Advice on proofreading, evaluation and correction
Thread poster: Rebecca Hendry

Rebecca Hendry  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:14
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aug 30, 2005

Hello all,

I have been asked to provide a quote for the evaluation and correction of a short story, around 9000 words, which has been translated from Spanish into English - and quite clearly by a non-native speaker of the target language.

Would it be fair, given that the translation is of such poor quality and could not possibly be published, to make this observation and simply quote my client for a completely new translation? I think it would be more difficult and time-consuming to correct the translation I've been given, and I would achieve a better, more natural-sounding result if I were to ignore it totally and start from scratch.

Have any of you come across something like this before? What would you do in the same situation?

I look forward to reading your comments,

Becky.


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 08:14
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Yes Aug 30, 2005

My experience shows that it's better to translate a text anew than to try to edit a badly translated text. Moreover, it's even better to forgive the bad translation alltogether than to try to use it as a basis.

According to your description -- I mean if the translation is a total waste, -- the alternative is either to propose to translate the short story anew (and charge accordingly) or to refuse editing it.


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 07:14
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Just a few days ago... Aug 30, 2005

...I was asked to do a check on a translation, which was an article to be published in a Danish magazine. I was only to check spelling mistakes and typos, but it very soon became clear that the translation was so poor that it - to my mind - was not something one should publish in any way.

I immediately made my client aware of this, saying that I would really rather not use my - hopefully - reputable name in connection with having had anything to do with the checking of this translation in any way, and could I please be allowed to rewrite it, at least, if not translate it from scratch?
The answer was that we could be sure the translation was fine, which it very obviously wasn't, but I continued doing as I was told - ONLY checking spelling mistakes and typos. This was indeed very difficult, since the translation was really poor!

When I sent the "checked" file, I - once again - stated that I thought it to be a really poor translation, and - IMHO - it should have been checked much more thoroughly, and that I wouldn't put my name to having looked at it at all, just to make sure.

Unfortunately, the piece went ahead to the press, since the person having translated it was a Danish native, and the client trusted his/her translation skills completely. It really doesn't vouch for the company mentioned then, does it?

Anyway, in your case, I think I would say to the client that if I was not allowed to translate from scratch, I would not touch the document!
It's YOUR NAME and YOUR RESPONSIBILITY that the final document is GOOD!!! You must always remember this!

Good luck.


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Arturo Delgado  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:14
English to Spanish
Yes, yes! Aug 30, 2005

Explain to your client that it will take you less time to do it from scratch than to correct so many errors or problems in the bad translation.
Present an analogy. If he had this sentence:
"this are a traslationne bad"
Would he correct it with the cursor and backspace or would it be a lot easier and faster to just highlight the entire thing and type it over?
Quiza a ti se te ocurra un mejor ejemplo, pero lo importante es hacerle entender que a veces "la lavada cuesta mas que la camisa".
Arturo


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Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:14
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
Keep that in mind Aug 30, 2005

Excellent argument for refusing a proofreading, Arturo!:-)
I must keep that in mind.
Arturo Delgado wrote:
"la lavada cuesta mas que la camisa".
Arturo

"Die Reinigung kostet mehr als das ganze Hemd."
I love that and will use it the next time
a poor translation is creeping on my desk.


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cello  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's happened to me (but not with so much at stake) Aug 30, 2005

Hi Rebecca,

I have found myself in similar situations, but never with such a large document, so there has never been that much of an incentive for me to accept this type of work - I've always taken on this kind of stuff for clients that I've had a long standing relationship with, almost as a favour.

In my experience there are several ways to 'educate' your client, however the strategy to follow does depend on how much you really want the job and whether you know the client. Obviously the best solution is to convince him/her that they should have a new translation done.

It's best not to tell your client outright that the translation is bad (unless you know him/her reasonably well)because you never know who did the original translation (his significant partner, his head of department's daughter etc.) But then, I'm sure you are capable of being diplomatic, something that sometimes fails me

That said, I do have a fixed price for proofreading and another for 'style correction' but I have another for 'correction of translations'. The latter is so similar to what a re- translation would cost, that it is not a very attractive option (i.e. I charge say 2 cents less for correction of translation than for the translation itself, as long as there is something to be salvaged from the bad translation)

I hope this has been of some help,

Linda


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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:14
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
yes Aug 30, 2005

Just tell them that it will cost them less to get it translated than to get it properly edited to the same level. Good luck

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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:14
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Certainly offer to translate it again fresh Aug 30, 2005

I have usually had the experience that the client agrees, if I recommend re-translating the document and point out that it will cost less of my time to do it that way. I also point out to the client, in this case, that there is no obligation to pay the bill for the original translation if it is of very sub-standard quality.

I have even had clients respond by saying, "I leave it to your judgement. If you need to re-translate it, just get on with the job."

However, if the client wanted to retain the original translation in such a case (an experience which I have not yet had), I would decline to "proof-read" it - as certainly the proofreader does have to shoulder the final overall responsibility for the document, and I would not agree to do work that the client would not pay (e.g. changing every single word, in my capacity as a proofreader).

Astrid


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Rebecca Hendry  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:14
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Update Aug 30, 2005

Thanks to all of you for your answers.

As most of you suggested, I decided to email the client (who I have never worked with before) and give my own evaluation of the translation - I have explained that it would be less time-consuming and would give better results if I was to translate from scratch. I have offered to do the translation myself and given my rates. I have tried to be as diplomatic as possible whilst quite clearly stating that the translation I have been given to proofread is not of a standard equivalent to that of a native speaker.

I shall keep you updated with the response

Thanks again,

Becky.


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