Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >
Client wants errors inserted in the final translation - Has this happened to anyone?
Thread poster: Paula Borges

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:07
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Apr 23, 2012

Dear translators,

I spent months working on the translation of a book, alongside a proofreader. We received a glossary from the end-client, in which we spotted a few errors, such as words in a different language, terms that did not convey the original meaning, incorrect spellings...

During the process, we discussed this with the agency and made substitutions. For a long time, we were discussing options back and forth, before finally deciding what would be the best terminology and style. We also updated the glossary accordingly. By the end of it, after many reviews, we were confident we had done a great job together.

The end-client who provided us with the glossary does not speak the target language (Brazilian Portuguese) so they had many questions regarding style, repetition, terminology... These questions were raised by comparing the original with the translation, by people who did not know the first thing about the target language. Without receiving any extra payment for it, I spent a long time explaining each one of these issues and making adjustments.

Among other things, I explained that repetition must always be avoided in Portuguese, but despite not knowing the language, the client would insist anyway. The final result wasn't as clear as we expected, as the client decided to make some changes even though we were advising against them.

Earlier today I got an email from the agency asking me to make the changes according to the glossary provided. Once again, I explained that some of these words did not make sense, were in Spanish and would produce gibberish.

They told me they understand my position, and that they know I'm right, but the client is stubborn and they must do what the client wants regardless. Of course I refused to do so, explaining that this goes against my professional ethics. I cannot insert errors in a text!

They are still insisting I should do it, saying they won't hold me responsible for it.
I'm afraid I'm gonna lose this agency as a client, because they seem to imply I'm not willing to "cooperate".
Has this ever happened to anyone?
If so, how did you deal with it?

Thanks everyone!


 

Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Yes, it happens Apr 23, 2012

It happened to me at the beginning of my career and they did not even let me know before printing their book. Somebody introduced words which don't even exist in Italian.
Anyway, what I would do:

Since the client is always right even when they're wrong, until they pay you and DO NOT publish your name in the book, I would let them do whatever they want with your translation. They bought it and there is nothing you can do to convince them, so do not waste more time and energies for them.
For example, if I go to, say, a tailor, I get a beautiful dress and then I decide to go home and destroy it for my own crazy reasons, it is my problem, until I assume responsibility for it and don't go around blaming it on the tailor...


 

smorales30  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:07
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes... :) Apr 23, 2012

Hi,

Yes, this happened to me... on a regular basis. Some clients (companies) in the US wanted me to use 'spanglish' words, that is, incorrect/ungrammatical words used and understood by uneducated employees. I tried to explain them the text was going to be incorrect, etc., they wanted it anyway so that's what we used. It is the client. If the client wants certain words...This happened also in other contexts: differences in terminology in different countries where Spanish is used and the client wanted a specific word I did not agree...but it is the client and so I changed it accordingly. As long as you tell them your opinion on the text you are delivering, I think you're doing your job...

S


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:07
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Irony Apr 23, 2012

Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons) wrote:

It happened to me at the beginning of my career and they did not even let me know before printing their book. Somebody introduced words which don't even exist in Italian.
Anyway, what I would do:

Since the client is always right even when they're wrong, until they pay you and DO NOT publish your name in the book, I would let them do whatever they want with your translation. They bought it and there is nothing you can do to convince them, so do not waste more time and energies for them.
For example, if I go to, say, a tailor, I get a beautiful dress and then I decide to go home and destroy it for my own crazy reasons, it is my problem, until I assume responsibility for it and don't go around blaming it on the tailor...


Hi Giuseppina,

Absolutely, it's their text.The only problem is they are asking ME to do it.
They say they don't feel comfortable doing it since they are not native speakers... oh, the irony!

These aren't only "errors" but words that don't even exist in the language or make no sense at all. Parts of the text would simply not be understood, it would be a very serious problem.

I had to say no, of course. Would you do it?

Thanks,
Paula

[Edited at 2012-04-23 20:43 GMT]


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:07
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
what a cheek! Apr 23, 2012

Well, if we continue with Giuseppina's comparison, would you take a dress back to the tailor and ask him to cut a lower neck at the back even if that meant ruining the zip?

They as non native speakers are not happy tinkering with your text.
You as a native speaker are not comfortable introducing errors into your translation. You have already provided backup explanations as to why parts of the text would become incomprehensible.

I personally would perhaps try to meet them half-way, like letting a couple of minor points pass, to show a spirit of cooperation, to prove I'm not simply being stubborn, but refuse to budge on the points that would lead to total disaster. Then at least they won't ask someone else to do the corrections and perhaps make it even worse. But of course it's your text.

Good luck dealing with these people!

[Edited at 2012-04-23 21:08 GMT]


 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 09:07
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Sure Apr 23, 2012

Paula Borges wrote:
I had to say no, of course. Would you do it?


As long as no one may be harmed as a result of using this text, I would absolutely do it.


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:07
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hi Texte Style Apr 23, 2012

During the past few months, I met them half way in many occasions, changing style and terminology. But now they're asking me to insert words that don't even exist, or gibberish terms that make absolutely no sense and even spelling mistakes. They can ask any native speaker and they will tell them how absurd that is.

The thing is instead of simply adding the errors, they are asking me to go through pages and pages and do it MYSELF - to make sure it sounds "native", despite the fact that some of the words they want to add are in Spanish, not in Portuguese.

This is after I spent many (unpaid) hours commenting on each one of their questions, explaining every single choice, more than once.

I can't stop them from doing it, but I certainly don't feel comfortable doing it myself.


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:07
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Unavoidably "hit the fan" Apr 23, 2012

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:

Paula Borges wrote:
I had to say no, of course. Would you do it?


As long as no one may be harmed as a result of using this text, I would absolutely do it.


Would you personally replace a perfectly good translation for words that do not even exist in your target language, producing a text that cannot be understood by a native speaker in a material that is about to be printed as a book? Something that it's so bad that would make a native speaker laugh out loud and would certainly require the entire thing to be reprinted at some point, making them lose money? I wouldn't want to be responsible for that.

Personally, I'd rather not be the one doing it because eventually this is going to "hit the fan".


 

Laura Bissio CT  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 03:07
Member (2008)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just don't do it Apr 23, 2012

Paula Borges wrote:

...
I can't stop them from doing it, but I certainly don't feel comfortable doing it myself.





As other colleagues have said: these things happen.
Some clients have glossaries and TMs full of errors, it has happened to me too. Another translator has made those glossaries and the client trusts this translator. The client doesn't know if those terms are wrong, and you are asking them to believe you, but he/she has already believed in the other translator's work.

So I guess your only options are:
- modify the text following the client wishes, accepting that they own the text and they can have it the way they want to.
- tell them that you are not doing this because you think it is wrong and you don't feel comfortable dong it.

The final option is always yours, you just must be prepared to deal with the consequences.

Good luck!


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:07
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hi Laura Apr 23, 2012

Laura Bissio CT wrote:

Paula Borges wrote:

...
I can't stop them from doing it, but I certainly don't feel comfortable doing it myself.





As other colleagues have said: these things happen.
Some clients have glossaries and TMs full of errors, it has happened to me too. Another translator has made those glossaries and the client trusts this translator. The client doesn't know if those terms are wrong, and you are asking them to believe you, but he/she has already believed in the other translator's work.

So I guess your only options are:
- modify the text following the client wishes, accepting that they own the text and they can have it the way they want to.
- tell them that you are not doing this because you think it is wrong and you don't feel comfortable dong it.

The final option is always yours, you just must be prepared to deal with the consequences.

Good luck!


Thank you for your input.
Perhaps it's a cultural thing, because where I'm from tailors refuse to do something they know it's not going to work out well. I personally respect professionals for their honesty and professional attitude. Adding errors is something that goes against my instinct and professional ethics, and I simply wouldn't be able to live with that.


 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 09:07
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Ethics vs Providing the requested service Apr 23, 2012

Paula Borges wrote:
Would you personally replace a perfectly good translation for words that do not even exist in your target language, producing a text that cannot be understood by a native speaker in a material that is about to be printed as a book? Something that it's so bad that would make a native speaker laugh out loud and would certainly require the entire thing to be reprinted at some point, making them lose money? I wouldn't want to be responsible for that.
Personally, I'd rather not be the one doing it because eventually this is going to "hit the fan".


By no means do I enjoy butchering a perfectly good translation. But if that's what the client wants, I'll politely explain that I disagree, ask that my name be removed from the published materials, and do as they ask. Plus, as I mentioned before, I will make make sure that no bodily harm will come to any users of the published material. If that is granted, the rest is none of my concern.


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:07
Hebrew to English
I'd rather gauge my own eyes out... Apr 23, 2012

...than do that to one of my translations. This phenomenon happens quite frequently when translating into English, since everyone and their cat likes to think they are an authority on the language.

On occasion, I have been browbeaten into literal translations and into using Hebrish phrases...nothing as bad as what you are describing though. Nowadays I stick to my guns and if requested to massacre my own work I refuse to make the change myself with a note justifying the decision not to change it (although I have no doubt the change will take place before it reaches the end client).

I think that is the crux of the matter here: it is not that they have taken what they have paid for and defaced it, they are asking you to deface it yourself.

I'd also be worried about blame shifting. It seems to me that by asking you to do it yourself they are merely covering their own backs should it all blow up in their faces (which seems likely)...they'll just hold up their hands and say "that's what we received from the translator, we had nothing to do with it", if they make the changes themselves then they can't make this claim. Don't do it, you'll be placing yourself on the firing line for them.

It seems like you feel quite strongly about this, and as long as you can withstand the loss of this client (if it should come to that), then I wouldn't budge one inch.


 

Elena Hershey  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:07
English to Russian
+ ...
no no no Apr 23, 2012

I would never ever do such a thing to my translation.
They bought the text - fine. Let them do whatever they want as long as they don't have my name under it.
I would never be able to "sign" a translation I don't believe is correct and perfect to the best of my knowledge.
Good luck in this tough situation!


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 14:07
Chinese to English
Happens to me all the time Apr 23, 2012

I try to hold to your position. I often put it as a technical argument:

Dear Client: I'm sorry to tell you that I cannot make the changes you requested because I don't understand them. I only translate into target language X; the changes you have requested are not correct forms in this language, and I do not know how to use them. It is my professional and final advice to use the forms I have already suggested.

Doesn't always work, particularly when there's an agency in the middle, but I definitely support you holding to your position.


 

Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Final decision Apr 24, 2012

Hi Paula,

It also depends on how important this client is for you, if you already got paid, and as other colleagues said, if this damages something or somebody, even only your image or somebody's image. In these cases (i.e. damages) I would not accept to change anything, but the main problem is if your denial will affect your payment in any way.


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Client wants errors inserted in the final translation - Has this happened to anyone?

Advanced search







SDL Trados Studio 2019 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has evolved to bring translators a brand new experience. Designed with user experience at its core, Studio 2019 transforms how new users get up and running and helps experienced users make the most of the powerful features.

More info »
WordFinder Unlimited
For clarity and excellence

WordFinder is the leading dictionary service that gives you the words you want anywhere, anytime. Access 260+ dictionaries from the world's leading dictionary publishers in virtually any device. Find the right word anywhere, anytime - online or offline.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search