Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >
Poll: The worst thing a translator can do would be...
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 17:27
SITE STAFF
Feb 27, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "The worst thing a translator can do would be...".

This poll was originally submitted by Cristina Heraud-van Tol. View the poll results »



 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:27
Member (2006)
German to English
Other Feb 27, 2012

Most of the above!

 

Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:27
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Nothing to do with quality Feb 27, 2012

I think that the worst things a translator can do have nothing to do with quality. Quality is important but I believe that for instance a breach of confidentiality - like divulging contents of translated contract to competition would be a way more serious.

Cheers
S


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:27
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other: Make a serious mistake in translation Feb 27, 2012

Everything else can be forgiven, but I have seen translators pilloried for major linguistic errors. Here are some cases that ruined the translators' reputations.

1. In translating a conference resolution on appointing a new auditor, the translator understood that the previous one had died, and in fact he had merely retired. This was at an international conference, and the resolution about to be submitted to a vote. He was fired on the spot and sent home.

2. In referring to tuberculosis patients who had dropped out of treatment and were lost in follow-up, a contract translator decided they had gone to Heaven. This infuriated his supervisor who never used his services again.

3. In the translation of an important diagnosis that said the tissue was "indemne" in Spanish, the translator said 'damaged', which misled doctors. Think of how a mistake in dosage or administration of a drug could change a person's life.

4. Then there was the interpreter (I know who he was--he confessed it to me) who translated "frozen semen" into Spanish as 'marineros congelados'. He never worked as an interpreter again.


 

Filipa Plant dos Santos  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:27
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
Ok but.....! Feb 27, 2012

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:


4. Then there was the interpreter (I know who he was--he confessed it to me) who translated "frozen semen" into Spanish as 'marineros congelados'. He never worked as an interpreter again.




Well, Yes, ok. But I've often thought that the most important skill for someone doing "live" interpreting has to be having a thick skin. Mistakes WILL happen, you can't be absolutely perfect all the time, but you do have to be able to live with it and carry on, or you'd go mad.

I know that I couldn't do it, I would replay the mistake over and over in my mind, and eventually the stress would kill me - so that's why I stick to written translation!!

I feel for your friend with the "frozen seamen" - but I don't necessarily think it means he's a bad interpreter!! Surely??


 

Adnan Özdemir  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 04:27
Member (2007)
German to Turkish
+ ...
Other: D D T Feb 27, 2012

Dying

During

Trans_lating

icon_biggrin.gif

[Edited at 2012-02-27 09:53 GMT]


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Agree with Muriel Feb 27, 2012

Getting it wrong has to be the ultimate sin

 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 10:27
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Agree with Muriel too Feb 27, 2012

Chris S wrote:

Getting it wrong has to be the ultimate sin


Well at least a hot contender in the Top Three

I once had a translator translate a "toilet seat" as "stool," as in "Don't forget to clean the stools at the end of the day." in a public parks' maintenance manual. icon_eek.gif
I'm glad I caught that one before the job went to the client and the stool really hit the fan! icon_biggrin.gif

Happy translating!


 

Emin Arı  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 04:27
Member
English to Turkish
+ ...
no internet connection! Feb 27, 2012

loss of customers, online glossaries and bank account access!

 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:27
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The wrong place at the wrong time Feb 27, 2012

I agree with Stanislaw Czech that the worst things come under the ethical issues. Many of the other situations are irritating and embarrassing, but not disasters.

I am a hopeless typist, but I have colleagues who barely NEED the spelling checker! Obvious typos are irritating, but not exactly the end of the world. The 'frozen semen/seamen' would not be caught by a spelling checker in writing, or by the ear in the spoken language... It's an understandable human error.

Not proofreading and therefore not catching that kind of error, quite apart from the other examples Muriel quotes, is far worse. Translating the meaning is at the core of the business, and rendering it faithfully must be given top priority.

We strive for perfection, and perfection is put at risk by most of the situations mentioned in the poll. However, the dream of perfection must not be reduced to nit-picking. Attention to detail is important, but must never be allowed to cloud the major issues.

I don't think you can generalise. You have to ask: what is most important to the specific client, each time. Some will say never mind the typing errors, I NEED this as soon as you can deliver. Others can give you more time, as long as the result makes a good impression on their customers. Then plan your translation accordingly.

Happy translating!


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 01:27
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Except for "to accept a tight deadline" Feb 27, 2012

(why not accept it? It is up to you to manage your time!), I cannot select just one option and I do agree with Muriel that "Getting it wrong has to be the ultimate sin"!

 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:27
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Most of the above indeed, but... Feb 27, 2012

Michael Harris wrote:
Most of the above!


... all these may have mitigating factors.

to accept texts in unknown fields - It depends on the level of the audience in unknown fields. I have chosen five fields of human knowledge in which I won't translate material intended for professional practitioners. Yet expert reviewing could do the trick.

Medicine is one of the fields I've declared off-limits. A couple of weeks ago I had a request to translate and subtitle a medical video. BTW I know no medical translation specialist in my pair who does video subtitling. My two medical translation experts were MIA. So I got the client to agree that the end-client (obviously a pharma company) would review my translation for the subs before I burned them. To my surprise, the MDs only made half a dozen changes, all of them being matters of word preference.


to miss a deadline - I voted for this one, as it is my priority. Never missed a deadline in almost four decades translating, and hope I never will. If the client needs it by a certain date, you can either say it's impossible (and thell them what is a possible deadline), or turn down the assignment offer.


to not translate only into their native language - This is a matter of applying common sense and some really honest self-judgment. Giving just one from countless examples: I'd be a much better choice to translate material, say, on people management into my technically non-native language, than highly literary, poetic material into my truly native language.


not using the spell-checker - This is silly. While the convenience of a spellchecker will deter you from leaving a "1" in place of an "l" (lowercase L), by no means it will assure that your translation is properly written. I recall that Word 2.0's spellchecker would not accept "nuvens" (PT for "clouds"), and would suggest replacing it with with "nu vens" (PT for "naked you come"). Using the spellchecker should be taken for granted, always.


to accept too much work and to accept a tight deadline - Both stem from not knowing accurately your production capacity. If you have made a commitment to do it, you must do it! ... no matter what it takes. At least, knowing your production capacity will enable you to know beforehand how much effort it will take.


 

David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 02:27
German to English
+ ...
Making a mess of a project Feb 27, 2012

and then refusing to admit it to the client!

To err is human, to admit it is professional.


 

Michaël Temmerman  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 19:27
English to Dutch
+ ...
bad quality Feb 27, 2012

Doing a lousy job is according to me the worst thing a translator can do. And then I'm not talking about one huge interpretation mistake in perhaps a document of 20 pages. I'm talking about overall quality. Mistakes are of course to be avoided as muchas possible, but we are all human and make them anyway. However, there's no excuse for a lousy translation (whatever the underlying reason!).

 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:27
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Other... Feb 27, 2012

all of them apart from "not accepting a tight deadline"... if it said "an impossible deadline", then I would have agreed...

 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Jared Tabor[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Poll: The worst thing a translator can do would be...

Advanced search






BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2019 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has evolved to bring translators a brand new experience. Designed with user experience at its core, Studio 2019 transforms how new users get up and running, helps experienced users make the most of the powerful features, ensures new

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search