Would you make this mistake? (lines verses segments)
Thread poster: Gregory Flanders

Gregory Flanders  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:56
French to English
+ ...
May 14, 2015

I just had a bit of a disagreement with an outsourcer and I'm curious what your reactions might be.

The situation:

One rather large XML file, split by two translators. I am told to start on line 2775. I open the file and start cheerfully translating away at segment 2775.

[...]

Deadline approaching, I realize that the word count for my half is MUCH higher than what I was originally quoted by the outsourcer. After a bit of back and forth, it turns out I should have been working from the XML line 2775, and not the Trados segment 2775.

Outsourcer's analysis: "any professional translator should indeed know the difference between a Line in an xml file and a Trados segment. (!!!?)"

I'm willing to let the barely concealed slight about a "professional" translator go, but I'm curious: am I wholly in the wrong here? Or should the outsourcer share some of the blame for what was obviously a mutual miscommunication? Am I unprofessional for having understood segment instead of XML line?

As things stand now, I'm out about 900 EUR for the duplicated work.. And now I'm supposed to spend the whole night and all day tomorrow catching up to meet the extended deadline.

[Edited at 2015-05-14 19:03 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-05-14 19:05 GMT]


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
You're the mistaken one, I'm afraid May 14, 2015

I hate to say it, but I think it's clear that XML "line" is not the same as Trados "segment", so if they clearly said "line", I don't see how they can be blamed.

It would have been a good idea to confirm "so I should start with the line that reads '....', right?"

It's a simple mistake on your part. Tough luck. Live and learn. We have to accept the consequences of our mistakes. It happens to us all in one way or another one day.

I think the best you can do is apologise for getting this wrong and then just get it done asap.

Just be happy it wasn't so bad that you had to pay someone else to help getting it done before the deadline.


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 14:56
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
The confusion is not entirely your fault, but nothing can really be done about that May 14, 2015

They could/should have specified at least the first words of the line they referred to.

You could/should have confirmed the same before starting.

I disagree that "any professional must know the difference between a Line and a Segment" and I might even take offense at their quip, depending on circumstances. Still, it's a mutual misunderstanding. I don't see how you can make them pay for it.

[Edited at 2015-05-14 19:26 GMT]


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Maria Matta  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:56
Member (2016)
Spanish to Portuguese
+ ...
I tend to be on the translator's side, but... May 14, 2015

In this situation the outsourcer did give you the right instructions.
Just to be sure I think I would have asked the outsourcer if he meant line or Trados segment. Of course, these things happen and we can only learn from them.
Any chance you could split the remaining lines with the other translator?
Good luck!


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:56
French to German
+ ...
Your fault... May 14, 2015

Well, if they really told you line and not segment, I think it's entirely your fault... This does not mean that this would not have happened to others, but I don't think you can make the agency pay for your error.

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Gregory Flanders  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:56
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree May 14, 2015

Thanks for your comments, I agree that I should have checked with him before starting. I'm irritated with myself more than anything. No more xml files for me!

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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:56
German to English
Unclear instructions / misunderstanding May 14, 2015

If this was the first time you've done an XML project for this particular outsourcer, he/she might have pointed out the difference between a line in XML and a segment in a CAT tool, especially since in this case there's an obvious opportunity for misunderstanding. As someone else pointed out, the outsourcer could have stated "Start at line 2775 which begins with ..."

In my opinion it's an issued of shared fault; unfortunately as the service provider you pay the penalty.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:56
Member
English to French
Checking wordcounts May 15, 2015

before starting the work is a good practice, even more so with new customers.

Unless you challenged them for a compensation, their "analysis" is just short of rude, and they could have played it with more style knowing that you wasted hours for nothing. But no, it serves you right, next time you'll be more careful and they're doing you a favour by not cancelling the order altogether.

A reply such as
"Indeed the instructions could have been clearer but in doubt, always ask for confirmation. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do at this stage to alleviate your trouble, and we still need the translation by X. Please make sure you deliver as agreed"
could be a better start to a fair, balanced and mutually respectful relationship.
Still putting pressure on you, but in a "professional" way.
We're not dogs after all.

On the other hand, you are well-educated and polite, and above all you haven't been paid in full for the project.
So you can't really risk a reply along those lines:

Any professional agency will make sure that instructions are crystal clear and do not leave the littlest room to any misconception, interpretation or distorsion likely to significantly alter the very core of the assignment, including, but not limited to, deadlines, reference material, wordcounts and payment terms.

Philippe


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Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:56
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Bit of both May 15, 2015

I think this is a shared misunderstanding - the agency could definitely have been more clear in their instructions, e.g. begin on line X, which reads "....". Or they could have sent you a file containing ONLY your part.

And their reply to you is unsympathetic and unprofessional. They could have put that in a much nicer way, while still making it clear that they expected you to fulfil your obligations.

Still, as others have said, it's your responsibility to make sure you know what you are doing and I think you have to put this one down as a hard learning experience and press on.

If it makes you feel any better, we probably all make one or two expensive mistakes in the course of our careers and as long as you don't make a habit of it, things work out OK in the long run!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:56
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I feel for you May 15, 2015

It's the sort of mistake that can happen to us all. I don't know a thing about XML or Trados, but I had a rush monolingual proofreading job from a regular client a few weeks back. 200+ PDF pages arrived 5 p.m. for delivery early next morning. Not every word needed checking - just end-line word splits, page starts and ends, headings, intros, etc. Except that about 10 pages needed checking in full. Next day, a query about a particular sentence: was it really good English? Then the penny dropped: the numbers of the pages to be fully checked corresponded to the guide itself (with its cover, contents page etc), not to the PDF file page. Fortunately the damage was far less in my case.

So I really do feel for you. You should have checked (and Philippe's comment about word count is certainly valid for translations). I don't really think it's the client's fault - it has to be our responsibility to ensure we understand the scope of the job, although hopefully the client will be more careful in future.

In the end, it's just one more pit along the interminable learning curve. No reason to reject that file type in future: you're an expert now!


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Adrien Esparron
Local time: 12:56
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
Back to the future... May 15, 2015

Sheila a écrit :



No reason to reject that file type in future: you're an expert now!



For sure, don't give up!


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:56
Russian to English
+ ...
Their fault, mainly May 16, 2015

Kevin Fulton wrote:

If this was the first time you've done an XML project for this particular outsourcer, he/she might have pointed out the difference between a line in XML and a segment in a CAT tool, especially since in this case there's an obvious opportunity for misunderstanding. As someone else pointed out, the outsourcer could have stated "Start at line 2775 which begins with ..."

In my opinion it's an issued of shared fault; unfortunately as the service provider you pay the penalty.


Yes, absolutely. It was 70% the outsourcer's fault. Translation is the type of trade or art that is not that easy for many outsourcers to handle. I think the aim of professional translators should be to attract more and more direct clients, perhaps even this site should do something to attract more direct clients in the future.

Going back to the subject, they should have specified it in their order— that XML line was meant.

[Edited at 2015-05-16 08:26 GMT]


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 19:56
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Fairly reasonable expectation May 17, 2015

LilianNekipelov wrote:


Yes, absolutely. It was 70% the outsourcer's fault. Translation is the type of trade or art that is not that easy for many outsourcers to handle. I think the aim of professional translators should be to attract more and more direct clients, perhaps even this site should do something to attract more direct clients in the future.

Going back to the subject, they should have specified it in their order— that XML line was meant.

[Edited at 2015-05-16 08:26 GMT]

To say "line" where an XML file is involved seems fairly unambiguous to me. In fact, to say "line" where a .doc file is involved seems fairly unambiguous to me as well.

I don't know if the outsourcer specified that the translator must use Trados. If that's not the case, one cannot possibly expect the outsourcer to be referring to segments when different CAT tools may deal with segmentation differently.

The outsourcer did not need to be snide in their comments, but I can understand if they're flabbergasted.


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