Poll: What do you do when a glossary provided by your client contains wrong translations?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 17:58
SITE STAFF
Oct 2, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What do you do when a glossary provided by your client contains wrong translations?".

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 01:58
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Never happened to me! Oct 2, 2015

I have been asked by several of my customers to build a glossary of terms before starting a project, but they have never provided one...

 

Catherine De Crignis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:58
Member (2012)
English to French
+ ...
Not often the case Oct 2, 2015

I often don't like the terms a lot (sometimes imposed by end clients), but spotting errors is rare.

Only one example springs to mind:
One term and a couple of related terms made no sense at all and were even quite ludicrous. However those terms had been used many times over the years in various documents (to the point that I wondered if the end users had come to terms - no pun intended - with them, and added them to their jargon as it were).
In a number of other documents I noticed than one translator had used better terms, not ideal in my view, but definitely better (i.e. terms that actually made sense), so I went for these terms instead.
I did not advise the agency, because I know from experience that their PMs, no matter how polite, simply churn out words as if they were butter or any other random products. Also their rates are definitely on the lowish side, so handing out jobs of the best possible quality with regard to the conditions they pretty much impose is the best I can do. More would be foolish: that would diminish my already narrow profit margin.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
This is an unforgivable crime Oct 2, 2015

Generally speaking, I find the best solution is to hire a hitman

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Never happpens Oct 2, 2015

I'd usually be reluctant to use anyone's else's glossaries without some sort of "droit du seigneur" clause...

 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 19:58
German to English
+ ...
Other Oct 2, 2015

I don't recall ever having received a glossary.

 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I inform the client Oct 2, 2015

The worst is when the client provides a multilingual glossary and, not only I find mistranslations/mistakes in Portuguese, but also in other languages that I speak but don't translate. As I know that the same glossary is being sent to colleagues who are translating into the latter group, I hope they'll voice their concerns too.

 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:58
Hebrew to English
I don't know about "wrong" Oct 2, 2015

...I received a glossary once that certainly contained translations I didn't like (they weren't 'wrong' per se), I informed the client, who instructed me to use it anyway.

I think if a client has reached the point of compiling a glossary, chances are they are going to take its existing contents as gospel and perhaps won't always be open to amendments anyway.


 

Rocio Barrientos  Identity Verified
Bolivia
Local time: 20:58
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Same here Oct 2, 2015

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

The worst is when the client provides a multilingual glossary and, not only I find mistranslations/mistakes in Portuguese, but also in other languages that I speak but don't translate. As I know that the same glossary is being sent to colleagues who are translating into the latter group, I hope they'll voice their concerns too.


I inform the client and I provide an explanation about why I think the term is wrong.

It is happening to me right now, and I am writing long explanations for many terms... it is time consuming; however, the client has told me " I can see that you are a very conscientious translator."

Happy Translating everyone!

Rocío

[Edited at 2015-10-02 11:16 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-10-02 17:27 GMT]


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:58
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Mere reference Oct 2, 2015

These glossaries are mere references, as they are built on translations made by other translators, not by the client. I use them as a reference, and I'll use the suggested translation only if it is correct, and if I agree with it. Otherwise, I'll just ignore it and use the correct one. If the client asks why I didn't use the "standard" translation, then I'll send them an explanation why it is wrong and they have been using the wrong term in all their documents. But I'll simply not use a wrong term in my translation because the client used it before and adopted it as standard. My quality cannot be affected by the mistakes of other translators.

Now, sometimes the client will say "please do use that term". Then I'll use it against my will, and I'll insist that "ok, I'll use it, but it's wrong".

[Edited at 2015-10-02 15:14 GMT]


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Wrong is as wrong does Oct 2, 2015

Ty Kendall wrote:

...I received a glossary once that certainly contained translations I didn't like (they weren't 'wrong' per se), I informed the client, who instructed me to use it anyway.

I think if a client has reached the point of compiling a glossary, chances are they are going to take its existing contents as gospel and perhaps won't always be open to amendments anyway.


Good point, Ty.

When I was in-house translator/project coordinator for a translation agency in California years ago, we were instructed to discuss with the client about which terms were preferential and which were correct. This situation presented itself often after the client had reviewed a translation and marked certain terms as “wrong.”

To the neophyte, the layman and those who don't know (or don't care) about the basic mechanics of language, activities like translation are subject to a very black and white approach (this term is wrong, that term is right).


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
What happened to “A combination of the above”? Oct 2, 2015

I make it a point to inform the client if I find incorrect or unacceptable terms in a glossary. I have a keen awareness of what I see as a term I would prefer and a term that can be used regardless of my tastes in words.

I also make it clear to the client that a glossary is a living thing: it is always subject to amendments. And why shouldn't it? Some customers —and colleagues and project managers— operate under the assumption that glossaries are finished publications that should be accorded the same respect and leeway as to the bible.

And I wrote bible in lowercase because there are many bibles out there. A fascinating subject for translators indeed.


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:58
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The truth, Oct 3, 2015

Mario Chavez wrote:

Ty Kendall wrote:

...I received a glossary once that certainly contained translations I didn't like (they weren't 'wrong' per se), I informed the client, who instructed me to use it anyway.

I think if a client has reached the point of compiling a glossary, chances are they are going to take its existing contents as gospel and perhaps won't always be open to amendments anyway.


Good point, Ty.

When I was in-house translator/project coordinator for a translation agency in California years ago, we were instructed to discuss with the client about which terms were preferential and which were correct. This situation presented itself often after the client had reviewed a translation and marked certain terms as “wrong.”


The truth is that when the client has developed a glossary, they have already used those terms in hundreds of documents before, and even if/when they find out it's wrong or there is a better term, they will not review all the older documents. They usually choose to maintain the undue term for consistency with their wealth of former documents. And we can't say this is totally wrong. You have to think about the financial side, as well... always.


 


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