Poll: When I proofread, I have a feeling that many translators cut corners...
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 21:29
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Nov 20

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "When I proofread, I have a feeling that many translators cut corners...".

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:29
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Other Nov 20

I dislike sweeping generalizations of this kind.

I don't proofread/review as much as I used to, but when I do, I am often asked to look at a text that a client has complained over.

I have just done that this week, and really, the text was fine. It was not word-for-word. It was an informative text, where the translator had made an effort to explain in a way the target readers would expect and understand. In one place information had been moved up from later in the text t
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I dislike sweeping generalizations of this kind.

I don't proofread/review as much as I used to, but when I do, I am often asked to look at a text that a client has complained over.

I have just done that this week, and really, the text was fine. It was not word-for-word. It was an informative text, where the translator had made an effort to explain in a way the target readers would expect and understand. In one place information had been moved up from later in the text to a place where, IMHO, it made better sense.

That was an ´inaccurate´ translation if you like, but it was in fact what the client was paying for, instead of MT, which would have been closer to the original, but possibly not conveyed the message so well to the target readers!

Otherwise I only proofread when I know the translator has done their very best. I don't know of any translators who cut corners, except in quite exceptional circumstances where they have no other option, and I don´t want to accuse others of doing it.
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Tom in London
Kaisa I
Noni Gilbert
Philip Lees
Kay Denney
Rachel Waddington
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 05:29
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Nov 20

I don’t edit or proofread very often (I prefer translating or transcreating), but I’ve never had that impression and the quality of the assignments has been good and even very good. On the other side, I have an arrangement with two trusted colleagues (I worked in-house for 20 years with one of them) where we proofread each other's work (mostly work done for direct clients).

 

writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
What does cut corners mean? Nov 20

I don't understand what this is supposed to imply.

 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:29
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
e.g. guessing and not checking when unsure of terminology Nov 20

writeaway wrote:

I don't understand what this is supposed to imply.


I understand cutting corners as rushing too much, e.g. not checking terminology, or using the first literal translation that comes to mind, instead of thinking about what expressions would be used if the meaning was originally conveyed in the target language. Source-language syntax is another symptom.

-- Generally presenting a first draft as a final translation. In English it can look deceptively accurate, and the text may serve its purpose, but it is not an ideal translation.

In very rushed circumstances there may not be time for more than a first run at a translation, and it may be much better than no translation at all. An experienced translator would use the time available and go first for the vital terminology and the core message. I would prefer that to an indiscriminate, unchecked machine translation.

Low rates and tight deadlines may tempt translators to stop too early, or inexperienced translators may not know better (been there, done that myself…).
I would not want to dismiss the idea that people cut corners altogether, because I have seen some awful so-called translations... I just reject the idea that it is a general trend.


Teresa Borges
Noni Gilbert
Tina Vonhof
Fiona Grace Peterson
MollyRose
Katya Kesten
writeaway
 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:29
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Other Nov 20

As rates are on a free dive down, so is the quality of the work I have to proof. Some of my so called colleagues don't even master their own language, lets stand alone they understand the text! In some cases MT would have done a better job. That used to be different.

The way I see it, the client is getting what he is paying for.



[Edited at 2019-11-20 21:07 GMT]


DZiW
Katia Perry
writeaway
 

Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Might not be the translator who is cutting corners... Nov 20

...but rather the client! I am thinking of course of the times when I have been asked to edit what turns out to be MT.

Tina Vonhof
Rachel Waddington
 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Nov 20

I mostly proof texts written by non-native authors. Nowadays you can see they are using MT and they lack the knowledge to proof their own work.

writeaway
 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 22:29
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not a trend Nov 20

I proofread quite a lot and I sometimes see some really poor translations but I agree with Christine that it doesn't appear to be a general trend. What I can say is that a lot of the errors I see are due to not carefully reading the source text and that can lead to some serious errors but also very funny ones sometimes.

 

writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Thanks for the explanation! Nov 20

Christine Andersen wrote:

writeaway wrote:

I don't understand what this is supposed to imply.


I understand cutting corners as rushing too much, e.g. not checking terminology, or using the first literal translation that comes to mind, instead of thinking about what expressions would be used if the meaning was originally conveyed in the target language. Source-language syntax is another symptom.

-- Generally presenting a first draft as a final translation. In English it can look deceptively accurate, and the text may serve its purpose, but it is not an ideal translation.

In very rushed circumstances there may not be time for more than a first run at a translation, and it may be much better than no translation at all. An experienced translator would use the time available and go first for the vital terminology and the core message. I would prefer that to an indiscriminate, unchecked machine translation.

Low rates and tight deadlines may tempt translators to stop too early, or inexperienced translators may not know better (been there, done that myself…).
I would not want to dismiss the idea that people cut corners altogether, because I have seen some awful so-called translations... I just reject the idea that it is a general trend.


Thank you for taking the time to explain.


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:29
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
MT = cutting corners inevitably Nov 21

I don't like proofreading very much. But one thing I can do very easily is identifying those who used MT/GT as a pre-translation tool and revised it later. The translations are a disaster. This is the worst type of cutting corners allowed by technology lately.

 

Tan Nguyen
Vietnam
Local time: 12:29
Member (Oct 2019)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
I have data and evidence to strengthen the statement Nov 21

Christine Andersen wrote:

I dislike sweeping generalizations of this kind.



After red flagging countless films in Vietnamese on Netflix, it is disheartening to see few translators, QC-ers care about quality (given good rates).


 

Tan Nguyen
Vietnam
Local time: 12:29
Member (Oct 2019)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
This is sad but true for Vietnamese too Nov 21

Robert Rietvelt wrote:

Some of my so called colleagues don't even master their own language, lets stand alone they understand the text! In some cases MT would have done a better job. That used to be different.



[Edited at 2019-11-20 21:07 GMT]


Again, I have data and evidence to back up the statements.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:29
Member (2018)
French to English
. Nov 21

Christine Andersen wrote:

I dislike sweeping generalizations of this kind.

I don't proofread/review as much as I used to, but when I do, I am often asked to look at a text that a client has complained over.

I have just done that this week, and really, the text was fine. It was not word-for-word. It was an informative text, where the translator had made an effort to explain in a way the target readers would expect and understand. In one place information had been moved up from later in the text to a place where, IMHO, it made better sense.

That was an ´inaccurate´ translation if you like, but it was in fact what the client was paying for, instead of MT, which would have been closer to the original, but possibly not conveyed the message so well to the target readers!

Otherwise I only proofread when I know the translator has done their very best. I don't know of any translators who cut corners, except in quite exceptional circumstances where they have no other option, and I don´t want to accuse others of doing it.



I fully agree about generalisations!

And more often than not, if anyone criticises my work, it's because I've done a better job than they were expecting. They can't find the run-of-the-mill term they were expecting me to use, and an entire sub-clause has been condensed into an adjective tucked away two lines below, and that elegant phrasing in French has warped into something completely different.

It's almost like they don't actually want me to do a professional job. I often end up explaining that this is precisely why they need a professional rather than cobble something together with the secretary whose BF worked in a London pub for a few months.

The worst translation I ever had to proofread, I was asked by the PM to "prove we didn't use MT". I wrote back and said there were far too many mistakes for it to be MT. MT might use the wrong words, but they are at least spelt properly.


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:29
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I don't proofread Nov 22

It's hard to judge a colleague's work when it's not what I would have said. It takes me too much time to decide whether or not a passage is worth changing; in the time that process takes, I could have translated from scratch. And then there's the added time of explaining my changes if the client or translator questions them.

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