Untranslatables: Counted as Word repetitions: Charge?
Thread poster: Michael Hariton

Michael Hariton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:51
Member (2006)
German to English
+ ...
Nov 2, 2009

I agreed to a large project with my client of 20K words per week to be paid on a per word basis.

When I received the files, the word count was ca. 40K. Studded throughout the files were highlighted terms that were to be left untranslated. The client said that because of these [word] "repetitions", I would only be paid for the words I translated.

Sometimes the terms were highlighted, sometimes they were not (consequently they were translated). This ran havoc with my TM (I used Wordfast), plus, because these terms were only sometimes highlighted, and yet counted in the client's "repetition" log, I would not be paid for these translations.

In the end, I had to copy all TUs and then translate around the highlighted nonplaceables which was labour-intensive.

I have offered TU repetition discounts to clients before, but never word repetition discounts. My question in 2 parts:

A. Should I charge for these untagged untranslatables? If so, by what rationale? By what pay scheme?
B. If not, is there a way to save time and protect these terms so I don't have to work around them?

Thanks so much for any thoughts or guidance!


 

Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:51
French to English
+ ...
Sounds like a pain... Nov 2, 2009

The only options I can think of are to add the terms in question to a client-specific glossary so they come up as placeables and thus just require a keystroke to insert - that's assuming they're single words. If they're entire segments, have you tried formatting them as untranslatables? In Wordfast you can do this with marching red ants under Word Format/ Font/ Text effects. If you then tick Use Marching Red ants as untranslatable attribute under the Wordfast Setup Segments menu, it ignores these formatted sections and they're not included in the count at the end. I imagine other TM programmes have a similar system. Not sure whether this works for words or phrases within a segment though as I haven't tried that.

Good luck!

Claire

Katalin is quite right, of course, - if they're acting as placeables, they're just like company names or proper names and should still be included in your count and charged for. If they're stand-alone placeables and you genuinely don't need to do anything to them - even check them! - then the marching red ants formatting should work.

[Edited at 2009-11-02 19:29 GMT]


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:51
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
What is it that is highlighted? Nov 2, 2009

What are the highlighted items?

A: Specific words (such as product names), embedded within sentences
OR
B: Standalone units (such as titles) that would be parsed as a single unit by a CAT tool?

If the answer is A, and the agency does not pay for those words, then you are being taken advantage of.
Why? Even though those words stay untranslated, they have to be handled as part of the sentence. They have to be moved around, and depending on the target language, they may need to be conjugated or modified in some other way.
Therefore, they belong to the sentence, and should be counted in the count for the sentence.
Tell the client to take out those words, and then put them back into the translation after you gave him the translated file... See what they think of that...

If the answer is B, then you can mark them as Non-translatables (although I am not sure how to do that in Wordfast), and skip over them.

Katalin


 

Michael Hariton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:51
Member (2006)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to Katalin and Claire! Nov 2, 2009

I appreciate your thought on this. I'm a veteran translator and have what I imagine to be good instincts, and feel that I am being taken advantage of in this instance, but can't find the proper articulation of this "intuition".

The highlighted terms are the names of fields in a relational database, descriptive definitions of software and calculating processes and descriptive names of other databases, systems, etc. (all for the thrilling world of banking!).

So to Katalin's point regarding the placement of the terms, I do indeed need to shift these terms around to make syntactic sense of the respective sentences in which they occur. Your suggestion to ask the client to remove these in advance is a wonderfully clever and illustrative way of both removing any doubt as to this claim of syntactic handling (=time) and for silencing doubt as to the amount of labour involved by turning it back to the client.

Claire's point about rendering these terms as unstranslatable using Wordfast is something I considered, but as these terms are sometimes unhighlighted, and therefore only sometimes unstranslatable, I'm not sure how much time I'd save on balance. Still, it's a good stategy.

I'll follow up and let you all know how I fare. My negotiating abilities tend to flag the more desperate I am to get paid )-:

Cheers!

Michael


 

RichardDeegan
Local time: 16:51
Spanish to English
Ask them to remove them first LOL Nov 3, 2009

I have run into this on a couple of occasions, including proper names and numerals (which require change from Span to Eng & vice versa, and often relocation).
I simply sent the file back to the client and asked them to send me a file containing solely what they wanted ME to translate, with them then doing the C & P in their offices at their own leisure.
One client tried to do so....ONCE
LOL


 

Michael Hariton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:51
Member (2006)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Empowerment 101 for Translators! Nov 3, 2009

Thanks Richard for your shared experience. I think together with Claire and Katalin, we have hit on the kernel of an Empowerment scenario for training future translators!

Whenever a client asks us to do something they consider non-work, turn it around and have them prove it by doing it themselves. Put your non-money where your mouth was. Now chew!

It's really so easy to feel like the plaything of agencies esp. when one works alone. Having spent most of my professional life as an account manager agency side, I understand the pressure their under to keep costs down. Unfortunately, by allowing them too, we keep our own profits down, and worse, we contribute to keeping the profile of our services and the profession by extension down to the bottom of the food chain.

I wish some of these techniques for handling clients were written into a code of ethics for all freelancers, so that by agreeing to unacceptable job conditions (turnarounds, rates, etc.) you would feel that you were not only hurting yourself but dragging us all down.

Thanks again to you three for your refreshing espresso shots of professional pride. I feel confident "our" plan will work!

Cheers all!

Best,

Michael


[Edited at 2009-11-03 12:52 GMT]


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:51
French to English
+ ...
Word count is an approximation Nov 3, 2009

I think once you get to the point of picking out words in this way (and we've all come across a client that wants to do this at some point...), you're kind of missing the point.

The "word count" is really just supposed to be an approximation of how much work a particular job is going to involve for the sake of being practical. But in general, the definition of what a "word" is is too arbitrary to have any validity beyond this approximation.

If I'm asked to translate "to Le Havre", does "Le Havre" count as one word (it's a single place name) or two (it has a space in it)? In the translation "au Havre", have I "translated" the entire word/phrase "le Havre", or just the element "le"? Sure, "Havre" is superficially written the same, but my decision to write "au" depended on this word. So in the end, which parts have I actually "translated"?

The answer, I think, is that it simply makes no sense to go into this much detail. The practical definition of "word" that is generally taken is "elements separated by whitespace". Sometimes this practical definition will overestimate the amount of work involved in a translation and sometimes it will underestimate it, and it remains practical so long as we're all prepared to take the rough with the smooth.


 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
Bang on Neil. Nov 3, 2009

Exactly right Neil. Counts are simply approximations and discussions about fuzzies and non-countables are simply discounts.

 

jacana54 (X)  Identity Verified
Uruguay
English to Spanish
+ ...
Brilliant, Katalin! Nov 3, 2009

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

What are the highlighted items?

A: Specific words (such as product names), embedded within sentences
...
If the answer is A, and the agency does not pay for those words, then you are being taken advantage of.
Why? Even though those words stay untranslated, they have to be handled as part of the sentence. They have to be moved around, and depending on the target language, they may need to be conjugated or modified in some other way.
Therefore, they belong to the sentence, and should be counted in the count for the sentence.
Tell the client to take out those words, and then put them back into the translation after you gave him the translated file... See what they think of that...

Katalin


I wish I had thought of this great answer when I had a similar problem some months ago... I knew that I was being taken advantage of, but I couldn't find a way to say it without seeming rude.

This is a reply that I won't forget!

Thank you.icon_smile.gif


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:51
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Can you use tw4winInternal? Nov 3, 2009

Michael Hariton wrote:
A. Should I charge for these untagged untranslatables? If so, by what rationale? By what pay scheme?


If these untranslatables are marked and are easily selected and copied using a keyboard shortcut, then I'd be willing to regard each untranslatable as one word in the word count. For example, if there are four consecutive words that do not get separated in the translation process, I'd be willing to count them as one word, if they are clearly marked and copyable.

The fact is that they do form part of the sentence and have to be considered syntactically. Copying them takes time (more time, in fact, than would be taken if you had simply typed them).

B. If not, is there a way to save time and protect these terms so I don't have to work around them?


Have a look at the Wordfast user manual about find/replace operations and marking certain pieces of text as "tw4winInternal" style. If the untranslatables are all of a similar form, you can use find/replace to change their style to tw4winInternal, which will allow you to copy them as placeables in Wordfast.

If they are whole words, without additional characters, try adding them to the glossary (with the same source and target), which will enable you to copy them as placeables as well (but you need WF version 5 at least).


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:51
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Guessing what the client wants? Nov 3, 2009

Michael Hariton wrote:
Claire's point about rendering these terms as unstranslatable using Wordfast is something I considered, but as these terms are sometimes unhighlighted, and therefore only sometimes unstranslatable...


How do you know if a term should be translated, then?

Also, if the terms are truly highlighted, you can use find/replace to search for anything that is highlighted and replace it with tw4winInternal.

Do Ctrl+H to bring up the Find/Replace dialog, and click "More...". Put your cursor in the Find box, and go Format > Highlight. Put your cursor in the Replace box, and go Format > Styles > tw4winExternal. Then hit "Replace all". The only downside is that your client will receive a file with some red text in it, but I think it'll still be highlighted.

If the above doesn't work, try putting "*" in the Find box and ticking "Wild cards".


 

Michael Hariton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:51
Member (2006)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
re: Guessing what the client wants? Nov 3, 2009

Thanks for your Wordfast advice Samuel. I'll have a go at it.

I am however, not clear on what you mean by guessing at what the client wants. The issue had been that the terms were not consistently highlighted (untranslatables) within the same document and across the ensemble of files for the project.

Your solution to capture the "highlightedness" of the those terms, would appear to resolve that processing problem. It does not, however, address the money matters issue of whether or how much to charge the client for the work required to syntactically place these terms even if they are now protected from translation.

I have set PB to copy source where there is no 100% match, so the terms plus at least a partial highlighting of the terms are retained automatically. I still need to translate around them and move them as well as ensure that the entire term is highlighted (a seeming glitch in the Wordfast copy command). So protection does not really address my larger concern of compensation for all this added processing/handling.

Cheers,

M.

[Edited at 2009-11-03 13:40 GMT]


 


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Untranslatables: Counted as Word repetitions: Charge?

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