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Poll: How much would you say that the quality of your work has improved since you began translating?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 23:37
SITE STAFF
Sep 6, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How much would you say that the quality of your work has improved since you began translating?".

This poll was originally submitted by Mikhail Kropotov. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
Considerably Sep 6, 2013

I'd be disappointed in myself if it hadn't improved. "Practice makes perfect", or so they say.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 07:37
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Considerably Sep 6, 2013

I have been translating full time for 30 years. As Neil says, "I'd be disappointed in myself if it hadn't improved"...

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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 15:37
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Exponentially Sep 6, 2013

Because I know so much more about what I am translating. And, it can only get better.

We're in the knowledge business, folks -- we are selling what we know.


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Gilla Evans  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
With Julian Sep 6, 2013

Julian Holmes wrote:

Because I know so much more about what I am translating. And, it can only get better.



After 32 years of getting better, I still strive to get better every day... otherwise there'd be no point.


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 09:37
Turkish to English
+ ...
It's improved dramatically Sep 6, 2013

I don't think that my ability to translate non-specialist texts has changed that much over the years, although with practice one becomes a little more adept at finding neat ways of expressing things, but when it comes to my main specialisation nowadays of legal texts, this is a different matter. This is an area about which I had practically no knowledge when I first began to encounter frequent requests for legal translations about ten years ago, but a combination of private study from law text books and research into terminology as it actually cropped up has helped me to develop considerable expertise in the field. The learning curve never ends, though.

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:37
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Non-specialist has improved more Sep 6, 2013

Unlike Tim, I think my literary translation work has improved more in recent years, in which I have been doing more of it. The process of translating a novel or story involves exchanges back and forth between the translator and the author over three or more draft versions, and I think I have learned a lot from this.

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Heather McCrae  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:37
Member (2012)
German to English
extremely Sep 6, 2013

when I consider that I managed very little work at the start after my MA where we used to agonise over a few hundred words to now, there has been considerable improvement. Would certainly be strange not to have improved over the past 19 years!

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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:37
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Loads Sep 6, 2013

...and I hope that will always be the case. I'm quite sure I will never run out of things to improve or learn.

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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:37
Member (2006)
German to English
With you as well old chap Sep 6, 2013

Julian Holmes wrote:

Because I know so much more about what I am translating. And, it can only get better.

We're in the knowledge business, folks -- we are selling what we know.


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 09:37
Turkish to English
+ ...
Another specialist area Sep 6, 2013

Jack Doughty wrote:

Unlike Tim, I think my literary translation work has improved more in recent years, in which I have been doing more of it. The process of translating a novel or story involves exchanges back and forth between the translator and the author over three or more draft versions, and I think I have learned a lot from this.


Actually, I would consider literary translation to be a highly specialist area.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:37
English to Spanish
+ ...
Quality Sep 6, 2013

Quality in mass production can be measured: how many cars can be assembled in a day, how many welds are needed on a chassis vs. how many failed, or whether the furnace applied or not the right, precise temperature to anneal glass.

All of the above can be measured, calibrated, corrected, etc. Not so with writing or translating.

It's like human memory. Do we remember certain childhood memories better than others? Did we learn from the mistakes we made in our first job? Can I recall a certain conference session that happened 5 years ago with any degree of accuracy and compare notes with a colleague?

What do these memory experiences have in common? They are all subjective. So is the so-called translation quality. Yet we insist on talking about it.

I wish we started thinking outside this quality box.


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 09:37
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Did I really propose this? :) Sep 6, 2013

I was slightly surprised today when I discovered this poll was based on my proposed question. This topic is barely of any concern to me now, but it must have seemed more important when I suggested it about 5 years ago, meaning I was only 4 years into the translation business.

P.S. That is not to say I'm not concerned about the quality of my work. Of course I am. But I struggle to remember how good or bad my quality was when I just started out.

[Edited at 2013-09-06 13:44 GMT]


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 09:37
Turkish to English
+ ...
Quality exists Sep 6, 2013

Mario Chavez wrote:

Quality in mass production can be measured: how many cars can be assembled in a day, how many welds are needed on a chassis vs. how many failed, or whether the furnace applied or not the right, precise temperature to anneal glass.

All of the above can be measured, calibrated, corrected, etc. Not so with writing or translating.

It's like human memory. Do we remember certain childhood memories better than others? Did we learn from the mistakes we made in our first job? Can I recall a certain conference session that happened 5 years ago with any degree of accuracy and compare notes with a colleague?

What do these memory experiences have in common? They are all subjective. So is the so-called translation quality. Yet we insist on talking about it.

I wish we started thinking outside this quality box.


If, for example, a company decides to sign a contract in a foreign language on the basis of a translation and then loses money because the translation was wrong, this is clearly a quality issue. As you say, it is no easy matter to measure quality in translation, but that does not mean that there is no such thing as quality in translation.


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:37
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Measuring quality Sep 6, 2013

[quote]Mario Chavez wrote:

All of the above can be measured, calibrated, corrected, etc. Not so with writing or translating.

I think translation / writing quality can be measured, but perhaps not so easily and it is more difficult to quantify. With improved translation quality:

- customers keep coming back for more
- fewer expletives are uttered as people attempt to assemble flat-pack furniture using translated instructions
- more people find greater enjoyment in reading translated literature (I admit that measuring this would be highly subjective)
- less accidents occur due to incorrectly translated machine operation instructions
- businesses are able to provide more accurate information to customers, shareholders etc, resulting in greater customer satisfaction and ultimately increased revenue
- translators are able to feel an increased sense of pride in their work
- the translation profession is more highly regarded and translators better remunerated for their efforts (wishful thinking perhaps!)


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