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Having your work proofread when working in-house
Thread poster: Gerard Barry

Gerard Barry
Germany
Local time: 20:57
German to English
Sep 29

I'd like to hear from other in-house translators (or those who previously worked in-house) regarding their thoughts on having their work proofread by colleagues. I resent it, especially when the proofreader goes overboard and basically rewrites everything I translate, including stylistic changes (as opposed to errors). How do the rest of you cope with this type of browbeating behaviour?

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:57
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Gerard Sep 29

Gerard Barry wrote:
I'd like to hear from other in-house translators (or those who previously worked in-house) regarding their thoughts on having their work proofread by colleagues. I resent it, especially when the proofreader goes overboard and basically rewrites everything I translate, including stylistic changes (as opposed to errors). How do the rest of you cope with this type of browbeating behaviour?


It's the best education you're going to get, and it's free. Even if you disagree with the edits.


Kevin Fulton
Teresa Borges
expressisverbis
Kay Denney
Ariane Blondet Tovar
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:57
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Critical friend Sep 29

Gerard Barry wrote:

I'd like to hear from other in-house translators (or those who previously worked in-house) regarding their thoughts on having their work proofread by colleagues. I resent it, especially when the proofreader goes overboard and basically rewrites everything I translate, including stylistic changes (as opposed to errors). How do the rest of you cope with this type of browbeating behaviour?


I used to have some of my work read by a long-time friend who I knew would be critical when necessary, but not excessively so.

The trouble starts when the proofreader is someone you don't know.


Emanuele Vacca
Viesturs Lacis
 

David Hayes  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:57
French to English
Been there Sep 29

I've experienced the situation you describe. Leaving aside the valuable and helpful comments (all translations should be read by a proofreader since we all know how typos and even more serious errors can creep into our work), my advice would be to ignore most of the rest. If the modifications really are as excessive and unwarranted as you say, the overzealous proofreader will at some point or other introduce his or her own mistakes. Pointing this out (as you must) will hopefully inspire this per... See more
I've experienced the situation you describe. Leaving aside the valuable and helpful comments (all translations should be read by a proofreader since we all know how typos and even more serious errors can creep into our work), my advice would be to ignore most of the rest. If the modifications really are as excessive and unwarranted as you say, the overzealous proofreader will at some point or other introduce his or her own mistakes. Pointing this out (as you must) will hopefully inspire this person to greater humility and will also serve to confirm your own ability.

[Edited at 2020-09-29 14:48 GMT]
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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 19:57
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
@Gerard Sep 29

I worked in-house for 20 years (EU Institution) and during the first 10 years my work was always proofread. Some proofreaders were pickier than others (we use to call one of them “the red pencil”…), but I must say that I learned a great deal not only about terminology and style, but also about teamwork mostly viewing translation/proofreading as a collaborative effort.

P.L.F.Persio
Josephine Cassar
Ariane Blondet Tovar
IanDhu
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Shocking Sep 29

Jesus, what an imposition. And probably by women as well.

I feel for you.


Mervyn Henderson
P.L.F.Persio
expressisverbis
Kay Denney
Zibow Retailleau
writeaway
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:57
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Do you mean ... Sep 29

...colleaguesses, translatoresses, proofreaderesses, browbeateresses and rewriteresses?

Just wondering.


P.L.F.Persio
expressisverbis
writeaway
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:57
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I think "suck it up" is what they say nowadays? Sep 29

You have a boss and basically that boss has the last word. If it were a client, you could sack them. If you make too much fuss about the problem as an employee, the sacking is likely to go the other way.

Teresa Borges
Ariane Blondet Tovar
 

Sadek_A  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:57
English to Arabic
+ ...
They chose you to serve as a "qualified translator/professional", so be (and remain) one Sep 29

Demand a short meeting with both the direct manager/supervisor and said proofreader, where you should be given a fair chance to tell your side of the story.

Such a meeting should be a routine thing in any esteemed organization, so that everyone involved knows they will be held accountable at some point and the other party(ies) will get a chance to discuss and challenge.

Prepare your points first, be direct and clear when presenting them, let them both know that you full
... See more
Demand a short meeting with both the direct manager/supervisor and said proofreader, where you should be given a fair chance to tell your side of the story.

Such a meeting should be a routine thing in any esteemed organization, so that everyone involved knows they will be held accountable at some point and the other party(ies) will get a chance to discuss and challenge.

Prepare your points first, be direct and clear when presenting them, let them both know that you fully accept correction of any actual mistakes but that you will NOT concede to any style modifications; your project, your style, and they both have to respect that.

If you can, try to find out what education and/or experience that proofreader has, just because they were there before you doesn't necessarily mean they are more qualified than you. Try to propose leveling the playing field, they proofread you and you proofread them; if they become angry and agitated regarding this, then they're doing something really nasty, whether in your work, theirs, or both.

A competent, honest proofreader will never oppose exposure of their work, because they shouldn't be having anything to hide in the first place. Also, reading through their work will teach you a greater deal while preserving your style at the same time, because you will be the one picking and choosing what to take from them and what to not.

Remember, if you proofread their work, show integrity and honesty, and don't ever fake mistakes to get back at them.

The most dangerous thing about this topic is that such a proofreader will be actively sacrificing your own style so that theirs can dominate. If the organization is okay with eliminating several, different styles in favor of one-and-only style, then (to put it politely) they aren't the best place where you can work (and, more importantly, thrive; there will be no thriving whatsoever in such a toxic setting).

Failing to take a professional action will crush your spirits, suffocate your talent, and most probably you will eventually get terminated over having been 'not so qualified' as per "constant" corrections by said proofreader.

Let me know the results!
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Josephine Cassar
 

Giuliana Buscaglione  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:57
Member (2001)
German to Italian
+ ...
As long as nothing is called a mistake... Sep 29

Hi,
in my experience, internals tend to be extremely strict with externals – much less with fellow internals. It is true that there might be some competition or stress involved, at least in some locations. Fact is though that one can learn a lot from fellow translators, proofreaders, QA editors etc. Hey, we are only humans, we ll make mistakes, and someone will always be and do better. And I want to learn from these people. The learning curve finds no end, and after so many years in this
... See more
Hi,
in my experience, internals tend to be extremely strict with externals – much less with fellow internals. It is true that there might be some competition or stress involved, at least in some locations. Fact is though that one can learn a lot from fellow translators, proofreaders, QA editors etc. Hey, we are only humans, we ll make mistakes, and someone will always be and do better. And I want to learn from these people. The learning curve finds no end, and after so many years in this business I can learn every day something new.
I admit that it has to be learnt how to cope with the first changes, we all (at least those of us who have worked in-house or still work with large companies with a strong QA) go thru this phase. Still, it gets soon part of our daily life.

Normally, who gets proofread – regularly at least – is also more considerate when acting as an editor, always wondering why the translator has made a specific choice before changing anything.

No matter what, my policy is not to bother as long as something correct is not deemed as wrong. Texts do not belong to me, once I am done (and I have done my best) anyone after me is free to do as (s)he pleases, not my problem. After all, take 40 translators and give them the same text: you'll have 40 different translations of the very same, all correct, nevertheless all different. So what. If your work was not labeled as of poor quality, I don't see why you should be bothered by all changes. Sometimes style is modified or a generally correct term is changed knowing of (or better) the preferences of the end client, I do it often but this doesn't mean I consider the translation wrong. When I act as a QA editor, the output is my responsibility, post-processing or the end client would complain with me, not with the translator. Therefore, yes, I do change what I consider not in line with the style guide or the client's preferences. Style included but definitely not because is different from mine: my preferences are irrelevant, only those of the client are important.

For sure, my feeling is that me, my editor (when I work as a translator) & my PMs all sit in the same boat, so that all efforts target only the best result for the end client... so that more work will come from there.
It is really a matter of cooperation, common efforts towards one target. I'd suggest to see if you can consider yourself part of a team instead of an "individual under trial" (this is the feeling I get when reading your words, please correct me if I am wrong).
I wouldn't complain but perhaps ask the whys of the many changes – with nonchalance and a fully open mind. I know there are some red-pencil (or worse, blue-pencil) colleagues but, hey, most editors are good people with a lot of experience, who know what they are doing, and no "punishing attitude" towards fellow translators.

If you can't work serenely this way, you can go freelance. Still, being freelance might be even worse in terms of what internal QA comes up with, so I am not sure that running from it would solve the issue.

Giuliana


[Edited at 2020-09-29 22:14 GMT]
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Teresa Borges
Karen Wooddissee
 

MollyRose  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:57
Member (2010)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I am thankful for my colleague Sep 29

I am a native English speaker and my coworker is a native Spanish speaker. We review almost all of each other´s documents, and we both usually find something to correct or suggest. We have a lot of work with short lead times, so we don´t have the luxury of translating one day (or however long it takes), waiting a day or so, and proofing later with a fresher mind.

Both of us learn from each other. Sometimes a term or sentence is translated "correctly," but if we think it would be
... See more
I am a native English speaker and my coworker is a native Spanish speaker. We review almost all of each other´s documents, and we both usually find something to correct or suggest. We have a lot of work with short lead times, so we don´t have the luxury of translating one day (or however long it takes), waiting a day or so, and proofing later with a fresher mind.

Both of us learn from each other. Sometimes a term or sentence is translated "correctly," but if we think it would be more clearly stated or sound more natural another way, we make those suggestions. The translator is the one who makes the final decision on each document and sends the final version to the requester. Sometimes we discuss things until we come to a mutual agreement. If there are things we don´t agree on, such as whether the period goes inside or outside of the quotation mark in Spanish, we each do it our way and leave the other´s alone. I am glad that she is my partner at work; her command of languages and organizational skills are excellent, and we get along very well with each other.
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Dan Lucas
Teresa Borges
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:57
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
They're on my side Sep 30

Giuliana Buscaglione wrote:
No matter what, my policy is not to bother as long as something correct is not deemed as wrong. Texts do not belong to me, once I am done (and I have done my best) anyone after me is free to do as (s)he pleases, not my problem.

This. At least this is what I aspire to. Sometimes I do mutter to myself when the feedback is given, but mostly I'm grateful to the person doing the checking for catching any errors or (more likely) infelicities.

Dan


Joe France
Teresa Borges
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:57
Member (2018)
French to English
. Sep 30

Quite honestly, I miss not having a colleague to check my work! At the agency we always proofread each other. One colleague was a legal translator, I did much fluffier stuff. She tended to be a stickler for accuracy, I tended to prefer something slightly different in meaning when it sounded more natural in English, or if I could work a natty pun in there. We were both good at what we did, and didn't criticise for the sake of it. I found discussing our work was very helpful to sort out what was g... See more
Quite honestly, I miss not having a colleague to check my work! At the agency we always proofread each other. One colleague was a legal translator, I did much fluffier stuff. She tended to be a stickler for accuracy, I tended to prefer something slightly different in meaning when it sounded more natural in English, or if I could work a natty pun in there. We were both good at what we did, and didn't criticise for the sake of it. I found discussing our work was very helpful to sort out what was genuinely necessary and what was subjective, and also the client's subjective preferences. We all improved as translators in the process.
Even corrections that introduced errors can be helpful, in that you have to learn how to deal with clients who do the same and show your colleagues how to avoid introducing errors. Teaching at translation school, I devote a whole lesson to explaining how to handle such situations.
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MollyRose
 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:57
Member (2004)
English to Italian
I don't care... Sep 30

I'm the best. They are wrong.

Chris S
 

Gerard Barry
Germany
Local time: 20:57
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
It's very easy to say that when you don't know the details of what I'm talking about. Sep 30

Samuel Murray wrote:

"It's the best education you're going to get, and it's free. Even if you disagree with the edits."

It's very easy to say that when you don't know the details of what I'm talking about. My problem relates mainly to one particular colleague, who rarely leaves a single sentence untouched. My other colleagues could read the same translation and make only minimal changes. Don't you think that says something about the colleague in question? That maybe he
... See more
Samuel Murray wrote:

"It's the best education you're going to get, and it's free. Even if you disagree with the edits."

It's very easy to say that when you don't know the details of what I'm talking about. My problem relates mainly to one particular colleague, who rarely leaves a single sentence untouched. My other colleagues could read the same translation and make only minimal changes. Don't you think that says something about the colleague in question? That maybe he's arrogant, pedantic, nerdy, etc.?

And besides, who wants to spend an entire working life having their work corrected like that of a schoolchild? I'm getting older and really don't want to work like this for the rest of my life. Moreover, I am really amazed sometimes at this "humble" attitude so many translators have. Generally speaking, nobody likes constant criticism, yet in translation it seems to be expected that you always take it on the chin, as if you're almost not allowed have any pride whatsoever. But why? Isn't pride and self-respect normal and human? Imagine an experienced doctor having to run every decision he or she makes past another colleague. That just doesn't happen! The level of "feedback" and correction translators are expected to take is excessive in my view.
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