Being offered to translate a machine translation
Thread poster: Katze_bro

Katze_bro  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 22:09
Member (Apr 2017)
English to Russian
+ ...
Oct 21, 2016

I had a couple of free days and there was an outsourcer who wanted a small technical translation (En->Ru) done in a more than reasonable time. So I offered my services to her, and that's when I learned that the source in fact was a machine translation from Chinese, complete with a plenitude of gems that could leave you puzzled for minutes, trying to figure out whatever the original meaning was. The incorrect translation, as I understood from the source, could result in actual victims. I explained that even for a most skilled translator it would involve lots of telepathy to achieve something that looks at least remotely close to the original, and heavily encouraged her to find a Chinese original and a corresponding translator. The outsourcer, however, was showing some interest in my services, so I explained that it would cost much more than a normal translation, what's with all the additional work and stress. After a few e-mails, she disappeared when I reinforced my point that she would have to pay the full price no matter what and that a Chinese translator would be a much better choice. Disregarding the speculations, I'm interested in how another translators would handle that. Would you actually take such a job, when you'd have to guess the intended meaning of a pretty much every sentence? It would be something like post-editing without an actual source or without knowing the source language at all. If yes, would you charge higher or lower than normal? And, finally, would you take it if an incorrect translation could potentially get somebody killed?

[Edited at 2016-10-21 19:49 GMT]


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 21:09
English to Croatian
+ ...
Is this a Chinese agency that sent you the source text? Oct 21, 2016

It is very common for Chinese agencies to send source "English" texts that have very little to do with the English language. Bear in mind that they commonly pay very little, so instead of being paid 5X your normal late translating from an indecipherable newly invented language, you are offered 0.03 per word.

No, I would not do it.

Are you expecting them to easily find a Chinese to Russian translator? Perhaps it's doable, I don't know.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:09
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Chinese-Russian Oct 21, 2016

ProZ has eight members and 458 non-members listed as Chinese-Russian translators.

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Amel Abdullah  Identity Verified
Jordan
Arabic to English
+ ...
Absolutely not Oct 21, 2016

No, I would never undertake such a job. It would be a complete waste of time - and risky as well. In fact, what you described really has nothing to do with translation at all. As translators, we often make educated guesses, but we are not mind-readers and should not accept working with machine-generated gibberish.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:09
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
What is your reputation worth? Oct 21, 2016

The only thing you can possibly do is turn down the job if the client refuses to make it possible for you to provide a quality translation. We are neither magicians nor mind-readers. And if the source is that bad then just paying you more won't necessarily produce a sufficiently accurate translation. And if someone is harmed the consequences could be unimaginable.

What do you lose by turning it down? There's probably going to be a good job arriving tomorrow. You'll maybe lose this client, but so be it.


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Katze_bro  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 22:09
Member (Apr 2017)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I pretty much agree with the comments Oct 22, 2016

I, too, don't think it's worth the money, even if I would be starving. I'd rather sleep well, knowing I couldn't be blamed for my work.

As for the outsourcer, that happened a week ago. I think she was a fellow En-Ru translator because she said she would translate a couple of pages by herself. That's the only reason I didn't refuse outright. It seemed like the translator was in distress, and I find myself to be much more compassionate when a colleague needs some help. Still, I'm not sure she really knows the language (English, I mean), and I suspect that my proposed price per page would actually top what the client would pay her for 4.


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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:09
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Absolutely not Oct 22, 2016

Katze_bro wrote:

....After a few e-mails, she disappeared when I reinforced my point that she would have to pay the full price no matter what and that a Chinese translator would be a much better choice. Disregarding the speculations, I'm interested in how another translators would handle that. Would you actually take such a job, when you'd have to guess the intended meaning of a pretty much every sentence? It would be something like post-editing without an actual source or without knowing the source language at all. If yes, would you charge higher or lower than normal? And, finally, would you take it if an incorrect translation could potentially get somebody killed?


Short answer: hell no.

Long answer: I wouldn't have even told the client that she could have me if she paid more. If someone could actually be harmed by the translation and if I know that I don't even work in the language that would be needed to figure out what the source actually meant, I would tell the client that they need a Chinese translator, and I am not a Chinese translator, and therefore I decline the project.


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:09
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Never Oct 22, 2016

To all requests to handle a MT, I have answered negatively. I don't even open such documents for analysing anymore.
The rate is normally as for "only polishing" while, as described in the initial post, it takes heck of additional work and time.
It may not apply to all language pairs but in some of mine, MT is worse than a work of a lousiest translator (I believe, with Russian happens the same).


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