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Off topic: When the client asks you to use a grammatically incorrect construction
Thread poster: RominaZ

RominaZ  Identity Verified
Argentina
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jun 17, 2013

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Does this image reflect what you feel when the client asks you to use a grammatically incorrect construction?

Source: Translators Anonymous.

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:44
English to German
+ ...
It rather looks like this: Jun 17, 2013



followed by this:






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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:44
English to German
+ ...
Because I don't want the readers to do this: Jun 17, 2013






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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 12:44
English to Polish
+ ...
Yup Jun 17, 2013

Yup, Nicole's right.

Translators need to grow up and realise that the client is not the final judge of language. (And if anything, that'd be a business rule and nothing to do with the translation art.)

This said, my reaction is perhaps somewhere in between. I do get worked up, and I can't just laugh it off. Don't know really, my clients and the clients of my agencies very rarely make such requests. They either ask if their proposal is viable or they go ahead with the change without asking me if they're confident like that. But they don't need me to lend my own hand in the role of a passive typist for their changes, that's rare and unfailingly meets refusal.

As an exception, I really don't mind normal human language in everyday applications or in specialised technology that some purists might not like. In such cases, I just need to the client to confirm that grammatical correctness is considered less important here, just to keep reviewers and plaintiffs off me.

[Edited at 2013-06-17 15:10 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Never 'appen Jun 17, 2013

My clients don't do this, or at least they never have. They usually leave it up to me to decide the type of language, style and forms used.

However, as a long-time Moomin fan, I'd say yes, the crestfallen look expresses how I feel when similar disappointments crop up.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:44
Hebrew to English
I'd say it ranges from..... Jun 17, 2013

facepalm

to this.....

killmenow


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Ledja  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:44
Member (2008)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Well... Jun 17, 2013

What can I say but... would it be too brazen of me to respond to the requests of one of my current clients with certain photo attachments?

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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 18:44
Chinese to English
Trust me... Jun 18, 2013



Like Lukasz says, there's two issues: 1) linguistic, 2) business. On linguistic issues I make up my own mind. I'll listen to the client, but if the client's wrong, they're wrong. But translation is also a business, and that's always a negotiation. It's the client's money, and if they want to be wrong, that's their business. But they can't put my name on it, and they might have to pay extra.


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Lisa Mann
Spanish to English
+ ...
This happened to me today (sort of) Jun 18, 2013

Well, it wasn't grammatically incorrect, but it certainly wasn't anything a native speaker would ever say. It was a slogan that they client had made up and GONE AHEAD AND USED in several different types of media without checking whether it was right or not. When I was hired to translate more content, I let them know that hey, your slogan kinda sucks. But, since they'd already invested in having the thing printed all over the place they were committed to it...so that's that. I had to maintain it throughout my work even though it barely makes any sense...

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Texte Style
Local time: 12:44
French to English
Lisa! Jun 18, 2013

I've been there and done that!

I even had the Communication Director phoning me from a Board Meeting, asking me to quickly come up with something else because according to the big boss the thing they had paid an advertising firm through the nose for didn't make sense. I could hear him jeering in the background.

He was quite right, it was total nonsense. I refused to translate a slogan over the phone so then I was tasked with finding something better by the following day, which was not much time especially given my workload. They refused my solution because it was one word longer than the French. Admittedly I had previously told them that English translations of French texts tended to be shorter (they had felt short-changed at one point when I had subjected a translation to a serious attack of "cut-the-cr@p).

They then preceded to ask all sorts of people to come up with something, from the secretary's husband who had worked in a pub in London for six months to their man in Uganda where they "do speak English, don't they, Texte?" They sent me these people's output for comment, and the guy in Uganda had come up with something that was four words longer than my effort, at which point I had a lot of trouble remaining polite.

They ended up putting something else entirely, at least it meant something.

I think probably the entire set of pictures in this thread would be needed together to convey the full breadth of emotion I went through, plus the smiley that bangs its head on a wall!


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Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 19:44
Japanese to English
+ ...
My attitude changed Jun 18, 2013

I used to get all indignant over things like a client insisting on things like incorrect or outdated capitalization or strange vocabulary, but then I just stopped caring because I don't really have the time to argue the finer points of the language with anyone that isn't paying me to do it. Now, I just make the requested changes and move on to something worthwhile.

I should note though that so far my name has never been "on" any translation jobs (in the sense that someone might actually trace a translation back to me), so maybe that has an effect on my outlook. If the client wants to use unnatural English sometimes, then by all means, be my guest.


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Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:44
German to English
+ ...
Two-pronged approach Jun 18, 2013

The two-pronged approach, as so well illustrated by Nicole, is a step in the right direction.

The fewer grammatical explanations you give the client, the better. You really do not want to alienate your clients simply because their linguistic structure is a bit wobbly, do you?


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 12:44
English to Polish
+ ...
Well... Jun 18, 2013

Allison Wright wrote:

The two-pronged approach, as so well illustrated by Nicole, is a step in the right direction.

The fewer grammatical explanations you give the client, the better.


By being adamant and refusing either to budge or explain much, I guess Nicole keeps her captain's hat on.

You really do not want to alienate your clients simply because their linguistic structure is a bit wobbly, do you?


That depends, actually. It's a business decision. I don't want to offend people who are trying to help, I avoid criticising the source too harshly if the criticism can be passed on (with one agency, I tell them how I see it, they pass it on how they can afford to say it), I wouldn't normally want to make anyone feel bad for the quality of his language in communication with me (unless it's absurdly bad language from a university-educated native speaker), but alienating a DIY proofreading client might be a better alternative to just terminating that client.

All in all, I don't mince words when proofreaders, editors and reviewers are wrong unless they indicate that they're working outside of their normal comfort zone and trying to help rather than to grade.


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Texte Style
Local time: 12:44
French to English
My strategy Jun 19, 2013

Allison Wright wrote:

You really do not want to alienate your clients simply because their linguistic structure is a bit wobbly, do you?


My strategy is to sigh dramatically and say that in the ten years I was a teacher I never managed to din that particular finer point of grammar into any of my students, despite being one of the best teachers in the school.

No matter if I consider that it's basic grammar rather than finer points of same: if they've been getting along merrily making that mistake it probably can be classified as "finer" for them.
And there's no need to mention that the school I shone in was known as a "cowboy outfit" by its competitors either


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:44
English to German
+ ...
I never had any requests for grammatical oddities so far Jun 20, 2013

But I was asked by two different PMs at two different agencies to translate street names into German. I am not making this up. To help the German tourists find their way around in the US and most importantly: find their hotel / to help the German representative to be on time for his meeting at the company's headquarters, right?

Another one started nagging about the fact that one translated paragraph contained five sentences instead of four and that I must have done it all wrong. I am not kidding.

Regarding the street names, I caved in and translated them anyway. The PMs most certainly understood the ridiculousness of their request, but I didn't want them to feel embarrassed. Case closed.

Regarding the number of sentences, I insisted on my version. If they want their advertising text to resemble an excerpt of a Dostojewski novel, they have to ask someone else.


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