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Poll: Have you ever received a proofreading report on a work of yours and found it unfair?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 05:31
Aug 3, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever received a proofreading report on a work of yours and found it unfair?".

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:31
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yep Aug 3, 2014

I translated an article for a peer-reviewed medical journal. The proofreader changed the technical terms to more popular alternatives and dumbed the whole thing down.

Another time I was scolded for not translating a street address.

Recently a proofreader changed all my US English terms and spellings to UK versions when the client had specifically requested US English.

I've gotten to the point where I don't want to know what the proofreader has done. If my translation has been improved on, that's fine and the client benefits. If it's a disimprovement, I simply consider that I did the work for hire and the client is free to do whatever he/she wants with it. If typos have slipped in, then a simple generic reminder from the PM is sufficient. Getting into the details uses more time than it's worth for the benefit I might gain from the feedback. I prefer to do my learning elsewhere.


Rudolf Frans Maulany  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:31
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Yes, once or twice Aug 3, 2014

Yes, once or twice but I doubt quality of the proofreader


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:31
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, once or twice. Aug 3, 2014

In some experimental fiction, where the freshman editor (they probably could not afford someone more professional;) was trying to change some run-ons (alleged run-ons) into full sentences. Really laughable. At another time, an editor (most likely not AE legalese editor) was adding articles to a legal text, the good style of which requires skipping certain definite articles. Some proofreaders really think the more things they change, the more serious they appear, or the more they can charge. Only some of course, not all, but this is really alarming.

No editor is really allowed to change anything in your text (you hold the copyright)--they may only suggest changes, but you have to accept them, (Or, you may reject them).

[Edited at 2014-08-03 09:38 GMT]


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:31
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Twice Aug 3, 2014

I work often for an agency where every job is checked three times. A translates, B proofreads, A checks the proofreading, B gives the final touch. A and B are in direct contact, CC to PM, to discuss any issues, if necessary.

We are not shy of changing each other's output as much as we want, if we feel it can be IMPROVED, so it's not a matter of finding and fixing as many mistakes as we can. We rate each other as 'equally competent' in what we do, so it's not a competition, but teamwork instead: WE strive to deliver OUR best.

Well, once that agency paired me up with a new person to play B, while I played A. That individual found NOTHING to correct/improve in my translation, didn't challenge any of my choices. I think it was unfair, because I'd have to go over it ten times more carefully, attempting to improve what I already thought that was my best.

The second case was a translation agency test. Yes, I failed. I felt sad for their appraiser, who should not be allowed to get closer than four feet from any technical translation. Incidentally, I had worked - not always as a translator - with precisely that subject matter in both languages for maybe seven years. That reviewer changed a host of widely used trade terms into misnomers not found anywhere, not even in machine translation.


Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:31
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Not English Aug 3, 2014

I had a case where a client said "This job is unacceptable, it's not English" only five minutes after I sent it. Evidently the translation was into English, it's my language pair.
They didn't even bother to send a report. They simply refused to pay.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:31
Member (2007)
+ ...
It happens in marketing/tourism Aug 3, 2014

In my areas there's even less of a "correct translation" than in technical translations, I would imagine. Terminology is rarely a problem, although it's amazing the things that are included in tourism: extreme sports, architecture, anthropology, geology, marine life, flora and fauna... it's not just about hotels and beachesicon_smile.gif. Mostly, my work isn't systematically proofread. I get the impression that a quick look through is the most it gets, though sometimes a client will query the use of "X" and ask whether "Y" would be an improvement.

But I did once receive my work back with red marks all over it. This was for a regular client so I was really amazed and worried. But it turned out that the British-native proofreader just preferred alternatives, synonyms, for just about every adjective, noun and verb I'd used. Most weren't particularly better or worse but in making so many changes the inevitable had happened: errors had been introduced into an (almost) error-free text. I accepted, and apologised for, the correction of the couple of slips I'd let through (from the "form vs from" stable), rejected the changes that had caused errors - loads of double spaces and words rolled into one, and a couple of things that should have been changed to suit the new phrasing - and told the agency they were welcome to accept or reject the rest. I never bothered to check which they went with, but they kept sending me work and I never received another report from them.


Rolf Kern  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:31
English to German
+ ...
Yes, many times, in technical translations Aug 3, 2014

But the "corrections" were unfair only in the sense of unnecessary, but often plainly wrong. In my case, proofreading is done by ladies with lingustic education and no idea of technical thinking/language. They improve my German and are not aware that by doing so, they often change the sense and sometimes turn it into to contrary without being aware. I have an agreement with the relevant agency that I see all my proofread translations before they go to the end client. I do this free of charge.


Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:31
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Yes Aug 3, 2014

**It happens.

However, if a client or an agency (LSP) judges that the words of an inexperienced PM/reviewer should be given precedence over an experienced translator such as yourself - assuming that the criticism is baseless and 'unfair' - then it's time for you to start judging and re-evaulating your relationship with that client/agency.

This happened to me with one (ex-)client within the last year. When I asked about the 'induhvidual' who made the comments, I was told that she was new but popular in the company because she was 'cute' (sic, sick!). She was probably not even in nappies or even thought of when I started out translating. WTF

Different customers even in the same sector of industry have different terms to set themselves apart from their competitors.
My advice is to ask for a list of preferred terms in advance and tell them that, if no such list is provided, then you will use terms that are generally accepted throughout industry. This saves a lot of hassle later on. HTH


Little Woods  Identity Verified
English to Vietnamese
This seems to be editing or reviewing rather than proofreading Aug 3, 2014

I have the impression that the question and the reply are for editing or reviewing. I remember my work got proofread but they only touched the format, typo mistakes etc.. not the wording or styles itself and it was fair. I was asked to do the same when I got proofreading jobs.

As for unfair remarks or changes, I have met a few times but with review or editing. They changes my words for other synonyms which are unnecessary. Sometimes they put errors in the text by making those changes. I stick to the ATA guidelines in editing and found out those unfair things are what editors or reviewers shouldn't do. Too bad that those reviewers dont know about editing guidelines but still claim to be reviewers.

[Edited at 2014-08-03 14:32 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-08-03 14:33 GMT]


Georgia Morgan  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:31
Portuguese to English
smoothie Aug 3, 2014

A couple of years I translated a brochure for a hotel in Portugal and, at one point, for "batida" I believe, I used the word smoothie. The proof reader changed this to "milk shake". When I asked him why, he admitted he had no idea what a smoothie was. He was an elderly guy who had spent the last 30 years out of the UK, in Argentina, and was unfamiliar with the "new" word! Since then, I prefer not to know what they do to my translations as long as I get paid!


ventnai  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:31
German to English
+ ...
non-natives Aug 3, 2014

Unfortunately, sometimes non-natives proofread my work as employees of the end client and although they might have excellent English, they sometimes think that they know English better than I do.


Madeleine Chevassus  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:31
Member (2010)
English to French
own feeling re: proofreading Aug 3, 2014

Of course proofreading is quite often performed by people living outside of the target language country, or by French Canadian when the translation is required in French-France.

Sometimes the reviewer changes my words for other synonyms which are unnecessary.

I have a funny example:

Perhaps I forgot to change straight apostrophes into curved apostrophesicon_smile.gif, this usually generates bad scores in proofreading because the problem

* comes from Trados Studio,

* is not visible without a magnifier

* if it occurs n times in the text, the proofreader says: n errors!!!!! and substracts n points, though a global change corrects the problem in one click!




Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:31
German to English
+ ...
Proofreading "report"?? Aug 4, 2014

One of the agencies I work for hires a proofread as regular procedure. If the proofreader finds something to correct, she corrects it. Then it is passed on to me to agree or disagree, and that's it. There is no report. We're not in school with a teacher, and there is nothing to be "fair" or "unfair" about. Either you agree with what the person has changed, or you don't. It's a professional collaboration.


John Fossey  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:31
Member (2008)
French to English
Disagreeing with the proofreader Aug 4, 2014

I while ago I received a blistering report on a large and critical document from an agency, an otherwise excellent client, in which the proofreader said I had completely mistranslated a particular technical term and what I had rendered as X should be Y. The proofreader went so far as to "strongly recommend that no further work should be awarded to or accepted from" me. I was quite worried how I could have got it so wrong and reviewed the text carefully, finding no reference at all to anything that should be term Y. Finally I found that when cross-referencing the source term in Termium a dozen possible renderings came up, one of which was Y. But there was no "Y" at all in the text. It became clear to me the proofreader had no idea what the text was about, a highly technical topic I have been working with for over 20 years.

I pointed this out to the PM and asked for an explanation why the proofreader thought it should be translated Y and not my X. I never got a reply, but a couple of days later got the standard reviewer's report back with a perfect score! All I could assume was they must have had it re-reviewed by someone else who agreed with my translation. But it gave me a few days of near heart-attack!

[Edited at 2014-08-04 03:04 GMT]

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