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Off topic: Worst translation task to date?
Thread poster: Roberta Anderson

Roberta Anderson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:36
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Sep 2, 2006

Worst task to date...

A couple of weeks ago I translated the update of a batch of files, with instructions not to touch the 100% matches leveraged from the previous version.
Scrolling through the text I noticed a number or errors in those 100% matches (of all sorts - translation errors, punctuation, style, options still in English, misplaced tags...). So I notified the PM and got the go ahead to fix what I could (no time for a full review of the 70.000 or so leveraged words).
I fixed what I could in the time available, the PM was really grateful and I got the extra hrs spent on that task approved and invoiced.
So far so good.

Yesterday I receive the full manual as PDF (ca. 300 pages) for a layout check, about 10 hrs work.
After going through the first few pages, I notice that all those previous corrections are not in the PDF...
I notify the PM, they look into it, and the final brief is that there was some import/conversion problem... so all that work is lost... and apparently there is no way of retrieving it because in the meantime the contents has moved to another format, another system, whatever -- and files and TM cannot be updated with the ones from trat previous batch.
So could I pls mark up all those corrections in the PDF? Or how about editing directly the files in their new format with this new tool?

I felt like crying...
I was up till midnight trying to figure out a way to do all this in the safest and fastest way possible. And today I spent all day going through the files and redoing all those corrections. More of it tomorrow.

I'm not sure if this is _the_ worst task to date for me, but it's definetely in my worst tasks top 10!

What's been your worst task to date?

Roberta


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:36
Italian to English
Anything that involves correcting someone else's work Sep 2, 2006

The problem is that reviewing other people's work means reading the original, comparing it with the translation and then formulating your own version (or at least translating and then comparing your version with the translation you are revising).

In addition, you have to second-guess the not always straightforward reasoning that has produced the translation you are adjusting. Whatever the case, you end up spending an inordinate amount of time on a job that clients expect on the cheap, having already paid for an often dodgy translation.

After one or two depressing experiences a long time ago, I now simply quote much higher rates for revision than I offer for translation, which gets rid of the problem and enables me to concentrate on what I do best.

Obviously, the above comments do not apply to the translators who review my own translations. I know they turn out good work ; -)

FWIW

Giles


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 16:36
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
corrections and dictionaries Sep 2, 2006

Also for me the worst ones have to be those translation related assignments when Im asked to review some translation. Some say I shouldnt but I always feel terrible when Ive to give bad reviews.

The other kind of terrible translation tasks for me are those where there is a huge lack of specialized dictionaries in my TL (and there are plenty of those I can assure you) - when you need a very exact and specific term and there is none to be found anywhere. Such times make me envy all the big languages who have all the dictionaries possible.

But still - I dread nothing more than revision assignments... brrr...


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Robert Zawadzki  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:36
English to Polish
+ ...
It's quite an old story, but anyway... Sep 2, 2006

A job for A VERY SERIOUS INSTITUTION. My translations are reviewed ON A PRINTOUT and then I am to incorporate changes into my (electronic) version. After more than 300 pages with no more than two missing commas per page I get few pages battered in and out with idiotic changes. I call the PM and tell him I will never put my name on this nonsense. "You are not to sign anything, but to introduce changes according to specification". So I had to spend a lot of time improving my own work's "bullshit index".

[Edited at 2006-09-02 22:01]

[Edited at 2006-09-02 22:02]


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:36
English to German
+ ...
Translation Tests Sep 2, 2006

The worst thing I did were some test translations when I started working freelance hoping to get some jobs from those very big and well renowned agencies.

They give you a short text completely without context and want you to translate it and then your work is checked by people who have a very strict and narrow idea how this text is to be translated. If they come back to you at all, they will let you know all kinds of nonsense about the translations you did, just to turn you down, maybe to get a lower rate. Or maybe just because it is their job to point out mistakes and if they do not find real ones they make something up.

I did not understand the whole process then and I do not understand it now. My customers seem to be quite satisfied with my work so far.

I just do not do test translations any more unless they are a real part of a project and they are paid. I do not like to waste my time on work that is neither productive, nor helpful, nor appreciated.


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TonyTK
German to English
+ ...
The worst ever job is always ... Sep 2, 2006

... the one I happen to be doing at the time.

It's OK for all you language-lovers and mutilingual nerds - but I wasn't born to be sitting at my computer at 1:25 a.m. on a Sunday morning checking 120 pages of drivel I've spent the last three weeks shovelling from one pile onto the other while my wife is lying on the couch watching Season 3 of Nip Tuck and all my friends are out at the pub after watching the soccer.

No, not me. I was born to hunt big game in Botswana, to sip pina coladas on the porch of my seafront condo with seven 19 year-old Playmates, to let my hair flow in the wind as I ride my Harley from Baltimore to Baton Rouge, to stick my tongue out at my mother-in-law when she isn't looking, to eat digestive biscuits in bed and not give a damn where the crumbs go, to sit in Mcdonalds and blow into my milk shake. Oh where did it all go wrong ...


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Barbara Cochran, MFA  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Translation Tests And Worst Translation Task Sep 3, 2006

In response to Claudia's thread:

In general, I don't think it's a good idea to do sample or test translations because if they are a disreputable agency they may take several samples they've gotten back from several translators, all different parts of the same project, tell all the translators they weren't selected (if they tell them anything at all), then turn the work over to a customer to make a big profit. This kind of unethical exploitation is an extreme insult to us as professionals. Ideally, we'd all be too busy to find the time to do test or samples.

I do confess, however, that when I started back in the field of translation after working in another field for many years, I did a test translation because the particular project was of great interest to me and I had some expertise in the subject matter. I was one of the lucky ones-I was selected for the project, was paid for the sample I had submitted, and now it is not unusual for this particular agency to contact me with assignments a couple times a week. But, in general, I now shy away for these tests because of the presence in the market of disreputable agencies and a lack of free time now to do them.



My worse translation task (but I can see in this thread that it could be a lot worse) is deciphering handwritten documents such as birth and marriage certificates and the handwriting on documents from previous centuries. But in the latter case, they are so interesting that they're worth the effort!


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Susanne Schnitzler  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:36
English to German
Tests for a publishing company Sep 3, 2006

My favourite "worst" was a test from the german publisher of some british *uh* - let me say: books for women (most of you will know whom I mean). But they also provide teenage mysteries and that was the topic I was up to

It was, like Claudia said, completely out of context and (what else should I expect) one of those more explicit parts ... to cut the long story short: My "Stil" was judged to be too literary.

Normally I really like the small tests because I always find something interesting in most them.

As for agencies that try to get a complete job done via test translations: Would it be an option to install a forum - e-mail-address ... anything ... where translators could drop a line about the tests they were asked to do? If the company and the title of the test are clearly mentioned in the subject field it would only take a look to see if there were too many of the same on the way.

Nice Sunday everyone
Susanne


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:36
English to German
+ ...
Hope you can take it out on ... Sep 3, 2006

TonyTK wrote:

... the one I happen to be doing at the time.

It's OK for all you language-lovers and mutilingual nerds - but I wasn't born to be sitting at my computer at 1:25 a.m. on a Sunday morning checking 120 pages of drivel I've spent the last three weeks shovelling from one pile onto the other while my wife is lying on the couch watching Season 3 of Nip Tuck and all my friends are out at the pub after watching the soccer.



@ Tony: I hope you can take it out on your students those two hours a week in Germersheim.

If you cannot be a good example you might still be a quite respectable severe warning ...


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Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 16:36
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Big, badly formatted files Sep 3, 2006

Oh, I hate it when I get a 100+ pages Word document that has lots of formatting in it. It usually happens to be badly formatted, so that the styles and formatting don't match etc. and when you have translated twenty pages, you discover that the text in the first pages has become corrupted and unreadable... Has happend to me a couple of times.

I also hate to do a spell check on big TagEditor files, as with my not-so-new computer it might take several MINUTES to move on to the next position and sometimes my computer just reboots in the middle of spell checking...


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Clare Macnamara  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
To take up Giles Watson's thread ... Sep 3, 2006

[quote]Giles Watson wrote:

"The problem is that reviewing other people's work means reading the original ..."

There's only one thing worse and that's having to correct/revise when there IS no original in the SL because, either the author has highly unrealistic notions about his/her skills in the TL, or, for some reason, the original is not available. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

But even with the help of the original, revision is hell and I think the rate should be at least twice the translation rate and not the other way round!


Clare


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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 15:36
Swedish to English
+ ...
A book title... Sep 3, 2006

This makes me cringe when I see it on the shelf... it wasn't the work itself that was painful, rather the end result...

This was a job where I didn't actually do the majority of the translation, I was hired to do the proofreading - which was great. The translator is someone that I know well, I trust her to do a good job and she trusts me to point out where things could be improved... we worked for a couple of months on a book (a food-oriented guidebook, wonderful texts). The week before it went to press the project manager realised that there was no English title for the book and asked us to think of one. So we thought and thought, woke up in sweats at 2 am, bounced ideas off each other and finally came up with a great title... at least we thought it was great - "Places to Savour" - seems good for a guidebook for food buffs, no?

The project manager (not a translation agency, a direct client) took great exception to the fact that it wasn't literal translation of the Swedish title and spent a morning firing off the equivalent of heavy artillery at us for our "bad translation" - my poor colleague bore the brunt of it but gave up defending us after being told that perhaps she should buy a dictionary and look up the words in the title in there. The PM then rang round anyone she could think of who is English-speaking, collected a variety of literal translations and put together her own title. It is, of course, the closest literal translation possible - as well as unspeakably twee and out of character with the rest of the book, and manages to use "taste" and "tasteful" in the space of five words...

Anyway, thank you for allowing me to vent my frustration - good topic!


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Barbara Cochran, MFA  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Book Title Sep 3, 2006

Hi, Clare,

This particular PM seeemed to be "out of touch" with the translation that you and your translator friend/colleague worked so hard on. A literal translation for a book title almost never seems to be the best (I know my editor changed mine quite extensively when I did that once). I'm wondering if the PM even bothered to read your translation?


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:36
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Totally agree Sep 4, 2006

Claudia Krysztofiak wrote:I just do not do test translations any more unless they are a real part of a project and they are paid. I do not like to waste my time on work that is neither productive, nor helpful, nor appreciated


Same here

I refuse test translations, yes they are a waste of time,

Have a nice week

Angioletta


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Jack Becconsall
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:36
German to English
Other sorts of titles Sep 4, 2006

This is straying far from the original question, but I have to say that I really loved Clare Barnes' story about the book title - what an idiot that publisher was! I often watch the bilingual TV channel ARTE, and always compare the French and German titles chosen for the same programme. They NEVER, NEVER even think about attempting a literal translation. The French and German titles belong to different worlds - both good, but light-years apart.

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