Website translation in excel format
Thread poster: Melanie Wittwer

Melanie Wittwer  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 00:54
English to German
+ ...
Apr 2, 2012

I have a website to translate (English into German), the basis of which is an excel spreadsheet. Don't ask me the technical details. I only have the spreadsheet to go by. We did a previous version of the site a while ago. When we later checked the online version it became apparent that this did not work out very well. Example: English word chunk in spreadsheet "the world" (which was used for every occurrence of the word). In German it could, of course, be "die Welt" or "der Welt" depending on the sentence. You get my point. There are many similar examples on the site.
My question is how to best go about this. We tried to point out to the client that German grammar is rather complex, but the reply we got was that the excel sheet is the basis for the site and we can only work from the spreadsheet.
What to do? Any suggestions welcome.


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 12:54
French to English
+ ...
Two choices Apr 2, 2012

You only have two options:

1) Decline the job

2) Accept the job, tell the client it won't work (you already have), cash the cheque and don't ever tell anybody it was you that did the translation.

You have no moral obligation to a stupid client once you have already told them that they are being stupid.


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:54
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Explain again Apr 2, 2012

Melanie Wittwer wrote:

I have a website to translate (English into German), the basis of which is an excel spreadsheet. Don't ask me the technical details. I only have the spreadsheet to go by. We did a previous version of the site a while ago. When we later checked the online version it became apparent that this did not work out very well. Example: English word chunk in spreadsheet "the world" (which was used for every occurrence of the word). In German it could, of course, be "die Welt" or "der Welt" depending on the sentence. You get my point. There are many similar examples on the site.
My question is how to best go about this. We tried to point out to the client that German grammar is rather complex, but the reply we got was that the excel sheet is the basis for the site and we can only work from the spreadsheet.
What to do? Any suggestions welcome.


It seems you're looking for a technical solution to this problem? I fear this doesn't exist (apart from abandoning this workflow altogether).

Instead, I'd try to explain this to the client in more detail. You're saying that you "tried to point out to the client that German grammar is rather complex". This sounds like "This is difficult for me, I'll have to work harder". Instead, you might want to explain to your client that with his proposed workflow, all he is going to get is garbage, no matter how much effort you as a translator (or any other) invest. In other words: Tell him that the job is not only difficult or expensive, but absolutely IMPOSSIBLE.

If he stills insists, I'd either politely decline the job, or, after warning your client again that he will not get a decent translation that way, just translate away and not care about the resulting grammar mess. Just make sure your name doesn't appear on the translated site


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GerSi  Identity Verified
Slovenia
Local time: 12:54
Member (2010)
German to Slovenian
+ ...
proofreading the final product Apr 2, 2012

Hi Melanie,

the best solution would be if you could convince the client they let you check/proofread the final HTML file/files.

If this is not possible, they could let you take a look at the website before they open it publicly, to make sure everything is in order.

The last option I can think of can be, that they inform you about the release of the site publicly, so you would be among the first to see the pages and send them your comments in Word for example.

If none of these works, try to make them see that a website with many errors suggests potential buyers their products might be of lower quality as well.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Stoopid is as stoopid does... Apr 2, 2012

Terry Richards wrote:

You have no moral obligation to a stupid client once you have already told them that they are being stupid.


My thoughts exactly. The wonderful thing about being a freelancer is being able to tell this type of client exactly where to get off. There'll be another one along in a minute...


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 12:54
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Escalate Apr 2, 2012

Melanie Wittwer wrote:

the reply we got was that the excel sheet is the basis for the site and we can only work from the spreadsheet.


That's obviously not true. (I.e. the excel sheet is definitely not what the site is based on.) The question is what the actual source format is, and what sort of export is possible. You should somehow arrange to get in contact with whoever built and maintains the site and discuss file formats with them. Maybe your CAT can handle the original format, or the tech people can generate a better export for you (e.g. at least attach some sort of metadata to each string that will give you a clue about the context, something that will show you whether "From:" refers to the sender of an email, a city where a shipment comes from or a starting date, and which strings stand together.)
The "From" example is a good argument you can put to your contactperson, perhaps they will realize that the "word salad" approach to localization is not the best one.

Unfortunately the tech people may be unable or unwilling to give you a different export, so you may be stuck with the random string list you have now. All localization projects tend to involve some amount of guesswork and a significant percentage of errors, all due to insufficient context information, so this is not at all unprecedented. In software localization, the context information available to the translator is often limited to a string ID that gives you a clue about what other strings the string is associated with, and some info about what element it belongs to (which program/feature/screen it's in, is it a tooltip, button or menu item etc.) I suspect that the situation is often the same in website localization. Few websites are made up of static HTML pages.
If there's enough money for the project, the errors (which are inevitable) can be fixed after translation in testing/review. It's up to you to decide whether your stomach can take it.

[Edited at 2012-04-02 16:35 GMT]


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Cristina Usón Calvo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sales is always their weakness Apr 2, 2012

GerSi wrote:

If none of these works, try to make them see that a website with many errors suggests potential buyers their products might be of lower quality as well.


I think this last option will totally persuade them. Otherwise, they are too stupid to understand that there are some languages where genre is something really important to get a legible text.

You may also try to show them a similar example, building a completely non-sense sentence in English as an analogy of how the translation would result if they inisist to carry on.


Anyway, good luck!!


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:54
Member
French to English
+ ...
Talk about stupid! Apr 2, 2012

Cristina Usón Calvo wrote:

Sales is always their weakness


Oh dear me, yes!

I still remember the major website translation I did some years ago now; a very complicated affair, for a manufacturer of stainless-steel professional kitchen equipment. It was several tens of thousands of words, their entire catalogue, and with all the research, it took me ages; they weren't too impressed with the bill.

Out of the goodness of my heart (and for free!), I did my usual quality control final check once the site was online — only to find that they'd "saved" the last €15 or so by not getting me to translate their 'welcome' page, but doing it themselves — apparently, with the help of a Collins 'Pocket Gem' FR > EN dictionary: they'd translated 'Métiers de la bouche" as "Professions of the mouth", with all the unwanted smutty double-entendre that could lead too!

They were mortified when I pointed out the error, and how they were "spoiling the (marketing) ship for a ha'p'orth of tar"

[Edited at 2012-04-02 20:48 GMT]


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Melanie Wittwer  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 00:54
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks everybody Apr 2, 2012

Thanks everybody for your very useful suggestions. I feel a lot better now.
I might suggest to them that I'd do the translation in excel and then go through the website and mark and correct "wrong" wording on screen shots. That does not fix the problem, but at least the client will have access to the correct translation. How they apply it to the site is then not my problem anymore.


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Alison Sabedoria  Identity Verified
France
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
I try to explain this context issue right at the start Apr 3, 2012

Tony M wrote:

Out of the goodness of my heart (and for free!), I did my usual quality control final check once the site was online — only to find that they'd "saved" the last €15 or so by not getting me to translate their 'welcome' page, but doing it themselves — apparently, with the help of a Collins 'Pocket Gem' FR > EN dictionary: they'd translated 'Métiers de la bouche" as "Professions of the mouth", with all the unwanted smutty double-entendre that could lead too!

They were mortified when I pointed out the error, and how they were "spoiling the (marketing) ship for a ha'p'orth of tar"

[Edited at 2012-04-02 20:48 GMT]


Oh, yes! Been there, done that, got a t-shirt or two...

I have regular laughs (fortunately shared by the client, who has a great sense of humour) supplied by glitches thrown up by a sophisticated, centralised, cross-referencing "memory bank" on one site. This a tremendous time-saver and resource - in French! In English, though...

When using CAT, it's sometimes possible to expand segments so that they make more sense when the phrase order has to be changed around. If not, it's important to avoid adding "non-equivalent" nonsense to the TM.

Many clients are (initially) attached to the idea of their own home-grown word kit. In our opening conversation, I try to do the 'phone or e-mail equivalent of "I've put the kettle on to make us a nice cup of tea. Please sit down on this comfy sofa, and let me explain..."


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Website translation in excel format

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