Peer ethics in QA role
Thread poster: Gregory Lassale

Gregory Lassale  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:25
Member (2019)
English to French
Dec 20, 2019

This is a question that's been on my mind for a while.

What is your stance when you proofread translations of questionable quality, i.e. when what should be basic proofreading often turns into heavy editing/rewriting.

Do you alert the agency/client and maybe try to negotiate a higher rate? Do you keep your mouth shut and keep plodding along?

I hate to throw people under the bus, but at the same time I always strive to deliver the best possible product and
... See more
This is a question that's been on my mind for a while.

What is your stance when you proofread translations of questionable quality, i.e. when what should be basic proofreading often turns into heavy editing/rewriting.

Do you alert the agency/client and maybe try to negotiate a higher rate? Do you keep your mouth shut and keep plodding along?

I hate to throw people under the bus, but at the same time I always strive to deliver the best possible product and feel that my loyalty lies with the agency and end client that hired me (or us, rather)... I don't know what/if there is a best practice in this type of situation. I also obviously don't want to be labeled a squeaky wheel by the client. It's a tricky situation.

Any input is greatly appreciated.

Best,

G.L.
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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:25
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
What I do Dec 20, 2019

Stipulate that I will only accept a proofreading/editing job if the translation was done by a competent human translator.
Ask to see the document before accepting.


 

Gregory Lassale  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:25
Member (2019)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Dec 20, 2019

Thank you but that's not really what I'm asking. The question is whether or not you report the quality of the translation to the agency/client. It's less about what type of quality I'll work with and more about ethics between peers.

[Edited at 2019-12-20 19:56 GMT]


 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:25
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
QA Role Dec 20, 2019

Yesterday I edited a translation of a Japanese patent. It was execrable and I told the agency. After I handed in the revision,
I was contacted several more times about certain passages in the translation which they asked me to recheck. This is a China-based
agency that is a stickler for quality. Not to report on errors would have been unethical. I believe they appreciated my honesty.


Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 05:25
Romanian to English
+ ...
let the agency know Dec 21, 2019

Gregory Lassale wrote:

Thank you but that's not really what I'm asking. The question is whether or not you report the quality of the translation to the agency/client. It's less about what type of quality I'll work with and more about ethics between peers.

[Edited at 2019-12-20 19:56 GMT]


A couple of years ago I had a huge argument with a senior PM about the crappy translation done by a translator I know. We messaged back and forth until the agency hired a qualified translator.

If you feel that the translation is junk, let the agency know it, but it must be well documented.

best,
lee


Christine Andersen
Vesa Korhonen
Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:25
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I always send a document with tracked changes and comments Dec 21, 2019

I send two files back, one with tracked changes that shows what I have altered, and normally one that I consider 'clean' and ready for use.
I also add comments - positive as well as negative, on what I think of the translation.

On the other hand, I do not accept the job if it comes with a big form where I am supposed to analyse the 'errors' by several different criteria and degrees of severity: I consider that a waste of time.

Ethically, I have no qualms about tel
... See more
I send two files back, one with tracked changes that shows what I have altered, and normally one that I consider 'clean' and ready for use.
I also add comments - positive as well as negative, on what I think of the translation.

On the other hand, I do not accept the job if it comes with a big form where I am supposed to analyse the 'errors' by several different criteria and degrees of severity: I consider that a waste of time.

Ethically, I have no qualms about telling the agency I think the translation is not acceptable, and I let them know as soon as possible after I have seen the document. If it would really be quicker and better to translate it again from scratch, I only mark a few errors to show what I mean, and make an offer.

I practically never accept QA these days, unless the client is paying by the hour, not a fixed word rate.
But it goes both ways: I also mention sections that I think are well translated, to keep the balance.
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Oleksandr Ivanov
Teresa Borges
Dan Lucas
Tina Vonhof
Liviu-Lee Roth
Morano El-Kholy
Ivana UK
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:25
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
@Gregory Dec 21, 2019

Gregory Lassale wrote:
What is your stance when you proofread translations of questionable quality, i.e. when what should be basic proofreading often turns into heavy editing/rewriting? Do you alert the agency/client and maybe try to negotiate a higher rate?


It depends on the length of the text, and on how bad the translation is. But if I discover that the translation is not suited for proofreading, I alert the client, and offer to perform the other task (be it editing or re-translation) at a rate that is still fair to me but hopefully takes out some of the sting for the client. Sometimes the client is deliberately trying to take shortcuts, but sometimes the client is unaware that the text has not taken the appropriate route yet.

I always strive to deliver the best possible product... [and] I also obviously don't want to be labeled a squeaky wheel by the client.


Yes, sometimes the text is not unsalvageable and it can, with some effort, be proofread even though the text is not yet ready for proofreading. Then it becomes matter of balancing your desire to produce a good proofread version with your desire not to cause undue delays for the client due to something that may be out of the client's control or which would inconvenience the client terribly. But if a text is quite bad, I'd rather inform the client and let him decide whether we should push through and "just do our best". Sometimes clients are able to make time.


 

Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:25
Member
English to Russian
+ ...
Check vs Revise vs Review vs Edit vs Proofread Dec 21, 2019

Sorry for the arm-long posting. This should help differentiate between several distinct services as used in the translation industry.

DIN EN 15038 Standard for Translation Services

2.6
proofreading

checking of proofs before publishing

2.8
review

examine a target text for its suitability for the agreed purpose and respect for the conventions of the domain to which it belongs and recommend corrective measure
... See more
Sorry for the arm-long posting. This should help differentiate between several distinct services as used in the translation industry.

DIN EN 15038 Standard for Translation Services

2.6
proofreading

checking of proofs before publishing

2.8
review

examine a target text for its suitability for the agreed purpose and respect for the conventions of the domain to which it belongs and recommend corrective measures

2.10
revise

examine a translation for its suitability for the agreed purpose, compare the source and target texts, and recommend corrective measures

3.2.2 Professional competences of translators

Translators shall have at least the following competences.

a) Translating competence: Translating competence comprises the ability to translate texts to the required level. It includes the ability to assess the problems of text comprehension and text production as well as the ability to render the target text in accordance with the client-TSP agreement and to justify the results.
b) Linguistic and textual competence in the source language and the target language: Linguistic and textual competence includes the ability to understand the source language and mastery of the target language. Textual competence requires knowledge of text type conventions for as wide a range of standard-language and specialised texts as possible, and includes the ability to apply this
knowledge when producing texts.
c) Research competence, information acquisition and processing: Research competence includes the ability to efficiently acquire the additional linguistic and specialised knowledge necessary to
understand the source text and to produce the target text. Research competence also requires
experience in the use of research tools and the ability to develop suitable strategies for the efficient
use of the information sources available.
d) Cultural competence: Cultural competence includes the ability to make use of information on the locale, behavioural standards and value systems that characterise the source and target cultures.
e) Technical competence: Technical competence comprises the abilities and skills required for the professional preparation and production of translations. This includes the ability to operate technical
resources.

The above competences should be acquired through one or more of the following:

- formal higher education in translation (recognised degree);
- equivalent qualification in any other subject plus a minimum of two years of documented experience in
translating;
- at least five years of documented professional experience in translating.

3.2.3 Professional competences of revisers

Revisers shall have the competences as defined in 3.2.2, and should have translating experience in the
domain under consideration.

3.2.4 Professional competences of reviewers

Reviewers shall be domain specialists in the target language.

5.4 Translation process

5.4.1 Translation


The translator shall transfer the meaning in the source language into the target language in order to produce a text that is in accordance with the rules of the linguistic system of the target language and that meets the instructions received in the project assignment.

Throughout this process, the translator shall pay attention to the following:

a) Terminology: compliance with specific domain and client terminology, or any other terminology provided, as well as terminology consistency throughout the whole translation.
b) Grammar: syntax, spelling, punctuation, orthotypography, diacritical marks.
c) Lexis: lexical cohesion and phraseology.
d) Style: compliance with the proprietary or client style guide, including register and language variants.
e) Locale: local conventions and regional standards.
f) Formatting.
g) Target group and purpose of the translation.

5.4.2 Checking

On completion of the initial translation, the translator shall check his/her own work. This process shall include checking that the meaning has been conveyed, that there are no omissions or errors and that the defined service specifications have been met. The translator shall make any necessary amendments.

5.4.3 Revision

The TSP shall ensure that the translation is revised. The reviser shall be a person other than the translator and have the appropriate competence in the source and target languages. The reviser shall examine the translation for its suitability for purpose. This shall include, as required by the project, comparison of the source and target texts for terminology consistency, register and style. Taking the reviser's recommendations into account, the TSP shall take steps to ensure that any necessary
corrective measures are implemented.

NOTE Corrective measures can include retranslation.

5.4.4 Review

If the service specifications include a review, the TSP shall ensure that the translation is reviewed. The
reviewer shall carry out a monolingual review to assess the suitability of the translation for the
agreed purpose and recommend corrective measures.

NOTE The review can be accomplished by assessing the translation for register and respect for the conventions of the domain in question.

Taking the reviewer's recommendations into account, the TSP shall take steps to ensure that any necessary corrective measures are implemented.

EN ISO 17100:2015 Standard for Translation Services

2.2.5
check


examination of target language content carried out by the translator

2.2.6
revision


bilingual examination of target language content against source language content for its suitability for the agreed purpose

Note 1 to entry: The term bilingual editing is sometimes used as a synonym for revision.

2.2.7
review

monolingual examination of target language content for its suitability for the agreed purpose

Note 1 to entry: The term monolingual editing is sometimes used as a synonym for review.

2.2.8
proofread


examine the revised target language content and applying corrections before printing
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Yolanda Broad
 

Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:25
Member
English to Russian
+ ...
Re: peer ethics in QA role Dec 21, 2019

Just two months ago I accepted a revising job to work on an annual report to be published by one of the UN agencies. I had to work in the online XTM Editor, which was bad enough. Worse still, the quality of the original translation very bad, from typos and wrong punctuation to spelling mistakes to mistranslations and omissions. I learned afterwards that the translator had little or no experience with UN materials (his previous background was in the oil & gas industry as a reservoir engineer).... See more
Just two months ago I accepted a revising job to work on an annual report to be published by one of the UN agencies. I had to work in the online XTM Editor, which was bad enough. Worse still, the quality of the original translation very bad, from typos and wrong punctuation to spelling mistakes to mistranslations and omissions. I learned afterwards that the translator had little or no experience with UN materials (his previous background was in the oil & gas industry as a reservoir engineer).

I notified the agency's PM about the situation. They checked it out and changed the translator.

My intention was not to sling mud at the translator. I just did not want to re-translate the report at the editing rate.

To make it short, the new translator's output left much to be desired as well. Well, they did not offer higher payment for my time and effort. And they would not let me act as a translator on this project because of the limited budget (according to the PM, although UN agencies tend to pay rather handsomely for their translations).

Therefore, I chose to withdraw from the project. Honestly, it was a heavy burden off my chest
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Liviu-Lee Roth
Yolanda Broad
Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 

Claudia Gibbardo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:25
Member (2019)
Portuguese to Italian
+ ...
Raise the issue and let the client find a solution Dec 21, 2019

It happened to me just a couple of weeks ago when I started a new project as proofreader.

The first translation was okayish, but there were quite a few little mistakes here and there - I decided not to raise it and hope for a better translation next time (the PM could see the changes anyway).

The second one was even worse though, it was also clear that the translator didn't even run a spell check, and it took me way more time than expected to bring the translation to a
... See more
It happened to me just a couple of weeks ago when I started a new project as proofreader.

The first translation was okayish, but there were quite a few little mistakes here and there - I decided not to raise it and hope for a better translation next time (the PM could see the changes anyway).

The second one was even worse though, it was also clear that the translator didn't even run a spell check, and it took me way more time than expected to bring the translation to a good quality.

Considering this will be an ongoing project, I thought it would be silly of me not to raise it. On the one hand I don't really like to throw people under the bus, but I don't want to waste my time and money either. Also when there's a lot of errors to fix, there's always a chance some slip through the cracks. I thought is was both in my interest and the interest of the client to do something about it, and I let the client find a solution in this case. They changed the translator and now my life is so much easier
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Liviu-Lee Roth
 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:25
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
The OP raised a question many editors/proofreaders come across everyday Dec 21, 2019

There are an awful lot of translators who don't know what they are doing. Occasionally, you may find human-translated pieces poorer in quality than an MT product. You may also come across pieces created by native speakers of the target language at a much lower quality than that created by an ordinary non-native linguist.

[Edited at 2019-12-22 04:36 GMT]


Liviu-Lee Roth
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 10:25
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
@Gregory Dec 21, 2019

Answering specifically your question, that’s what I think: I have first of all an ethical responsibility towards my client and, in my opinion, it would be unethical not to report this situation to my client. We shouldn’t give the same “face value” to good, professional translators as to amateurs or moonlighters. I have no qualm whatsoever reporting bad translators as I don’t consider them my peers and I even believe that by doing so I’m doing a good service to the community.

Vladimir Pochinov
Liviu-Lee Roth
Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
Tina Vonhof
 

Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:25
Member
English to Russian
+ ...
Bad translators should be weeded out from the industry Dec 21, 2019

Teresa Borges wrote:

I have no qualm whatsoever reporting bad translators as I don’t consider them my peers and I even believe that by doing so I’m doing a good service to the community.


In my situation which I described above, the translator had six days to translate approx. 12,000 words. He confessed later that he had churned out his translation over the last two days. Combined with lack of experience with rather specific UN language, this produced catastrophic results. He may be a good reservoir engineer but in this case he should have catered to the needs of the oil & gas companies. A professional should not take on assignments for which he lacks relevant knowledge.


Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 

Gregory Lassale  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:25
Member (2019)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Dec 21, 2019

Thanks all for the input.

I alerted the agency. They appreciated my honesty and even reluctance to criticize someone's else's work, but also said I should have let them know earlier. Makes sense. If they don't know about it, they can't do anything about it. I shouldn't have been so gun shy about coming forward.

I like the suggestion to track changes - and I used to do that - but they no longer ask for it (I think that request came from the end client). I guess I can al
... See more
Thanks all for the input.

I alerted the agency. They appreciated my honesty and even reluctance to criticize someone's else's work, but also said I should have let them know earlier. Makes sense. If they don't know about it, they can't do anything about it. I shouldn't have been so gun shy about coming forward.

I like the suggestion to track changes - and I used to do that - but they no longer ask for it (I think that request came from the end client). I guess I can always do it as a way to document the amount of work needed to make the translation presentable, and only deliver a final version without markups or comments.

Anyway, we've now agreed to discuss rates on a case by case basis.

All good.
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Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 


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