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How do you feel about proofreading MT?
Thread poster: Michael Marcoux

Michael Marcoux  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:24
Russian to English
+ ...
Jan 20, 2014

Specifically, something sent through Google Translate. I accepted such an assignment today, not realizing what I was getting into. As should be no surprise, terms were "translated" entirely inconsistently, the structure made no sense, and to put it briefly, I could have translated the whole document faster than I could have edited it. Which I did for significantly less than what I would have done a translation for, because all I was doing was "editing." Is there seriously a market for this?

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Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 01:24
Japanese to English
+ ...
... Jan 21, 2014

As long as people accept assignments without reviewing the document there will be. It's the only way to really protect yourself from it.

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Recep Kurt  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 19:24
Member (2011)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Sama here Jan 21, 2014

Hi Michael,

I had a similar experience and I totally agree that translating those texts from scratch is easier. You waste way too much time trying to corect all that garbage and it is not worth your time, given the ridiculously low rates they offer.
My impression is that translation agencies offering such jobs are sort of tricky about it. They send you notifications implying that you would provide services for some "leading technology company" etc., then they say "oh, btw this is MTPE". I am sure there are plenty of novices/inexperienced translators accepting such jobs.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 17:24
English to Polish
+ ...
This is complex stuff Jan 21, 2014

I understand why translation users prefer to achieve the same result or a more imperfect but still viable result at a lower cost if possible. It's hard to blame them. It's also hard to complain about GT specifically getting better and better, even if the progress of MT should eventually phase all of us out of business (nobody owes us our jobs). On the other hand, I wouldn't like to work as a PEMTor, i.e. post-editor of machine translation, which is a different job line.

For the time being, I do not accept PEMTing jobs. I may consider accepting them in some moderate quantities when MT gets good enough and the pay is good for PEMTing and the job isn't considered demeaning.


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Nicole Coesel  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:24
Member (2012)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Ask to see the document before accepting the assignment Jan 21, 2014

Yep, I have also had my brief experience with proofing and editing a Google translation. Supposedly it would be a MT from a "highly sophisticated system especially designed translation system ... blah blah".

Due to the "sensitivity of the nature of the assignment", a preview of the assignment was not available.

I did decide to accept the assignment, yet after seeing what was up and understanding all the above blah blah, especially why I could not preview the assignment, I did let my client know this is not acceptable and told them I would deliver a professional translation at a professional price.

Besides sending me a claim for $ 50 for "damages suffered" which was answered by me with a claim for $ 250 for "time invested and unavailability for other assignments", I never heard back from them. That is a good thing, because I can do without clients like that forcing people into a certain situation.

I do hope this helps!

Regards,
Nicole.


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Agnes Lenkey  Identity Verified
German to Spanish
+ ...
Easy answer Jan 21, 2014

Hi Michael,

For me the issue is not as complex as for Lukasz - I would ***never*** accept "editing" or "proofreading" MT, call it as you wish, it is always the same nonsense. In my opinion nobody should accept such jobs, but this is just my humble opinion. I am sure that there are translators who accept these jobs.

I had (direct) clients who used MT to translate some phrases from Spanish into German with the help of MT, and the receivers of these texts came to me asking: did you translate this? I had to tell them that they really should explain to their client that this should not happen any more - I read the text, but it was completely incomprehensible. So it depends on the language pair as well, but translating into German with MT is an authentic nonsense.

Best regards,

Agnes


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:24
Member (2008)
Italian to English
A growing trend Jan 21, 2014

We do seem to get more and more requests to "revise" a document that has already been "translated" when it has actually only been passed through Google Translate.

I think these requests are made in the hope that these "revisions" might cost less than a full translation. They are made by people who don't know anything about translation.

I never accept revision jobs anyway, and certainly not revision jobs based on Google Translated documents.


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:24
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Experienced it a couple of times Jan 21, 2014

I have been in this situation a couple of times. The first time I was very inexperienced and regretted having accepted the job. I did do the job on the terms I had agreed, but pointed out to the customer that, as the English was more or less nonsense, I was effectively re-translating the document myself anyway and therefore, in the future, I would have to charge full translation rates for such work. The second time I said I would be very happy to accept the assignment as a translation, but it was certainly not a simple case of proofreading. Needless to say, the customer disappeared into the ether.

I have now learned my lesson and check documents very carefully before accepting proofreading assignments. Machine translation can be very useful in certain circumstances, if used correctly, but it is also open to abuse. A machine is only as good as the database inside it, and it does not understand the nuances or the emotion of language, which are very important in most of my fields. Perhaps this is less of an issue for more technical documents, but I would still be very wary. I wouldn't mind proofreading another translator's work, but I am not inclined to trust a document which has been produced by a machine, and would much prefer to start again from scratch.


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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:24
Member (2009)
English to Russian
+ ...
My reply is always as simple as that... Jan 21, 2014

If they want me to "proofread" or "revise" their MT, my quote is my standard rate for TRANSLATION (not editing) + extra 20% of this rate for wasting my time reading silly stuff. Such quotes haven't been accepted, as the client's budget is usually 10 or 20% of what I charge, but as a professional translator I'm glad that I don't have to accept ridiculous job offers that go directly to the bin.

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hamtaro70
Italy
Local time: 17:24
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
I completely agree with Natalia Jan 21, 2014

I've accepted such a job 1 time and I don't want to do it again in the future, nevermore: it's a waiste of time (and money!). It's only an expedient to try to get a professional job paying a lower price for it.

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Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:24
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Most of it is junk Jan 21, 2014

I have turned down many jobs with poor MT that I was then supposed to 'proofread' for half the cost of a translation.

I do however recall one job where they actually had well-trained MT, meaning that much of the output was readable and some was perfect. In that case, I thought half my rate was appropriate for the time and effort I put in.

As always, review the docs first and then make your decision.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 00:24
Chinese to English
Can't proofread MT Jan 21, 2014

Whatever it is that you do with MT output, it's not proofreading. You can't apply the same processes as you would to a (decent) human translation. So we have this new word, post-editing.

I don't do it, have never been tempted. But I understand some people do, when the MT is good enough. Do whatever you feel comfortable with, just go into it with your eyes open. And don't accept anything before you've seen it!


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Nikita Kobrin  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 18:24
English to Russian
+ ...
Absolutely Jan 22, 2014

Phil Hand wrote:

Don't accept anything before you've seen it!


Fully agree: NEVER do that!

Nikita Kobrin


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:24
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Professional secrecy Jan 23, 2014

Nicole Coesel wrote:
...
Due to the "sensitivity of the nature of the assignment", a preview of the assignment was not available.

...
Nicole.


I have signed NDAs and codes of conduct, and I take professional secrecy very seriously. So should any translator.

Apart from that, we should be the ones setting the rates, not the clients.

If the actual cost is far more than they expect, well, tough. They must budget more realistically another time.
What other profession accepts clients dictating their rates?


I have once or twice done the job, but usually only very short texts. One of the worst was a pro-bono client, and that was a bit tricky... but I don't work for her any more. On other occasions a short section of MT has been inserted to 'help' in the middle of a straight translation or something like that, and I have revised it under protest, which my agency clients have passed on to their end-users with an explanation that it is a different job at a different rate.

In general I simply refuse to do edit MT. It may work better in some language pairs than others, but in mine the results are terrible.


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Michael Marcoux  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:24
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
MT is getting better, but far from editable Jan 29, 2014

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

I understand why translation users prefer to achieve the same result or a more imperfect but still viable result at a lower cost if possible. It's hard to blame them. It's also hard to complain about GT specifically getting better and better, even if the progress of MT should eventually phase all of us out of business (nobody owes us our jobs). On the other hand, I wouldn't like to work as a PEMTor, i.e. post-editor of machine translation, which is a different job line.

For the time being, I do not accept PEMTing jobs. I may consider accepting them in some moderate quantities when MT gets good enough and the pay is good for PEMTing and the job isn't considered demeaning.


I concede that I have seen some Google translations from other Germanic languages into English that actually look half decent. However, most sentences GT handles need more than a simple rewording; they are absolutely ridiculous. That was certainly the case I encountered.

Unfortunately, I did not thoroughly read the assignment through - I really did end up re-translating the whole thing, which was a 6000 word document due the next day! Yes, agencies can offer such translations cheaper, but only because, to put it crudely, unaware new translators like myself get suckered into thinking they're getting a good deal (or someone from a third world country takes it.) This is an incredibly dishonest practice.

I also concede that no one owes us our jobs, and mere griping about the situation will accomplish nothing. If a "dishonest" practice allows them to succeed, then all we can do is shrug our shoulders and move on.


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