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Quality of agencies
Thread poster: Fan Gao

Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 03:25
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Oct 5, 2007

I feel so sorry for the end client who's going to be receiving this "translation" and I use translation in the loosest sense of the word because how can you possibly ensure quality and consistency when your original text has been chopped to pieces and spread around the world!

New job offer:
"We have a file that will be split in between 4-5 translators. Each translator will receive 500 words and he/she needs to submit the translation back within 2 hours."

What a joke!


 

Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:25
French to English
+ ...
you are being too kind Oct 5, 2007

Marc, in calling the outsourcer an agency... :-

 

Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 03:25
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
good point Oct 5, 2007

You are so right Patricia! I also forgot to mention that it's nothing really important, it's just a "legal" document!

I'm sure it'll be OK though. They'll probably have a team of 10 proofreaders to go through it, from here to Timbuctoo, in about 2 minutes:)

Sometimes I feel tempted just to try and get a job and send them a load of blah just to *&^% them up.....but of course, I'm too much of a professional to do that...wink wink:)


 

Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:25
French to English
+ ...
nah! Oct 5, 2007

Chinese Concept wrote:

Sometimes I feel tempted just to try and get a job and send them a load of blah just to *&^% them up.....but of course, I'm too much of a professional to do that...wink wink:)


Don't waste your timeicon_smile.gif! Best thing is to just ignore these types..

They are just good for an occasional chuckle!


 

Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:25
Swedish to English
+ ...
Speed may be more important than quality Oct 5, 2007

I think you miss the point. Quality is not always the most important thing. Sometimes speed matters far more.

quality is not necessary high quality -- it is whatever meets customer expectations. In this case, the customer expects speed, and is prepared to sacrifice quality.

Perhaps the customer just needs a rough understanding of the text for an important court case. The translation needs to be better than a machine translation, but not perfect.

Our business is to provide what customers want, not what we think they want.


 

Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:25
Italian to English
+ ...
Or what we think they ought to want! Oct 5, 2007

Peter Linton wrote:

Our business is to provide what customers want, not what we think they want.


[Edited at 2007-10-05 15:49]


 

Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 03:25
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Possibly...but Oct 5, 2007

Peter Linton wrote:

I think you miss the point.

Perhaps the customer just needs a rough understanding...


my point is perhaps they don't!

Maybe you're happy to work on pieces of text with no beginning and no end and no context or maybe you'll be the lucky one with the beginning.

The point is I wouldn't care how urgently someone wanted a piece of text translated, I wouldn't do it if it meant hacking it to pieces and farming it out. On top of that, farming it out to people I've never even worked with before!

Maybe they do just want the gist of it, let's hope so because they'll be lucky if they even get that:)


 

Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:25
French to English
+ ...
a bit light, no? Oct 5, 2007

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:

Peter Linton wrote:

Our business is to provide what customers want, not what we think they want.


[Edited at 2007-10-05 15:49]


Sorry, but isn't that precisely the kind of outlook that leads to translations of such dubious quality that people get injured as a result??

Patricia


 

Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:25
Swedish to English
+ ...
We sometimes think we know better than the customer Oct 5, 2007

Yes, you may be right, they don't.

My point is only that a poor translation today may be useful and valuable to the customer, while a better transition tomorrow is useless.

Invitations to tender are a classic example (I am doing one at the moment). A rough translation delivered today may be worth a fortune. A good translation tomorrow may be worse than useless.

We sometimes think we know better than the customer. As Marie-Hélène, points out, we know what the customer ought to want.

You are perfectly entitled to refuse to do such work. You are perfectly entitled to put professional pride ahead of business sense.

But let the customer decide.


 

Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:25
French to English
+ ...
well... Oct 5, 2007

Peter Linton wrote:

You are perfectly entitled to refuse to do such work. You are perfectly entitled to put professional pride ahead of business sense.

But let the customer decide.


He/she is not always able to recognize the risks being taken. Having to "educate" clients about how best to source translation services (to suit their needs and expectations) is not an unheard of situation.

You've juxtaposed "professional pride" and "business sense". My own experience (not necessarily that of others) suggests they work better together.

Patricia


 

Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:25
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes, we need to educate customers Oct 5, 2007

Patricia Lane wrote:
You've juxtaposed "professional pride" and "business sense". My own experience (not necessarily that of others) suggests they work better together.
Patricia

I secretly agree with you, and that as well as being translators we also have a consultancy role to guide and advise our customers - in short, as you rightly say, to educate them.

But I draw the line at telling customers that our professional pride does not stoop to helping them with an urgent translation, on the grounds that the quality might suffer.


 

Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:25
Italian to English
+ ...
I agree with Patricia too, actually Oct 5, 2007

- but Peter makes a very valid point. Sometimes a rough idea NOW is what the customer needs. Personally I wouldn't want to be involved in such a project, but that's not to say that no one should take it on.

 

Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:25
French to English
+ ...
the original posting was about the "agency" Oct 5, 2007

not the client!

I would think it very likely that Client X may have said " I need a rough translation (for comprehension) of this legal document very quickly. Agency, can you get this done?"

And Agency says "Sure, no prob'!"

And divides up the project into 500 word clips to a handful of translators, none of whom have a complete picture. THAT'S the fundamental problem!

I could ramble on, but it is late and I need my zzzzsicon_smile.gif

Patricia


 

Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
French to English
+ ...
Hmmm... Oct 5, 2007

I don't mind taking on occasional jobs like this but I have to get the first part of the translation!! Obviously the client would have to be told that it's a "gist" translation, however.

 

Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
Quality is quality. A translation is a translation. A professional is a professional. Oct 6, 2007

Peter Linton wrote:

I think you miss the point. Quality is not always the most important thing. Sometimes speed matters far more.

quality is not necessary high quality -- it is whatever meets customer expectations. In this case, the customer expects speed, and is prepared to sacrifice quality.

Perhaps the customer just needs a rough understanding of the text for an important court case. The translation needs to be better than a machine translation, but not perfect.

Our business is to provide what customers want, not what we think they want.


Sorry, I beg to differ.

Quality is ALWAYS important in a translation.

A PROFESSIONAL translator knows what translating involves.
A PROFESSIONAL translator knows both languages.
AND
A PROFESSIONAL translator follows a code of ethics.

Also, I don't believe the customer said "I prefer speed to quality". I am 99% sure that they are asking for speed and it is implied that they are expecting the quality.
In particular if there is an agency involved: this surely means the customer does not know both languages and is trusting that they are getting a quality product.

If you go to any professional, in any field (from a physician to a plumber), you trust that the professional KNOWS what the job involves better than you, the customer.

You, as a customer, may believe you know what you want. The professional is the one who really knows what you need. And that is why you are going to a professional. If you knew best, you would do it yourself. And, at the end, you will be happy that the professional did what he/she knows best and did not allow you to dictate what to do.

You might want your toilet fixed quickly, you might want it done cheaply, but most of all, you want it to work. So you won't tell the plumber how to do it, expect the plumber to do what you want and not what he thinks you should want, and then be happy when your house floods. I am sure that is not what you wanted.

Imagine if a doctor decided to follow this advise and give you what you want, not what he/she expects you should want.

Quality is quality. It's like being pregnant. You can't be "a little bit pregnant", and as a professional you cannot decide where you will do your best and when you won't.

A low quality translation will be of no use and will never provide a "rough understanding of a text". A low quality translation will be full of mistakes and mistranslations. If the customer needs something "by yesterday", the professional has to explain that maybe if they only need a rough understanding they should ask for a summary, not a low quality translation.

By the way, a translator who consciously provides a low quality translation in any field, -and especially in a court case (be it important or not)- is LIABLE and can face all kinds of consequences...

Being a professional is not a matter of pride. It is knowing what has to be done, and assuring that is what you provide. And that is the only way to conduct your business.


[Edited at 2007-10-06 01:39]

[Edited at 2007-10-06 01:50]


 
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