Striving for perfection - and not making it
Thread poster: Gillian Searl

Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:25
Member (2004)
German to English
Jun 19, 2009

Hi everybody,
Can I vent a little (please sympathiseicon_wink.gif)

Here's the essence of an email conversation this morning:

Thanks for the translation, there are, however, a number of notes on the translation: ...Please let me know if you disagree with any of the above.

As I haven't heard from you, I take it you agree with my corrections of your mistakes?

I don’t have any objections to the changes you made. I wouldn’t necessarily call them corrections to mistakes.

Are you sure? Did you read the list? Some of the things listed are minor slips, quite a number are due to carelessness, and a few are critical.

I apologise for the corrections you had to make and wish you a pleasant day.

I wouldn't call this a professional answer, and it is not the point I wish to make. Your translation was acceptable, but some of the mistakes simply puzzled me and I wouldn't necessarily send a list of all the corrections if I didn't think it was worth your while having a second look.



So here I am working away freelancing for 9 years and constantly striving to provide perfect translations under tight deadlines. The demands are high: we have to know the languages, cultures, keep up-to-date with the technology, comply with the rules and standards that are different for each client, keep to the deadlines, be our own marketing, IT and accounts departments etc. etc. etc. So you do your best day in and day out but you never quite make the grade. Something is always wrong and the clients always correct. Sometimes a little more grace in emails would be a good thing. This particular translation was acceptable so how about something along of the lines of "I made a few changes, take a look when you get a minute"? Or am I getting all fuzzy now?
Gillian


 

Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:25
Italian to English
+ ...
It doesn't sound unreasonable to me Jun 19, 2009

Sorry Gillian! Your client's responses sounds perfectly reasonable to me - you could have perhaps responded more specifically when clearly invited to do so, especially if you didn't agree that you'd made any mistakes.

I agree it's frustrating having to justify our work word-by-word, as some clients seem to demand, and can waste valuable time that would be more profitably spent getting on with the next job. But this particular exchange doesn't strike me as particularly teeth-grinding.


 

Victor Zagria
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Striving for perfection Jun 19, 2009

Gillian,
apart from all of the services and endeavors we make, from the list you 've mentioned, we do one more thing - we make the client to choose either to settle the fee or not. For some people it' s quite a torture to take that sort of a decision and they do their best to deminish the value of the service we render in one way or another.
One of the recent inventions I have come across was as follws: client insisted on making the bank to bank transfer of my fee, despite my precautions that one of the banks (both are domestic banks) was subject to temporary administration procedure. As a result - the money got stuck, I stopped servicing the orders and everything went wrong. It took an enormous effort on both sides to trace the sum, get it back to the payer and mend the matters in the end.
In fact, most of the clients are resolved - one way or another - that once "they pay the fiddler..." they are always right...


 

Umang Dholabhai  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 10:55
Member
English to Gujarati
+ ...
I ask for it ! Jun 19, 2009

You do come across some clients who are too demanding and many a time the subject matter is (e.g., psychiatric questionnaires). Most of my clients/agencies know well that they may well ask me for clarifications and they shall get an appropriate reply. If at all the reviewer has made up a list, with the exception of minor "mistakes", I do make it a point to give them a reference source for each term used with an explanation as to why it was used - stylistically or contextually, I readily admit to typos if any. I must submit in the same breath with due humility that in several instances I have actually discovered genuine errors at the reviewer's end too which I simply tell them with an authoritative source quoted. Now, I can well understand that this may be time consuming but it is worth it simply because while doing such an exercise for a couple of times the client should know where each one stands as well as each one's stand. This has resulted in better rates and a loyal client base.

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:25
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
What you should have responded with Jun 19, 2009

Gillian Searl wrote:
A: I don’t have any objections to the changes you made. I wouldn’t necessarily call them corrections to mistakes.
B: Are you sure? Did you read the list? Some of the things listed are minor slips, quite a number are due to carelessness, and a few are critical.
A: I apologise for the corrections you had to make and wish you a pleasant day.


Ouch, person A gave the wrong answer! You should have responded by asking the reviewer to mark the corrections he deems critical. This would put the ball in his court, and if he does respond, you can defend yourself with references (limiting yourself to about 5 or 10 of his so-called critical corrections).


 

liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:25
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
I know how you feel Jun 19, 2009

Hi there

I can understand your reaction though I think the editor/proofreader does have to be taken seriously, after all they are doing a job too:-)

Sure, we all do demanding translations and spend an age trying to get the right term, sometimes, but in our job no matter how hard we try, we are always going to get a correction! I have had a few I can tell you! But, once we get off our high horse (when we're not tired!) then take a look at the proofreader's comments and try to answer at a less-heated moment.

Seriously, I have found that the proofreader has corrected me and has been 100% right in doing so. On the other hand I have been corrected and then had to provide further references to show that the proofreader was himself/herself incorrect:-)

So, it works both ways, both parties can benefit. Just try not to take offence after all your hard work. Seriously, I know what it feels like, but it can be beneficial. Look at it as a continual learning process!

I hope you feel good about yourself today:-)

Cheers!

Liz Askew

[Edited at 2009-06-19 10:36 GMT]

BTW

No matter how "experienced" "expert" we think we might be, they is always somebody out there to put us firmly back on track when we do make an error!

[Edited at 2009-06-19 10:37 GMT]


 

Kate Chaffer
Italy
Local time: 07:25
Member (2009)
Italian to English
'Critical' errors Jun 19, 2009

Gillian Searl wrote:


Are you sure? Did you read the list? Some of the things listed are minor slips, quite a number are due to carelessness, and a few are critical.

I apologise for the corrections you had to make and wish you a pleasant day.




To be perfectly honest, when I read your post, at first I thought that you were the proofreader complaining about the attitude of the translator! If a proofreader tells me I made 'critical' errors, I want to know what they are. If they are actually errors I want to learn from them and if they aren't I want to be able to justify my work! Were you not even a little bit interested? In my opinion, replying in that way isn't going to help you get any more work from that client.

[Edited at 2009-06-19 12:49 GMT]


 

Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:25
Member (2004)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Interested? Jun 19, 2009

Kate C wrote:

To be perfectly honest, when I read your post, at first I thought that you were the proofreader complaining about the attitude of the translator! If a proofreader tells me I made 'critical' errors, I want to know what they are. If they are actually errors I want to learn from them and if they aren't I want to be able to justify my work! Were you not even a little bit interested? In my opinion, replying in that way isn't going to help you get any more work from that client.

[Edited at 2009-06-19 12:49 GMT]


It's not about being interested - it's about being tired. Tired of trying to do it right, trying to satisfy everybody's demands, tired of using and trying to learn new versions of software. I think I need some time off to recharge my batteries... Maybe when I can be objective it won't seem such hard work as it does today.
Gillian


 

liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:25
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Interested/tired? Jun 19, 2009

Hello Gillian

Sounds like you need to re-charge your batteries. Take a break this week-end and pander to your own personal desires - there is nothing like it when things are getting on top of you! I do it about once a day if I can!

Look at this again on Monday or later next week and things will be different:-)

Don't worry, you're obviously over-doing it!

You won't believe it but I was getting to the very cheesed off stage the other week and I arranged an overnight stay in Scotland - flew up there, the lot, to see an aged Aunt in a nursing home and have an overnight stay in a plush hotel, didn't do a stroke! OK it cost me a bit of money, but I deserved it and I came back a reasonably nice personicon_smile.gif

Liz Askew

[Edited at 2009-06-19 16:20 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-06-19 16:21 GMT]


 

Deborah do Carmo  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:25
Dutch to English
+ ...
In all honesty ... Jun 19, 2009

I also find nothing wrong with the outsourcer's approach -- she asked politely whether you disagreed with any of the changes. You came across as disinterested, even though that wasn't your intention.

If the client matters to you, spend a bit of time over the weekend or first thing on Monday when you've cooled off, consider the changes and contact them later on Monday to sort things out. If your relationship has been good up to now -- and it seems like it possibly has been as the outsourcer says she was puzzled by your mistakes (suggesting it was unexpected from you) -- then it can be salvaged.

We all have off days, we all get tired, but if you are making mistakes that you normally wouldn't, the client has actually done you a favour. You know you normally deliver good work, so just try see this as a wake-up call and put yourself top of your list of priorities for a while.

Best of luck
Debs





[Edited at 2009-06-19 17:22 GMT]


 

Anne Bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:25
English to French
Another approach to this problem... enhance process Jun 19, 2009

I work with a translation agency which has a different approach : once the document is proofread (usually on the bilingual version) it goes back to the translator, who then prepares the final version.
Personnally, I go through each comment and decide what I accept or reject. I sometimes accept things which are not that right, as long as it doesn't impair the translation. But for all those that I reject, I have good arguments for that.
And it also allows me to evaluate my proofreaders : some are very good, but for some others I have to reject 50% of the modifications!
When done, the translator sends back both bilingual and final versions to the agency (and the proofreader can get back the bilingual to update his TM).
This is time consuming and we don't get paid more for this extra work.
But altogether I think that it is an excellent process, and it avoids the problem that you mention, in my opinion. Or if there is, you can expect the discussion to be only on REALLY serious issues.


 

Emily Lemon  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 07:25
Member
German to English
The old "learning from our mistakes" strategy Jun 30, 2009

bohy wrote:

I work with a translation agency which has a different approach : once the document is proofread (usually on the bilingual version) it goes back to the translator, who then prepares the final version.



Although I totally understand that Gillian is feeling tired and fed up, I think this concept of sending corrections back to the translator before releasing the final text is wonderful. I wish more agencies would do it. I had a couple of agencies do this when I first started working with them, and they were extremely diplomatic and gentle in their presentation. I appreciate feedback, but of course it always depends on how it is given. After all, translators have feelings too.


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:25
Member (2004)
English to Italian
two of us... Jun 30, 2009

Gillian Searl wrote:


I think I need some time off to recharge my batteries...

Gillian


I need a hooooooooooliday! On my owwwwwwwn!


 


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