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Can you deliver the PERFECT TRANSLATION at once?
Thread poster: Isabelle Gelle

Isabelle Gelle

Local time: 16:27
English to French
+ ...
Oct 31, 2006

Hello,
I was wondering whether someone out there can deliver a PERFECT translation from the first run without any proofreader needed and guarantee a mistake-proof work.

I have an issue with an agency right now who has decided to deduct 25% off my invoice because of 2 typing mistakes and one sentence on which the proofreader and myself could not agree. Now the agency states that they mentioned from the beginning that they were expecting an error-free delivery but I probably forgot to read the small print!

I guess I should have refused the project as it feels as if no one with some kind of sense would have accepted such terms.

I would be keen to know whether I am the only one making mistakes under tight deadlines and pressure.

Thank you

Isabelle

[Edited at 2006-10-31 17:56]


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:27
English to Arabic
+ ...
What are proofreaders for??? Oct 31, 2006

Very simple question. If translators are always expected to deliver error-free translations, what are proofreaders for?

Arranging for a proofreader is the responsibility of the agency. If they were to deduct 25% whenever a translator makes a couple of typos, can you imagine how many translators will not be paid for the jobs they have done?


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Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 17:27
English to Czech
+ ...
Can you deliver the PERFECT TRANSLATION at once? Oct 31, 2006

I don't know the details, but I believe that deducting 25% is unacceptable.

Why do they use the proofreader? As a penalty collector?


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Graciela Guzman  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 12:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
Contacted by an agency with similar penalties. Oct 31, 2006

Hello,

Some time ago, I was contacted by an agency located in the U.S.
As I had no references about them, I went to their website and there I could see their list of penalties (huge percentages) for 1, 2 or 3 typos, one grammar mistake, inappropriate style and so on.
I thought that the most healthy decision was to disregard their email.

Have a nice day!


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:27
Italian to English
+ ...
Of course! Can't you? ;-) Oct 31, 2006

I do my best to provide an error-free translation, every time - but I'm human, mistakes happen sometimes. A 25% reduction for two typos and a disagreement of opinion (did it substantially affect the meaning? Did they get a third opinion?) seems excessive.

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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:27
English to German
+ ...
What is perfect? Oct 31, 2006

Perfection lies in the eye of the beholder.

But ...

In your case I wonder how long the job was. If you had only two sentences to translate then I'd guess 25% quite acceptable.

A proofreader told me that an average of two typos per 10 pages in a book is considered error-free.

Seems more like a money saving method on the agency's side to me.


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Nadia-Anastasia Fahmi  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 18:27
English to Greek
+ ...
Sometimes... Oct 31, 2006

I wonder with the terms and conditions imposed by agencies.

We all do our best to deliver "error-free" work. But, then we are only human, although typos are not excused IMHO. But, disagreement of opinion? That's a sore point with all translators.

Give me an editor who approves everything in an "error-free transtlation" and I will say they either did not edit or they are simply saints!!

But, 25% is indeed preposterous. Of course, in this case you are responsible for not taking the time to read the small print.

Good luck,
Nadia


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Isabelle Gelle

Local time: 16:27
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Money saving agency Oct 31, 2006

Well the project was a 15 pages brochure so if I follow what you say, I was error-free.

Since I placed my post on this forum, I went to see the rating of the involved agency and it turns out that they have become worse over the years in terms of payment methods and....ethics!

I have been in the translation business for 18 years and it is really the first time I face such a setback.

Anyway, the comments of my colleagues here confirm that no one can expect us to be like machines.....

Claudia Krysztofiak wrote:

Perfection lies in the eye of the beholder.

But ...

In your case I wonder how long the job was. If you had only two sentences to translate then I'd guess 25% quite acceptable.

A proofreader told me that an average of two typos per 10 pages in a book is considered error-free.

Seems more like a money saving method on the agency's side to me.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Yes, sometimes Oct 31, 2006

Isabelle Gelle wrote:
I was wondering whether someone out there can deliver a PERFECT translation from the first run without any proofreader needed and guarantee a mistake-proof work.


Yes, but I need to be familiar with the field and I need to use a spellchecker that underlines my typing errors. But even then it is only possible in theory, and should not be attempted in practice, because we all make mistakes. You should always reread your entire translation at least once (preferably twice, once with and once without checking it against the source text). In fact, time permitting you should get your text proofread or reviewed by a second person.

I have an issue with an agency right now who has decided to deduct 25% off my invoice because of 2 typing mistakes and one sentence on which the proofreader and myself could not agree.


There should be zero spelling errors. You are a translator.

On the other hand, no publisher in his right mind would publish a text if he hadn't had it proofread at least a couple of times (unless it is a regular news publication), even if the text is meant to be error-free.

Deducting 25% does seem a bit stiff, though.

I would be keen to know whether I am the only one making mistakes under tight deadlines and pressure.


We all make mistakes, and clients should expect us to strive for and take necessary steps to produce error-free texts.


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 17:27
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
The reason for the deduction - I guess - Oct 31, 2006

was, they eventually said "Oh hell, let's err on the side of caution" and went and called in the proofreader - something they never intended to in the first place, but then got insecure. And, "hey, let her pay for it, my budget is tight."

So the fact the proof reader found just 2 errors ("oh, what a sucker...") put them really into a bind. But I guess it was nothing they could not handle. I would assume they had some previous experience in this regard anyhow.

Eventually there's absolutely nothing small print can not cover. Like robbery in broad daylight.

smo

PS: ...er... getting a spellchecker still would not hurt - next time (g).

[Edited at 2006-10-31 21:09]


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Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 18:27
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Just one comment on spellcheckers Oct 31, 2006

I guess it is really self-evident, but even spellcheckers don't show all spelling/typing mistakes.

The sentence should read:
My house is red.

And with a typo it becomes:
My hose is red.

The spellchecker does not say you've got the word "house" spelled wrong. Even the grammar checker misses this kind of mistake. It really would be best to have a human proofreader. Although, when working with agencies I think it is their job (not the translator's) to find and pay the proofreader, and it's their problem if they don't want to do that...


[Edited at 2006-10-31 21:56]


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Isabelle Gelle

Local time: 16:27
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
spellchecker Oct 31, 2006

Actually Niina, thank you for raising the issue as I was going to answer Vito on this.

I did the spell checking using the Word spellchecker and although I had heard that Word did not always recognise spelling mistakes, I now have the confirmation about it.
I even noticed that it does not recognise the accents on the ''e'' unless I type the word 2 or 3 times. And of course, there is the issue of the American ''z'' versus the English ''s'' as in ''recognize'' or ''recognise'', ''capitalize'' or ''capitalise'' etc... In French, if the word looks similar to an English one, the spellchecker automatically add a ''z''.

This makes the task even more difficult when the delivery deadline is tight.

As for proofreading my work, I usually handle the proofreading the day after so that I can detach myself from the job I have just spent so many hours working on and I can have a ''proofreader'' mind about it. I still missed those 2 typos though!!

Ideally it would be nice to have a proofreader next to me or a PERFECT spellchecker. Does anyone know of a good one?

Niina Lahokoski wrote:

I guess it is really self-evident, but even spellcheckers don't show all spelling/typing mistakes.

The sentence should read:
My house is red.

And with a typo it becomes:
My hose is red.

The spellchecker does not say you've got the word "house" spelled wrong. Even the grammar checker misses this kind of mistake. It really would be best to have a human proofreader. Although, when working with agencies I think it is their job (not the translator's) to find and pay the proofreader, and it's their problem if they don't want to do that...


[Edited at 2006-10-31 21:56]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:27
Flemish to English
+ ...
Needle in Haystack. Nov 1, 2006

I try to deliver an error-free translation. But I have the impression that seeking the needle in the haystack is standard policy with most agencies, just to have an excuse to reduce the rate and enhance their profit.
If you calculate for a moment: You make one or two typos and the agency asks for a reduction of 25%. These typos can be corrected in a couple of seconds. Result: 25% more profit on the translation.
Some time ago, an agency did not find any mistakes, so they started pennypinching because according to them, I forgot to translate the word "Start" and "Stop" (buttons on machine), which in Dutch happens to be "start" and "stop", but not in the language of the PM, who did not understand Dutch.


[Edited at 2006-11-01 02:23]


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James (Jim) Davis  Identity Verified
Seychelles
Local time: 19:27
Italian to English
Word processing: human and automatic proof readers Nov 1, 2006

I remember reading a book on word processors written in about 1988. The author gave the book to about 5 proof readers to spell check it and also to generally proof read it. They all found new mistakes the others hadn't found (except the first of course). He then gave it to the spell check function in his word processor programme, which found a whole lot more mistakes. Wish I still had a copy of that book can't remember the name.

Conclusion. Your agency is being grossly unfair and exploitative. If their aim was to make you hate them, then they have succeeded wonderfully. I am sure your loyalty to them is about 50 degrees below zero, and quite rightly. If you are starving, steal their customers, they don't deserve them. If you are not, then don't do any more business with them.
Jim


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:27
Member
English to French
Agencies should add value to the product Nov 1, 2006

As I work only with agencies who have my translations reread by a third party, I have never experienced such an argument. Agencies should add value to the product and editing should be part of the product sold (which does not mean that the translator shouldn't strive to deliver an error-free translation!).

I have also heard that a generally accepted standard before editing is one typo/spelling mistake per 1000 words. I realize that it is about the same as 2 typos in 10 pages of a book. Beyond that (but below the level of patent carelessness), it may lead to a sour comment from the agency, asking you to be more careful next time. But from the figures you give, the agency just behave as gangsters.

If I understood your spellchecking problem, your spellchecking feature is not set properly.
You should get rid of the autodect language feature and once the translation is done, select all the text and choose the target language. Except for technical terms, proper names and hyphenations, the Word spellchecker is pretty reliable for mainstream text.

By the way a spellchecker will only check the spelling: garder, barder, darder, larder, farder, tarder, carder are all correct in French, and a typo on the first letter changing one word to another will not be spotted... Same for pallier/palier, plinthe/plainte, détoner/détonner and the like. A spellchecker is and remains an aid only.

Regards,
Philippe


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