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When does one refuse payment to a "translator"?
Thread poster: Anthony Green

Anthony Green  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:57
Italian to English
Apr 7, 2004

I foolishly agreed to do an editing job on a highly technical veterinary text, and it is taking me for ever - the "translator" clearly had no idea even what an enzyme is, and is seemingly unable to use the passive voice (lesson 1 in my "Scientific Writing for Beginners" course), and often misinterprets the original through lack of knowledge of Italian syntax, with the result that there is not a single line in the 5500+ word text which I have not had to change, often competely!
I'm very much inclined to suggest that the quality is so utterly appalling that the agency should not pay the original "translator" at all. If they had done the work for me, that would of course be my reaction.

Now that I've got that off my chest, let me know what a hard-hearted beast I am or let me know of any guidelines which you have successfully used in the past for such lack of professionality.


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giogi
Local time: 03:57
talking about beasts...even a blind pig can find an acorn Apr 7, 2004

Anthony Green wrote:

, let me know what a hard-hearted beast I am or let me know of any guidelines which you have successfully used in the past for such lack of professionality.

Hello, I think that you should have reported the quality of the translation before...and now...you could be very nice and suggest that you might do the job again...and it would be better for the overall quality...and bla, bla bla...I don't think you should mention the would be translator who is driving you mad. Make them realise the situation without being too involved...provide that this is not giving you too much trouble.
It happened to me once...I re-translated the whole text (Without one single word about the other translator), they paid me and tey're still my good clients...
Try...and if "even a blind pig....." you'll succeed!!!
Good luck
Giovanna


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trado1999
Local time: 22:57
English to French
A friend Apr 7, 2004

I read your message and NO, you are not a beast. I went through the same situation on a fortunately shorter document once. The translator had no idea what he/she was doing. I had to retranslate the whole thing but I did mention the projet manager that in the future he should avoid hiring that freelancer because the work was absolutely not acceptable. There is a WO I have to sign to agree that I will provide quality work. What we should do when we are asked to edit if they don't have us sign a work order mentioning that we have to provide a work that will be satisfactory and acceptable, we should prepare our own document asking the agency to agree in written that if we are sent an unacceptable translation that we have to completetely remaniate, that we will be payed at the rate of a translator and not at the rate of an editor. Therefore, it would protect us against this kind of abuse.

You never know, an agency can use an automatic translation system to save money on you... It happened to me too, I had proof.

Do not hesitate to tell the agency that you desagree being paid as an editor for the work you did. I should have insisted on that myself.
Good luck to you!

quote]Anthony Green wrote:

I foolishly agreed to do an editing job on a highly technical veterinary text, and it is taking me for ever - the "translator" clearly had no idea even what an enzyme is, and is seemingly unable to use the passive voice (lesson 1 in my "Scientific Writing for Beginners" course), and often misinterprets the original through lack of knowledge of Italian syntax, with the result that there is not a single line in the 5500+ word text which I have not had to change, often competely!
I'm very much inclined to suggest that the quality is so utterly appalling that the agency should not pay the original "translator" at all. If they had done the work for me, that would of course be my reaction.

Now that I've got that off my chest, let me know what a hard-hearted beast I am or let me know of any guidelines which you have successfully used in the past for such lack of professionality.[/quote]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:57
Member (2004)
English to Italian
little advice... Apr 7, 2004

Anthony Green wrote:

I foolishly agreed to do an editing job on a highly technical veterinary text, and it is taking me for ever - the "translator" clearly had no idea even what an enzyme is, and is seemingly unable to use the passive voice (lesson 1 in my "Scientific Writing for Beginners" course), and often misinterprets the original through lack of knowledge of Italian syntax, with the result that there is not a single line in the 5500+ word text which I have not had to change, often competely!
I'm very much inclined to suggest that the quality is so utterly appalling that the agency should not pay the original "translator" at all. If they had done the work for me, that would of course be my reaction.

Now that I've got that off my chest, let me know what a hard-hearted beast I am or let me know of any guidelines which you have successfully used in the past for such lack of professionality.


Next time, ask to see the document first. I always do that, unless it's coming from someone I really trust. I have refused editing/proofreading jobs in the past just because the standard was too appalling. BTW, only by informing the agencies we can educate them. Hopefully, next time they will be more careful when choosing the translator (maybe basing their choice on experience and not only on price).

Giovanni


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Domenica Grangiotti  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:57
English to Italian
+ ...
You must say something Apr 7, 2004

because the quality of the translation will inevitably affect the quality of your revision, too.
Also, are you going to charge the same rate or are you going to ask to be paid more?
In my opinion, whatever you say, pay attention to *how* you say it. Your message *incompetent translator* could be read as *incompetent agency because they chose an incompetent translator*.

Good luck
Domenica


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Anthony Green  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:57
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Wise words indeed Apr 7, 2004

Yes, I won't mention the translator to them, as you all wisely mention, but emphasise the nature of my work instead.
Unfortunately, this is my first bad experience with editing/proofreading, which for me is normally money for old rope on this kind of text.
The agency is a new customer of mine, and when I got the translation I did tell them it was shockingly bad, but I didn't realise at the time just how bad it really was (that's a mistake I've made before too!). They immediately increased their offer, but I've gone well over the number of hours I thought it would take...


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 21:57
English to Russian
+ ...
I wish I could be more helpful... Apr 7, 2004

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:
Next time, ask to see the document first.
Giovanni


Right on! Anthony, I'm not so sure you can do much in this case except for charging as much time as they can swallow. If I were the agency, I would ask - why didn't you tell me in the beginning? I lost the time, the deadline is tomorrow and it's too late to notify the translator - he will argue that I'm making such occusations after a period of time, and to all of us freelancers this sounds like a probing for a chance not to pay with the quality being a lame excuse.

Now it depends on your relationship with the agency - from a phone call to the manager "hey, Bob, where did you dig this garbage out?!?!?" to the most polite letter with thank you for the job note followed by an even more polite remarks re. your opinion and questions regarding possible ways to compensate your work accordingly. Maybe to the point of mentioning your preparedness to sumbit before and after texts to the qualified referee. I would not recommend to discuss any payments to the other parties, unless "Bob the manager" is your best buddy or close to it.

Good luck.
Irina

[Edited at 2004-04-07 14:13]


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Anthony Green  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:57
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Whose incompetency? Apr 7, 2004

Domenica Grangiotti wrote:

Your message *incompetent translator* could be read as *incompetent agency because they chose an incompetent translator*.


That is of course partly true - they clearly didn't give the guy a test or check his credentials. I'll try asking for a translator's rate and let you know what happens!


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davidgreen
German to English
still pay the translator (come on, solidarity man, solidarity) Apr 7, 2004

I would never suggest not paying the translator because he/she did the work however poorly - but I would make it very clear (the easiest way is by using the "show changes" option in MSWord) why the agency shouldn't use the translator again

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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:57
German to English
+ ...
Cut your losses Apr 7, 2004

The quality of the original translation should be evident from the volume of changes, so any further comment is probably unnecessary.

Make it clear that you're not prepared to revise that particular translator's work in future.

Marc


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Anthony Green  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:57
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Touché ! Apr 7, 2004

Tayfun Torunoglu wrote:

is really touching.
Obviously you know your agency than any guess we can do.
I really wonder feedback you will get.

Anthony Green wrote:

Domenica Grangiotti wrote:

Your message *incompetent translator* could be read as *incompetent agency because they chose an incompetent translator*.


That is of course partly true - they clearly didn't give the guy a test or check his credentials. I'll try asking for a translator's rate and let you know what happens!


It all depends whether they want to work with me again, I suppose. There's no harm in asking - sounds like you've been burned, Tayfun!


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Dave Greatrix  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:57
Dutch to English
+ ...
Beware of agencies offering gifts Apr 7, 2004

I have found that when I am approached by agencies that need a text "editing" it usually means that the text I am sent is usually of poor quality and needs to be "polished up" - their words not mine.

I refuse to take on such work nowadays because it ALWAYS means that it takes longer to "polish" than the client is prepared to pay. IE. It usually means having to translate most of it again.

When you send the work back you often get, "Well we didn't think it was that bad".
The fact is they did know it was "that bad", which is why they send it out to a second translator in the first place - hoping that it gets "polished" enough to send to their clients without having to go to the expense of a complete re-translation.

Call me cynical if you will,

The best approach IMHO, is to ask to look at the text, if it is of poor quality send it back with an offer to translate it properly from scratch. You'll save yourself a lot of stress


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:57
Member
English to Turkish
Fully agree with David Apr 7, 2004

I did such "re-translations" for years, and having ended up with the feeling that I was but a pushover, I asked to see the text first of the last potential client that had come up with a request for some "polishing". Never heard of them again

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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:57
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Editing woes - haven't we all had them! Apr 7, 2004

A while ago I did a couple of editing jobs for an Indian agency and I swore never, ever again. The quality was so poor and they wanted to pay only 1 ct a word - well, I cured them of that. But, the translation was so bad that I asked them whether it had been a machine translation. No, it was a person. After doing two small proofreading jobs, I suggested that I would not edit anymore but would be glad to do the translation from scratch at my regular rate.

They politely told me that they needed to work with locals because they could not afford to pay my rate. And then they can just only ay the 1 ct for proofreading. ?? I just could not do it, so we parted on friendly terms.

On the other hand, I am regularly editing for a Spanish agency (they are the ones that have everything proofread before sending it to the client - it is medical and dental stuff, so I understand their concern about wanting it perfect.) I have been proofreading this one translator's work and it is pure joy. Almost always just a little typo here and there.

That, in my opinion, is proofreading. The final set of eyes to make sure that it is picture-perfect, not a major re-arrangement of the whole text or complete reworking of the whole thing.

I feel for you. I hope that you can get paid your regular translation fee.

Happy Easter!
Lucinda


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Anthony Green  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:57
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
pushing the fee up Apr 7, 2004

Lucinda Hollenberg wrote:

I feel for you. I hope that you can get paid your regular translation fee.

Happy Easter!
Lucinda


I haven't asked them to raise the money on offer but they keep doing so! It's rather comical really.

The text is supposed to be accompanying a request for official approval from a national body, I have just been informed (I asked what the text was for when I told them the text was rubbish) - there have probably been hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on research and the company was about to throw it all down the drain just in order to save 200 dollars or so on the translation. I'd read about such things but I thought they were apocryphal!

Stop press:
The agency have just asked how much it would (have) cost to translate it from scratch. I feel I owe you all a little slice of the cake!

Anthony


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