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Poll: Do you ever sacrifice quality for speed?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 02:41
Sep 24, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you ever sacrifice quality for speed?".

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Always Sep 24, 2015

Quality could always be improved with more time.

It's a trade-off.

I feel I get the right balance at 2-3,000 words a day. Others set the bar much lower.


Teresa Borges
Local time: 10:41
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No, never! Sep 24, 2015

First of all, I only accept tighter deadlines or rush jobs in a few exceptional circumstances and from a very short list of long-standing customers. So, speed is the least of my worries. I’m always looking for accuracy, clarity, tone, cadence, appropriateness for the target audience… In short, a translation that sounds natural and reads like an original. All this takes time!


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:41
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
If time is more critical than quality Sep 24, 2015

There are occasions when 'gisting' or a rough, body-text version is usable, and I sacrifice proofreading if there is not time to check the cosmetic points.

I did once sit up drinking black coffee and translating as fast as I could go, by agreement with the client - a colleague had had an accident and could not finish the job, and the client needed something by the next morning.

In fact the text was the draft proposals for a contract, and as long as it was understandable, they said typos and the odd bit of less-than optimal phrasing were not a problem. They just needed an English version for negotiations.

I delivered... The client sent a nice thank you, it was fine for their purposes. A little later came the final contract, and I was told to take the time I needed to translate it properly.

Doing the best you can in the time available is also an aspect of quality...

I find it very difficult to deliver less than my best, but I always try to iron out problems early in the process, and that saves time in the end. If necessary I save time on proofreading or get someone else to do it - in principle my first draft is basically fit for purpose.

In many cases it almost takes longer to stop myself checking and move on than simply to do a quick check ...

[Edited at 2015-09-24 17:08 GMT]


Local time: 10:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
quality is not accuracy Sep 24, 2015

I specialise in fast legal translations. I do not sacrifice accuracy or correctness, but when I am pumping out 50000 words in 4 days as I am at the moment then there is always room for stylistic improvement........


Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:41
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
The only way for me to Sep 24, 2015

make a translation superfast is to use Google (which I never did, of course).

Frankly speaking, I don`t know any other method which can help you radically increase your yield.

You can, of course, work an extra hour or two to translate 400-600 words more, but you can`t "turn off" you head and start typing non-sense.

[Edited at 2015-09-24 12:48 GMT]


Petra Van Caneghem  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:41
Member (2006)
English to Dutch
+ ...
I haven't so far ... Sep 24, 2015

I try to avoid very short deadlines with an unreasonable number of words, simply because I am too much of a perfectionist to accept this and having to send in a translation that I haven't at least re-read twiceicon_smile.gif

I try do negotiate reasonable deadlines, which my clients mostly accept, and I manage to deliver (in most cases) a day early
The end result is that my clients are satisfied and happy that I met the deadline!

However ... Earlier this year I had a book translation (I mainly do non-fiction and travel guides) with a very very short deadline, a whole book in less than a month.
I accepted but clearly stated to my customer (with whom I have been working for 10 years now) that we both agree that the deadline is very short.

I pulled it off with many long evenings and short nights and loads of teaicon_smile.gif


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Sep 24, 2015

Not if I can help it, but then again, sometimes the client is in such a confounded hurry that it is impossible to deliver a Goldilocks version within the stipulated deadline.

PS: Ditto what Chris S saidicon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2015-09-24 15:57 GMT]

PPS: See? I dashed that first sentence off too quickly and had to come back and correct something....

[Edited at 2015-09-24 15:58 GMT]


DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:41
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Other Sep 24, 2015

I agree with Chris on this [and I can't quite believe those words are coming out of my keyboard].

It's a trade off - not a sacrifice

I think all fee-fixing professionals, not just translators, employ their own quality (content + style) / time (so price) ratio.


tilak raj  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:11
Member (2012)
English to Panjabi
+ ...
No Sep 24, 2015

I prefer quality and always try to get the work which can be provided with quality. Speed without quality is not useful for long term relationships with clients.


Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:41
Italian to English
Appropriacy Sep 24, 2015

I think there is always an "appropriate" level of quality for each particular text. If it's a technical manual, it doesn't need to read like a piece of Nobel-winning fiction. It simply needs to be clear and unambigious, as well as readable.

Other texts are not particularly readable - legal texts spring to mind - but as long as thier meaning corresponds to the original, and again there are no ambiguities, then the translator has done their job.

Then there is the question of source text quality. I don't really ascribe to GIGO (garbage in garbage out), and always try to deliver the best text possible. That said, I'm not a miracle worker - at times you can only do so much with a poor source text.

The only time I would consciously sacrifice quality for speed would be in agreement with the client - if for example, a text absolutely has to be delivered on a set day, and a sub-level text is better than none at all. But I would accept such a job on the condition that both parties know it is not going to be the best work it could be.


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:41
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Other Sep 24, 2015

neilmac wrote:

Not if I can help it, but then again, sometimes the client is in such a confounded hurry that it is impossible to deliver a Goldilocks version within the stipulated deadline.

In the 2 cases when I didn't have a choice, I informed the client and, based on his consent, delivered the best possible quality under the given circumstances.


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:41
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agree with Chris and Neil Sep 24, 2015

The quality of my translations could always be improved, and sometimes I have had to deliver with only one proofreading. I once delivered a job with no proofreading at all - that was 20 years ago. The client needed 9000 words the same day. I wouldn't attempt that now.

Still, I always strive to do my best. I don't have a second tier where I intentionally "lower my standards" in the interest of speed. I couldn't do that.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:41
Member (2007)
+ ...
Only under duress Sep 24, 2015

And with the written acknowledgement of the client.

It happened a few months ago, on an editing job but the principle holds true. I'd agreed to check a very long brochure in one day. It was hardly my fault that, despite lots of emails, the actual file didn't arrive until 5 p.m. The client still insisted on keeping the deadline so it was simply impossible to maintain my normal standard of work. It wax all most unsatisfactory, but it was (is) a good client so that's the way it had to be.


Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:41
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No, never, Sep 24, 2015

If you can't do the job with quality within the term available, be honest and do not acept it.
If you were a doctor with a patient about to die in your hands, would you be allowed to "trade-off" on quality? What if you are building a bridge and schedule is almost due? Will you give up some quality to deliver it on time?

You will watch people die on your bridge my friend!

Nobody will ever be injured in a bridge I build. If I can't build it on time, I'll ask for a longer term. If the client does not agree, I'll pass it.

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