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Poll: When proofreading other translators' works, how satisfied are you with the quality in general?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 01:05
SITE STAFF
Aug 2, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "When proofreading other translators' works, how satisfied are you with the quality in general?".

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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:05
Member
German to English
+ ...
Other Aug 2, 2012

How long is a piece of string? Translation quality varies hugely, from the texts where no changes are required at all to those which would be better off being trashed and a new translation started from scratch. Unfortunately, the latter tend to outnumber the former!

 

Amandine Added  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:05
Member (2010)
English to French
+ ...
Each time is different... Aug 2, 2012

Well I had to retranslate from scratch once as the first translation was just a nightmare...But there are other times when I read a translation and i'm like: woua....this is so good, I need to remember that one !
In any cases, I always learn one thing or two in the processicon_smile.gif))


 

Sonia Hill
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:05
Italian to English
It varies Aug 2, 2012

It varies a lot, but I am thinking of telling certain agencies that I will no longer accept proofreading work from them because the quality of the translations is almost always very poor. I would prefer to concentrate on translating, rather than wasting my time on jobs like these.
Having said that, I do enjoy proofreading a good translation, because I always learn something from it.


 

Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
Other Aug 2, 2012

There are translators who are really good at their work while others leave much to be desired. I've had both.

I try to do my job to the best of my ability and though I am quite strict when it comes to proofreading but I don't penalise the translator simply because we chose a different synonym. As long as it is correct translation in the context and reads well, it's fine with me. But at times the errors are induced because of clients' conditions... at times we need to educate the client that though the translator has committed some mistakes but those were unavoidable given the quality of the original or lack of time or because the source and target languages have different syntax or because the client wanted a certain number of words as translation and that wasn't possible because one language was more 'wordy' as compared to the other one... the list is endless. I try my best to explain these to the client in case the errors were obviously result of such technical issues. I'm a translator and know that services we provide depend on certain criteria. A proofreader who knows only one language may be right for proofreading an original work but you need a real translator-proofreader to proofread a translation because this person knows the intricacies of both languages and can explain why an error was caused and this is important if you need a good quality translation.

I charge more for proofreading (as compared to translating) because it is more difficult, needs more time and effort as you have to justify each and every error that you point out and try to explain the reason behind it. I always use my dictionaries and grammar books to make sure that I'm not saying something that is incorrect. But I rarely do proofreading work simply because most clients can't afford the rates that I charge but I have some regular clients for this segment.

Penalising translators is not the name of the game that I play. I get paid more than what I would have got as a translator so I don't need to get that client as a translator. As a result, I can afford to be fair. Often I refuse work if I see a shoddy translation job (that will take too long) or if it appears to be a machine translation as then it would make it just too expensive for the client and tell them the same. In such cases I suggest names of some reliable colleagues to avoid any sort of conflict of interest. I may be wrong but that's the way I work.


 

ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:05
Member
German to English
+ ...
Hate it Aug 2, 2012

I really hate proofreading. I have yet to proofread a translation which only needs a little editing. Maybe I am just unlucky. I refuse most of the time but there are times when I feel obliged to do it.

 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 09:05
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Can you read my thoughts? Aug 2, 2012

Mary Worby wrote:

How long is a piece of string? Translation quality varies hugely, from the texts where no changes are required at all to those which would be better off being trashed and a new translation started from scratch. Unfortunately, the latter tend to outnumber the former!


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 10:05
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Other Aug 2, 2012

Like everyone else, I've been asked to 'proofread' texts from the sublime to the ridiculous. Or at least from fluent, flawless and semantically correct to hopeless.

Most of it is in between, but at the high end, so on the whole, I am fairly satisfied. I refuse to take on the obviously hopeless texts.

As Ritu Bhanot so rightly points out, sometimes translators are working against the odds, where the perfect translation is not possible in the space or within other constraints posed by the client.

I try to explain and send feedback to clients. It is not enough to grouch on forums like this one, where you are preaching to the converted. It IS a great help with defining and formulating the problems, but if we are not satisfied, we must explain why to the people who can do something about it!

I have given up on a few agencies, but some do listen and try to educate end clients as well. Finding the right translator for the job is crucial. I used to proofread at one time for an excellent legal translator - a very well qualified and conscientious beginner, who knew all the terminology and when to use it.
But when the agency sent him a text about a trade fair - inviting the public to visit it - he could get that to sound like a draft contract too!
I am sure he has learnt a lot since then, but I still smile when I remember... and wonder what I have unwittingly offered proofreaders myself.

Thanks to the proofreaders who kindly told me about some of my gaffes, so that the client never saw them...

Proofreading calls for a very special approach: humility to accept what you might not have written yourself, but is in fact fine, combined with the self-confidence, sometimes verging on arrogance, to question a competent colleague's work when necessary. And, like the AA prayer, the wisdom to know the difference!

I can understand why some people simply do not attempt it. But it is satisfying when you can deliver a good text and say now it's as close to perfect as we are going to get.


[Edited at 2012-08-02 09:57 GMT]


 

Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 10:05
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...

MODERATOR
Impossible to answer Aug 2, 2012

I proofread a lot, and the quality varies greatly, from excellent work where I hardly change even a single word, to complete garbage.

 

Isabelle F. BRUCHER  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 10:05
English to French
+ ...
Other Aug 2, 2012

The quality of the translation to proofread can vary greatly as already stated above.

I am not the kind who will find mistakes where there aren't any, just to prove that I did work on it, while it would just prove that I do not know either the source language or the target language or both - do abusers ever think of their reputation when they do this?

Now some agencies rely blindly on their proofreaders on the ground that they do not know the source and/or target language(s), so some proofreaders abuse their power, of course.

As to me, I find it hard to evaluate quickly how long the proofreading is going to take.

Translations are usually a little worse towards the end, when there is (too?) little time left to meet the translators' deadlines, so the proofreader must assess the quality of the WHOLE translation before offering a price, which means working for free in the first instance.

And I do not like to charge per hour because there is no proof of the time I spent on it. Then a more experienced (or negligent) translator might do it faster, so this could later cause frictions. Wow ! Stop !

I prefer not to proofread any more, for all these reasaons.

Plus I consider it is up to the agency to hire its own internal proofreaders, which is not always easy when agencies pretend to be able to translate "from any language to any language"... languages which they do not understand themselves...

But, if I HAD to proofread again, I would ask (again) 60% of the basic rate I would have used for translating that text, just to be on the safe side, and it's usually accepted (you very often have to offer both rates, one in case you translate, one in case you proofread that same text translated by another bidder).


 

Filipa Plant dos Santos  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 09:05
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
Essential for documents! Aug 2, 2012

Especially - and I admit, I'm a bit pdf-obsessed - for complicated documents that have a lot of formatting or that need 'human eyes' to look at them. It's so easy to miss something, or every so often a box just doesn't show up on the screen. This has happened to me in the past.

I now ALWAYS print out my complicated docs, and check them in printed form (the Archaic method, as I call iticon_smile.gif ), as something always pops up.

I recently did a small proofreading job, for a four-page document that had a lot of reference numbers in it, etc.

I found quite a few errors (all reference numbers and similar), and corrected them, although the basic translation was good.

What I think the problem was in this case was that the original deadline was too tight. The original translation (which I had refused, due to a too tight deadline) didn't allow the translator enough time to translate. I was down for proofreading the document, and had longer to do this (I got the whole weekend) than the translator had to do the original work. In my opinion, had the original translator had the whole time period to do the trad, she or he would have delivered a perfect document. Just guessing, but am almost certain this was the case.

In the words of Christine Andersen:

"I try to explain and send feedback to clients. It is not enough to grouch on forums like this one, where you are preaching to the converted. It IS a great help with defining and formulating the problems, but if we are not satisfied, we must explain why to the people who can do something about it!"

I didn't do this in the above-mentioned case, but next time I will!!


[Edited at 2012-08-02 10:55 GMT]


 

Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 04:05
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
mostly good Aug 2, 2012

the most difficult I find are the ones where i edit english which is not the author's first language. In that case there's no original source to verify it, as there is with translation. Most translations are okay, need some work, some more than others. But that's why they ask me to edit and why I get the big money!!

 

Reed James
Chile
Local time: 05:05
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I only proofread other translators' *work* Aug 2, 2012

Oh sorry. That was my involuntary proofreader's response mechanism. I did not consciously write that title, so you will have to excuse my built-in proofreading device. I will have to figure out how to override it.

If the translator translated the complete *works* of say, Dostoyevsky, then perhaps I could safely say that I could proofread his or her works.

[Edited at 2012-08-02 13:03 GMT]


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Ahem... Aug 2, 2012

Reed D James wrote:

I only proofread other translators *work*



Would that be "translators' *work*"?icon_smile.gif


 

WiebkeN  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:05
English to German
+ ...
It depends on the subject Aug 2, 2012

My first proofreading assignment in the field of chemistry with a volume of 60,000 words, which was done by three translators, was a complete disaster. These three translators actually produced different kinds of nonsense. The first one did not know anything about chemistry, the writing style of second one was lengthy and tortuous, the third one was competent in the field of chemistry but without any feel for language.

I took a long time before I accepted the next proofreading jobs. What makes me think is, that all the financial translations I have received for proofreading were well written, technical and marketing translations however were of inferior quality.



[Edited at 2012-08-02 14:16 GMT]


 
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