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Does translation include editing one's own text?
Thread poster: Karin Maack

Karin Maack  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:32
English to German
Sep 19, 2014

Actually I think I know the answer to my own question: No. But a direct client has asked me to do just that. It is about a non-fiction book with a lot of photographs and I have been asked to rather shorten the text if neccessary. I sent her the first chapter to ask if the style was ok and she made a lot of changes. Not that they were not good, they were. But sometimes it's rather far from the English original. Of course, I proofread my text before delivering it. But in this case I would have to edit my own text and that would be a completely different task. That is what I wrote back to her as politely as possible.
What do you think about such a demand? Did it happen to any of you?


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:32
French to German
+ ...
No Sep 19, 2014

No, I dont think. Never had that demand yet.

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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:32
Chinese to English
Happens sometimes Sep 20, 2014

It's happened to me on occasion, and I handled it the same way as you. Remind the client that you are constrained by the original text. Sometimes the type of changes that the client wants can be accommodated. If the client wants a particularly concise version, I can usually adjust my style to make the target text a bit shorter; if they want to make it more readable for a general audience, I can avoid technical terms. Other changes can't be handled in the translation process: changes in the logical structure or revamping of the rhetorical style. In those cases I tell the client that I can offer an editing service, but the client will have to give me very explicit editing instructions. They rarely take me up on that!

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Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:32
Member (2013)
Chinese to English
Reasonable? Sep 20, 2014

It sounds like there are still multiple chapters to go in the book, and your client wants you to change your style for the entire book to match her edits for the first chapter? If so, then perhaps it is reasonable to have you edit your first chapter, and then maintain that style for the rest of the book. You could explain to the client that editing is usually a separate service, but that you'll make a one-time exception for the first chapter?

Realize that many will disagree with this, but I feel that the fact that this is a direct client and a large project with much more yet to be translated changes things somewhat.


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:32
Danish to English
+ ...
No, but you negotiate any job you take on Sep 20, 2014

Of course I don't know the tone of your client's communication, but as with any job you take on, it is up to you to decide whether you can - and want to - accept the job. Your client can't make demands of you or force you to do anything you don't feel up to or that you are not at all interested in.

But if the client's need is a shorter, edited version of the text, that is what she needs, and a mere translation won't meet her need. It is, in my view, simply a matter of finding the right working process and/or the right person to do that job. If you feel uncomfortable with this working process, or unable to do the job, just say no.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 11:02
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Remember to charge for the additional time, if you do take up this job Sep 20, 2014

From what you describe, this appears to be an add-on job on top of a normal translation. While most translators are also quite proficient writers and can do such a rewriting/editing job, it would involve additional time and effort, and you should be compensated for it. Never forget that ultimately it your time that you are trading in the translation market-place, and you should ensure that every minute of it is properly paid for.

To avoid confusion and disagreement, discuss with your client how much time this editing job will take in addition to the translation job, and how much you will be charging additionally for the editing/rewriting/condensing job, and proceed with it only if there is complete agreement between you and your client about the rates.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:32
Russian to English
+ ...
Edit--no. Sep 20, 2014

Proofread for basic typos, yes but not necessarily to a publishable quality. Someone else has to also read it before the text is published because people cannot often see their own mistakes.

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Madeleine Chevassus  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:32
Member (2010)
English to French
what about punctuation, spaces/unbreakable spaces? Sep 20, 2014

Hello

When I deliver a translation, in what extent must it be nearly perfect?

example: curved apostrophes, if I deliver with plain apostrophes instead of curved apostrophes, this can be considered as for instance 150 errors by the client's proofreader (though it can be corrected in a simple global replace which I do systematically now)!

what do you think about it?

Madeleine


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
Before you send it Sep 20, 2014

You proofread and edit your translation before providing it to the client. When you send it out it must be perfect. Otherwise have the proofing and editing done by someone who is an expert.

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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:32
English to Polish
+ ...
Editing is an added service Sep 20, 2014

... and one that should command additional fees.

There is no such thing, really, as editing a translator's text. The text is the author's, the translator neither owns the text nor is responsible for ensuring that it meets certain standards the same way the original author is.

Naturally, this goes against what some agencies say and what bullied, subservient translators will say, in attempting to make translation quality seem to be independent from the quality of the received text.

No matter what is said these days, translators are not people who are responsible for making sure that great texts are written where a pre-existing foreign-language version is available. Translators are people who convert texts from one language into another.

When you edit, it's not like you edit the original, granted, because the changes won't be applied to the original. However, you still don't edit your own text, you edit someone else's text in the process of translating it.

... Which is why it should cost more.


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Daniel Meier  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:32
English to German
+ ...
Requirements Sep 20, 2014

Just some thoughts:
It seems your client did not make his requirements for this job quite clear. As for the length restrictions, the client could, as an example, require for the translation not to exceed the original character count at all or by no more than 2%. For most EN-DE translations this means to shorten the translation, so there must be some general guidelines on what can be shortened or left out. This could be for example leaving out examples or references made to the country/culture of the source language, which could be irrelevant or not so important for the translation.
Maybe also other changes made by your client in the first chapter could somehow be formalised and transferred into requirements.
Especially since it is a direct client, I would try to cooperate with him, so he can review and reformulate his requirements and be as specific as possible. Of course in this process, you can also make clear to him, that you have to recalculate your rate to adopt to the enhanced requirements.



[Edited at 2014-09-20 22:58 GMT]


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:32
Chinese to English
Must do *our* job perfectly... Sep 21, 2014

Henry Hinds wrote:

You proofread and edit your translation before providing it to the client. When you send it out it must be perfect. Otherwise have the proofing and editing done by someone who is an expert.

...not someone else's. I agree with Henry that our job is to provide a perfect translation, but I'm not a typesetter. If the client has particular requirements relating to the typeface, they must tell me. If I do not hear from the client about their requirements regarding curly or straight speech marks, then I will assume that they don't care. A minor punctuation issue like that would not be occasion for any sanctions.

In a perfect world, the exact requirements for every job would be spelled out in advance; but in the real world we just have to be reasonable and hope that the clients are, too. Significant editing of the text: outside the reasonable scope of a translator's work. Curly speech marks: outside the scope of things that can be reasonably complained about.


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 13:32
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
To the original question Sep 21, 2014

The issue isn't about editing one's own test, it would seem like - sounds like the client has already done that in the completed chapter, and is asking you to translate the rest in a requested style, which is perfectly reasonable and has nothing to do with editing.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:32
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Editing/ shortening Sep 21, 2014

I think this thread has the wrong title. Instead of "Does translation include editing one's own text?" it should have read "Does translation include SHORTENING one's own text?"

Of course one always edits one's translations. That's inherent in the task.

In doing so, it may also be necessary to control the length of the translated text, particularly if it's a magazine article that has to fit into a predefined space in a page layout, or a text box, or some other situation in which the text has to occupy approximately the same space as it does in the source document.

But I wouldn't think of this as being an added request that would justify asking for additional payment. If your basic rate is adequate, you shouldn't need to be constantly asking for extras for little things like this.

[Edited at 2014-09-21 12:14 GMT]


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Karin Maack  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:32
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
That is all very interesting... Sep 21, 2014

... and I thank you for your answers. I think I will phone her on Monday morning and talk it over. My clients directions were not clear at all as "shortening" a text can mean a lot of different things: leaving out some not so important adjectives and redundant expressions and - while translating - always choosing the shorter of two possible expressions - which I have done. Apparently that way the German text has become a bit dry. I think I had better keep the text fluent and let the client decide what content they think is not absolutely necessary. Because that's the only other way to shorten the text and in my opinion that is not a translator's job.

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