ ...
I am tired of that Aug 3, 2010

I know what you are talking about. I am explaining the same things over and over again. "No, I am not tampering your product name, I have to put the case endings to the name." Endless discussions explaining the structure of Finnish. And there are customers who do not ask. I found a product leaflet in the Internet - translated by me. All the endings were separated by a blank from the product name. It is our destiny to work with a weird language.

 

Adam Łobatiuk  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:52
Member (2009)
English to Polish
+ ...
Same thing with Polish Aug 3, 2010

We "only" have up to 7 cases and 3 genders (that applies to nouns and adjectives) in the singular and different endings for all verb forms. That often means additional workload associated with QA reports for foreign agencies. Today I had an indirect client angry that "Update" (with no context) was not translated as in the glossary, but the glossary contained an infinitive, while an imperative form was really required.

I don't want to offend anybody and my impression could be wrong, but it seems that the most troublesome are Asian clients, especially end-clients. That could be because CJK languages don't seem to use endings, and nor does English that they are familiar with. That is why the concept of various grammatical forms could be entirely foreign to them.

In Polish we often circumvent the problem of foreign company and product names by adding an auxiliary noun to them, e.g. the XYZ company, the ABC phone. The foreign name remains in the basic form, and the endings are attached to the auxiliary noun. The translation doesn't flow as well as it could, but at least clients don't complain. Maybe that would work in Finnish as well?


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:52
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Goodwill Aug 3, 2010

Adam Łobatiuk wrote:
We "only" have up to 7 cases and 3 genders (that applies to nouns and adjectives) in the singular and different endings for all verb forms.


This is the reason why I soon gave up on learning Polish, though I heard it spoken at home every day for the first 25 years of my life. When my parents were in their 90s, caregivers eavesdropping all the time, I had to actually speak it, in order to do some QA on the service/care they were getting. Though I managed to get my message across, my parents always laughed, as in almost a century they never heard their language so badly spoken.

Regarding the proofreading, now and then a keen PM proofreads my translations into PT. As we had a spelling reform last January, of course they don't have updated spellcheckers, and for obvious reasons the new rules are not available anywhere in any language other than Portuguese. So they rather uneasily take my word for it.

What would be the point in explaining the new Portuguese spelling rules in any other language?

The worst of it is when I have to do it. I translate EN-PT, only! I speak IT-FR-ES, but I don't translate any of them. Nevertheless, my knowledge of these three enables me to do DTP and video spotting with someone else's translation into them. It's rather creepy to see that my limited command occasionally shows me a typo or a blatant grammar error. Yet, I advise beforehand to my client that I will definitely not edit anything in these languages. This is when I have that aforesaid uneasy feeling.


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 02:52
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Policy of a big translation agency Aug 4, 2010

Tarja Braun wrote:
I know what you are talking about. I am explaining the same things over and over again. "No, I am not tampering your product name, I have to put the case endings to the name." Endless discussions explaining the structure of Finnish. And there are customers who do not ask. I found a product leaflet in the Internet - translated by me. All the endings were separated by a blank from the product name. It is our destiny to work with a weird language.

I am also tired of such recurrence out of a big New York translation agency who uses proofreaders/reviewers who do not understand my target language.

But after many repeating experiences, I realize that it is a good quality control process since many silly and naïve questions should be answered by me as a good translation service. The reason is "good translation is an exact conveying of meaning beyond the language barrier and cultural borders." Many questions are not so silly but surprising and stimulate me to research more on how to translate better and more accurately. In fact, may translations were mostly in legal contexts where exactness of translation is a vital element. It is not very easy since laws in one country may not be identical to those in other countries, both in legal philosophy and linguistic aspects.

In addition, many checking points of the target-language-illegible proofreader are similar to QA verifications in many CAT tools.
Regards,

Soonthon L.


 

Viivi
Finland
Local time: 22:52
Useful link Aug 4, 2010

Hi Taija!

I've heard some Finnish translators just send their clients this link:

http://www.ling.helsinki.fi/~fkarlsso/genkau2.html

icon_smile.gif


 

Taija Hyvönen
Finland
Local time: 22:52
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
In some case it is the most reasonable solution Aug 4, 2010

Adam Łobatiuk wrote:
In Polish we often circumvent the problem of foreign company and product names by adding an auxiliary noun to them, e.g. the XYZ company, the ABC phone. The foreign name remains in the basic form, and the endings are attached to the auxiliary noun. The translation doesn't flow as well as it could, but at least clients don't complain. Maybe that would work in Finnish as well?


I sometimes do that, if it makes things less complicated.

However, it makes me uneasy as well. I feel like I am stretching the language to please clients, who are just ignorant and don't trust a professional, whose services they are paying for.


 

xxxwonita
China
Local time: 15:52
Same here Aug 4, 2010

I 've had problems with a few Chinese punctuations several times:

Chinese ellipsis has 6 dots instead of 3. It looks like"……"; Chinese dash "——" takes 2 spaces instead of one. Some clients do take a look at my translation though they know nothing about Chinese. Once I had "dash+Chinese character for one" in my document, which looks like "——一", and the client doubted very much if I had made everything correctly. As to the ellipsis, I found one client had kept only 3 dots, and deleted another 3, on his website.


 

gad
United States
Local time: 15:52
Member
French to English
What do you mean "start"? Aug 4, 2010

Taija Salo wrote:

Yes, I will start charging for this.


I hope that you have started charging for this already.:)

Seriously, I have run into so-called proofreaders/editors who made "corrections" that rendered the text so INcorrect in English that even the spelling/grammar check in Word highlighted those items! Though I admit that this obviously has happened very rarely. The last time it happened was quite awhile ago, but I remember sending back my comments on the edits and specifically telling the agency not to use those changes in submitting the final version to the client. Whether or not they followed that advice was their call. I have gotten work from that agency again and never run into a problem again...I decided to continue working with them because it was the one and only problem I'd ever run ito with them.

Anyway, I can completely empathize with your situation. It's frustrating to have to explain why your work is already correct - it's tedious and time-consuming, and a waste of time. They should have proofreaders who are fluent in the target language. That should be a given.


 


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Clients "proofreading" languages they don't know

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