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Poll: Do you ask "source language clients" for help with a term, if it's not their project?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 14:45
SITE STAFF
Aug 7, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you ask "source language clients" for help with a term, if it's not their project?".

This poll was originally submitted by Carmen Grabs. View the poll results »



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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 22:45
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Can't understand the question... Aug 7, 2013

Why would I bother one client, presuming I don't have a NDA, with someone else's problems??? Maybe the asker could explain the reasoning behind her question...

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Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:45
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
No (?) Aug 7, 2013

I'm not sure I understand the question.
If client A sends me a project, but they are not the end client, if a term is not clear I will ask them to clarify it for me with their (end) client.
If client A sends me a project, and a term is not clear I would not even think of asking client B for help - is that what was meant in the question? That seems a silly thing to do...


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Béatrice DEZERALD  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:45
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
No !! Aug 7, 2013

I agree with Marjolein "If client A sends me a project, and a term is not clear I would not even think of asking client B for help - is that what was meant in the question? That seems a silly thing to do..." !!

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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:45
Hebrew to English
No comprendo Aug 7, 2013

Although from what I *think* it means, then NO, of course not. I can't decide whether it borders on "unprofessional" or if it would just make you look incompetent.

If you need help with a term, there are 1001 people/places to turn to, going back to the client (of the actual project) is the last resort and turning to another unrelated client is a bad idea on all kinds of levels.

Imagine being a PM and receiving an email from one of your translators asking for help translating a term!!! ...would you be inclined to collaborate with them again?

[Edited at 2013-08-07 08:56 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Aug 7, 2013

Probably yes, although I don't recall the last time I did so.

Unlike some other posters, I don't think that "going back to the client (of the actual project) is the last resort" - because they will usually be most likely to know the specifics of the content. I may sometimes ask my direct clients to help clear things up and I don't usually have any qualms about turning to another client for a second or third opinion. For example, I work with 3 different market research companies in the agribusiness area and sometimes I might ask one of them for advice on a term that crops up in a text I'm translating for another. Neither they nor I have any problems with that.

Agencies are another kettle of fish though...


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Heather McCrae  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:45
Member (2012)
German to English
of course! Aug 7, 2013

If I have exhausted all options, of course I will ask my client for help. This is not a sign of incompetence at all.
Many companies have their own jargon and terminology (anyone for SAP??) and without asking the source client, it would simply be too ridiculous to guess and waste far too much time researching terms.
I would also ask another client if I happen to know they have experience in the specific field. They ask me for help too sometimes, so I find that perfectly ok.
It is not a sign of stupidity to ask for help, agencies and clients (at least the good ones) appreciate the fact that you require clarification. Any agency that does not respond willingly to my questions no longer receive my services!!
Translators are not capable of knowing every term, especially in these fast-paced times.
So, is it more stupid to guess than to ask? At least, by asking, you have covered your back in case of subquent queries by the client.


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:45
Member (2006)
German to English
No! Aug 7, 2013

heathermccrae wrote:

If I have exhausted all options, of course I will ask my client for help. This is not a sign of incompetence at all.


This is not asking the customer that has assigned the task, this is referring to asking some other customer that does not have anything to do with the first customer.



[Edited at 2013-08-07 09:33 GMT]


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Heather McCrae  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:45
Member (2012)
German to English
I was responding to another entry Aug 7, 2013

Michael Harris wrote:

heathermccrae wrote:

If I have exhausted all options, of course I will ask my client for help. This is not a sign of incompetence at all.


This is not asking the customer that has assigned the task, this is referring to asking some other customer that does not have anything to do with the first customer.



[Edited at 2013-08-07 09:33 GMT]


Yes, I did actually understand that was the purpose of this poll, but seeing that some translators think asking their clients is a last resort and makes them look incompetent, I had to add my opinion of that.
Also, if you read a bit further, I also said that I would ask another client!


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:45
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
No Aug 7, 2013

Why would I ask one of my clients for assistance with a term when it is not his or her translation project?

The only one I would ask - and have done so -, if every other avenue fails, is the client for whom I am doing the translation.

My 2 cents: sorry, but I find this question a little awkward.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 06:45
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
No, absolutely not Aug 7, 2013

Thayenga wrote:

Why would I ask one of my clients for assistance with a term when it is not his or her translation project?

......

My 2 cents: sorry, but I find this question a little awkward.


@Thayenga
Me, too. Beyond awkward, in fact.

How would all of you feel if a customer/agency contacted you and said "Such-and-such translated this [source language text] in such-and-such a way. What do you think?" about a project you have never even heard of or may have been passed over, for that matter?

I would certainly show them how good my bad Japanese is.


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dasein_wm  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:45
Member (2009)
Italian to English
+ ...
No, but Aug 7, 2013

I understand the question.

When your back is against the wall and you have exhausted all of your other available resources it is sometimes tempting to simply reach out on Skype or something similar to a long-time provider to 'just ask a quick question' or 'run something by them'.
I have never actually done this as I don't want to fall into the habit and I believe the old maxim 'familiarity breeds contempt' would become applicable if that other party then starts to doubt my abilities or begins using me for the same sort of 'free resource'.

The reverse of this question has happened to me a couple of times, where an agency (usually) or a client will pop up and ask me for a term or a sentence meaning for something they have not contacted me to work on. In these cases I am happy to help with a one-off response or to point them in the right direction but - and this goes back to what I said above about being treated as a free resource - when the questions become too many, then I have to beg off and inform them that I am unable to provide that type of service for free.


[Edited at 2013-08-07 10:52 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:45
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
No Aug 7, 2013

I am not sure I understand the question, but first of all I would ask the client whose project it actually WAS. (Going through the agency.)

Firstly to make sure I had understood the text correctly. If it is unclear in the source language, they might want to reword it, or it might just be some internal jargon they needed to explain to outsiders like me...

This is often the quickest way to find an answer, and if the client suggests a solution, they can't complain about it afterwards!

Otherwise I would ask almost anyone except other clients. Colleagues for instance, directly or in a KudoZ question.

I have been known to call a local builder, car workshop or specialist needlework shop, with a question about what precisely a certain thingummy is, because I need it in a translation.

You don't have to reveal anything confidential, and local experts have been extremely helpful. Understanding the source is half of translation...
______________

I always remember the first 'complaint' I ever had - the client called me and said:
"It's not a bad translation. It just sounds too much like our biggest competitor."

Then we talked it through together.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:45
Hebrew to English
Since you were clearly responding to me.... Aug 7, 2013

heathermccrae wrote:
some translators think asking their clients is a last resort


Let me respond to the response. YES! Correct, I do, but then you seem to agree with me here - I used "last resort" you used "exhausted all options". Tomayto/tomahto.

[asking their clients is a last resort] and makes them look incompetent...This is not a sign of incompetence at all.


Appearances sometimes do matter and indeed, I said "can make you look". It may or may not be a sign of incompetence (if it's done as a matter of course I'd say the former is more likely though) but you can't ignore the fact that it may give this impression.

(I'm also coming at this from an agency/PM angle, obviously as Neilmac observed [vice versa] it's a totally different ball game when it comes to direct clients).


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 23:45
French to English
+ ...
Imagine... Aug 7, 2013

...that your car mechanic called you up because they were having trouble servicing the brakes on somebody else's car.

Would you ever use them again?


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