Poll: Has source text quality worsened since you started translating?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 08:58
SITE STAFF
Jan 15

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Has source text quality worsened since you started translating?".

This poll was originally submitted by Gianni Pastore. View the poll results »



 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:58
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Jan 15

When I first got started, the documents we worked on had usually been seen by editors. That practice was abandoned a long time ago. Now that authors write their own documents and their work doesn't get screened, I'm seeing a lot more sloppy writing.

That may not be true in highly technical fields.


 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:58
Member (2006)
German to English
Other Jan 15

seems to be missing lately.
It depends on the customer. Some documents have been written to death (far too complicatred for what it is) and some were dead before the "engineer" started to write it (because they were trying to be complicated but it did not work).

And in some cases the documentation has been written perfectly.

So a general worsening of the quality is not really there.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 16:58
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes Jan 15

When I started translating a document was rarely written by a non-native and as Muriel said each document was thoroughly edited before being published.

 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:58
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Oh, yes Jan 15

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

When I first got started, the documents we worked on had usually been seen by editors. That practice was abandoned a long time ago. Now that authors write their own documents and their work doesn't get screened, I'm seeing a lot more sloppy writing.

That may not be true in highly technical fields.


The fact is, I started about 30 years ago, which must be about the same as Muriel did. And it is true even in technical fields, at least these that I see. I work occasionally for a technical journal in the agro-food sector. What I mostly do for them is poor English to Czech - technical articles written or translated by non-natives. This is normal, OK. But recently, they asked me to proofread some English translations of their abstracts, as the person who usually does it was unavailable. Their English was awful, normal, too. But the Czech source was not significantly better! These people who consider themselves scientists are unable to write about their own subject in their mother tongue!
What is more scary, I see some sloppy writing even in the pharmaceutical sector (but much less, and generally in English by non-natives).


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:58
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Other, don't know, can't say Jan 15

Very possibly.
The whole approach to teaching Danish in schools is different from a generation ago, and the generation before that had a different approach from anything later.

There are different styles and different ways of dealing with structure and grammar. In all generations some writers plan a text and write well, while some haven't a clue.

Today everyone writes. They churn out blogs and gut reactions on Facebook... I am tempted to say there is more garbage, but there are also more people who really try to stand out, so their message gets through. Some succeed... for better or worse. It is not always the best quality that gets the most likes and shares. There is a lot of English (or Danglish) mixed in, and it is not always as smart as the writer thinks. Certainly not easy to translate into real English!

Denmark does not score well in the ISIS reading and writing assessments, but has not done so for a long time. The latest school reform has not come through yet to adult writing, but many people are pessimistic.
How it all reflects on source texts I am asked to translate is another matter again, but they are very mixed. This week I have some articles by a seasoned journalist, so one of the older generations, who really can write. I'll enjoy it while it lasts!


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 00:58
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
No Jan 15

When I first started out, the occupation "technical writer" didn't even exist, and all of the documents, user's manuals, instruction manuals, etc. for products output by industry were written by engineers who put very little thought into their preparation. When asked, Japanese engineers in most cases tell you that they chose the sciences since they were no good at languages. And, these are the people who are often asked to write the manuals. Sigh...

Now, most of the big manufacturers have entire sections whose sole mission is to write and prepare presentable technical documentation. And, there are lots of technical documentation companies outside in the market who offer technical writing and documentation services. So, overall, quality has got markedly better.

But, there is still a huge mountain of crud manuals out there - like the mess I am translating right now. And, I am spending a lot of time writing notes and comments for the reviewer at the agency in between to deal with when they review my work. When I deliver, it's no longer my problem any more. It's their's. icon_smile.gif


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apostrophe vigilante strikes again... Jan 15

Julian Holmes wrote:
When I deliver, it's no longer my problem any more. It's their's. icon_smile.gif


Theirs.

http://www.elearnenglishlanguage.com/blog/english-mistakes/theirs/


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:58
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Illelgible source documents Jan 15

My concern is not so much the poor quality of the writing of the texts I'm asked to translate but the illegibility of some of the files I'm offered. For example, uneditable PDFs in faint and minuscule fonts, scruffy, smudged and wrinkled photographs of documents which look as if they're lying on someone's duvet, documents in a variety of mostly illegible handwriting.
With the PDF's, I can usually enlarge them on the screen and read at least some of what they say but when printed they revert to being tiny again.
My current policy is to decline anything illegible.


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 00:58
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Period vigilante strikes again Jan 16

neilmac wrote:

Julian Holmes wrote:
When I deliver, it's no longer my problem any more. It's their's. icon_smile.gif


Theirs.

http://www.elearnenglishlanguage.com/blog/english-mistakes/theirs/


Theirs

It's not a sentence, so a period "." is not required. icon_smile.gif


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:58
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, a lot Jan 16

...because I started translating in 1986, when Chinglish, mobiles and PDF/OCR did not exist. When these three factors entered the market, the average quality dropped strongly.
The regular Chinese (generalizing here) translates their documents into English, many times using machine translation or locals that are not proficient in English, as they will not pay for a native translator. Then they send that bad English document to be translated into all other languages.
Until the 1990's we got printed documents and files saved in disquettes. OK. In the 1990's, we started receiving files by e-mail. OK. In the 2000's we started reseiving scanned PDFs converted by OCR. Lots of new issues appeared. A bit later, we started receiving images of documents photographed with cell phones. Pure garbage.


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:58
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Ok, Neilmac Jan 16

[quote]neilmac wrote:

Julian Holmes wrote:
When I deliver, it's no longer my problem any more. It's their's. icon_smile.gif


Since you wanna be a PIA to Julian, why didn't you mention "no longer" and "any more" in the same sentence?

Just kidding, Julian. Your English is a lot better than mine, and we don't want to transform this forum into an FB discussion with snowflakes pointing out other people's mistakes.

[Edited at 2018-01-16 04:42 GMT]


 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Jared Tabor[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Poll: Has source text quality worsened since you started translating?

Advanced search






PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »
WordFinder Unlimited
For clarity and excellence

WordFinder is the leading dictionary service that gives you the words you want anywhere, anytime. Access 260+ dictionaries from the world's leading dictionary publishers in virtually any device. Find the right word anywhere, anytime - online or offline.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search