What mistakes have you learnt from?
Thread poster: Anne Koth

Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:27
German to English
Apr 10, 2006

Last year at Proz I described a mistake I made: I didn't get clear enough written confirmation for a translation job. For a moment it looked as if I wouldn't get paid - and I didn't have enough proof that the customer had wanted the translation. (See http://www.proz.com/topic/34294 .) In the end I was lucky: they were honest and I was paid.

I was reminded of this last week when a new customer sent me a text and confirmed on the phone that he wanted me to translate it. Now being eminently wise I told him to send written confirmation. He didn't. I reminded him. He still didn't. I waited before doing the translation. Two days later I got through to him and he told me it was cancelled. So the mistake I made last year finally paid off.

I was wondering what mistakes others have made which they now see as a useful lesson in how to be a translator.

"A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying... that he is wiser today than he was yesterday." Alexander Pope

[Edited at 2006-04-10 08:40]


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Kevin Kelly  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:27
Member (2005)
Russian to English
+ ...
All of them. Apr 10, 2006



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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 01:27
mainly... Apr 10, 2006

Don't take on more than you can handle!

and

Don't let clients walk all over you


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Trevor Butcher
Local time: 02:27
English
and from a text editor... Apr 10, 2006

... don't believe everything the translator tells you




... nor everything that you tell yourself.

Seriously, I think the mistake that I used to make was not to ask for enough information, to make sure that I had enough. Anyone not prepared to supply it day in and day out has to be an extremely good client in other ways to make up for the stress of being accused of mistakes.

Trevor


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William Pairman  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:27
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
Definitely Apr 10, 2006

[quote]Orla Ryan wrote:

Don't take on more than you can handle!

Thats the key one for me. Also try to limit weekend working, or at least ensure you get extra for it


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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:27
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
I can imagine. Apr 11, 2006

As no-one has actually described the disasters that taught them these lessons, I guess it's up to us to imagine those sleepless nights!

It's a shame, isn't it, that somehow we don't seem to learn as effectively from others' mistakes as from our own.


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 02:27
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Believing the client - BIG mistake ;o) Apr 12, 2006

I guess my biggest mistake was believing a client in stead of seeing for myself what the text to be translated was really about.

The client says: Slightly technical manual-like text, approx. 200 words to be done in a couple of hours.

The actual text: Rather difficult legal text, nothing manual-like about it, and a scanned copy in pdf!!! Word count: 780!

I had already agreed to do the translation when I finally got the actual text, and I guess I could have rejected the job, but it was my own mistake not to see for myself and make sure what I was actually agreeing to was what the client had told me.

So this translation, which should have taken me about 30-40 minutes, ended up taking around 1½ hours! Very bad, when you are already very busy with other translations.

Now, I ALWAYS insist on seeing at least a page from the source text if not the entire source text before I agree to a translation ;o)


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