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Post-editing is for chumps
Thread poster: Michael Beijer

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:49
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Jun 24, 2015

A very, very large Italian translation agency just sent me the following ridiculous email:

~

Hi All,

I need a translator for a 3337 words postediting job from Dutch > English.

Subject: finance. See attached for reference only

Deadline: tomorrow at 11am Rome time

Payment: 0.03€/source word

Please, let me know ASAP if you can help me with this.

Thanks


Here is my reply:

Hi Valencia,

The file you sent me is a memoQ bilingual table containing a 100% Google translation
(I just checked at https://translate.google.co.uk/ ).

Why in god's name would I want to translate a pure Google translation for 0.03€/source word?

Kind regards,

Michael


---------------------
I usually charge €0.12 for stuff like this, which would come to €400.44 (3337 x 0.12).

This company, however, wants me to do it for €100.11 (3337 x 0.03), of course by tomorrow (and it's already 17:30 here in the UK today, so this would be a late night), because they went through the trouble of running the text through Google Translate, and probably even violating an NDA in the process.

I have a mortgage to pay and a 2-month old baby in the room next door. What is wrong with these people?

Michael


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:49
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
UPDATE: Jun 24, 2015

Them:

Dear Michael,

the standard required for this kind of job are different. You can check the file attached (see below)
Thanks

--------------------------
Me:

Hi Valentina,

Thanks but no thanks. I do a job well, for a living wage, or not at all.

The only translators who are going to accept a job like this, at a rate like this, are going to be people who do not understand the subject material and who are probably not even real native speakers of the target language.

It is all very well saying that it just has to be "good enough", and that it "doesn't have to be stylistically compelling", but the truth of the matter is that you're not going to find a professional to accept a job like this, you're going to end up with a translation student who will see this as a way of gaining work experience. An experiment, if you will. And they even got paid to €100, whoopee!

I hope that you have very good Dutch-English proofreaders to check these texts before sending them to your clients, as I guarantee you they will be riddled with errors, and not just stylistic ones.

Kind regards,

Michael
-----------------------------

"What is light post-editing?

“Post-editing”, as a step or set of steps in an overall translation process, is the term used for editing, modifying and/or correcting machine-translated texts.

The effort involved in postediting will be determined by two main criteria:
1. The quality of the MT raw output.
2. The expected end quality of the content.

We are asking you to achieve a “good enough” quality of your translation.
What we will call Light post-editing.
“Good enough” is defined as comprehensible (i.e. you can understand the main content of the message), accurate (i.e. it communicates the same meaning as the source text), but as not being stylistically compelling.

The overall goals is to achieve the following:
• Aim for semantically correct translation.
• Ensure that no information has been accidentally added or omitted.
• Edit any offensive, inappropriate or culturally unacceptable content.
• Use as much of the raw Machine Translation output as possible.
• Basic rules regarding spelling apply.
• No need to implement corrections that are of a stylistic nature only.
• No need to restructure sentences solely to improve the natural flow of the text.

Machine translation error categorisation
In most cases, machine-translated texts are linguistically different from those translated by a human translator. Computers are non-context-sensitive and consequently, the nature of error types as well as their distribution varies significantly. This is one of the reasons why it is very common to find statements, which indicate that PE implies a positive and open-minded attitude towards MT technology

Knowing the errors produced by an MT system can both speed up the PE process due to the post-editor's familiarity with commonly repeated MT mistakes, as well as allowing for a better knowledge of this technology and its weaknesses. In an ideal scenario, posteditors would report these inaccuracies to the MT system's developers to ensure ongoing improvement of these still imperfect tools.
It follows different errors that need to be revised when improving the quality of human translated texts

Types of correction in human revision
Formal
1. Lapses
a. Missing Phrases
b. Skipped passages
c. Misspellings
d. Mistakes in numerals
e. Repetitions
2. Style
a. Format
b. Punctuation
c. Capitalisation
Substantive
1. Lexical level
a. Wrong replacement from glosses
2. Misconstructions of meaning at
a. Phrase level
b. Clause level
c. Sentence level
d. Text level
Discourse Organisation
1. Register
2. Cohesion
3. Order
a. Logical
b. Temporal
c. Spatial"


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:49
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Complete agreement Jun 24, 2015

Post-editing machine translation is a fool's errand, and the only fool bigger than the translator accepting such work is the person who offers it.

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
In god's name Jun 24, 2015

Michael Beijer wrote:
Why in god's name would I want to translate a pure Google translation for 0.03€/source word?


Ouch... in Dutch, the expression "why in god's name" is a neutral, inoffensive way of saying "why oh why" or "why on earth", but AFAIK in English it's meaning is rather closer to "why the f*ck".


[Edited at 2015-06-24 20:46 GMT]


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:49
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Where in god's name did you learn to be such a pedantic bore? Jun 24, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:

Michael Beijer wrote:
Why in god's name would I want to translate a pure Google translation for 0.03€/source word?


Ouch... in Dutch, the expression "why in god's name" is a neutral, inoffensive way of saying "why oh why" or "why on earth", but AFAIK in English it's meaning is rather closer to "why the fuck".


You are a strange fellow Samuel. What exactly is your point? Here is some info that might shed some light on this non-issue (nice and clear so your non-native ears can digest it):

"in God's name"
Definition: Used in questions to emphasize anger or surprise [note that I was both angry & surprised]
Usage examples:
"what in God’s name are you doing?"
"Where in God's name can I find a decent paella in this town?"
"Let me ask you one last question: How in God's name did this thing happen?"
"If you can say whatever you want to say, why in God's name would you say the same things as everyone else?"

(http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/in-god's-name?q=in%20god's%20name )

It means exactly what I intended it to mean. This person pissed me off, and I wanted them to know it. This is a perfectly acceptable use of English, if you ask me.

Michael


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
On professionality in our profession Jun 24, 2015

Michael Beijer wrote:
It means exactly what I intended it to mean. This person pissed me off, and I wanted them to know it.


Sorry, I did not write my point more comprehensively because I thought it was clear enough: no matter how angry one is with a client, one should remain civil and act professionally. The fact that the expression "why in god's name" is perfectly acceptable in English does not mean it is perfectly acceptable in all situations.

I agree with your sentiments, though. In fact, my opinion about post-editing Google Translate translations is that it should be priced higher than translation, since the client is expecting you to "respect" the machine's translation as far as possible while fixing errors, instead of re-translating from scratch, which would be quicker.

Where in god's name did you learn to be such a pedantic bore?


I'll assume you just forgot the smiley (-: Post-editing Google Translate certainly is for chimps.



[Edited at 2015-06-24 20:46 GMT]


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:49
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
{implicit, transparent smiley face hiding in the corner} Jun 24, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:

Michael Beijer wrote:
It means exactly what I intended it to mean. This person pissed me off, and I wanted them to know it.


Sorry, I did not write my point more comprehensively because I thought it was clear enough: no matter how angry one is with a client, one should remain civil and act professionally. The fact that the expression "why in god's name" is perfectly acceptable in English does not mean it is perfectly acceptable in all situations.

I agree with your sentiments, though. In fact, my opinion about post-editing Google Translate translations is that it should be priced higher than translation, since the client is expecting you to "respect" the machine's translation as far as possible while fixing errors, instead of re-translating from scratch, which would be quicker.

Where in god's name did you learn to be such a pedantic bore?


I'll assume you just forgot the smiley (-: Post-editing Google Translate certainly is for chimps.



[Edited at 2015-06-24 20:46 GMT]


Sorry, yes, I sometimes forget that not everyone knows that 99% of what I say is actually said with an implicit, transparent smiley face hiding in the corner, dus, bij deze: ;-)

I agree that it is best to remain civil and act professionally, but as a lowly human bean, I sometimes fail, with great pleasure I might add. I do try to be nice to actual paying clients (although even that is hard sometimes), but I believe it's OK to piss off an occasional mere potential client, especially if I know they will most likely never amount to more than a royal pain in the a$$. That's just one of the perks of being self-employed.

Michael


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Me too Jun 24, 2015

Michael Beijer wrote:
...but as a lowly human bean, I sometimes fail, with great pleasure I might add.


*like*


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:49
English to German
+ ...
Yup! Jun 24, 2015

Michael Beijer wrote:

Post-editing is for chumps



'Nough said!


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:49
Member
Italian to English
The opposite and "the future" Jun 25, 2015

Robert Forstag wrote:

Post-editing machine translation is a fool's errand, and the only fool bigger than the translator accepting such work is the person who offers it.


To me it's the opposite; it's one thing to offer such work, quite another to accept it.

According to some sources, PEMT is "the future". Perhaps in some fields it is, but not in mine (medicine, arts, humanities), at least I don't think so. Perhaps the mistake many of us make is to think of "the translation market" as just that, a single market. But it isn't, it's segmented, some clients are not willing or able to pay for quality, and are happy to forgo good style (and perhaps precision) for something that reasonably conveys their message.

If you cater to a higher quality segment, I suggest wasting less precious time and energy on such offers, composing a short reply and moving on, casting said offer into the waste basket. I think it's good practice to educate clients. And I understand when frustration gets the upper hand.

Horses for courses. Someone out there is accepting these jobs. But I believe the various segments of the market will continue to exist, you just have to decide which part is for you.


 

XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:49
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TAUS Jun 25, 2015

Those look to me just like the TAUS Machine Translation Postediting Guidelines I was sent by a Dutch agency the other day with a request for a quote on a "light" edit or a "full" edit. The most worrying thing about it all? It was a document on X-ray equipment.

 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:49
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
post-edited garbage dot net (hint: read it out loud) Jun 25, 2015

Lisa Simpson, MCIL MITI wrote:

Those look to me just like the TAUS Machine Translation Postediting Guidelines I was sent by a Dutch agency the other day with a request for a quote on a "light" edit or a "full" edit. The most worrying thing about it all? It was a document on X-ray equipment.


Interesting. Yes, I am of course am not allowed to mention the company's name, as the moderators will snip snip snip, but as I mentioned in my original post, the Italian company that sent me this job request is one of the most well-known and biggest names in the industry and is, how should I put this, … extremely involved in MT and other related online things.

Although I agree with Fiona about not wasting one's time on such nonsense and that there are myriad translation markets rather than one single market (including ones where quality is less important), I still believe it is important to keep trying to discuss this phenomenon (fad?) in public so it has less chance of gaining a foothold, especially among new or less experienced translators.

Michael

[Edited at 2015-06-25 22:03 GMT]


 

Jacqueline White
Austria
Local time: 20:49
Hungarian to English
+ ...
Never again Jun 25, 2015

A long time ago, when the term "post-editing" wasn't in such frequent use, I was asked by a well known international company to post-edit a translation.
I assumed it meant that the text was translated normally and then went through two review stages to ensure extra-high quality (mea culpa), and sent the translation agency a detailed critique of the translator's work:) I guess that gave the agency a good laugh!


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:49
English to German
+ ...
Fully agree! Jun 25, 2015

Michael Beijer wrote:


Although I agree with Fiona about not wasting one's time on such nonsense and that there are myriad translation markets rather than one single market (including ones where quality is less important), I still believe it is important to keep trying to discuss this phenomenon (fad?) in public so it has less chance of gaining a foothold, especially among new or less experienced translators.

Michael


I fully agree. Awareness and education is most important!


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:49
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
HAMPsTeR Human-Assisted Machine Pseudo Translation Jun 25, 2015

First of all, we should categorically refuse to adopt the term "post editing" because the machine does not translate anything,

Secondly, if these agencies think that people being paid 0.03 a word are reading the source text, they are delusional. All they will be doing is scanning the target output looking for spelling errors and things that don't make sense. The source text may say "Press the green button only when flashing" and if the HAMPsTeR says "Green button press when light flashing", they may correct it, but if the HAMPsTeR output says "Buttons are a essential part of the system", then they are going to just skip right over it. It doesn't take a genius to see the potential disaster.

The big misconception is that the machine will produce a) perfect output that needs little editing or b) output that doesn't make any sense and requires correction. No one conceives of the fact that the machine may also produce output (by finding a close match) that is perfectly grammatical and logical, but bears no resemblance to the source document. People don't conceive of "The house is yellow" being translated as "The car is white." Granted this may only happen 20% of the time, but that's why a human needs to read every sentence and check it. I guarantee you that these people aren't being paid enough (and probably aren't being given enough time) to check every single sentence for the slightest degree of accuracy in meaning.

If people did spend the time to read every single sentence and compare it to the HAMPsTer output, the cost of producing a translation "suitable for use" would be no different or perhaps even higher. Its use may save the translator some time and may come up with a word or phrase or synonym that your own brain wouldn't have thought of, but you still have to be a human being to recognize the fact that said word/phrase/synonym is appropriate given the context.

Most of these agencies advertise "we combine the benefits of machine consistency and speed with the skill and expertise of human translation". None of them say "the stuff you will receive may be no better than throwing the dictionary in the air and pointing at random words. You will not be able to rely on a single word that is produced because there is absolutely no guarantee that the meaning of the translation will match your document. You could get a translation of a contract that is suitable for your use, or you could get a pretty document that reads nice, but is really a recipe for your grandmother's apple pie. There's a 50% chance that you are wasting your money. But if it's worth the gamble to save money, then we are the company for you..."

It's like getting estimates to paint your house. You select the one whose rate is 80% cheaper than all the rest. They do a wonderful job. Everything looks great and you pat yourself on the back for saving thousands of dollars. Two months later, the paint starts peeling off the walls.

Lawsuits and bankruptcies resulting from accidents, deaths, injuries, financial losses, etc. coming soon....

[Edited at 2015-06-25 16:17 GMT]


 
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