Portfolio problem: Client changed my web translations introducing errors
Thread poster: Madeline Robinson

Madeline Robinson
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:33
Italian to English
Nov 15, 2017

Hello Everybody,

This is my first post on here, so I hope it's not a silly one! I have tried looking through the forums on this topic but didn't find anything - perhaps it is an unusual problem.

I recently completed a IT-EN translation of a website that has started putting my texts up, only my client appears to have changed what I wrote since I submitted them, introducing many errors including repeated words, mis-spellings and ungrammatical punctuation. This was my first paid translation project and I was very keen to do a great job in order to establish myself, only the product shows me to be a sloppy translator (which I am not!).

My questions are (1) Is this a common situation? If so, is there anything that can be done? (2) How can I prove to future clients that I am a reliable translator whilst giving evidence that I have translated the website?

I would really appreciate any advice on this.

Thank you.

Madeline


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
They can do what they want Nov 15, 2017

Once I have delivered a translation, my interest in it ends, unless it's a book or similar, where the translator's name is published.

They have paid for it, so they can do what they want with it. When you buy a table at a furniture store, they don't follow you home to see if you smash it to pieces, paint graffiti on it, or screw it onto the ceiling.

I understand how you are feeling about it, but you don't 'own' their translation, and you have nothing to gain by spending resources on following the independent life of your translation.


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:33
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Feedback? Nov 15, 2017

madelinerobin wrote:

I recently completed a IT-EN translation of a website that has started putting my texts up, only my client appears to have changed what I wrote since I submitted them, introducing many errors including repeated words, mis-spellings and ungrammatical punctuation. This was my first paid translation project and I was very keen to do a great job in order to establish myself, only the product shows me to be a sloppy translator (which I am not!).

My questions are (1) Is this a common situation? If so, is there anything that can be done? (2) How can I prove to future clients that I am a reliable translator whilst giving evidence that I have translated the website?


Did you receive any feedback from them about the translation? Was it checked by a proofreader/editor (who might have introduced those changes)? And, anyway, does the agreement you have with that client allow you to "claim ownership" of that work?

At any rate, while Thomas is right, if you're absolutely sure about your reasons and feel this is important to you, perhaps you might try to respectfully let them know that the text you saw published on their website contains some errors/typos/etc. and provide some examples, although this could even work against you... (if the client is absolutely sure of the changes they've implemented, trusts their proofreader/editor more than you, etc.)


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Madeline Robinson
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:33
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Not owned and little feedback Nov 15, 2017

Thanks for your messages.

I appreciate that it is the client's product to do with as they wish. I suppose I was hoping to use it as evidence of how well I can translate and the product doesn't reflect that well. But it's nonetheless true that I have no official ownership of the work.

My client had spent a long time in the USA and so had a good command of English and I believe that she herself made the changes. Throughout the project I had to send my texts in instalments and she asked me to change various things to include her changes. I was happy to accomodate these changes (checking them very carefully for any errors) but I never received feedback on the main documents where I have now found the errors online. I suppose I could politely mention that I've noticed some typos, but in all honesty I think that it will fall on deaf ears.

Do you think that sending new clients my own word documents of the web pages would help me get around this problem, or would that send a bad message that I'm a cantankerous translator who disagrees with her clients?


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:33
Spanish to English
+ ...
Par for the course Nov 15, 2017

This can happen occasionally - it's happened to me at least once. I delivered the text in Word but when they uploaded it to the website it contained mistakes that weren't in my translation. I told the client, but they said it was too much bother to correct the page once uploaded. I simply removed it from my CV, although website translations are an easy way for potential clients to see your output.

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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:33
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Ownership Nov 15, 2017

madelinerobin wrote:

Do you think that sending new clients my own word documents of the web pages would help me get around this problem, or would that send a bad message that I'm a cantankerous translator who disagrees with her clients?


I put "claim ownership" between quotes because what I actually meant is if you're sure you can publicly use that translation as a sample of your work (some agreements/clients forbid that). If that's the case, then why not? You could add your original translation to your portfolio (even in the portfolio section of your profile here on ProZ).

That said, if the client made the changes herself and you know she's not very "receptive", then you're probably right and mentioning the "typos" could even prove counterproductive...


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:33
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Very common with websites Nov 15, 2017

madelinerobin wrote:
my client appears to have changed what I wrote since I submitted them, introducing many errors including repeated words, mis-spellings and ungrammatical punctuation. This was my first paid translation project and I was very keen to do a great job in order to establish myself, only the product shows me to be a sloppy translator (which I am not!).

It's the bane of my life, it really is. I've got past the stage of wanting to give potential clients links to particular sites, but it makes me despair when I see my work mangled beyond all recognition. Websites are supposed to be "dynamic" nowadays and even though I always offer to do updates, that offer is rarely taken up. I suppose there's the question of wanting it done this very minute, as well as cost, but almost always my non-native clients who "can English" have a go at updating their website themselves .

My questions are (1) Is this a common situation? If so, is there anything that can be done?

Yes, it is, and no, nothing at all.

(2) How can I prove to future clients that I am a reliable translator whilst giving evidence that I have translated the website?

- You say something along the lines of having translated (among other things) a website for an Italian company that does XYZ - a leading company or a major player in the world of XYZ if that's the case. Or you've translated nn,000 so far for an unnamed agency or other organisation. Or you translated texts to do with (insert some important event or happening that readers will be able to identify with).
- You collect the nice things that satisfied clients say - if they're happy about that, e.g. by leaving WWA here on your ProZ.com profile.
- You upload extracts of source and target texts to your profile here (and elsewhere, perhaps) - again, if clients are happy for you to do that or if they aren't subject to confidentiality in any way (e.g. you wrote the source too). Some direct clients will be more than happy to let you show a sample and even want to be credited - it's a way of advertising the fact that they went to a pro, others will be fine with you selecting something that doesn't identify them (although it will do if it's online).


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Madeline Robinson
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:33
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Nov 16, 2017

Thank you to everybody for your support on this thread. It has been very helpful to me to hear all of your points of view.

I must admit I wasn't even aware that some clients might not allow me to use the translations to publicise my services - I shall look out for this in the future.

Thank you in particular to Sheila. Your advice in response to my second question was really detailed and I appreciate that very much.

Best wishes to you all.


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