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Poll: How do you feel when the client finds a major error in your translation?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 22:09
SITE STAFF
Sep 15, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How do you feel when the client finds a major error in your translation?".

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:09
English to Arabic
+ ...
Can't even bear to think about it! Sep 15, 2008

Definitely mortified...
Once, a couple of years ago, I got a pdf file, translated and submitted it just before the deadline, only to receive a phone call from the agency the next day telling me that the last two pages hadn't been translated at all!! These two pages were preceded by a blank page, so for some reason I had assumed (never do that!) that the document had ended there! The angry tone in my client's voice made my heart sink, pulse race, cold sweat break out etc. I never heard from them again
No it's not a nice feeling and I don't get over it easily...

[Edited at 2008-09-15 13:53]


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Sandra Petch
Local time: 07:09
French to English
+ ...
Touch wood Sep 15, 2008

If the question had been "how *would* you feel" I would have answered "mortified".

So far, touch wood, it hasn't happened (unless you count "pubic transport" instead of "public transport", that was 10 years ago and it still makes me cringe!)

Sandra


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Venkatesh Sundaram  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 11:39
German to English
I guess most of us ought to feel that way Sep 15, 2008

Nesrin wrote:

Definitely mortified...
Once, a couple of years ago, I got a pdf file, translated and submitted it just before the deadline, only to receive a phone call from the agency the next day telling me that the last two pages hadn't been translated at all!! These two pages were preceded by a blank page, so for some reason I had assumed (never do that!) that the document had ended there! The angry tone in my client's voice made my heart sink, pulse race, cold sweat break out etc. I never heard from them again
No it's not a nice feeling and I don't get over it easily...

[Edited at 2008-09-15 13:53]


I am sure most colleagues (at least those who are members of Proz.Com) take steps to maintain high professional standards. Nevertheless, mistakes can (and unfortunately sometimes do) occur. The fact that a large number of us have voted as they have is a reflection of the responsibility we feel for our work; I am sure serious professionals in any field (I too have worked in a different area for many years before becoming a free lance translator) would feel 'mortified' if their client / boss were to find a 'major error' in their work!
Regards, Venkatesh

[Edited at 2008-09-15 15:33]


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Coudn't possibly happened to me, but .......... Sep 15, 2008

I never come across such a case of major error, but small ones here and there over time.
When that's happened, it's bad enough to make me:
1) almost loose confidence about my attention to detail capability;
2) pale;
3) mortified;
4) think "I cannot let this happen again"
5) say to myself "I strive to be perfect."
Then after the dark dust of repentence settled, I breath deeply and drink a cup of green tea with my favorite pinenuts cookies. I restore peace.

[Edited at 2008-09-15 15:49]


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Mariam Osmann
Egypt
Local time: 08:09
English to Arabic
+ ...
Thanks God, I have never committed a major error till now Sep 15, 2008

Once a couple of years ago, I forgot to delete a non-editable text in the target file. The client thought It was not translated but I told him I only forgot to delete it.

As I have an experience with outsourcing, I worked with some colleagues who yes care about nothing but to get paid even before time. "I as translator not supposed to understand the mechanism of this process nor the components of the apparatus", "I am used to translate it like this", "the text is very difficult and you were in urgent need for someone to help you with the translation" and and the end of such conversations : "by the way I like discussion with someone who understand" OR "we have to simplify the source text to make it understandable", and the missions and visions start to pop-up.

I think that errors due to fatigue or unintentional leaks may be forgiven, sometimes the agencies do mistakes (Once an agency reversed the pair of language of a proofreading assignment) But those major errors due to a complete focus on fast earnings with least effort and depending sometimes that the direct client do not understand one of the language pair are unforgiven and shameful.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:09
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Most will be reluctant to comment Sep 15, 2008

Given the apparently public nature of this poll, I think most translators will be reluctant to revisit such episodes (except, of course, for those practitioners of our craft who can claim never to have made a major mistake in their careers).

For this reason, any useful discussion of such matters is best relegated to a private discussion forum.

Bob


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Sp-EnTranslator
United States
Local time: 01:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'd be crushed... Sep 15, 2008

that's how I'd feel, the more so if it were a major mistake (numbers, financial statements come up to mind...Oh dear!) It's best not to think about it.

Hasn't happened to me yet, and I sure hope it never does.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:09
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I will be mortified, I'm sure Sep 15, 2008

I'm sure it'll happen one day, but I've only done a little translating so far so for the moment I'm touching wood with one hand and typing with the other.

I'm mainly a language trainer and I've made some howlers. The only one I'm prepared to mention here was embarrassing more than anything. To lighten a business English exam class I explained why they shouldn't use the expression 'French letter' (you may need to consult a native British English speaker to find out why!). To emphasise the point, I wrote it on the whiteboard, underlined it and gave it a couple of exclamation marks. Then I went to erase it and guess what ... I'd written it in permanent marker. I'm sure it gave the other language teachers a good laugh though, and they probably needed it.

I was once pushed into doing a favour for a long-term collaborator - interpreting at a meeting to finalise a very large agricultural equipment order. I had to work both ways, even though the agency knew my French wasn't really up to it. It was 3 hours of pure hell, followed by nightmares of mistranslating the enormous sums of money involved. Never again!


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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:09
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
well hardly ever.... Sep 15, 2008

i'm somewhere between mortified and get over it...i am mortified because I'm so perfectionist. But I don't let it ruin my life! i always learn something. If it's someone I've never worked for, then it's really embarrassing. However, if it's someone I do work for on a regular basis, then I have a track record. We all screw up sometimes. The last mistake was forgetting a whole sentence; my client sent it back in an email. It was a rush job and I worked very late and was tired...you know how your eyes can slide over things. She was okay with it, she sent it back to me via email and i had it for her in 2 minutes, we made the deadline and everything was peachy! I was still really embarrassed.

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:09
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Define "major error" Sep 15, 2008

Just this morning a client made 2 small corrections in my work that were justified. Both were terms that I had found on the Internet, but they were *incorrect* on the Internet! I could have done better, but I certainaly didn't take it personally.

I think a major error would be when a translator says that someone died and they didn't. I remember reviewing a translation on TB patients with a phrase that should have been translated "lost in follow-up," but the translator understood it to mean the patients had died. Now that's worth being mortified about!

I also remember being at an international conference when a translator, working from Frenc, referred to the fact that the orgnanization's auditor had died, when in fact the auditor had merely retired. The translator was fired on the spot.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
Would be mortified, of course ... Sep 15, 2008

... but so far so good. I find most errors/misunderstandings tend to come from the source text and are not my doing.
I must admit that I will sometimes put awkward questions on proz to see how other translators cope with them, even though I know what I am going to use. For example, the translation of "Punto Operacional" from Spanish into English in the area of EDI, which I blithely translated as "Operational Point" until I discovered the shocking truth.
However, I am generally proud of the quality of my work and really appreciate positive feedback from clients about it, so must accept that if a mistake does arise (nobody's perfect!) I have to iterate a heartfelt mea culpa.
Then again, the definition of "major" is important too. I consider any error a sin (even apostrophe misuse, such as it's when it should be its), like confusing "loose" (adj.) and "lose" (vb.), but then again my more understanding/less aggressive colleague always says "Oh, that's normal, it's just a slip/spelling error, don't worry about it. I suppose that the example of the retired/not dead person mentioned above is a good example of putting things into proportion.

Anyway, on another tack, I must add that today I had a glowing feedback email from a client praising my translation speed and quality, so I am, as we say in the UK, well chuffed, but - caveat emptor! - I also know that, as Zebedee said, "tomorrow is another day"...


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 03:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'll let you know when it happens. Sep 16, 2008

But don't hold your breath!

MediaMatrix


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Miranda Joubioux  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:09
French to English
I put "other" because it really depends on the situation Sep 16, 2008

Errors happen to the best of us and how we react depends on the reaction of the customer. We can never be perfect 100% of the time, so when it happens, ideally we should be philosophical about it. However, our own pride and the altered relationship with the customer can make it a very bumpy ride. Everyone will act differently, depending on these factors, but I don't think any conscientious translator takes it in their stride.

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