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Poll: Have you ever regretted taking on a project?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
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SITE STAFF
Apr 19, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever regretted taking on a project?".

This poll was originally submitted by Francesca Battaglia. View the poll results »



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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 14:24
Turkish to English
+ ...
Yes, once or twice Apr 19, 2013

This has always been due to subject matter issues. At first glance, a text whose subject matter is outside my area of experience looks simple enough for me to tackle, so I take it on. Once I start, I realise that I need to research a lot of terminology, and the game is no longer worth the candle. The amount of time that I have to spend on the text ends up being out of proportion to the fee. On top of that, since the subject matter is not an area that I specialise in, the research that I do does not even help to bolster my private glossary of technical terms. However, I have never failed to deliver a translation, and I soldier on, resolving to learn from the experience. In fact, I am far more wary about accepting such assignments nowadays.

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:24
French to English
Yes Apr 19, 2013

In 20 years of course! And more than once or twice, so I put "many times". However, that gives the impression that I have often regretted taking on a job. The truth is in 20 years, yes, on several occasions. That would beg the question, why chose to be a translator if you often regret taking on a job? It is not quite that straightforward.

In what circumstances have I regretted taking on a job? A wide range of situations, often, but not always related to the client's lack of professionalism, particularly relating to payment. Also, in the early days, when I was too optimistic about the time it would take to get the job done. Internet was not then what it is now. Many clients did not have internet, or at least not a sufficiently reliable connexion or one which could handle anything but tiny files. Work had to be sent by express post. You had to allow for that time, and I'm talking days! Last but not least, some jobs are just plain boring, lacking novelty and interest and the challenge becomes avoiding writing your boredom into your translation.

Edited to go along with Tim. I now have sufficient experience to refuse if I am not sure and particularly if I cannot see the original before presenting the quote. I no longer find myself with big chunks of text which completely throw me.

[Edited at 2013-04-19 08:31 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-04-19 08:31 GMT]


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 21:24
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Yes Apr 19, 2013

You don't know if a job is going to turn into the proverbial can of worms until you have taken the lid off and actually started it. Even after 30 years translating, sometimes you can't see these kinds of projects coming at you like an out-of-control locomotive.

I answered "many times" since I reckon that they come along at a rate of one every 4 or 5 years. In all cases, I bit the upper lip and just carried on until it was completed. If I say I'll do something, I don't give up halfway through.

Small edit

[Edited at 2013-04-19 09:38 GMT]


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Enrico Zoffoli  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:24
Member (2013)
German to Italian
+ ...
Yes Apr 19, 2013

and the reason was always the same: the client did not respect the payment deadline that had been agreed upon.

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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 13:24
English to Russian
+ ...
Mostly in proofreading Apr 19, 2013

The most common reason for disappointment in my case was accepting a proofreading/editing job claimed to be worked on by a very good translator, only to discover the translation was easier to discard and do again from scratch.

[Edited at 2013-04-19 14:45 GMT]


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Every time the sun shines Apr 19, 2013



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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 14:24
Turkish to English
+ ...
Lucky for you Apr 19, 2013

Chris S wrote:



Lucky that you don't live in Cyprus, in that case.


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ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:24
Member
German to English
+ ...
Proofreading Apr 19, 2013

Like Anton, very often I regret taking on proofreading. I have yet to proofread a good translation. I don't think that it is because I am overzealous or want to impose my own style, but has more to do with the quality of work from my clients' other translators or simply bad luck. I usually refuse unless I have very little work or I feel obliged.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, a few times Apr 19, 2013

About 10 years ago, I/we accepted a job through a colleague. It was for a company we'd already worked with. The client said it would be "similar" to previous jobs (verbatim interviews with cattle farmers in Argentina) and my friend gave an estimate based on this information. It turned out there was a lot more text than originally anticipated, but my friend had made a firm agreement with his client and for whatever reason, didn't want to or was unable to renogotiate the terms, so we went ahead and did the job anyway in good faith. In the end we were working for about 2 cents a word on that one and nobody was happy (except the client)

Nevertheless, several years later I'm still working with one direct client I met through the one cited above and they give me a substantial amount of work each year, so I feel the "sacrifice" I made putting up with the nightmare scenario a decade back was worth it in the long run. It also taught me a valuable lesson - do your own negotiating, because "Hell is other people"...


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
Par for the course Apr 19, 2013

Anton Konashenok wrote:

The most common reason for disappointment in my case was accepting a proofreading/editing job claimed to worked on by a very good translator, only to discover the translation that was easier to discard and do again from scratch.


I get this all the time. And I always think to myself: ¿how can anyone know how good a translator is if they need to engage their services in the first place?


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Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:24
German to English
+ ...
Edith Piaf perspective Apr 19, 2013

Non, je ne regrette rien...

Apart from one experience where I did not get paid for a lot of work, I do not really regret any work done.

Regrets for me take the form of misgivings on my part - for things that I control, such as time management, and eating and sleeping properly. Nothing the client really needs to worry about, but I could make my life easier for myself!

Once, I took on a fairly small assignment where I discovered too late that I was out of my depth, subject-wise. This disaster occurred in November 2011. The situation was rescued somewhat by my waiving claim to any payment for the work, and asking for "another chance". I continued working for that outsourcer, and since that most unfortunate occurrence, I have received regular work from the outsourcer; we communicate well, and I feel free to "say no" if I need to, but will also make an extra effort for urgent work, etc.. In short, we have developed an excellent relationship and enjoy working together. Do I regret making the mistake of attempting to translate something not in my subject field (after 24 years in the business!), and causing the outsourcer stress? Of course I do. Do I regret the eventual outcome - regular work with a very pleasant person and true professional? No way!


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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:24
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
once or twice Apr 19, 2013

Usually it's for that reason when it looks simpler than it is, and it turns out to be really badly written or needing a lot of terminology research. As a result, I'm a bit more careful. the worst was taking a big assignment for a new client and it turned out to be a disaster from the beginning: the end client was disorganized, the agency assigning it was unprofessional, one of the translators dropped out...etc. I never accepted another job from that agency again, although she did contact me a few times.
The other one I regretted was a scammer who never paid me! The assignment was easy enough but the outsourcer turned out to be a crook.


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Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:24
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Just now Apr 19, 2013

I was just asked to proofread a translation which was (supposed to be) an updated version of an earlier document and "the client just wants to make sure the updates were done correctly".
I have not seen the original version, but the document did not match the source document (which presumably was the original document but did not have a translation) and the translation turned out to be a machine translation.

Yes, it was short and no, I did not need to waste too much time on it but it has put me in a very bad grumpy mood...

Usually, the texts I am being sent for proofreading are of high to very high quality - I may just be a bit more wary with this client from now on.


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 13:24
German to English
+ ...
Once or twice Apr 19, 2013

But usually due to form that was announced in advance (eg excel files, tables in pdf files that can't be converted)

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