End-client corrections are incorrect-how to let them know nicely....
Thread poster: Isa Harrington

Isa Harrington  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:02
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 30, 2015

I am working with an agency for several years and one of their end clients has sent back a translation I did with their corrections so I take them into account for future projects. However, they are gramatically incorrect and very literal and would sound, in my humble opinion, very bad if they were to publish the document to the public. How do I politely convey the inaccuracies without sounding defensive or offending anyone? I also want to defend my own work of course- as an aside, I thought that the agency was proofreading my work before it is passed onto the end client but it now transpires that it is not (part of the reason I like to work with agencies is the security of having this option, hence charging a lower rate than if I was working directly with an end client), and in this case, the person making the corrections, apart from not being a translator, is a non-native speaker of English....any feedback very grateful to allow me to professionally handle this situation!

 

Romina Navarro
Argentina
Local time: 19:02
English to Spanish
Talk to the agency first Sep 30, 2015

As the end client is theirs and not yours, it is the agency's responsibility to talk to them.
If you have enough time working for this agency and have a good professional relationship, you should feel free to let them know about your observations on the final translation and the "incorrect corrections", and then it is on them, not on you, to politely advise their client (IF they want to do so).

Are you sure they haven't checked your translation? Maybe the agency did proofread your work and had very few corrections to do before submitting it to the end client, and it was the client itself which decided to change everything.

One of the advantages of working through an agency, apart from the security of the proofreading, is that they have the 'dirty work' of telling the client when they are wrong, and besides, if the translation is finally published with all those mistakes, your name won't be on it but the agency's (I guess). That would be good reason for the agency to listen to your advice on this.

[Edited at 2015-09-30 17:14 GMT]


 

Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:02
French to English
Tell it like it is Sep 30, 2015

I have been in this kind of situation before.

Because your client is the agency, you don't have to be nice at all in your reply or worry about upsetting them. It's the agency's problem to explain to the end client that their "corrections" suck, in a diplomatic way. You don't have to worry about being diplomatic, you should explain to them exactly as you have explained to us, so that there is no doubt, and also to cover your own a**.

Just tell the agency very very clearly that the end client's corrections are terrible. Give one or two examples to support your case. As you have been working for the agency for several years, they should know the quality of your work and be supportive too.

Sometimes I wonder if end clients do this kind of thing on purpose, in an attempt to pay the agency less by claiming the quality was bad, when it was wasn't?

I have found that project managers may be reluctant to give this type of diplomatic feedback to their clients, especially the one-off clients. I can recall one particular similar situation where an end client was horribly rude to my PM and wouldn't take advice from professionals, I still cringe when I think of that project from years ago! The end client completely destroyed my careful translation.

At the moment, I have another ongoing project for a particular end client through an agency, and this end client insists on using particular terminology that is just plain wrong. Several different PMs have been on that project, and I explain each time why it's wrong... they keep telling me that client doesn't want to change it...

Another time, I was working on a project with a group of translators - we would consult with each other before submitting any queries to the agency who then would query the client. One time the client wanted something that sounded really bad, and the PM told us that she was sorry but client was adamant on using this particular term. The senior translator in the group then responded to the PM with a really strong statement, it was something like "I hope you have fully conveyed to your client that they are risking their global reputation with this bad terminology choice." After that the PM somehow managed to convince the client, victory!!


 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:02
English to French
+ ...
Just tell them Sep 30, 2015

Point out clearly the grammar errors and other style issues and explain them.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:02
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
A delicate part of the job, but it has to be done sometimes Sep 30, 2015

To some extent, I think it depends how much they want to change. I've tried to think myself into your shoes, using the experience I've had in the past.

If it's a couple of words in 20,000 then I think I'd probably say very little - maybe mention to the agency that I didn't agree with the changes, but not ask them to pass it along. In other words, why make waves about a very small problem? If those words/expressions came up again, I'd either grit my teeth and use their version or, if that really wasn't possible, I'd translate it correctly and then play innocent and forgetful if need be.

If they were terms that were bound to come up again and again, I'd politely suggest that there was sound reasoning behind my choice, and I'd back that up with reliable references. If absolutely necessary, I'd point out why their version wasn't going to be in their interests. I try to avoid that as it's shaming the client - never a way to win future orders, but if you have to, you have to.

If they'd really messed about with my work and ruined it, I'd have to be firm. It's not a matter of whinging. They're paying for a professional service and they should accept the word of that professional. If they can't do that then it's best for both parties if they find another professional. I can't stop a client messing up my work once I've delivered it - it's sad, infuriating even, but it's their text. However, there's absolutely no way I'm going to collaborate in the massacre.

One thing I'd add is that different agencies like to handle this in different ways. Some will paraphrase what you say, others prefer you to write as though you were addressing the client, and they'll just copy/paste your text. You need to find out which method they're going to use. I'm sometimes rather more direct with the agency than I'd really want to be with the end clienticon_smile.gif.


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 05:02
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Frequent discoveries Oct 1, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:

To some extent, I think it depends how much they want to change. I've tried to think myself into your shoes, using the experience I've had in the past.

One thing I'd add is that different agencies like to handle this in different ways. Some will paraphrase what you say, others prefer you to write as though you were addressing the client, and they'll just copy/paste your text. You need to find out which method they're going to use. I'm sometimes rather more direct with the agency than I'd really want to be with the end clienticon_smile.gif.


I observe that many clients are not familiar with translation processes/theories and they give incorrect comments. Though it is not happy, we need to tell them the truth to "educate" them.

Soonthon L.


 

Isa Harrington  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:02
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks everyone for your comments! Oct 18, 2015

Many thanks everyone for your comments, very helpful!

 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 00:02
English to Polish
+ ...
... Oct 19, 2015

Iseulth wrote:

I am working with an agency for several years and one of their end clients has sent back a translation I did with their corrections so I take them into account for future projects. However, they are gramatically incorrect and very literal and would sound, in my humble opinion, very bad if they were to publish the document to the public. How do I politely convey the inaccuracies without sounding defensive or offending anyone? I also want to defend my own work of course- as an aside, I thought that the agency was proofreading my work before it is passed onto the end client but it now transpires that it is not (part of the reason I like to work with agencies is the security of having this option, hence charging a lower rate than if I was working directly with an end client), and in this case, the person making the corrections, apart from not being a translator, is a non-native speaker of English....any feedback very grateful to allow me to professionally handle this situation!


You are a professional, and therefore your opinion should not be humbler than that of a non-professional, paying for your services or not. Holding the purse strings may empower the client to go through with bad decisions, but it doesn't make bad decisions good decisions. Your professional responsibility includes not taking part in that sort of thing.

If you offend someone in the process, pity but be it. First of all they bring it on themselves, especially when they elect to offend others first (including you) or to act unprofessionally or unethically, such as tampering with professional work they have no qualifications to either do themselves or review (or manage, supervise, correct, assess, whatever).

Also your agency needs to grow a spine and make its own decisions and live by them. It's unacceptable for them to first proofread and okay your work but then pass its complaining client over to you. Whether or not the client's complaints refer to the proofreader's changes rather than your own work, but obviously all the more so if they do.

It's not acceptable for an agency to outsource its business problems to you like that. Because it's primarily a business problem for the agency rather than an issue of correctness in a situation like you described.

Re: non-native speakers of English proofreading your work. It shouldn't, of course, be forbidden on the grounds of 'wrong' ethnicity, but a non-native speaker who is not a superbly educated professional writer doesn't stand a high chance of being right in a difference of opinion with you, a professional translator, about the rules of your own language. You shouldn't need to waste your time addressing or refuting such 'corrections' point by point. It's the client — and the agency, in letting the client — who's acting unprofessionally, not you.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 06:02
Chinese to English
Politeness first Oct 19, 2015

As others have said, it's not necessarily your responsibility, but if you decide to respond, my approach has alway been to lead with the positive. See if you can find a change which does actually represent a reasonable style choice, and thank the client for it; offer a compromise on one or two others; then point out one of the client's clear errors and explain the problem with a reference.

So long as these translations aren't going to be published with your name on them, it doesn't really matter if the client decides to mess up their own property. But I think it's worth establishing at the beginning of the relationship that you are (a) willing to tell the client directly when they're wrong, and competent enough to back up all your arguments; and (b) professional/nice enough to sugar-coat it when you do. There's no total solution to this problem, but demanding respect from the start definitely give you the best chance of a pleasant and productive relationship.


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Be diplomatic Oct 19, 2015

As others pointed out, not your client, so make sure you explain fully to the agency what the objectively correct option is.

However, I once was asked by the agency to call the end client and explain them that the inverted exclamation mark we use in Spanish (like in the word “¡hola!”) had nothing to do with the letter “i”. So, I called the end client, explained the situation and the issue was quickly sorted out.

In other words, if you show your client that you care about their clients (which is basically tantamount to saying that you care about your client), all parties will appreciate it.

My advice: call/email/telex (whatever is appropriate) to the end client (with your client’s consent) and do your best to explain the situation. If they insist on their (allegedly incorrect) version, do not fight. It’s their text, not yours. Your name will most likely not be associated with this translation anyway (unless it’s sworn translation, of course).


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 00:02
English to Polish
+ ...
... Oct 20, 2015

Diplomacy is the art of telling people to sod off in a way that makes them look forward to the trip. Politeness is usually the way, but not always.

 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:02
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Having difficulty understanding your points Oct 20, 2015

Iseulth wrote:
....any feedback very grateful to allow me to professionally handle this situation!


Can you explain what this mean?


 

Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:02
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Split infinitive Oct 21, 2015

jyuan_us wrote:
Iseulth wrote:
....any feedback very grateful to allow me to professionally handle this situation!

Can you explain what this mean?

It's known as a "split infintive", fairly common in American English and less common (indeed, often disapproved of) in British English. Most (I think) users of British English would write "... to handle this situation professionally".


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:02
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I knew it was a split infinitive but Oct 27, 2015

Oliver Walter wrote:

jyuan_us wrote:
Iseulth wrote:
....any feedback very grateful to allow me to professionally handle this situation!

Can you explain what this mean?

It's known as a "split infintive", fairly common in American English and less common (indeed, often disapproved of) in British English. Most (I think) users of British English would write "... to handle this situation professionally".


what I didn't understand was "....any feedback very grateful to allow me to professionally handle this situation!"

I just couldn't figure out the inter-relation of the phrases contained in the sentence.

[Edited at 2015-10-27 02:02 GMT]


 

LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:02
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Unfinished editt Oct 27, 2015

jyuan_us wrote:

Oliver Walter wrote:

jyuan_us wrote:
Iseulth wrote:
....any feedback very grateful to allow me to professionally handle this situation!

Can you explain what this mean?

It's known as a "split infintive", fairly common in American English and less common (indeed, often disapproved of) in British English. Most (I think) users of British English would write "... to handle this situation professionally".


what I didn't understand was "....any feedback very grateful to allow me to professionally handle this situation!"

I just couldn't figure out the inter-relation of the phrases contained in the sentence.

[Edited at 2015-10-27 02:02 GMT]


"[I would be grateful] for any feedback to allow..."
Probably just an unfinished edit - the writer starts out with one version, then changes his/her mind but [without realizing it] doesn't fully complete the edit.


 


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