Pages in topic:   [1 2 3 4] >
Working under rush condtions
Thread poster: R-i-c-h-a-r-d

R-i-c-h-a-r-d  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:38
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Nov 18, 2014

Hello,

I don't usually post in the Proz forums, but today I feel I have to vent my frustrations and get something off my chest.

Yesterday, an agency that I occasionally work for contacted at about 11 a.m. asking for a 'rush' translation of around 2500 words for the next morning. This agency is in central Europe, so it would have been about 14:00 or 15:00 hours CET and they must have thought that I would still have time to complete the work.

I looked at the work and decided to go for it. It was a patent for a new type of gambling machine and I have never accepted work of this type before, not even from this company, but I decided to accept the challenge and do as good a job as possible. The documents were unformatted PDF which the agency hadn't had "time" to prepare, as well as being supplied with a glossary of terms that were irrelevant to the work (I found only one useful term in the spreadsheet), together with links to websites written in the source language and which were of no use to me as they hadn't been translated, as well as being smattered with dating website advertising.

My instincts told me that it was going to be a tough translation because I didn't have prior knowledge of patent translation, but also that I could do it if I got my head down and got on with it. I shut the doors and windows of my office, turned on the air-conditioning and worked solidly, with one break for lunch and another rest later on, until about 23:00 hours. Once I delivered the files I commented to be wife how happy I was with my level of commitment and how well the translation had gone. I went to bed last night feeling like someone who could pull it off under stressful conditions and do a marvellous job.

Surprisingly, I got an email this morning from the agency telling me that the work was atrocious and that I shouldn't bill them for the work. I was absolutely dumbstruck. Not only had I translated more than my regular quota per day under rush conditions, but I had revised that work, formatted the documents from PDF to Word myself, navigated a useless glossary and links, and got to grips with an area that I had never worked in before.

I honestly worked as hard as I could have worked on that document under the conditions that I was given. I have told the agency that I will bill them, of course, and it is their choice whether to work with me again in the future, but I am still surprised at how an agency can get in touch with a translator asking them for rush work, and then crucify them for shoddy work, especially as I know how hard I worked.

I am not happy about being accused of delivering sub-standard, lazy work when I worked really, really well.

This particular agency only ever contacts me at the last minute for rush-rush work, and I sent them an equally harsh email outlining my distaste for their procedures, but I wonder if other people experience such practices and what they do about it?

Is the translation industry turning into a rush-industry, where the agencies just don't have the resources to cope. Yes, I coped with the job, made a sterling effort and got it done under deadline. Here's a snippet of the translation, in case you're interested:

"
REMOVED ON THE ADVICE OF A FELLOW TRANSLATOR. THANK YOU.
"

All The Best,
Richard.

[Edited at 2014-11-18 18:55 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-11-19 13:54 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
They're wrong. Nov 18, 2014

Of course it's hard to judge without the original text, but you can spot bad translations a mile off, and this doesn't look like one to me.

That said, I can turn my hand to most things, but I steer clear of patents. They can be a minefield to the uninitiated.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Andrea Bauer  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:38
Member (2011)
Italian to German
+ ...
Ask for detailed information Nov 18, 2014

Dear Richard,

I can understand how frustrated you feel.

Ask the agency for detailed information what in their opinion was wrong (terminology, grammer, typos..).
Ask for the proofread file (if they had passed it to a proofreader).
Otherwise how can they tell you it´s not correct.
They have to prove it, they can´t simply state that the translation was "atrocious".


Direct link Reply with quote
 

R-i-c-h-a-r-d  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:38
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Phil. Nov 18, 2014

I'm never going to translate a patent under rush conditions again, that's for sure, but I was so surprised at the agency accusing me of not putting in the effort. That's what really hurts, because I felt so pleased with my effort last night.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

R-i-c-h-a-r-d  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:38
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The entire translation was wrong. Nov 18, 2014

AndreaBauer wrote:

Ask the agency for detailed information what in their opinion was wrong (terminology, grammer, typos..).
Ask for the proofread file (if they had passed it to a proofreader).
Otherwise how can they tell you it´s not correct.
They have to prove it, they can´t simply state that the translation was "atrocious".


They did, Andrea. The proofreader crucified it and rejected it, telling the agency it needed to be re-translated etc. I've told the agency that I want a second opinion, escalation, etc...

What I'm trying to do is stand up for myself and other translators and request that agencies/revisers stop treating us like scallywags. I'm not. I worked as hard as I could possibly do so under those conditions, under that deadline, with the experience and materials that I had to hand, and DELIVERED. Stop treating us like con-men. We're not.

I would not subject myself to criticism and peer speculation on Proz, or other forums, if I didn't think I had done a good job.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

R-i-c-h-a-r-d  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:38
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
And most extraordinary of all... Nov 18, 2014

Asking me not to bill them for the work!

I do not do 12 hour stints of free translation.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ewa Olszowa  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:38
Polish to English
+ ...
Still need a proof Nov 18, 2014

Still, I would ask for specific examples. It happened to me to turn down the proofreadings of bad translation that needed re-translation but I have always given the PM an idea of it using a sentence or a short passage.


[...] The proofreader crucified it and rejected it, telling the agency it needed to be re-translated etc. I've told the agency that I want a second opinion, escalation, etc...

What I'm trying to do is stand up for myself and other translators and request that agencies/revisers stop treating us like scallywags. I'm not. I worked as hard as I could possibly do so under those conditions, under that deadline, with the experience and materials that I had to hand, and DELIVERED. Stop treating us like con-men. We're not.

I would not subject myself to criticism and peer speculation on Proz, or other forums, if I didn't think I had done a good job. [/quote]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 05:38
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not wise Nov 18, 2014

I do commiserate with you but you know, of course, that it was not wise to accept this translation with such a short deadline and in a topic as difficult as patents that you have never even done before. Your translation looks ok on the surface but I 'm not qualified to judge it. I would ask for some feedback on what they claim was wrong with the translation, so you can see for yourself, but I think you may have to offer them a big discount or you may never get paid at all.


[Edited at 2014-11-18 23:33 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:38
German to English
Some lessons are learned the hard way Nov 19, 2014

Rush jobs are rarely any fun. Avoid them on general principle.

Take rush jobs only from regular customers, and only if you are familiar with the subject matter. Research takes time.

If you are asked to translate unfamiliar subject matter, let the client know that it's terra incognita and request a reasonable deadline. This will avoid grief on both sides of the equation.

Don't be greedy; don't take every job that comes along, despite your lack of qualifications. Better to pass on an engagement than to suffer aggravation and possible penalties for alleged "errors". Both you and the client will be happier.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:38
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Tight deadline is irrelevant Nov 19, 2014

The customer won't care how hard you worked, or that it was a tough job for you in a new field, or that the help material they sent you was useless. If they placed a job with a professional translator they are entitled to expect the translator to refuse the job if they can't provide a professional standard of work. This is why it is important to turn down work if the deadline is too tight, or the subject area a bad fit for your previous experience.

Maybe one option would be to ask another translator to review your work and provide an independent opinion on its quality. If there are serious errors, you need to know this for your own development as a translator. On the other hand, if the client's complaints are unjustified this would give you some evidence to back up your claim. Paying to have your work reviewed occasionally is good CPD anyway, so the money would not be wasted.

I also agree with others who have said the agency can't just reject your work out of hand. They need to provide some evidence.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tiffany Hardy  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:38
Spanish to English
the key is to get feedback on the translation quality Nov 19, 2014

Richard, I'm very sorry you are having to deal with this.

In any case, I have to agree that patents can be extremely difficult to translate. I'm taking a patents translation course at the moment through NYU and know how complex they can be. You not only have to be able to master the jargon associated with patents, but also the legal language and specific technical language for the technology in question.

While I agree it's a bad strategy to rush a patent through translation and the client should be urged not to do this, you did agree to the terms with them. And it seems you felt you could do it with a lot of hard work. This means that if your translation turned out to be less than adequate (and I'm not saying it did), it is hardly their fault for offering you a rush job. The fault would be yours in this case for promising to deliver a quality product on time when it was not possible for you to do so.

Unfortunately, when you enter into a minefield of unknown technical language it can be very difficult to differentiate expressions that should be literally translated from terms that are very specific to the field. In other words, what makes a good translator is knowing what you don't know and when you get into an area that is over your head, it gets much harder to not know what you don't know. I'm certainly not saying this is definitely the case here, and therefore I would urge you to take the advice of others - to request the results of the proofreading so you can see for yourself what exactly was wrong with the translation. Were there mistranslations of important terminology? Were there editorial problems due to lack of time for revision of your own work? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you prepare yourself if you are asked to do this in the future.

As to the nature of rush jobs I can tell you what my experience has been. When I first started out, it seemed that all I was offered were rush projects, weekend projects, night projects, projects over the holidays. Why? Because all of my clients' usual go-to translators didn't feel compelled to accept such jobs as their schedules were already filled with more reasonable deadlines. Therefore the agencies had to resort to their lists of back-up translators because they needed to cover the project. I, on the other hand, was trying to build up my clientele and gain experience so I felt compelled to take any offer coming in if I felt I could do it. Once I proved myself to these clients, I slowly worked my way up to being one of their regular translators and not just one of the ones that gets offered projects nobody else wants to/can do. That doesn't mean I'm not on occasion asked to do rush jobs, but it isn't the nature of most of the work I get offered anymore. And now that my schedule is filled with more reasonable projects, I don't feel the need to work through the night to prove myself anymore.

I think once you are able to have a look at the proofreading results, you will know what to do in terms of invoicing them. But my view is that your decision should be based on whether the translation quality was really low or not, and not on how much time you put into it.

Best of luck.





[Edited at 2014-11-19 09:14 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
learning from our mistakes Nov 19, 2014

Hi Richard,
Not sure what truly prompted you to take on the job under the circumstances you describe. I'm not too good at turning down jobs either but in a case like that, I would have had no compunction in say 'no'.

That said, the horse has already bolted and the deed is done...

I skip-read the excerpt from the translation and, although I know little about the subject and wouldn't touch a patent with a five-foot barge-pole, there are a few things I would question. Little details such as word order and word repetitions. Nothing major.

The problem may lie with the re-reader: these people have to earn their keep and justify their existence. It is, however, all too easy, just because of little details or the fact the style is not what the reader is used to, to make a blanket statement and damn the whole thing.

Did the proofer not send an annotated copy to the agency? Are you not entitled to see at least an excerpt? Perhaps the part you quoted here as an example? That would at least give you a flavour of what caused such a strong reaction. Some people have a low tolerance threshold and, as soon as they see a handful of things they would have written otherwise, they fly off the handle.

The agency also has a responsibility. If the proofreader is so good, why didn't they ask him or her to do the job?

I suspect you may not get paid in full. The lesson is never to bite off more than you can chew. But I'm sure you've figured that out for yourself by now. Never tackle a new subject or a new field when time is an issue. Learning a new subject, style and vocabulary requires time. The combination of lack of specific knowledge and lack of time is FATAL

HTH


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:38
Dutch to English
+ ...
Feelings can be deceptive Nov 19, 2014

Certainly where patents are concerned, you can make a great translation that still turns out to be atrocious. I refuse to do them, because in most cases the mistakes you make can have huge consequences and you are more likely to make them than in other translations, because you are are dealing with very specific and sometimes quite new terminology, so you are less likely to find a reliable source for translation. Indeed I wouldn't touch any patent with a bargepole unless if it was in a subject area I was really very thoroughly familiar with (almost non-existent).

I feel for you and you should request actual examples of the so-called atrociousness of your translation. In my mind it's not unthinkable that they hired an equally non-specialised proofreader if they gave you the translation in the first place.

No offence to you, but as an agency I would rather tell my client to go and seek someone else to do it than run the risk of being sued afterwards because there is a technical mistake in the patent.
And saying that years ago someone working at the EU patent office in The Hague told me very smugly that there was no risk with the translation of patents because 'it was all specialists working on them'. Ha-ha.

[Edited at 2014-11-19 22:29 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:38
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
That proofreader ... Nov 19, 2014

... like someone else said, have you any record of what the proofreader actually did? Call me cynical, but there may not have been any proofreader at all in the first place.

A company told me a few years ago that they'd had terrible complaints about my very technical translation, which wasn't exactly my cup of tea either, told me the customer had claimed I hadn't used their glossary (I had, and pretty extensive it was too) etc. I was never given a corrected version, just terms they said I hadn't used (but I had, so I didn't understand anything at all).

But, wait, a week later I found my translation on the end customer's website. I checked four or five pages of it against the version I had delivered, and not one bloody comma had been touched. I ended up checking the whole lot - not a single thing had been changed, so obviously they were happy enough to have it on Internet. I wasn't sure who was scamming, the end customer or the agency or both.

This was simply so I would take a drop on the price. But by that time I was used to scams, I refused, and obviously dropped in the ace card of the end customer's website, and to their credit they paid me the full amount. This particular company changes its name quite often now, I see (I get Proz notifications every so often when they turn up in another guise), but naturally I would never work for them again.

This smells to me like a very tall story. You must have proof.


Best,



Mervyn


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:38
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Proof is needed, but... Nov 19, 2014

Dear Richard,

I'm sorry to hear what has happened to you. I agree with the general opinion here: Your client needs to substantiate their complaints.

But, and I'm sorry to say this: there's absolutely no way that your very first patent translation, done without any prior knowledge of the very peculiar requirements that this kind of text has and under time pressure, will yield anything remotely useful to the client. I'm not talking about the technical content of the patent, which you may well have translated correctly. It's rather the legal side - phrases that look absolutely inconspicious to your unitiated eye will have to be translated in a very strict way. Your translation may read well to your eye, but this doesn't mean it's a good and useful patent translation.

I suspect that while you think you've done a good job, you may be ignorant of the shortcomings your client is complaining about.

That said, I repeat that your client needs to present proof - maybe I'm wrong after all.

Regards,
Erik




[Bearbeitet am 2014-11-19 15:45 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3 4] >


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


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

Working under rush condtions

Advanced search







LSP.expert
You’re a freelance translator? LSP.expert helps you manage your daily translation jobs. It’s easy, fast and secure.

How about you start tracking translation jobs and sending invoices in minutes? You can also manage your clients and generate reports about your business activities. So you always keep a clear view on your planning, AND you get a free 30 day trial period!

More info »
Across v6.3
Translation Toolkit and Sales Potential under One Roof

Apart from features that enable you to translate more efficiently, the new Across Translator Edition v6.3 comprises your crossMarket membership. The new online network for Across users assists you in exploring new sales potential and generating revenue.

More info »



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