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Fuzzy repetitions? I beg your pardon?
Thread poster: Michiel Leeuwenburgh

Michiel Leeuwenburgh  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:50
Member (2009)
English to Dutch
Jun 13, 2012

Yesterday I encountered what I think is a new tool for agencies to cut costs. A PM asked me to offer a discount on "fuzzy repetitions". I hadn't heard of this phenomenon before, but the PM was kind enough to enlighten me, explaining:
"Fuzzy repetitions are words that repeat within the file so after you translate them once and save to TM they will automatically load as fuzzy matches for the rest of the doc. These are also counted with the regular fuzzy words."
Of course the last sentence raised red flags for me. After I objected to this discount, the PM agreed to count these fuzzy repetitions as new words, but she added: "please note you will hear of them a lot more with this new version of Wordfast and they are usually at fuzzy rate."
Now I do not object to reasonable discounts for fuzzies, repetitions and 100% matches, but this seems to go a bit too far for me.
Has any of you had experiences with fuzzy repetitions (in conjunction with a new Wordfast version) and agencies demanding a discount on them? Is this reasonable to ask or is it another unashamed cost-saving scheme?


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:50
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Fuzzy-wuzzy Jun 13, 2012

This reminds me of the nursery rhyme:

"Fuzzy-wuzzy was a bear;
Fuzzy-wuzzy had no hair;
Fuzzy-wuzzy wasn't fuzzy-wuzzy"

In other words Q: when is a repetition not fuzzy? A: When it isn't really a repetition at all, but a new word.

It seems pretty obvious that rather than trying to get a good translation out of you, the PM is primarily interested in finding ways to force you to accept as little money as possible by playing obfuscatory mind-games with you about the exact meaning of the word "fuzzy" - and even warning you of terrible things to come.

If I were you I would finish this job and then never ever have anything more to do with that particular agency.

[Edited at 2012-06-13 10:42 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Where the sun don't shine Jun 13, 2012

Yes. The whole notion of fuzzy matches and discounts for reps seems to be just another excuse for grasping intermediaries or penny-pinching clients to screw the translator.

Personally, I just tell them to find someone else.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Internal fuzzies Jun 13, 2012

Michiel Leeuwenburgh wrote:
"Fuzzy repetitions are words that repeat within the file so after you translate them once and save to TM they will automatically load as fuzzy matches for the rest of the doc. These are also counted with the regular fuzzy words."

Now I do not object to reasonable discounts for fuzzies, repetitions and 100% matches, but this seems to go a bit too far for me.


Why on earth would you agree to a discount for fuzzy matches that contain translations by other translators (that you have no control over and whose quality you can't predict) but you're not willing to offer a discount for fuzzy matches that stem from your own translations?

Logically it should be the other way around, since fuzzy matches from other translators carry a greater risk of more time spent than fuzzy matches from your own work, and should logically be charged higher than fuzzy matches from your own translations.

I think the reason many translators dislike this idea is simply because this has always been a loophole that placed clients at a disadvantage and that allowed translators to take comfortable advantage of internal partial repetition without having to pass on the time saving to the client in monetary terms. Translators who have never heard of fuzzy matching in the first place are equally incensed by it, as they are not used to it. Once you accept it, it becomes normal for you.

This brings the issue of how much time a fuzzy match saves you to the fore again, and it reinforces the principle that only very high fuzzy matches should be discounted.



[Edited at 2012-06-13 11:28 GMT]


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Michiel Leeuwenburgh  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:50
Member (2009)
English to Dutch
TOPIC STARTER
"Ownership" of the translation unit? Jun 13, 2012

Samuel Murray wrote:

Why on earth would you agree to a discount for fuzzy matches that contain translations by other translators (that you have no control over and whose quality you can't predict) but you're not willing to offer a discount for fuzzy matches that stem from your own translations?



I think there is an instinctive difference between fuzzy repetitions (or internal fuzzies) and regular fuzzies from a TM delivered by the client. In the former case, the translator creates the first translation unit and therefore "owns" it (for want of a better word) and its fuzzy repetitions for the rest of the translation. In the latter case, the agency "owns" the translation unit which is fuzzily repeated in the translation, in which case I object less to offering a discount.


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Vitals  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 07:50
Member (2008)
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
To Samuel - wow, good thought Jun 13, 2012

Dear Samuel,

I enjoyed your idea about the greater risk of fuzzies from other translators' TMs. It does make sense in many cases!

Thanks for sharing this thought.

VS


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Adam Łobatiuk  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:50
Member (2009)
English to Polish
+ ...
@ Samuel Jun 13, 2012

Samuel Murray wrote:
I think the reason many translators dislike this idea is simply because this has always been a loophole that placed clients at a disadvantage and that allowed translators to take comfortable advantage of internal partial repetition without having to pass on the time saving to the client in monetary terms.


I think you are right on the individual points you raised, however, we need to look at the big picture. Each translation is different and unpredictable, and we need a way to estimate its value. People use characters, words, lines, pages (of the source or target text) etc. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, but, used consistently, helps you evaluate the time and cost in the long run. Sometimes you win (e.g. thanks to numbers, repetitions, non-translatable words), and sometimes you lose (e.g. due to difficult terminology or formatting). When "fuzzy repetitions" are introduced, the final result is that you get paid less for the same work, i.e. your rate is effectively reduced. Of course, you can raise it, but that contradicts the point of fuzzy repetitions.


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Rifraf
Local time: 06:50
supply/demand Jun 13, 2012

neilmac wrote:

Personally, I just tell them to find someone else.



Which will be no problem at all for the agency, as there are many, many translators out there!

Times are tough and I really don't see a problem with agencies having to cut costs in whatever way they can.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Michiel and @Adam Jun 13, 2012

Michiel Leeuwenburgh wrote:
I think there is an instinctive difference between fuzzy repetitions (or internal fuzzies) and regular fuzzies from a TM delivered by the client. In the former case, the translator creates the first translation unit and therefore "owns" it (for want of a better word) and its fuzzy repetitions for the rest of the translation. In the latter case, the agency "owns" the translation unit which is fuzzily repeated in the translation, in which case I object less to offering a discount.


It did not occur to me that your main objection was payment for copyright -- I thought that your objection was one of payment for effort or time.

Who "owns" an edited fuzzy match is a topic for another discussion, but since you told us your opinion about it (i.e. that edited fuzzies are owned by the owner of the original translation), allow me to tell you mine: I regard myself as the owner of any fuzzy match that I had edited.

I realise that editors don't get copyright of the work they edit, but I do not consider editing fuzzy matches as a form of editing, but instead I see it as a form of translation. If the source text remains the same but the client wants you to edit/alter the translation, then it is editing, but if the source text is different, then it is translation, and the content fuzzy match is nothing more than ingeneously presented reference material.

Adam Łobatiuk wrote:
I think you are right on the individual points you raised, however, we need to look at the big picture. Each translation is different and unpredictable, and we need a way to estimate its value.


I agree fully, which is why I think that if internal fuzzies are counted, something has to be done to counteract the new disadvantage at which the translator is. The whole idea with word counts is that averages tend to work out fairly, but... low fuzzy matches tend to tip the balance more in favour of the client when it comes to average time spent per average money paid. That is why I suggested being firmer on only counting high fuzzy matches, to bring the averages back into balance.


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Roy Williams  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 06:50
German to English
words or segments Jun 13, 2012

I'm often confused about exactly what is meant by fuzzy matches and repetitions. Are we talking about individual words here or entire translation units?

Why would one give a discount for single word matches when one still has to provide an entire translated sentence? Unless the entire translation unit is a 100% match there is still work involved in translating it. Also, such a match may still have to be edited.

So why should we accept discounts at all?


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Michiel Leeuwenburgh  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:50
Member (2009)
English to Dutch
TOPIC STARTER
Words in segments Jun 13, 2012

Roy Williams wrote:

I'm often confused about exactly what is meant by fuzzy matches and repetitions. Are we talking about individual words here or entire translation units?

So why should we accept discounts at all?


The number of fuzzy matches is the number of words contained in a particular segment which partially matches a segment in a given TM.

The reason why I think it is acceptable to offer discounts is because translating a document with fuzzy matches and repetitions is faster than translating a document without matches or repetitions. How much faster of course depends on how fuzzy the match is - refer to Samuel's point - and how many repetitions there are. This can highly increase your productivity not only in words per hour, but also in your financial turnover per hour, especially in highly repetitive documents. 20% of your standard word rate for repetitions and 100% matches can still be lucrative, because you can produce entire segments with the press of one button or even automatically.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:50
Member
English to French
internal fuzzies decrease the weighted wordcount Jun 13, 2012

It's there in MemoQ, SDLX and Trados, it ought to be a "feature" of Wordfast at some point.

At the end of the day, we have to increase our base rate simply to compensate these new features aimed at decreasing the weighted wordcount even more.

They'll soon find an algorithm to decrease price according to word repetitions instead of segments, in a nice wrapping so that translators will again nod at those technology advances.

I am an advocate of CAT tools for consistency and speed benefits, even limited by the discounts I offer, but I didn't digest the internal fuzzy thing. It's really a step backwards in terms of earnings.

It now seems that CAT tools's only benefit is to pay translations less. But it's not what they were built for.

http://www.proz.com/forum/cat_tools_technical_help/207103-wordcount_shredder_cat_tools_fooling_the_translator.html

http://www.proz.com/forum/cat_tools_technical_help/198526-which_cat_calculates_fuzzies_within_one_batch_of_files.html

http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/207020-discounts_for_internal_fuzzy_matches.html

Philippe


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:50
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
"Internal fuzzies" are part of our benefit in a CAT tool Jun 13, 2012

Clearly charging a certain rate is by reason of the hourly income we expect from a particular job. If we are to charge less for the "internal fuzzies" in the future... it means that we have to raise our base rate to keep our expected hourly income. Thank you!

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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:50
Member
English to French
Supply/demand goes both ways Jun 13, 2012

Rifraf wrote:
neilmac wrote:
Personally, I just tell them to find someone else.

Which will be no problem at all for the agency, as there are many, many translators out there!

Times are tough and I really don't see a problem with agencies having to cut costs in whatever way they can.

I don't see a problem either with agencies cutting costs as long as it's not at my expense. Why not decrease the payroll by 20% instead?

There are indeed many translators who cannot write better than GT, know nothing of the subject matter, are sloppy about deadlines, have communication problems and don't understand the source language as soon as it gets beyond intermediate level.
There is a market for them too though, but there, agencies rule.

If Neilmac can send prospects packing if they are not happy with his conditions, I assume it's because he can.
With or without recession, demand exceeds supply in certain areas of translation. Like in luxury goods.

However "crowded" the language combination, and whatever the translator's rate.

Michiel can swallow internal match discounts and sit on at least 10% loss in earnings (and I am being optimistic), or review his own scheme and work under HIS terms.

It's only a matter of choosing one's side.
Good luck,

Philippe


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:50
Member (2008)
French to English
Price reductions? Jun 13, 2012

Rifraf wrote:

neilmac wrote:

Personally, I just tell them to find someone else.



Which will be no problem at all for the agency, as there are many, many translators out there!

Times are tough and I really don't see a problem with agencies having to cut costs in whatever way they can.


The key here is "in whatever way they can".

If translators agree to price reductions then the agencies will get them.

In any case, perhaps translators should be charging more for fuzzy matches, since it takes expensive software with recurring license fees to work with them.


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