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Poll: Have you ever been asked to "proofread" (instead of translate) a machine-translated document?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 08:05
SITE STAFF
Jan 28

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever been asked to "proofread" (instead of translate) a machine-translated document?".

This poll was originally submitted by Carlos Heise. View the poll results »



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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:05
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
And worse Jan 28

to translate a source text created by machine translation! I refuse such requests nowadays, but they are as yet rare in my usual language pairs.

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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:05
Member (2008)
English to Italian
a few times Jan 28

And my reply has always been:
no thank you


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Agneta Pallinder  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:05
Member (2014)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Other Jan 28

I don't know whether to call it "asked", but some of the unsolicited requests that come in bulk emails via the ProZ directory seem to be for this. I wouldn't know because I don't reply to such emails anymore.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:05
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
A few times Jan 28

Once or twice I accepted such a job - years ago when I didn't know any better. Since then I've always politely denied such request. Most of the MT's are just good for a laugh - aside from all the unpaid work when one has to re-translate the text..

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Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:05
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
a few times Jan 28

One of my clients occasionally tried to pass off machine translations as human translations. Or perhaps one of their translators did. I told them this was a machine translation a couple of times; after that, I just raised my proofreading rates for this client, to match my translation rates.

Funnily enough, they largely stopped sending me machine translations after that, while continuing to send me manual translations to check (at the same increased rate). Perhaps it was one of their translators trying to fool them after all.


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Kristina Cosumano  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:05
Member (2015)
German to English
Often enough Jan 28

I am often asked to proofread translations by one of my regular agencies. Most of the time one can tell these are fully human translations, but now and then one will have something slightly "off" about it. At first I chalked it up to haste, TMs (I'm still new to them), maybe Dragon errors. And then I got a taste of working with MT myself.

I was preparing for a working vacation and needed a CAT tool for a short period of time, into which I could import a glossary I use for a certain client. I decided on Wordfast Anywhere. For a test run I also added the IATE glossary, and some MT database that was on offer, just out of curiosity. Well! My test translation practically wrote itself, but with that "off" feel that I knew from dozens of proofreading jobs. The text was written in that same way - mostly accurate but with a very sterile, machine-like style. Now I understand how the low-pay, high-volume sector works.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jan 28

In addition to my translation work, I also revise/correct/post edit academic papers written in English by non-native speakers. It's pretty obvious that some of them are leaning heavily on MT nowadays to help them out. Sometimes the outcome is worse than others.
However, I assume the poll query is aimed more at people working with agencies or individual clients who are sending them MP translated texts masquerading as "normal" text translated by humans. Luckily enough, that's not my case. And anyway, I think you can usually tell the difference between a substandard human translation and an MT output.


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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:05
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
yes Jan 28

I've been asked. I did it once (not realising what I was getting into). I've since refused categorically every time. In fact, I'll only do proofreading now if I'm allowed to discuss the text with the translator, to be sure a human was involved.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 16:05
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A few times Jan 28

I’ve been offered a few times this kind of jobs, but I’ve always refused them. I must say though that quite recently a very regular client (a translation agency) asked me if I would take part in an experiment for a client of theirs and check a machine-translated document [EN-PT(pt)]. As it was paid full rate, I accepted and I must say that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, though it had a lot of mistranslations and mixed Brazilian terms.

[Edited at 2018-01-28 11:52 GMT]


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Anna Herbst  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 01:05
Member (2008)
English to Swedish
+ ...


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MODERATOR
A few times Jan 28

I have been asked to give quotes for that sort of "proof reading" a few times, and have treated them as new translations in my pricing. My quotes have never been accepted, which comes as no surprise, but leaves me with questions yet to be answered: "Is someone else taking on the task for peanuts, or will the text be used in its machine produced state"?

Cheers from a stinking hot Melbourne,
Anna


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Rebecca Garber  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:05
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
a few times Jan 28

I work in patents from German to English. The abstracts in WIPO patents are *always* translated by human beings, which I know because I've done that as well. Which means that the first paragraph is usually pretty good, and sometimes the first claim.
It usually goes downhill from there, with standard translations used instead of patentese, and separable prefix verbs translated as the verb plus a random prefix later. Identical terms are translated with a variety of synonyms, which is great for prose, and forbidden for patents.

All this means I usually get paid to translate a patent that is readily available in machine translation.

So, when I get asked to "proofread" a machine translation of a patent, which occurred recently, I just say no. It's not worth my time to fix it, unless I'm getting paid at my translation rate.


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:05
Member (2006)
German to English
A few times Jan 29

Was asked to "proofread" an MT a few yars ago not really realising what it was and after receiving the text and reading the first paragraph, I sent it back and told the agency that the text could not be proofread because nothing made any sense.

Being weary about MT´s now, I was asked to "post-edit" a large project thinking that it was proofreading, but low and behold, this was also a proofreading task of MT texts - and once again, after seeing this, I sent it back.


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Justin Peterson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:05
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
Yes, and at times it's not half bad Jan 29

Yes. And, actually, the MT translation is, at times, better than human translations attempted by non-natives with mediocre English levels. Though I sense a fear and loathing of MT here on the forum ... MT can be your best friend, as a translator, and as a proofreader.

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Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:05
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
a few times Jan 29

One really took the mickey though.
I told the outsourcer that there was no doubt that the text at hand was a machine translation. He tried to argue that it "can't be". Now, he was a certified translator working in the same language pair as me, so I asked him to look at a few passages, where this was rather obvious from the sentence structure, less common words left in the source language and very literal compound words with no relation to the meaning in the context.
He then proceeded to send me a copy of the original translators invoice to "prove" that it can't be, because he had paid x-amount.
Needless to say, our cooperation stopped right there.


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