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Poll: Have you ever worked on a project that required you to translate into multiple target languages?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Jul 10, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever worked on a project that required you to translate into multiple target languages?".

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 08:20
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No! Jul 10, 2015

Multiple target languages? No! I translate exclusively into my native language (European Portuguese), but very occasionally (should I say rarely?) I have been asked to translate documents using several source languages, namely records of international meetings, with the help of other translators...

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:20
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No, but I've often done the reverse Jul 10, 2015

It's not at all unusual for my clients to ask me to translate a document containing two source languages --or three, as I can get by in French if I have to. Translators in the inter-American organizations are required to know all four official languages.

It's even more common for me to be asked to translate part of a document from the foreign language and edit the rest of it that's already in English. In fact, before I became a full-time translator, that was my job.


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Serena Basili  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 09:20
English to Italian
+ ...
Yes Jul 10, 2015

Working as an employee also means that somentime I have to translate for example a presentation/order/offer etc... from Italian into English/German. Since I have no one to proofread it (I should pay one by myself!!), I pay as much attention as I can and use grammar checkers, hoping the recipient will understand.

I've been lucky, none of the clients ever complained

[Edited at 2015-07-10 11:35 GMT]


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Paul Adie  Identity Verified
Germany
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nope, but... Jul 10, 2015

Only Native English here, but I imagine this may be a possibility for several of my friends who are Spanish/Catalan or Spanish/Galician natives.

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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Same here Jul 10, 2015

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

No, but I've often done the reverse

It's not at all unusual for my clients to ask me to translate a document containing two source languages --or three, as I can get by in French if I have to. Translators in the inter-American organizations are required to know all four official languages.

It's even more common for me to be asked to translate part of a document from the foreign language and edit the rest of it that's already in English. In fact, before I became a full-time translator, that was my job.


I've often had Belgian documents that were in French and Dutch. I've also had documents that were in Dutch but were poorly translated from German so I had to use the German version to get a grip on what the Dutch was trying to express.
But I only translate into English, which is my native language (well and truly).

[Edited at 2015-07-10 10:15 GMT]


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Natalia Pedrosa  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:20
Member (2012)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, 3 target languages Jul 10, 2015

I once translated a project from Italian into English, Spanish and Catalan.

I had more assignments from this client, so I guess I did not do much wrong with it.

N.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:20
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Two source languages to one target language Jul 10, 2015

Like others here, I'm occasionally asked to translate a document containing both French and Spanish into English (my native tongue). I don't offer translation into French and Spanish. I could probably do it but I'd rather not take the risk.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:20
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
No, but I have proofread for colleagues who have Jul 10, 2015

Sometimes there are simply not enough native speakers of English with the necessary technical knowledge.

I have proofread for a colleague who translated from Swedish into English, and also translated into Danish. The English text was then relayed as a source text to other translators who could not read Scandinavian languages.

This was a series of texts requiring a knowledge of engineering terminology that I simply do not have. The translator in question sent me her Danish translation to hold against the Swedish source, and I checked the English for fluency and whatever, knowing that the terminology had all been approved by the client. (I can read Swedish, but not as a language of habitual usage, as I can with Danish.)

The results were far better than if I had done the translation... and I learned a lot from it.
There are some domains where the advanced terminology is almost a foreign language, even to natives of the matrix language - medical Latin, for instance.

It is far easier for a proofreader like me to understand passively and check a translation by someone who really understands the engineering in depth than to struggle through and translate it myself.

There are times when the native language principle comes second - technical correctness is the prime concern.

I have frequently translated minutes and reports with multiple authors and contributions in Swedish and Norwegian as well as Danish - just not at that technical level! But I normally only translate into English.





[Edited at 2015-07-10 10:54 GMT]


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DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:20
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Yes ... Jul 10, 2015

I have had several projects which required me to translate the same text into English and Greek. I have also dealt with the reverse where both Dutch and English source were available for translation into Greek

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:20
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A reluctant yes Jul 10, 2015

I work both directions in only one language pair: EN-PT.

(Before anyone hijacks this thread into another endless discussion on 'native speaker', as a sworn translator in Brazil, the local law says that I MUST do it both ways. And yes, I was thoroughly examined and deemed competent in doing it.)

For the record, I speak IT/FR/ES, however I keep them for my personal use; I don't translate professionally from/into these three languages.

There is one local agency that hires me very often for turn-key video work, viz. translation + dubbing or subtitling. They know I only translate EN-PT, however they don't want to get involved with other translators, dubbing studios, etc., and many of their projects involve other languages as well. They want me to deliver the finished videos.

So technically I have been working on many projects that require "me" to translate into multiple target languages. Of course, I am sensible, so I outsource the translation into other languages to reliable colleagues/partners.

For the record, I have done this for other clients, but not as often as for this specific agency, averaging 1.7 assignments per week. They are within reasonable walking distance from me, but I've never been there, and they've never been here.


This raises a number of issues worth considering.

First, I don't take ANY jobs involving languages beyond these five, because I'd have no clue on the quality I'd be delivering. For instance, I could be delivering a video subtitled with mirrored Oriental characters, and wouldn't know that I had goofed. Likewise, I wouldn't know if a translation into DE I delivered under my name is any good.

I never studied ES formally in my life. I learned - by osmosis - to speak my personal region-free pan-hispanic mix with amazing fluency. Though I can't write it, I can immediately spot a bad translation into ES. Likewise, I can easily spot Brazilian (PT) accent in a Spanish dub.

Quite honestly, it took me several (failed) attempts until I found a colleague who could reliably translate subtitles into Spanish. The problem is that she works both ways between ES-PT, but her (spoken) EN is about as good as my ES. So every time we have an EN into PT+ES subtitling job, she has to work from my PT translation. No problems with that so far.

I have a reliable colleague for FR and, unfortunately, my dependable partner for IT (a very rare request) passed away a couple of weeks ago.

Second, most of my partners don't go the whole nine yards with video. Some of them do time-spotting, but none burns the subtitles into a finished video, nor authors DVDs (a rare request, too). So I do it on all jobs.

Third, there is dubbing. Though I leave the door open for the agency to deal directly with dubbing studios, they don't want it. I've teamed up with the studio that, for the past 30+ years has been setting the bar in the domestic industry. Only now a growing number of dubbing studios is finally matching their quality standards. End-clients are always delighted with the results.

And then there are the financial matters. Am I surcharging that agency for my outsourcing & PMing work? No! If I did, their price to the final client would probably drive the end-client to a competitor of theirs, and we'd all lose.

This creates a delicate risk situation. Since I don't make any profit on my outsourcing, if the end client, for any reason, cancelled the order under way, I'd owe money to my partners, and would have to pay them for the work done from my pocket, which is unacceptable. Otherwise, I'd create an unsustainable situation where they wouldn't want to work with me every time they had anything else to do.

So I dump the risk back to the agency. I played it wide open with them, and they agreed to pay me for all the work that I'll be outsourcing in advance... as long as I don't surcharge them for outsourcing. This has created a sustainable setup.

I pay my outsourced partners in their languages exactly the same rates I charge for EN-PT translation/spotting. These rates are considered "high, but well worth it", so I can demand quality. Most of them usually charge lower rates than I do, but I pay them my rates in exchange for the assurance that, in spite of being top notch professionals, they'll always be performing at their best on my jobs. I also pay them COD, so they'll always be available for me; the same applies to the dubbing studio.

The system has been working fine for several years in a row. Once I was on vacation and, on account of the short deadline, the agency had to do it with someone else. I didn't see the outcome, however their feedback was "Never again! Next time you can't do it, we'll ditch the request."

The key here is that each partner in this whole setup values all the others very highly, aware that one weak link will make the entire supply chain collapse.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Jul 10, 2015

Nay, nay and thrice nay! I firmly believe that in 99% of cases, translation should be done into the translator's mother tongue. The nearest I get to such multi-tasking is the occasional text for US English, and even then I ask an American friend to revise it for me before delivery.

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
A little bit of Catalan twice Jul 10, 2015

During a translation of medical reports, I encountered phrases in Catalan. I don't speak nor write the language, but I managed to get the gist from Google Translate and inform the customer accordingly for additional steps.

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xxxbrg
Netherlands
Yes Jul 10, 2015

It happens regularly that documents come mixted in three source languages and two target languages are required. I also helped with client client support in three target languages. All secretaries and project managers do. Not that I am a secretary, but translators are required to have more possibilities than secretaries. If not, their clients would not understand. Of course, this has nothing to do with translation of documentations to be published or used in official circumstances. But yes, I worked on such projects.

[by the way, English is not one of my working languages]


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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:20
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Source languages Jul 10, 2015

I only translate into English, but on several occasions I've translated or proofread "the same document" from Norwegian, Danish and Swedish.

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