WWYD: Test translation comes with outdated prescribed term list
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Mar 13, 2011

G'day everyone

What would you do in this situation? For simplicity's sake, let's assume that I don't have a non-competion agreement with either of these clients (this is not for the same clients as my other WWYD post, by the way).

Some time ago I did a fairly large job for agency A, during which I was allowed to confer with the end-client's inhouse language expert about terminology issues. The large job came with a prescribed term list, but during the course of that job many of the preferred terms were changed by the end-client's language expert, and at the end of that large job, my translations reflected not the prescribed term list but the agreed-to preferences of the end-client's language expert.

Recently, agency B asked me to do a paid test translation for the same end-client, for a job that is very closely related to the job that I did for agency A. I assume the end-client decided not to give the job to agency A (for various reasons that I can actually understand).

My problem is that the source text format of the test translation comes with a built-in prescribed term list, and (yes, you guessed it) the term list is the same one as agency A had sent me right at the beginning of that other job, i.e. the term list does not reflect the updates that the end-client's language expert had made during the course of my collaboration with him during the job I did for agency A.

I'm concerned that when the end-client's language expert reviews my test translation, he might not realise that the term list given to the test translator was an outdated one, and he might judge my test translation negatively because of my non-adherence to his currently preferred terms. This will cause agency B to not get the contract.

Agency A does not know that I'm doing a test translation for agency B (it is none of their business, after all), and agency B does not know that I had done that other large job for agency A (until the translation becomes public knowledge, my involvement in it is privileged information, after all). I'm fairly certain that the end-client's language expert does not know that I'm the test translator for agency B.

What I have done, is this: I have faithfully followed the source text's built-in preferred term list, knowing full well that it is outdated. My reasoning is that when the test translation is reviewed, and there are comments or queries, I will then be able to point to the built-in term list, and leave it up to the agency to battle it out with the end-client's reviewer (presumably it will be the language expert).

My question is whether you think I should contact the end-client's language expert about this at all. I currently have an informal expert-expert relationship with him (i.e. he acknowledges that I'm an expert in this field and regularly asks my advice informally about issues not related to any current jobs that I'm doing for his employer). What would you do?

Thanks
Samuel


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polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
two versions? Mar 13, 2011

No idea how long this test is but, if I were you, I would offer two versions and explain that version 1 is using the list provided and version 2 based on your own knowledge and input gleaned in the past from experts in the particular specialist area. No names given, just couched in general terms.
But at least they know then that you have already worked in the field.
The test can't be that long, can it ?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good thinking Mar 13, 2011

polyglot45 wrote:
If I were you, I would offer two versions and explain that version 1 is using the list provided and version 2 based on your own knowledge and input gleaned in the past from experts in the particular specialist area. No names given, just couched in general terms.


That's actually a clever idea.


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Oleksandr Myslivets  Identity Verified
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Why don't You just do what You are asked for? Mar 13, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:

polyglot45 wrote:
If I were you, I would offer two versions and explain that version 1 is using the list provided and version 2 based on your own knowledge and input gleaned in the past from experts in the particular specialist area. No names given, just couched in general terms.


That's actually a clever idea.


All Your stuff is really incredible. But let's think what is the reason for the end client to look for an another job executor? As for me, I think that the final product quality is not that satisfactory. At that, You have no right and possibility to have an impact on it. You did Your job in accordance with external ruling circumstances. And again, I recommend You to do the same in new ones. Moreover, If You mention Your participation, It could have a not good influence.


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Radosveta Golden  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:27
Member (2010)
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
Wow, what kind of an expert is this? Mar 14, 2011

Normally, I would genuinly post the question "What does the standard say about it?" (about the terminology that is). What you describe sounds like some Shakespearean plot (if I may compare:) ) and it shouldn't even be this way. May be you should do all of what was suggested below plus have a talk with this expert guy, since you have some communication with him anyway. No matter what kind of terminology this is, it is supposed to be clarified and straightened without discrepancies, and not perpetually re-created or meddled with, or it would just defy the main purpose.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Radost and "standards" Mar 14, 2011

Radost_BG wrote:
Normally, I would genuinly post the question "What does the standard say about it?" (about the terminology that is).


Very few languages have just one standard, and most languages have synonymns. So it is not inconceivable that the author of a term list and style guide for a specific project might choose elements that another author on another project in the same subject field might not have chosen.

For example, a term list may contain "motorcycle" but the client might later decide that "motorbike" is his preferred term. Both words are correct according to the broad language standard, but only one of them is in the prescribed term list, if that is so, the other should not be used.

No matter what kind of terminology this is, it is supposed to be clarified and straightened without discrepancies, and not perpetually re-created or meddled with, or it would just defy the main purpose.


That is the ideal, but I think in reality it rarely happens that way. For a very large project, the style guide and term list are often written long before the translation is begun, and the people who write them aren't always translators themselves (or they may not end up working on the actual translation leg of the project). Style guides in the target languages are often mere translations of or at best adaptations of the source language's style guide, which is sometimes inadequate. Also, term lists tend to be created out of context, and it is only once the translation starts that the client or his expert realise which terms "work" or "don't work" in reality.

So I don't think there is anything sinister here.


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Radosveta Golden  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:27
Member (2010)
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
Register difference Mar 14, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:

Radost_BG wrote:
Normally, I would genuinly post the question "What does the standard say about it?" (about the terminology that is).


Very few languages have just one standard, and most languages have synonymns. So it is not inconceivable that the author of a term list and style guide for a specific project might choose elements that another author on another project in the same subject field might not have chosen.

For example, a term list may contain "motorcycle" but the client might later decide that "motorbike" is his preferred term. Both words are correct according to the broad language standard, but only one of them is in the prescribed term list, if that is so, the other should not be used.

No matter what kind of terminology this is, it is supposed to be clarified and straightened without discrepancies, and not perpetually re-created or meddled with, or it would just defy the main purpose.


That is the ideal, but I think in reality it rarely happens that way. For a very large project, the style guide and term list are often written long before the translation is begun, and the people who write them aren't always translators themselves (or they may not end up working on the actual translation leg of the project). Style guides in the target languages are often mere translations of or at best adaptations of the source language's style guide, which is sometimes inadequate. Also, term lists tend to be created out of context, and it is only once the translation starts that the client or his expert realise which terms "work" or "don't work" in reality.

So I don't think there is anything sinister here.


It seems like it is either different stylistic choices, or just a client TM. Clearly, you have to have some chat with this guy. There is no reason why you shouldn't get the job, just because you encounter double standard (I still think that "motorcycle" and "motorbilke" belong to two different stylistic fields and the choice of proper term has to comply with the stylistic field and target audience of the text, but I also realize you are just giving an example here, so the case might be a little off what I can imagine). Actually, exactly because of the double standard you shouldn't necessarily fail the test. Do both versions if necessary and explain, but come clean with the "expert" about the situation with the terminology reference. I myself review tests sometimes, but I don't necessarily expect people to write each and every single word the way I would. As soon as what they choose it is commonly correct, of course (I am talking about words allowing alternative choices). After all it is a only a test and if the translator has a good knowledge of the matter, conveys the source text well, maintains consistency of the terminology within the text, preserves the stylistic level of the source text, grammar, spelling and the works, there is no reason why they should fail the test. Once they start working for the company, we can always coordinate things and work out differences like a team. If your guy is a good reviewer, he won't to cut you out. On other hand you have the reference terminology, and if it so happens that you stick to it in one file only, and then you fail because of double standard, just point out that you reflected the reference terminology they provided. After all, this is one criterion, which is taken into consideration when rating a test - can the translator follow instructions well.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Oleksandr -- guessing at intent Mar 14, 2011

Oleksandr Myslivets wrote:
But let's think what is the reason for the end client to look for an another job executor? As for me, I think that the final product quality is not that satisfactory.


I would not make that assumption. There can be any number of reasons why an end-client decides to stop using agency A and start using agency B. Here are a few such possible scenarios, that have nothing to do with the quality of the translation:

* The simplest scenario: Agency A no longer exists (bankruptcy, etc).
* Another simple scenario: Agency B has put in a very favourable bid for future work.
* Another very likely scenario: End-client hands out work on a tender basis and takes more than just quality into account when awarding projects.
* Or: End-client wants agency A to migrate to CAT tool X, and agency A refused.
* Or: Agency A simply fired the end-client, for whatever reason (yes, you can fire a client).
* Or: End-client was taken over by a bigger firm, whose policy excluded working with agency A (e.g. due to political or geographic reasons).
* Or: End-client was taken over by a bigger firm, whose preferred agency is agency B.
...etc.


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Oleksandr Myslivets  Identity Verified
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
why not? Mar 14, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:

Oleksandr Myslivets wrote:
But let's think what is the reason for the end client to look for an another job executor? As for me, I think that the final product quality is not that satisfactory.


I would not make that assumption. There can be any number of reasons why an end-client decides to stop using agency A and start using agency B. Here are a few such possible scenarios, that have nothing to do with the quality of the translation:

* The simplest scenario: Agency A no longer exists (bankruptcy, etc).
* Another simple scenario: Agency B has put in a very favourable bid for future work.
* Another very likely scenario: End-client hands out work on a tender basis and takes more than just quality into account when awarding projects.
* Or: End-client wants agency A to migrate to CAT tool X, and agency A refused.
* Or: Agency A simply fired the end-client, for whatever reason (yes, you can fire a client).
* Or: End-client was taken over by a bigger firm, whose policy excluded working with agency A (e.g. due to political or geographic reasons).
* Or: End-client was taken over by a bigger firm, whose preferred agency is agency B.
...etc.




The list is endless indeed.

But! Let's think from Your point of view! Do You really care about the all the possible list? Maybe only the few cases are about You exactly. Or maybe the problem is somewhere else. But the question is what to do and why, isn't it? So, somebody is requested to perform a test translation with a given glossary. What the performer have to do? Just to perform the test requested (upon his or her decision, of course). If I were You I'll just perform the requested test and give some grounded comments concerning the glossary.


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