An open letter to translation buyers: can you really afford cheap translations?
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:36
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 15, 2013

An open letter to translation buyers: can you really afford cheap translations? By Allison Klein

http://abktranslations.com/wordpress/an-open-letter-to-translation-buyers-can-you-really-afford-cheap-translations/


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Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 00:36
Japanese to English
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... Dec 15, 2013

Great letter. Unfortunately, the only people who will take the time to read it will probably be translators.

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George Hopkins
Local time: 16:36
Swedish to English
Trend Dec 15, 2013

As "translations" become cheaper, supported by Proz, the number of competent translators will fall.

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Roman Karabaev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 19:36
Member (2010)
English to Russian
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... Dec 15, 2013

And I wonder what makes the author think that you won't get cheap translation even if you pay a lot? Have all those useless intermediaries died off since the last time I checked? How does the fact that you pay USD 0.50/word guarantee that your source text won't end up somewhere in India at USD 0.01?


[Edited at 2013-12-15 10:23 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:36
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, I agree with you Roman. Dec 15, 2013

Basically outsourcing translations does noit make much sense. Some translation companies may outsource some of their work, but outsourcing in the pure sense -- just acting as an agent, does not make any sense at all.

Any translation company should be able to perform some translations in-house, be able to check the quality of the outsourced translations, edit all of them and finally proofread. If they cannot do it, they should not have anything to do with the translation industry.

[Edited at 2013-12-15 11:23 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:36
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Stupidity in cost cutting Dec 15, 2013

In order to set a benchmark, I'll quote an example of intelligent cost cutting.

In Brazil, VW launched I-Motion, and Fiat launched Dualogic. These are two automaTED (not automaTIC) transmissions for subcompact cars. No clutch pedal, no need for manually shifting gears (though the driver may do it, any time they want). It's a conventionally built gearshift where computer-controlled hydraulic cylinders, i.e. a robot, automatically does al the clutch pedal and sticksift work for the driver. Performance is significantly better that the automatic transmission fitted on the Cadillac 1947, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. Also, there is no "Park" position, so if the parking brake fails on a slope, one must hire manpower to step on the brake pedal, or find some hard object to put behing one of the wheels to keep the car stopped.

The big deal... this automatED gearshift provides the same level of driving comfort, however it costs about one-fifth of a conventional torque-converter & planetary gearshift automatIC transmission, which means a lot in a subcompact car's price. Quite intelligent!

Such intelligent feats don't happen in translation.

Machine translation sucks, no doubt about it. So how did they decide to cover the gap? With PEMT - Post-Editing Machine Translation. This means underpaying a competent translator to fix MT flaws. Though it may become obvious for the PEMTer that some sections should be completely redone, they just fix the grammar and part of the vocabulary. Sometimes, to drive home the message that PEMTers shouldn't be paid for translation work, clients refrain from providing them with the source text: they'll be working in the target language only, so it should be CHEAP!

I had an example of that. A client hired me to translate some industrial operations manuals, and provided me with related, obviously PEMT-ed previous translations, for reference. As I browsed through that material, it became evident that after MT had completely misinterpreted several important and safety-relevant instructions, all the PEMter did was to fix grammar and wording issues: the flawed and very dangerous MT-interpreted logic was all there. Though I translated the manuals assigned to me properly and dutifully, from what I saw in the previous ones, I'd have reasons to fear for my life if I ever visited those facilities.

I recently had to edit some pretty bad translations, where untrained humans perpetrated similar - though to a lesser extent - misinterpretations on safety issues.

So what is the point of spending a bundle in R&D, manufacturing quality, etc., and then saving a few bucks to provide foreign users with unsafe instructions? IMHO this is plain stupidity.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:36
Member (2009)
English to German
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“good enough" Dec 15, 2013

That (cheap) translations are "good enough" outlines the problem quite well.

In order to save money, agencies often take any "translator" to get the job done, while charging the maximum possible price to their clientele. One excellen though sad example are assembling, usage and/or operating instructions accompanying almost every product you can buy on the market. They are (barely) good enough, even to the point of making any educated person wonder if she or he is indeed capable of reading and understanding her/his own language.

As José has pointed out, both MT and PEMT do the trick, provided one is happy with, at times possibly, life-threatening instructions (translations) or shear nonsense.

Using previously (human) translated texts to fill in gaps in MT-texts can render just as funny (or dangerous) results.

Simply nothing compares to professional human translation.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:36
English to Portuguese
+ ...
An example Dec 15, 2013

Thayenga wrote:

Using previously (human) translated texts to fill in gaps in MT-texts can render just as funny (or dangerous) results.


The instructions leaflet that came together with some cheap gizmo contained some 9 points reasonably translated by a human. The last one, they couldn't or wouldn't find a translator, perhaps because of the minimum fee, so it read:

"If diplay go blind, you may meet dead battery. Replace immediately."


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:36
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
MT Dec 15, 2013

That's the uphill battle with MT. Convincing people that the output is not only grammatically incorrect, but in many cases WRONG. They cannot yet conceive (because they do not understand how statistical MT works) that the computer would translate "DO NOT PRESS THE BUTTON" as "YES DO INDEED PRESS THE BUTTON NOW or "OUR PRODUCTS ARE GUARANTEED TO FUNCTION IN A VARIETY OF SETTINGS" as "MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR" or that it sometimes just leaves words out entirely.

This is where the ATA and other world translator organizations need to step in and come up with a clever marketing campaign to educate the public.

[Edited at 2013-12-16 01:48 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:36
English to Portuguese
+ ...
How it was before Dec 15, 2013

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

That's the uphill battle with MT. Convincing people that the output is not only grammatically incorrect, but in many cases WRONG. They cannot yet conceive (because they do not understand how statistical MT works) that the computer would translate "DO NOT PRESS THE BUTTON" as "YES DO INDEED PRESS THE BUTTON NOW or "OUR PRODUCTS ARE GUARANTEED TO FUNCTION IN A VARIETY OF SETTINGS" as "MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR".


In ancient days (they fixed it after I raised the issue), I tested an early version of Babelfish.

I asked it to translate:
"ACME uses the latest technology"
into PT, and it gave me:
"A ACME usa a tecnologia mais atrasada",
which is exactly the opposite!


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Shawnw  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 23:36
English to Chinese
I'm afraid you are right Dec 16, 2013

sadly agree....
Orrin Cummins wrote:

Great letter. Unfortunately, the only people who will take the time to read it will probably be translators.


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