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Should the translator be responsible for making changes as recommended by a reviewer?
Thread poster: Mark Sanderson

Mark Sanderson  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 10:52
Chinese to English
Jul 15, 2015

Hello,

I recently completed a project for an agency which was then sent to a reviewer who made some tracked changes in an MS Word version of the document.

The agency then forwarded the MS Word file on to me and asked me to update the document with these changes. When I questioned them on this they stated, "the translator is responsible for updating the final bilingual file".

Can I just check if this is a standard industry procedure? It wasn't a lot of work (3 or 4 changes), however I just want to see if the agency is taking advantage of me.

Thanks,

Mark


 

Meta Arkadia
Local time: 09:52
English to Indonesian
+ ...
No, you're not being exploited Jul 15, 2015

Mark Sanderson wrote:
Can I just check if this is a standard industry procedure?


It is, I'd say. But you should have the right to reject those changes. After all, the translation is your IP (see another recent thread here), not the reviewer's. It is or should be standard procedure, unfortunately only a few - but excellent - agencies stick to it. Nowadays they tend to hide behind some silly ISO regulation that requires a document to be proofed but they think any changes don't have to be confirmed by the translator which more often than not results in poor quality.


Cheers,

Hans


 

Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 04:52
Member (2002)
English to Russian
Consider tracked changes as valuable feedback Jul 15, 2015

Hi Mark,

I have a client who sends me edited documents for final acceptance/rejection of the proposed changes on a regular basis. I believe this kind of feedback is very valuable, provided that the editor/reviewer is good enough.


 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:52
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Agree with Vladimir Jul 15, 2015

This is not an unusual procedure. The translator can learn from it and has a chance to argue the case for his/her point of view.

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:52
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
That is unfortunately often so Jul 15, 2015

Mark Sanderson wrote:
The agency then forwarded the MS Word file on to me and asked me to update the document with these changes. When I questioned them on this they stated, "the translator is responsible for updating the final bilingual file".


It depends on what the agency believes is the normal workflow, but yes, many agencies believe that the translator either has the final say in accepting/rejecting the changes or (worse) must implement them himself. Some clients even expect you to write comments about the changes.

Strictly speaking, from an intellectual property point of view, the translator should have final say about any changes made to his translation, but in business translation time is money, and money is often more important than high ideals about copyright, so my preference is to just be able to see what changes the proofreader made, but not to have to implement them myself or sign off on them.

The best thing you can do is to keep a log of what each client expects, so that you'll know what to expect when they hire you again. Alternatively, you can add something about this in your terms of service that you send to the client as part of the job/price/deadline negotiation.


 

564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 04:52
Danish to English
+ ...
Only if this is agreed on in advance Jul 15, 2015

It all comes down to what you agree with each individual client. There are no rules about this in the translation industry, how could there be when we all work in each our individual way?

I have one big client who has most of my work proofread and then sends the proofread texts back to me to check and confirm/reject any suggested changes. This works well for them and for me.

However, I would bark at anybody just TELLING me that I had to do more work to a job I had delivered, which I considered complete.

Don't let any agency PM bully you like that...


 

bkytransl
Bulgaria
Local time: 05:52
French to German
+ ...
This is not usual procedure in my opinion Jul 15, 2015

Mark Sanderson wrote:

Hello,

I recently completed a project for an agency which was then sent to a reviewer who made some tracked changes in an MS Word version of the document.

The agency then forwarded the MS Word file on to me and asked me to update the document with these changes. When I questioned them on this they stated, "the translator is responsible for updating the final bilingual file".

Can I just check if this is a standard industry procedure? It wasn't a lot of work (3 or 4 changes), however I just want to see if the agency is taking advantage of me.

Thanks,

Mark



It is an impertinent and hidden way of obtaining a second review free of charge for the same price. If this is requested, it is only acceptable if it is paid. No translator will object changes but accept what the reviewer did, because if you object, then this will end in kind of endless ping pong.

This is called LSO, and this is normally paid according to hours. I also have one such agency acting in this way, only I have no choice because the market is so empty that today you must accept whatever you get.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 10:52
Chinese to English
Common, but mixed up Jul 15, 2015

It is indeed reasonably common practice, but in my opinion represents a mix up of two different models.

One is the translator takes responsibility: then the translator will find her own proofreader, will pay the proofreader herself, and the proofreader replies to her. She takes full responsibility for the quality of the text returned to the client.

The other is the agency+anonymous service providers: the agency acts as a hub, and the providers of various services (translation, QA, DTP, whatever) never contact each other. In this model, none of the individual service providers can take full responsibility for the quality of the translation, because they are not empowered to.

The model you're facing is a mix up of the two, where the agency is trying to push responsibility for the text onto the translator, but without giving her (you, in this case) the authority you need to e.g. select a proofreader whom you trust.

With good agencies, where you know they've been careful selecting their proofreaders, it can work well. When the proofreader doesn't work at a high level - in particular, if they're unable to understand the translation choices you've made - then it's a major hassle.


 

Ben Senior  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:52
German to English
Liability Jul 15, 2015

If somebody else changes your translation does that negate your liability for the correctness of the whole text? If I don't deliver the final text, as when a client/agency change it after proofreading it, then I cannot be held responsible for the translation. Just a thought. How would my insurance company see it?

But it all comes down to the agreed terms with the client. If corrections are included at the beginning then I would gladly do them, but it would also be reflected in my price. In each of my jobs I allow an amount of time for correcting the translation, I see it as a help to improving my translation and my accumulated TM.

Regards
Ben


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Good question Jul 15, 2015

One of my few remaining agency customers has just been swallowed up by a global behemoth that requires this.

I've previously fallen out with said global behemoth when they took over another of my customers ten years ago and I ended up telling them where to stick their systems, so I suspect this will end in tears once again.

Anyway, if a reviewer were to spot an error, then of course I would be mortified and correct it. But I'm damned if I'll have anything to do with the numerous unnecessary preference-based changes that most reviewers seem to feel obligated to make.

I smell trouble ahead.


 

Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 04:52
Member (2002)
English to Russian
Professional knowledge and skills of editors/reviewers Jul 15, 2015

Phil Hand wrote:

With good agencies, where you know they've been careful selecting their proofreaders, it can work well. When the proofreader doesn't work at a high level - in particular, if they're unable to understand the translation choices you've made - then it's a major hassle.


Exactly. Luckily, my client's reviewers (and I happen to know both of them personally:)) are highly professional, therefore I generally accept all proposed changes, even preferential ones if they help improve the Russian (target) version to any extent. The purpose is to come up with the best final product for the end client, and with a better TM for myself.

Of course, there are cases when an editor/reviewer can be wrong, e.g. failing to recognize a direct quote from a previously published official document, or making an incorrect interpretation of a complex phrase.

[Edited at 2015-07-15 08:43 GMT]


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:52
German to English
would have thought this is standard practice Jul 15, 2015

It certainly seems like a very logical way to do things: Good translators make mistakes and good editors make mistakes. Editors also have to work fast and may oversee interconnections or other not immediately apparent relevant factors.

As long as everyone follows the basic rule of editing (editors should make as few changes as possible and translators should reject as few changes as possible), it seems very productive.

Now there is often a very fine line between substantial and preferential stylistic and terminological changes, so things can always go wrong. But I would only ever charge extra for this "additional service" (it actually seems like it is just the final step in fulfilling the original contract) if the client or a freelance editor were to blatantly violate their end of the basic rule of editing.


 

Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:52
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Reviews are a complete waste of the translator's time and energy Jul 15, 2015

Chris S wrote:

One of my few remaining agency customers has just been swallowed up by a global behemoth that requires this.

I've previously fallen out with said global behemoth when they took over another of my customers ten years ago and I ended up telling them where to stick their systems, so I suspect this will end in tears once again.

Anyway, if a reviewer were to spot an error, then of course I would be mortified and correct it. But I'm damned if I'll have anything to do with the numerous unnecessary preference-based changes that most reviewers seem to feel obligated to make.

I smell trouble ahead.


My experience is the same with reviews (yes, reviews are essentially proofreading/editing your text, but the latter is generally not sent back for the translator's final stamp of approval in my experience). Agencies with a certain ISO certification are required to have the review process, with the review sent back to the translator for the final say. After some really incredibly bad experiences with incompetent reviewers, I now refuse to do translations or work with agencies requiring this step. It is a colossal waste of my time to go back over my text for mostly preferential changes that I then reject. An example of this nonsense was a reviewer changing my "please" to "kindly" in a series of e-mails, along with a great many other gratuitous changes. I was livid. If there is actually a mistake to be corrected, I'm happy to accept it, but not that kind of nonsense. We are not paid for the extra time spent on this BS and the agency can charge outrageous prices for the added "quality control". Bah! I don't mind if an agency has a proofreader or editor who changes my texts and I never see it -- that doesn't require additional, unpaid work from me!icon_smile.gif

Edited to add information on the European quality standard EN-15038:2006,
link -->http://qualitystandard.bs.en-15038.com/

I'm not against the idea of an industry standard, but the execution is often inadequate. I have encountered exactly ONE reviewer who was really good and did a superb job, which was to change only what was absolutely necessary to improve the text quality, not change the words around arbitrarily to justify her existence or fee.

[Edited at 2015-07-15 09:41 GMT]


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:52
Member (2008)
French to English
Corrections vs preferences Jul 15, 2015

Woodstock wrote:

...

Edited to add information on the European quality standard EN-15038:2006,
link -->http://qualitystandard.bs.en-15038.com/

I'm not against the idea of an industry standard, but the execution is often inadequate. I have encountered exactly ONE reviewer who was really good and did a superb job, which was to change only what was absolutely necessary to improve the text quality, not change the words around arbitrarily to justify her existence or fee.


Interesting that the only action the said EN standard refers to the reviewer taking is: "recommending corrective measures":

European quality standard EN-15038:2006:

Any translation service under EN-15038 must include as a minimum, translation and review.

  • Translation and checking. A translator with the appropriate competences translates the documents and after finalising the initial translation, checks his/her own work.

  • Review. A person other than the translator reviews the translation. The standard defines review as “examining a translation for its suitability for the agreed purpose, and respect for the conventions of the domain to which it belongs and recommending corrective measures”.


So the way I read this is that, yes, the standard calls for recommendations from the reviewer, but only for corrections, not preferential changes.

Preferring "kindly" over "please" is not a "corrective measure" but a preference, so falls outside the scope of the EN standard.

[Edited at 2015-07-15 11:30 GMT]


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:52
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
It can be difficult ... Jul 15, 2015

The situation can be difficult when an agency sends you back your translation for "comments on their comments" by return at a time when you are already madly busy on your next job with a tight deadline. I have a couple of agencies whose boss does their own "proofreading" and whose native language is NOT English. They sometimes query my (native) use of English grammar and/or vocabulary (e.g. "Did you mean "its"? Is this right?") and I find myself having to give English lessons when I simply haven't got time for it.
It's true, of course, that one can learn a lot from having one's translations reviewed, but having to give free English lessons is, to say the least, a pain. Sigh.


 
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