Poll: What percentage of your translation jobs/projects would you consider easy?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 09:49
SITE STAFF
Nov 8, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What percentage of your translation jobs/projects would you consider easy?".

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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:49
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
Surprised by the results so far Nov 8, 2009

I chose 51 to 75%, as I find the majority of my work relatively easy. This is mainly because I do not accept jobs I will find too difficult or which will take me longer than normal to complete. I translate to earn money, so it's not a good business decision to take on a job that will slow down the translation process because I don't know the subject area very well and need to spend hours finding the right vocab.

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:49
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Define "easy" Nov 8, 2009

For me, the poorly written texts are the hardest, and I get a lot of those, but still not 50% over all. I lose a lot of time trying to figure out what the author is saying because verbs are missing, punctuation is weird, etc. A lot of my jobs were obviously dictated by the author and not carefully reviewed. That becomes evident when an unrelated similar-sounding word pops up in the text.

(My favorite example of a dictated word misheard by an English transcriber was "high rocky" for "hierarchy." That's the kind of mistake I run into a lot. They place a disproportionate burden on the translator's shoulders.)

I would prefer a decently written technical text (in my areas) any day.


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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:49
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
about half Nov 8, 2009

but i like challenging work.

However, I agree about bad writing. Sometimes business correspondence is the worst,because a lot of people are simply not very good writers. They may be good at their jobs, but they aren't exactly Oscar Wilde in the writing skills department. This makes the job harder for sure...


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:49
Member
Italian to English
Agree with Marlene Nov 8, 2009

because I like to be challenged by my work. I also do a lot of art type texts, museum guides and so on, where I need to do a lot of research, which slows me down. However I like to feel at the end of the day that I've learned something new, and these type of texts rarely fail in this department.

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Venkatesh Sundaram  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 22:19
Member
German to English
Definition of 'easy' is subjective perhaps Nov 8, 2009

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

For me, the poorly written texts are the hardest, and I get a lot of those, but still not 50% over all. I lose a lot of time trying to figure out what the author is saying because verbs are missing, punctuation is weird, etc. A lot of my jobs were obviously dictated by the author and not carefully reviewed. That becomes evident when an unrelated similar-sounding word pops up in the text.

(My favorite example of a dictated word misheard by an English transcriber was "high rocky" for "hierarchy." That's the kind of mistake I run into a lot. They place a disproportionate burden on the translator's shoulders.)

I would prefer a decently written technical text (in my areas) any day.


I agree with Muriel that poorly written texts are often the most difficult to translate.
The objective of the poll however seems to be to assess the proportion of work which collegues find "difficult" for whatever reason - subject, vocabulary, language, format, deadline...


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:49
English to French
+ ...
About half Nov 8, 2009

If documents were carefully written, reviewed and proofread before sending them off to the translator, all my work would be easy, except for the occasional obscure term I have to look up now and then. Alas, not all text is created equal, and some people just don't seem to understand that if a translator can't make sense of it, then they also can't properly translate it.

As for the half that I don't consider easy, I still consider it moderately difficult, not plain difficult. The good thing is that most of my clients are used to being asked questions and don't delay in explaining problem points I have identified. And they usually also know their stuff well, so they are always able to clarify. The bottom line is that I get some small undue delays on about half my work, but nothing critical.


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree Nov 8, 2009

I agree that "easy" is a relative concept. Content I find easy to handle could be pull-out-my-hair frustrating to a colleague and vice versa.



Venkatesh Sundaram wrote:

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

For me, the poorly written texts are the hardest, and I get a lot of those, but still not 50% over all. I lose a lot of time trying to figure out what the author is saying because verbs are missing, punctuation is weird, etc. A lot of my jobs were obviously dictated by the author and not carefully reviewed. That becomes evident when an unrelated similar-sounding word pops up in the text.

(My favorite example of a dictated word misheard by an English transcriber was "high rocky" for "hierarchy." That's the kind of mistake I run into a lot. They place a disproportionate burden on the translator's shoulders.)

I would prefer a decently written technical text (in my areas) any day.


I agree with Muriel that poorly written texts are often the most difficult to translate.
The objective of the poll however seems to be to assess the proportion of work which collegues find "difficult" for whatever reason - subject, vocabulary, language, format, deadline...


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:49
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I fully agree with Nikki and Sara Nov 8, 2009

Nikki Graham wrote:
I chose 51 to 75%, as I find the majority of my work relatively easy. This is mainly because I do not accept jobs I will find too difficult or which will take me longer than normal to complete. I translate to earn money, so it's not a good business decision to take on a job that will slow down the translation process because I don't know the subject area very well and need to spend hours finding the right vocab.


[quote]Sara Senft wrote:
I agree that "easy" is a relative concept. Content I find easy to handle could be pull-out-my-hair frustrating to a colleague and vice versa.]/quote]

After so many years translating, I've developed my specialties. I can't select jobs everywhere, but they are offered to me instead. Of course I can turn down any job that completely eludes my knowledge, however I try to advertise my specialties so prospects will try to hire me to use them. This leaves a gray area that is neither unfamiliar nor throuughly known to me, which comprises less than one-third of my work. So 51-75% should be easy for me, though it might be off-limits for some pretty competent colleagues in other areas.


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Marinus Vesseur  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:49
English to Dutch
+ ...
What percentage of your jobs would you call interesting.. Nov 8, 2009

.. is what I would like to know. The sheer boredom of repetitious, near-irrelevant, and badly written documentation gets to me sometimes.

Difficult is good, in fact, as long as it means there is a bit of an intellectual challenge and something to learn.

That happens too. The other day I had to translate a Leica camera manual and learned quite a bit about photography in the process. Loved it.

Engineers and technicians have such little understanding of the human psyche, though, it's baffling sometimes. They ramble on and on, full of pride of engineering achievements only insiders care about. Get to the essentials, man!People want to USE the gadget, not read about the inner workings of it.

Anyway, that's just me a little frustrated with a current project that's dragging on and on.

Have a lovely Sunday!


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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 18:49
English to French
+ ...
What is easy? Nov 8, 2009

IMHO it is not only a matter of source texts being well written or not... My own state of mind sometimes makes things look more difficult than they are, actually, especially when I get tired.

Also, when starting a new job, after 3 or 4 weeks of intensive work on the previous one, with another source language and subject, things may seem more difficult...


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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 18:49
English to French
+ ...
@Marinus Vesseur Nov 8, 2009

Marinus Vesseur wrote:
What percentage of your jobs would you call interesting...
.. is what I would like to know.
Have a lovely Sunday!


I am lucky with at least 98%... or maybe it is (also) because I get quite curious about (and therefore interested in) what I translate


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:49
Member (2008)
English to Italian
easy? sometimes Nov 9, 2009

usually I need to carry out some research for my translations, sometimes not much, but sometimes yes. I get translations that I simply do quickly without any tools, but it isn,t frequent

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María Eugenia Wachtendorff  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 13:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
Easy translations are hard to get these days Nov 9, 2009

Machine translation and online bilingual dictionaries do help people a lot when it comes to understanding the essential parts of their business correspondence, for example. I used to get a lot of English-Spanish translations from my local clients, but now they need help with their replies only. Over 80% of my work is ES-EN, and tell me about poor writing!

Many, many years ago, when I worked as a secretary, I took shorthand dictation and then along came the good old dictaphone. My bosses relied on me to produce well-composed letters or memos, and I got used to improving originals. Nowadays, businessmen type their e-mail on their PCs (while secretaries make coffee and run errands), so what I get are loose ideas accompanied with the typical "You know me well; I'm sure you will do a great job." That's very flattering, but it adds a lot of stress to my work.

On the other hand, globalization has created this fascinating market, and now I get more work from other Latin American countries than from my own. It is not that easy to change from Mexican to Colombian to Argentinean or Venezuelan Spanish. I love the challenge, but the fact is that there are very few good writers in this world... or perhaps it's just that everybody is always in a rush and doing several things at a time!

If I could pick and choose, I would translate into my mother tongue only. But then again, most English documents come from Asia, Sweden, Holland, etc., so in the end it's the same. No more than 20% of my jobs are easy these days, BUT I STILL ENJOY TRANSLATING MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE


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