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Thread poster: DLyons

DLyons  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 8, 2015

I'm copying the gist of a fairly long posting from a translator's forum on Facebook and many thanks to the poster - what they said bears repeating here!

"Dear anonymous translator whose work I revised this afternoon,

As you know, there was a little baby boy being carried onto a medicalised plane at XXX airport this evening, still very poorly but well enough to return to the country of his birth after having spent ¾ of his time on earth so far in hospital.

... nobody expects you to be Superman or Wonder Woman. But if you don't know something, or you can't do something, please don't just let it pass. Tell your client, so that they can try to find a solution. Don't, for example, leave abbreviations just because you don't know the equivalent; or worse, rearrange the letters at random as you did on one occasion. Use the pro forma translator's note that your agency client provides, and which is passed to the reviser for checking.

I'm not blaming you for not knowing that we say "YYY" and not "ZZZ", because that's something I had to learn ... But I am blaming you for not knowing that "aaa" and "bbb" are not words in English, and for not finding "ccc" and "ddd" in their place. Because sometimes, just sometimes, your translation directly makes a difference to someone else's life, and it absolutely *has* to be right, or at least as good as you can possibly get it. But you were too greedy to turn down a text that was obviously outside your abilities, and too lazy to run a spellcheck ..."


Elif Baykara Narbay  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:36
German to Turkish
+ ...
I cannot agree more Jul 8, 2015

as a translator in the medical field.



Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:36
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Thanks! Jul 8, 2015

It's so true...

No one ever looks stupid asking for help.
What is stupid, of course, is not learning from it, but that is another matter.


MariusJacobsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:36
English to Norwegian
+ ...
:( Jul 8, 2015

This is what happens when agencies choose the cheapest Translator they can find. I can't tell you how often I've had heated debates with project managers offering me work for 0.02 USD per source word. I try to explain that you get what you pay for, and in the end, they'll either have to spend more money to fix an unqualified Translator's sloppy work, or they'll get in trouble due to the sub par quality of the translation.

[Edited at 2015-07-08 10:54 GMT]


Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:36
Italian to English
Agree! Jul 8, 2015

Although it applies to ALL translation fields, not just medical.


David Hayes  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:36
Member (2009)
French to English
Not in public Jul 8, 2015

While it would be hard to disagree with the pretty obvious points being made, I do not think it a good idea to air all this in public. Too many unknowns.

But the author rightly ascribes failure to run a spellcheck to laziness. Whether you're paid a penny or a pound a word, it's the same key (F7) and the same work of a few minutes.


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:36
German to English
Low-priced translators can't be picky Jul 8, 2015

Translators charging very low translators aren't by definition incompetent. The problem is that a translator charging a few cents/word isn't in a position to turn down job offers, even if they're outside their range of competence. However, in the example provided, the person attempting the translation shouldn't be in this business.


Spanish to Danish
+ ...
So true.... Jul 9, 2015

No translator should accept a job which is beyond his or her qualifications. It´s a question of moral and responsibility.


Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:36
English to Spanish
Urgh Jul 9, 2015

I feel for them.

Besides the low rates/being out of one's depth issue, sometimes the problem is just plain laziness. I've seen this way too often in translators who expect the editors to do the research THEY should've done or even clean up their mess.

I imagine their thought process being something like "oh, what does that abbreviation stand for? Hmm. [google]Click. Click. Click.[/google] Nope, I've already done a 30-second search; let's leave it for the editor."

At the end of last year, I actually asked a long-time client to refrain from sending me any more work by a certain translator (unknown, since their/our identities are anonymized) because their work showed total disregard for VERY basic terminology research, literal translation of terms they didn't know and didn't bother to look up, leaving abbreviations untouched with a note for the editor to check, etc. etc. I pretty much ended up doing half their job.

(By the way, this is not a cheapo client AT ALL. This was not a rates issue.)



[Edited at 2015-07-10 01:25 GMT]


Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:36
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Facebook is not public? Jul 10, 2015

David Hayes wrote:
While it would be hard to disagree with the pretty obvious points being made, I do not think it a good idea to air all this in public. Too many unknowns.

Facebook is not private. No social media is private. Let's not make a false distinction between a Facebook forum and a low-profile site like ProZ - neither are the place for anything at all sensitive.

If the person who wrote the original Facebook post wanted to keep it out of the public eye, they should never have put it on Facebook. I would assume that they are aware of that but chose to post anyway.



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