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Poll: Do certain clients need low-quality translations?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 15:50
SITE STAFF
Dec 16, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do certain clients need low-quality translations?".

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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:50
English to Japanese
+ ...
Yes definitely Dec 16, 2015

because they only pay you peanuts.

In my native language, there is a saying, if literally translated "to catch a sea bream with a shrimp", which in English would be "to throw a sprat to catch a whale".


 

Sara Maghini  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:50
English to Italian
+ ...
Don't know Dec 16, 2015

Not sure I understand the question...

 

Andreas Assmann  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:50
Member (2009)
French to German
+ ...
Yes definitely Dec 16, 2015

All those who just want you to make some corrections to their Google translations....

 

Natalie Soper  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:50
French to English
+ ...
Need? Dec 16, 2015

You could argue that some people deserve low quality translations, but why would anyone need one?

 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 23:50
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other! Dec 16, 2015

This is the wrong platform to put this question! It should be asked to clients not to professional translators...

 

DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:50
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Possibly ... Dec 16, 2015

I could imagine that if documents were required for specific purposes, such as in-house as background information - a lower quality might be acceptable compared to say than for a document which is intended for publication.

But, personally, I've never had such a request from a client

[Edited at 2015-12-16 13:27 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:50
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Perhaps, mostly in two cases Dec 16, 2015

Cost/benefit fails to justify the expense

No matter how funny it came out, the example I put at the end of this page is translation-wise justified, as it was found on the back of the packaging for a $1.99 vegetable peeler. Most competing products are sold without any packaging beyond a piece of plastic covering the sharp edge for safety.

According some savvy folks, "clearly wipe to f**k" in the translation gives away that it is unquestionably a well-known (sabotaged?) CN-EN MT contrivance, in the present case a cost-wise adequate choice.


No clue on what PARTS of 'it' should be translated

This was in the late 1970s, so long before the Internet, CAT tools, MT, etc. As a full-time employee, my mission was to develop, from its American original (in English, duh!), a Brazilian version (in Portuguese, ditto) of an extremely popular didactic manual on the technology around my employer's products.

In the process, I found a newer such manual, independently developed by that company's subsidiary in Italy (in Italian, ovviamente!). In spite of an early decision of mine to refrain from translating Italian, though I speak it, I made an exception, and - after having obtained clearance from my boss - added some very useful/interesting/valuable parts of that Italian manual to the Brazilian edition of the American original.

The point is that if that (200 pp, A4-size, 2 columns crammed with 11-pt Helvetica text) manual were in German, for instance, I'd need a low-quality translation to check which parts of it - if any - I'd get professionally translated to include in the Brazilian version of that manual.

However... a smart client nowadays would use machine translation for that.


My take is that the only advantage of cheap, low-quality human translation over free online machine translation is that the former provides you with someone to BLAME! That's actually what you pay for, some kind of a "rental scapegoat".


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:50
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
No, but... Dec 16, 2015

No one needs low-quality translation, and the question is perhaps not well phrased, but it is difficult, given the limitations on length.

However, there ARE occasions when clients do not need and cannot afford top-quality, polished translations, and gisting or a rough draft will do.

I used to work for an agency that sent large batches of e-mails and internal correspondence for translation, to be used as evidence in court or simply for the record.

Huge batches of answers to questionnaires are another category I have translated.

The source material is not top quality. Typos and speling erros don't matter, proivded hte menaing is clear.icon_biggrin.gif

There is no need to reproduce them deliberately in the translation, as long as it gives the message as accurately as possible. However, if typos creep in and the odd formulation is literal and not very idiomatic, it is not important. It is not necessary to spend a lot of time proofreading and editing for these purposes.

In these days when some agencies count commas and so-called QA means accounting for every time I translate 3. in Danish as third in English ... (No, there is NOT a figure missing or incorrectly localized in the translation, that is how you localize it correctly!!) ...

You have to define what you mean by quality before you can discuss what low quality is. However, there will be occasions when 'draft quality' or a fast and unpolished translation is quite adequate for the purpose.



[Edited at 2015-12-16 09:58 GMT]


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Snap Dec 16, 2015

Natalie Soper wrote:

You could argue that some people deserve low quality translations, but why would anyone need one?


That was exactly what I was going to say


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:50
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Exactly Dec 16, 2015

Natalie Soper wrote:

You could argue that some people deserve low quality translations, but why would anyone need one?


Exactly what I was about to say, Natalie. Surely no-one NEEDS a bad translation. They might not care about quality, but ... need? No.


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:50
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Nobody needs bad translations Dec 16, 2015

Jenny Forbes wrote:

Natalie Soper wrote:

You could argue that some people deserve low quality translations, but why would anyone need one?


Exactly what I was about to say, Natalie. Surely no-one NEEDS a bad translation. They might not care about quality, but ... need? No.


But some seem to think that money is the most important factor, so they'd rather have a translation of poor quality than pay for a high quality translation.


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 08:50
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Snap#2 Dec 16, 2015

Chris S wrote:

Natalie Soper wrote:

You could argue that some people deserve low quality translations, but why would anyone need one?


That was exactly what I was going to say


Now, if a client asks me to do a low-quality translation because they don't 'need' a high-quality one, then I will tell them what they really need.

This is such a dopey question icon_confused.gif since it might preclude the next question:

Will you lower your rates to deliberately do a lower quality translation if asked for?


 

Minna Bäckman  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 01:50
Swedish to Finnish
+ ...
I guess I've encountered this one? Dec 16, 2015

Finnish client who did not understand EU tender requirements well enough wanted to have a simple-language "bullet-point" translation of the text, no complex sentence structures. Did that, they were happy.

On the other hand, I would not have called it a "low-quality translation" and nor did they. And they paid quite wellicon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2015-12-16 11:22 GMT]


 

Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 02:50
English to Russian
+ ...
Yes, definitely Dec 16, 2015

International projects are required to maintain bilingual workflow, which is often only a bureacratic requirements. They order all their documents translated, but these translations only need to be "present" and are never read or checked.

 
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