Potential client is asking to guarantee 100% correctness of my translation
Thread poster: Anna Parish

Anna Parish  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:49
English to Russian
Feb 21, 2012

Hello, I am starting out as a free-lance translator. I've had a few clients but never had this issue before and not sure how to handle it. A potential client is asking me what guarantee they could get that my translation would be 100% correct. I replied that I could provide references from other clients and also offered to do a sample translation. He doesn't need references and is saying that a sample could be correct while some other parts of the translation might not be. So, is there any standard form of guaranteeing correctness of a translation? I could offer money back quarantee, but I don't know if that's the normal thing to do. Also, I don't want to get into a situation where they would find some not word for word translation or some minor difference and would try to avoid paying. I would be grateful if someone could give me advice on this.

 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:49
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
There's no such thing Feb 21, 2012

as 100% correctness. Period.

Your translation should be edited by another professional. This is usually done by the client at their own cost, but you can offer to provide third-party editing for a surcharge.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:49
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
How do you feel about them? Feb 21, 2012

Anna Parish wrote:
I don't want to get into a situation where they would find some not word for word translation or some minor difference and would try to avoid paying.


That's certainly a possibility and if you have a bad feeling about it then the only safe thing to do is refuse. As Mikhail says, it's impossible to guarantee anything. For every "perfect" translation, there are numerous equally perfect different versions - and innumerable less perfect but still acceptable ones.

It depends a little on who the client is i.e. whether they are an agency or an end client. End clients do sometimes make unfair demands (and even totally bizarre ones) just because they don't really understand the business. Unfortunately, they are quite likely to put your translation through Google Translate and complain if it doesn't come back out in good order.icon_mad.gif

Sheila


 

Claudia Coja  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:49
Member (2010)
English to Romanian
+ ...
I remember Feb 21, 2012

I was asked this question by an agency based in China ...or maybe India...not very sure, it was a few months ago. It seemed strange, because I know agencies usually hire a proofreader. However, my answer was that I could recommend a colleague to proofread the text. They never answered after that:). My2c... You should think twice before accepting a job from this agency/client.

 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 02:49
Chinese to English
A problem with our language pairs? Feb 22, 2012

Just looking at your pair - it's my understanding that in English-Russian, as in English-Chinese, there are many very cheap translators providing very poor service. What this client is asking is probably not "are there ever any tiny lexical discrepancies", but "are you a professional who knows what they're doing, not just a cheap scammer". Particularly what they said about the sample - that sounds to me like someone who's been burned by a scammer who got a good sample done, then farmed the rest out to Google or to students.

I would exchange emails with the client to work out if that really is their concern, and if they seem reasonable, I would happily put a clause into my contract saying that in case of dispute, we will chose a third-party translator acceptable to both parties, and that translator's decision will be binding, with penalties applying if I've made errors. Normal arbitration procedures would end up being the same thing, but you can be more explicit.

But probably more important would be to build up a relationship with the client. The right way to do that depends on your situation and the client's - small jobs first? A face-to-face meeting? A larger sample (for free, conditional on being given a large job afterwards)?


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:49
German to English
There's no "single" translation Feb 22, 2012

I've translated texts -- accurately, I believe -- and have been given virtually identical texts later that I've translated a little differently. I've reviewed translations that were adequate, but sometimes used less than elegant phrasing, so I changed them a little. Were my initial translations and those of my colleagues 100% correct? Yes! Could they stand a little improvement? Of course! As someone else pointed out, there's no such thing as a "perfect" translation.

If the client is willing to pay only if a second reader makes no changes, don't take the job.


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:49
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
That's funny Feb 22, 2012

[quote]Sheila Wilson wrote:

Anna Parish wrote:
Unfortunately, they are quite likely to put your translation through Google Translate and complain if it doesn't come back out in good order.icon_mad.gif

Sheila



But it does happen. One of my clients sent me a query: Why didn't you translate all the commas into Chinese?

(they thought Chinese use a differently-shaped comma.)


 

Rosa Grau (X)
Spain
Local time: 20:49
English to Catalan
+ ...
Perfection Feb 22, 2012

does not exist.

 

PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:49
English to Polish
+ ...
Ask back Feb 22, 2012

And what, pray, do you consider "100% correct translation"?

Pawel Skalinski


 

Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:49
Member (2007)
German to English
My working definition of a perfect translation Feb 22, 2012

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:
There's no such thing

as 100% correctness. Period.


Mirriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary defines the adjective 'perfect' as, i.a.:

1 a : being entirely without fault or defect : FLAWLESS b : satisfying all requirements : ACCURATE c : corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept d : faithfully reproducing the original; specifically : LETTER-PERFECT e : legally valid
2 : EXPERT, PROFICIENT
3 a : PURE, TOTAL b : lacking in no essential detail : COMPLETE c obsolete : SANE d : ABSOLUTE, UNEQUIVOCAL e : of an extreme kind : UNMITIGATED


My working definition of a perfect translation is any string of characters 1) for which the customer pays in full and on time, 2) that does not cause the customer to send less work in future, and 3) that does not cause the customer to pay less, partially, or late in future.


 

christela (X)
Upcoming trend Feb 22, 2012

There is an upcoming trend to ask for sworn translations. Not because they should be be used in court or something like that, but to be "sure that they are 100% correct".
Take care.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:49
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
"Guarantee" is a business concept Feb 22, 2012

"Guarantee" is a business concept, not a translation concept.

Your potential customer is confusing "guarantee" with the reassurance that your work will have a high quality and will be experienced as virtually flawless by the end customer (something you cannot know at this stage until you know more about the end customers and their goals, preferences, and expectations).

I wonder --and you might ask them-- whether your potential customer is expecting some kind of commitment from your side about hiring/paying for one or two experienced reviewers who will go through your text to ensure its good quality. Maybe they are expecting you to offer/accept some kind of compensation in case your work is not perfect, in the sense of a commercial guarantee.

I think the conversation, or at least the way you describe it, is a bit vague and should be defined more clearly to know whether they are talking about reassurance of your abilities or an economic guarantee in case your work is faulty.


 

Anna Parish  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:49
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to everyone Feb 22, 2012

for your opinions and comments. Yes, I do think, that his major concern is receiving a very poorly translated text and then spending more money on another translator. Based on all your comments I will now be able to reply to this person. Thank you!

 


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