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Questionable agency behavior
Thread poster: Thomas Johansson

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 23:32
Member (2005)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Apr 7, 2015

An agency just now sent me a translation of a 9,000 word document for proofreading, proposing to pay the equivalent of approx. 5 hours of work. (After having inquired about my rates.)

Looking at the translation, it became quite clear to me that it was not a real human translation, but a Google translation. It cannot be used and needs to be redone completely.

I have no doubt the agency knew it was a Google translation. Yesterday they posted a job for the translation of this document and there is no way a person could have translated a volume of 9,000 words since yesterday.

There are 3 things that bother me:
- I get the impression they were trying to TRICK me into committing to "proofread" a job that would cost me approx. 6 times more time than expected to finish properly.
- While I haven't worked with this agency before, it has actually received fairly good ratings on the Blue Board, with an average of about 4.8 from a total of some 20 entries. And the entries speak consistently well of the agency and the people in the agency.
- I cannot understand why an agency would send me a 9,000 word Google translation for proofreading, trying to pass it off as a translation that just needed proofreading. Don't they care about their reputation?

What is going on here?

[Edited at 2015-04-07 12:59 GMT]


 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 07:32
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Could the agency have been fooled? Apr 7, 2015

If no one inside the agency speaks the target language and they always rely on freelancers for that language, they may not have known it was an MT job. Perhaps you should politely inform them of the situation.

I've been tricked like that as a localization coordinator (fancy word for PM) once, with a language I did not speak (Spanish). I did not pass the job to the reviewer though, because I picked up on some signals and suspected it was an MT job.

[Edited at 2015-04-07 12:56 GMT]


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 05:32
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Am I to understand Apr 7, 2015

that you accepted this job without seeing the text first? That's something I would never do (be it translation or proofreading)! How did you (or they?) arrive at 5 hours of work?

 

Steven Segaert
Estonia
Local time: 07:32
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Give it back, don't charge Apr 7, 2015

In such cases, I return the project - if it is text I feel working on, with an offer to re-translate. Unless agreed otherwise, I don't charge for this assessment. The again, I also make sure I don't spend more than half an hour to make the decision.

Not worth losing any sleep overicon_wink.gif.


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:32
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 7, 2015



[Edited at 2015-04-08 13:06 GMT]


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Cheating Apr 7, 2015



Excellent. Confirms what I thought about a file I was shown yesterday: almost certainly a machine translation.

And fortunately, it didn't call a translation of mine a machine translation. icon_smile.gif

When agencies pay $0.04 or less for a technical translation, you can debate if it's the agency that is cheating the translator or the other way around, though.


 

James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:32
Russian to English
+ ...
A somewhat different experience Apr 7, 2015

I recently accepted an assignment to evaluate some test translations for an agency. I noticed that a couple of the translations were especially bad in the same way i.e., they used exactly the same incorrect phrasing. On a hunch, I ran the original through Google Translate, and guess what? Those two translators had submitted a Google translation of the test. Needless to say, I failed them and informed the agency about what they had done.

 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:32
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
Make an offer Apr 7, 2015

They might have been fooled as others already said. Tell them that it has to be completely retranslated and make an offer for that.

 

Markus Nystrom  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:32
Swedish to English
+ ...
@ Jeff in re a Darwinian solution Apr 7, 2015

That is is nifty little widget. I like to imagine it or something like it linked to a global database of translation providers where unscrupulous players could be flagged for 'removal from the gene pool'. Of course there are already Darwinian mechanisms of consequence playing out, albeit in the dark.

So why not turn it into something of a spectacle and thereby boost the morale of translation gene pool survivors? An interactive map depicting the real-time mutation and conditioning of the "Babel genome". 15 years ago this idea may have attracted millions in venture capital!


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:32
English to German
+ ...
Done before Apr 7, 2015

Thomas Johansson wrote:

There are 3 things that bother me:
- I get the impression they were trying to TRICK me into committing to "proofread" a job that would cost me approx. 6 times more time than expected to finish properly.
- While I haven't worked with this agency before, it has actually received fairly good ratings on the Blue Board, with an average of about 4.8 from a total of some 20 entries. And the entries speak consistently well of the agency and the people in the agency.
- I cannot understand why an agency would send me a 9,000 word Google translation for proofreading, trying to pass it off as a translation that just needed proofreading. Don't they care about their reputation?

What is going on here?

[Edited at 2015-04-07 12:59 GMT]


Because they've done it before and found someone who did it.


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:32
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
There are also people... Apr 7, 2015

posing as editors, who just put translations through grammar software and accept all suggestions, introducing errors in the process.

These "google" translators play the odds. They will get paid for some jobs and not for others. Doesn't matter, they spend only minutes on each job.

This is part of the reason that new translators have a hard time getting work from reputable agencies that have been cheated in the past.



[Edited at 2015-04-07 16:40 GMT]


 

DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 05:32
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dubious site that! Apr 7, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

http://www.cheatingtranslators.com/

[Just don't put anything confidential in it]

[Edited at 2015-04-07 14:50 GMT]


I tested the addition process using a made up name (and noted it was only a test!). It seemed to succeed "Translator XXX YYY has been inserted into the Cheating Translator database successfully!" Seemed to be no requirement to give any info about myself.

So, then I tried to see if my own name was there, but it wanted $15 for that, so I stopped. Aren't they legally supposed to have ways of checking if you're in their DB? And I doubt if there are robust processes for getting off their list (have you ever got a bad credit card rating?).

This appears to be completely open to abuse by anyone. But I can't see it being taken very seriously.
And what's to stop anyone writing a robot and flooding their DB?

[Edited at 2015-04-07 17:15 GMT]


 

Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:32
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Deliberation or carelessness? Apr 7, 2015

Thomas Johansson wrote:

- I get the impression they were trying to TRICK me into committing to "proofread" a job that would cost me approx. 6 times more time than expected to finish properly.


[Edited at 2015-04-07 12:59 GMT]


I had a major fallout with an agency about a similar issue. I was asked to do a "final proofreading/alignment" once the translation had been edited/proofread by the agency owner himself who also translates similar material in the same language combination. I accepted the assignment on the basis of this statement. I received the worst-quality translation I have ever seen. Google could have done a better job. A cute example for the German speakers: "Bestattungsinstitut" instead of "Versorgungs- und Telekommunikationsunternehmen".

I explained that this was most definitely a machine translation and that it either hadn't been "proofread in-house", or the "proofreader" did not have an adequate command of the German language and therefore could not have realised that the text doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

The agency's response was it "was impossible that this could be a machine translation" because of the amount they had paid for it, and they attached the original invoice of the translator as proof. Further, they declared that the "first round of proofreading" had been done by a native speaker, therefore it was impossible that there would be any major quality issues.

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:
I've been tricked like that as a localization coordinator (fancy word for PM) once, with a language I did not speak (Spanish). I did not pass the job to the reviewer though, because I picked up on some signals and suspected it was an MT job.


I can fully understand that it might escape a PM who doesn't speak the language in question, and I actually find it impressive that you managed to detect an MT translation in an unfamiliar language.
I certainly do not expect PMs to determine quality in advance, unless they speak the language themselves. However, I do expect PMs to react if a quality issue is raised, and not try to brush it under the carpet.


 

Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:32
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
I couldn't get that far Apr 7, 2015

DLyons wrote:

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

http://www.cheatingtranslators.com/

[Just don't put anything confidential in it]

[Edited at 2015-04-07 14:50 GMT]


I tested the addition process using a made up name (and noted it was only a test!). It seemed to succeed "Translator XXX YYY has been inserted into the Cheating Translator database successfully!" Seemed to be no requirement to give any info about myself.

So, then I tried to see if my own name was there, but it wanted $15 for that, so I stopped. Aren't they legally supposed to have ways of checking if you're in their DB? And I doubt if there are robust processes for getting off their list (have you ever got a bad credit card rating?).

This appears to be completely open to abuse by anyone. But I can't see it being taken very seriously.
And what's to stop anyone writing a robot and flooding their DB?

[Edited at 2015-04-07 17:15 GMT]


My antivirus was convinced that it was a phishing site and stopped my playing with it.


 

Anne Pinaglia
Netherlands
Local time: 06:32
Member (2011)
Italian to English
+ ...
Offer options Apr 8, 2015

Obviously you didn't see the work beforehand to be able to make a judgement call, so at this point my best advice would be to inform the PM that unfortunately it was machine translated and therefore it would take more time to edit than simply re-translate. Offer a total and time frame for translation, a total and time frame for editing (which would be higher) and a total number of words that you could take per day if they decide to split it to re-translate. Either the agency knows what happened (and won't be surprised when you bring it up), or they've been fooled and will be scrambling to figure out how to fix it and hopefully lean on you for the re-translation.

Good luck!


 
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