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Being accused of using MT for delivering 5k+ words in less than 24 hours - is it too fast?
Thread poster: Frank Feng

Frank Feng  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:14
Member (2016)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Sep 14, 2017

Hello colleagues,

Today I encountered this weird situation and would like to hear your advices.

I got a project from a translation agency in EU, with whom I've never worked before. The price was fine so I accepted it. It was translation of two Powerpoint files with some 5,200 words of business contents, from English to Chinese.

It took me some 7 hours to deliver and I got a reply from the client, almost immediately after I sent out the translation, saying "It is impossible that the translation was completed that fast (5000+ words in 24 hours), have you used automated translation to do it? Please explain."

I replied that I was just this fast, and the client was still obviously unconvinced: "I was extremely surprised to receive this that fast, as I said, less than 24 hours to do 5000 words is a very high rate/day. Don't you think? Could you please explain?"

Actually this IS really my average working speed and I never got such challenge from client for delivering "too fast". So dear colleagues, I have two questions:

1. Is translating “5K+ words in less than 24 hours" really should be considered as "too fast to be true"?

2. How can I possibly "explain" myself in this situation? I don't think I can invite the client to come in person and watch me doing my work icon_smile.gif

Thank you!

Frank




[Edited at 2017-09-14 11:50 GMT]


 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:14
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hardly matters ... Sep 14, 2017

... whether you did it yourself, used MT and corrected it, got someone to do it and corrected it, shared it with someone and corrected it, got a chimpanzee to do it and corrected it, or waved a magic wand and put a translation spell on it, and then corrected it, does it? What matters is the end product.

 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:14
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
What I mean is ... Sep 14, 2017

... you can tell them that it doesn't really matter (not mentioning the chimp and the magic wand), and ask if the translation is OK. But they won't know, because they can't read Chinese, which is their problem, not yours. They should just get someone to proofread it.

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 21:14
German to Serbian
+ ...
Have you checked the translation? Sep 14, 2017

Once done, have you reread your translation for any errors?

An idea: Ask them to pick some parts of your translation and have them checked by another native Chinese speaker. If their claims prove not to be true, the costs of the check will be their responsibility.


 

Frank Feng  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:14
Member (2016)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
exactly Sep 14, 2017

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

... you can tell them that it doesn't really matter (not mentioning the chimp and the magic wand), and ask if the translation is OK. But they won't know, because they can't read Chinese, which is their problem, not yours. They should just get someone to proofread it.


Thank you Marvyn. This is exactly what I am thinking. I've told the client feel free to find someone to proofread my work.


 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:14
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
Is the translation OK? Sep 14, 2017

Hello, Frank,

This is surely a lightning fast delivery for my standards, but is the customer happy with the translation you turned in? Is it acceptable/expected?

This is what I would ask the customer back instead.

Unless agreed otherwise, what resources you use (and I mean anything, TM, TB, voice recognition, MT, etc., EXCEPT subcontracting without explicit agreement) is your own prerogative, as long as the result is there in the end.

You can talk about your typing speed, your familiarity with the subject matter, the low-difficulty of the text, the awesome CAT tool you use, etc., but I would not go into explaining all this. How you work needs no justification.

If the translation was right, I would only commend you for delivering it so fast.

[Edited at 2017-09-14 12:08 GMT]


 

Frank Feng  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:14
Member (2016)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The client did not even checked my translation Sep 14, 2017

Jean Dimitriadis wrote:

Hello, Frank,

This is surely a lightning fast delivery for my standards, but is the customer happy with the translation you turned in? Is the acceptable/expected?

This is what I would ask the customer back instead.

Unless agreed otherwise, what resources you use (and I mean anything, TM, TB, voice recognition, MT, etc., EXCEPT subcontracting without explicit agreement) is your own prerogative, as long as the result it there.

You can talk about your typing speed, your familiarity with the subject matter, the low-difficulty of the text, the awesome CAT tool you use, etc., but I would not go into explaining all this. How you work needs no justification.

If the translation was right, I would only commend you for delivering it so fast.

Jean


and just questioned my delivery speed. This is what surprised me the most. After all the client is a translation agency and I assume they understand the logic here.

Thank you Jean.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 21:14
German to Serbian
+ ...
Subject-matter? Sep 14, 2017

Is it a highly specialized subject-matter, complicated file type, or something else? Was a CAT tool involved?

Translating 5k words of a new? text in one day is a bit unusual but not impossible. But translating it and critically proofreading it in one day probably sounds like too much to do in one day, your translation hasn't even had a chance to rest over night, to take a final look at it with fresh eyes. If it's a super familiar topic for your, then it might be OK, not sure.

[Edited at 2017-09-14 12:17 GMT]


 

Frank Feng  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:14
Member (2016)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It's general contents Sep 14, 2017

Lingua 5B wrote:

Is it a highly specialized subject-matter, complicated file type, or something else? Was a CAT tool involved?

Translating 5k words of a new? text in one day is a bit unusual but not impossible. But translating it and critically proofreading it in one day probably sounds like too much to do in one day, your translation hasn't even had a chance to rest over night, to take a final look at it with fresh eyes. If it's a super familiar topic for your, then it might be OK, not sure.

[Edited at 2017-09-14 12:17 GMT]


for some business ethnic and compliance training, 44 slides in total, with some 10% repetition. I did the translation in TRADOS and generated the target files, did the format adjusting in PowerPoint, made some additional translation for texts embedded in pictures with "patches" of text boxes, did the proofreading and fixed some errors. In 7 hours.

I won't say I'm "super familiar" with the subject matter, but it is not difficult.

Maybe next time I should sit on it overnight and give it another look. Thanks for the advice. icon_smile.gif


 

Sandra Peters-Schöbel
Germany
Local time: 21:14
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
5k in 7 hours is ok Sep 14, 2017

If you really worked 7 hours on it it is not too fast. It is not at all impossible to translate 1000 words in an hour, depending on the type of text. If it is something general it might go fast.
I am using speech recognition technique which accelerated my work a lot (I am almost twice as fast, but not every text is suited for it).

My problem rather is that my concentration gets lost after some time, so I try to avoid several hours on the same text but do some proofreading or other work in the meantime.

If I find I am very early with a delivery (some other project was cancelled or similar) I sometimes hold it back for some time before delivering. Just for "political" reasons, as I don't want to raise the expectation that I would deliver each project still on the same day...
You could consider this for the future. Most people I know plan their working day with about 3000 words per day, plus administrative tasks, proofreading etc. And that is accepted by all agencies I work for.

In your concrete case I would also say ask them to let a proofreader have a look at your work and say if it HAS THE QUALITY of a machine translation. If not they should be happy with it anyway...

Good luck!
Sandra


 

Frank Feng  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:14
Member (2016)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for the good suggestion! Sep 14, 2017

Sandra Peters-Schöbel wrote:

...

If I find I am very early with a delivery (some other project was cancelled or similar) I sometimes hold it back for some time before delivering. Just for "political" reasons, as I don't want to raise the expectation that I would deliver each project still on the same day...
You could consider this for the future.
...


Thank you so much Sandra, it is really a good suggestion. I'll definitely consider doing so in the future.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:14
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Contra facta non valent argumenta Sep 14, 2017

Frank Feng wrote:
1. Is translating “5K+ words in less than 24 hours" really should be considered as "too fast to be true"?

I have translated 5,000 words (and more) in a span of 8-10 hours very many times in the past, and never had a customer complain that it was too fast!

Frank Feng wrote:
2. How can I possibly "explain" myself in this situation? I don't think I can invite the client to come in person and watch me doing my work

Simply explain that you are a fast thinker and typer, have a good command of the matter at hand, and are an experienced translator.

According to this website, the average typing speed in English is 41 words per minute, i.e. roughly 2500 words per hour. At an average typing speed, typing 5,000 words should take around two hours. If you are a fast thinker, are an experienced translator, and know the matter at hand (i.e. you do not need to research many terms), translating 5,000 words in 8-10 hours looks more reasonable, does it not?

It would have been a different matter if you had translated 5000 words in an hour, I reckon.icon_smile.gif


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:14
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Depends... Sep 14, 2017

Jean Dimitriadis wrote:
Unless agreed otherwise, what resources you use (and I mean anything, TM, TB, voice recognition, MT, etc., EXCEPT subcontracting without explicit agreement) is your own prerogative, as long as the result is there in the end.

I reckon this very much depends on the agreement with the customer. Most customers do not want their stuff processed with MT tools (especially online ones) as they see a risk that their contents will land in some database in a dark basement and could float again at some stage.

While the use of CAT tools (with translation memories and termbases) is seen as normal and accepted, unapproved machine translation and subcontracting are a no-go for almost everybody. Most of my customers prohibit it explicitely.


 

Lianne van de Ven  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:14
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Typo's Sep 14, 2017

Frank Feng wrote:

for some business ethnic and compliance training, 44 slides in total, with some 10% repetition. I did the translation in TRADOS and generated the target files, did the format adjusting in PowerPoint, made some additional translation for texts embedded in pictures with "patches" of text boxes, did the proofreading and fixed some errors. In 7 hours.

I won't say I'm "super familiar" with the subject matter, but it is not difficult.

Maybe next time I should sit on it overnight and give it another look. Thanks for the advice. icon_smile.gif


I am not that fast at all, rather slow. This here is not your work, but I noticed that you made some typo's here and there. I would make sure that the jobs you deliver don't have these kind of errors. Focus on quality, have the client focus on quality rather than suspicions, and as I mentioned in your other post, avoid raising flags by delivering at lightning speeds.


 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:14
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
Absolutely Tomás Sep 14, 2017

That is why I specified "Unless agreed otherwise".

Jean


 
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