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The real nightmare of translators are not clients, but reviewers
Thread poster: Gopinath Jambulingam

Gopinath Jambulingam  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 06:16
Member (2013)
Tamil to English
+ ...
Apr 11

Last week, I submitted a Test (sample) Translation in English to Tamil language pair to one UK-based translation agency. Today, when I got the result, I could not simply digest the reviewer's comment that my translation was very poor, and that the rating given was 3 / 10.

While checking the reviewed translation, I felt disgusting & disappointing that wherever I used transliteration for abbreviations and other terminologies, the reviewer had simply replaced them with English text. Almost 15 such corrections was made by him.

The only agreeable mistake that I made was a wrong paragraph break. As per the reviewer and client and I made 16 errors in my translation!

In the absence of clear instructions, it is the translator's privilege to decide on translation or transliteration for a typical word / terminology / abbreviation / acronym. If a client advocates this as an error, then it is his/her fault, for having failed to provide proper instructions while sending the sample translation test.

The translation agency's concluding comment was egregious and provoking. It said, "we can't send you any translation work because of the poor rating of your translation," This infuriated me and I shot back immediately to the translation agency as below:

Vow! What a great review!!
It makes me wonder whether you are able to hire translators to work for you with such a great reviewer!!
Had you taken just 5 minutes about the review, you would have noticed that almost all of the corrections made is just a replacement of the transliteration of the Case numbers and abbreviation with the English text.
This is something that you should have instructed me while sending the test translation.
I would have been happy, if your reviewer focused on mistranslation, typos, spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting, syntax, omission etc, rather than this silly thing.
Anyway, I am not the loser and I have no regrets of your decision.
Regards - Gopinath Jambulingam

10 minutes later, I got reply from the agency as below:

Dear Gopinath,
Actually you got 6 from 10, but the problem was that we include the layout in our evaluation as well, as we work with courts and police stations and the clients do not understand English, so they refer to the translated version based on the original file.
We can offer you a chance if you will be able to maintain the layout of the original file in your translated version.
If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Many thanks

So, my question is what are the standards or benchmarks that the translation agencies adapt in the sample translation evaluation process? In the above review, it is apparent that the reviewer does not even know the target language!! Since, translation agencies get sample translation from multiple translators for a single project, how can a freelance translator safeguard his/her interests before taking up a free sample translation?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:46
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
If in doubt, check with the client, or refuse the job Apr 11

Gopinath Jambulingam wrote:
While checking the reviewed translation, I felt disgusting & disappointing that wherever I used transliteration for abbreviations and other terminologies, the reviewer had simply replaced them with English text. Almost 15 such corrections was made by him.

I'm no expert in this area but I do know that every translation we do has to be fit for the intended purpose. If this is a court hearing and the text refers to other elements of the hearing then the reader must be able to link those elements. That would certainly include the layout of the text. If there's any doubt, the translator must check the requirements. Things are very different in my neck of the woods i.e. marketing. That's why I would never tackle a court translation without help.

Frankly, I'm surprised at the somewhat positive tone of their reply to your rather insulting message.

agreeable mistake


I'm sorry, I can't stop chuckling at that. If a client raises a quality concern in the future I'll defend my work by saying it was such an agreeable mistake .


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