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How to deal with an overenthusiastic reviewer?
Thread poster: Umang Dholabhai

Umang Dholabhai  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 04:53
Member
English to Gujarati
+ ...
Jul 17, 2009

Recently my translation was directly reviewed directly and unilaterally by a reviewer without a back translation. Each sentence was altered stylistically. Translated words were told be transliterated. There were comments on translated technical words - "difficult word". Some paragraphs had a comment - "re-frame" with out a suggestion. What is the guarantee that it would pass their judgement even on a re-frame. Actually he/she had re-framed the whole document. In conclusion the document, if at all is back translated, would be unrecognizable compared to the source. I was not given a list of preferences of the client. Such was the magnitude of the so called "corrections" that I bluntly told my agency to cancel my invoice if this is what I am going to be rewarded for a painstakingly done translation where their client is indirectly altering the source. My PM fortunately had complete faith in my work looking at her past experiences with the jobs done. Ideally how should one deal with such situations? Any suggestions? Thank you in advance.

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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 23:23
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German to English
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What? Jul 17, 2009

I hope the translation wasn't into English. It's not entirely clear what you want to say.

I would think that if a bucket of ice water isn't available to dump over the head of an overheated reviewer that a reasonable alternative might be a *brief* factual summary of a few points of objection, perhaps arranged in a table. I wouldn't do that for an entire document if this would involve a lot of time, but after documenting half a dozen points or so I would offer more thorough documentation at your full hourly rate for the effort.

Was this a technical translation reviewed by someone without a technical background? Was this a general text which you translated in a register more appropriate for a Ph.D. thesis? (I'm trying to understand why you would receive a comment like "difficult word". That could be interpreted many ways.)

In the end I wouldn't worry about it a whole lot if you are generally established and enjoy the trust of your clients and theirs. I think everyone - even the very best translators - encounter unsatisfactory reviews which may or may not be appropriate. And sometimes one must simply let a client live with the consequences of stupidity. I still get a big chuckle when I think of a review of a laboratory report I translated years ago which was "improved" by a German geologist. I used to work in a laboratory that issued such reports every day (admittedly as a bottle washer, not a scientist back then), and I was quite familiar with the terminology from that time and 20 years of using such reports afterward, but not all client (or reviewer) decisions are rational....


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JMeenakshi  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:53
English to Hindi
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Yes, this is a common problem with our languages Jul 17, 2009

Hello Umang Bhai,
I'm completely agree with you. Many times I've also faced similar situation where client's reviewer rejected my good translation just on basis of very preferential changes. Being a translator I know that the changes he/she marked are prefernetial and it doesnt affect the meaning. But they were presented like there were a lot of mistakes I commited.

Since my clients, who are mainly based outside of the India, dont know the language and they rely on what their reviewer says. Due to this, sometimes we have to face a awkward situation even if our translation is very good.

Just to show that reviewer is doing some work, they mark such preferential changes as errors. I'm feeling bad to say that in our languages such things are very common. The quality is not judged impartially.

Sometimes reviewers themselves are not qualified and they suggest incorrect translation for correct one. We have to face tough time to justify our quality.

Regards,
Meenakshi


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Umang Dholabhai  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 04:53
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English to Gujarati
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TOPIC STARTER
Reviewer seems to be non-technical Jul 17, 2009

Thanks Kevin for your observations. The translation was from English to Gujarati. Looking at the "review" it seemed to me that the reviewer wanted that technical piece to look more literary. For example, there is a difference between a patient and a subject and the Gujarati language does have specific words for each. The reviewer thought otherwise. Now, regarding the comment "difficult word" - the dictionary meaning for the English word "randomization" in Gujarati is a less often used (in fact rarely, except in technical writings) word which the reviewer found to be "difficult". Now these were just a few examples. The overheated reviewer actually vaporized the source, and a brief factual summary would have been an insult to his intellect and understanding of the subject.

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Rodna Ruskovska  Identity Verified
Macedonia (FYROM)
Local time: 00:23
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Macedonian to English
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Who tests the proofreaders? Jul 17, 2009

It is a big problem that keeps reoccurring.

Agencies test translators, but agencies do not test proofreaders!!!

Many times the so called proofreader is another translator. Who guarantees that this person knows the language better than us? Maybe this persons language abilities are lower than ours...?

Therefore, for the proofreading to be accurate, there should be more than one proofreader... at least three.... And the proofreader should detail his/her decisions! Otherwise it's just nonsense....

I have been a witness where the proofreader was a total idiot - really an idiot and I informed the agency/agencies of this. One time they promised to give it to another proofreader and then never came back to me again.... And another time they mentioned that they will come back to me and when I reminded them - they mentioned that they are soooooooo busy ... Well, they should be busy with arranging their proofreader screening and translator testing system.

Are they aware what crime they are committing against quality and damaging the reputation of their agency?

Can something be done concerning this very serious issue?

Respect to all,

Rodna


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AutoLingo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:23
Spanish to English
Be careful... Jul 17, 2009

Rodna Ruskovska wrote:

I have been a witness where the proofreader was a total idiot - really an idiot and I informed the agency/agencies of this. One time they promised to give it to another proofreader and then never came back to me again....

Rodna


Be careful about calling a proofreader an idiot. That "idiot" may actually be an end client reviewer.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:23
French to German
+ ...
It means what it means Jul 17, 2009

chiriz wrote:

Be careful about calling a proofreader an idiot. That "idiot" may actually be an end client reviewer.


I can agree with you that the term in itself is somewhat too strong to derogatory, but I hardly ever read on these or other fora of a colleague who kept a completely cool mind when confronted to (in their eyes) unjustified, negative criticism.
Translators would imo be far better off and ready to accept that kind of subjective reviewing if clients were not so scarce in their subjective appraisal.
I guess this has to do with "modern management methods", in which the final decision is made on a seemingly arbitrary basis by a concealed and unreachable entity and where ira is more likely to be expressed than lauda : IOW, fear management - or managerial medieval mysteries. Or, and to stay with the professionalism we are all expected to show: reviewing based on subjective appreciations, which will never be questioned because the reviewer is the reviewer.
How this can fit with the above mentioned derogatory word would need an extensive research from the lowest to the highest point of the chain of command.
As the Japanese (?) say, there is always a crack for "sin" to come in, but I can understand that sin is linked to shame and that, for example, you cannot dismiss the CEO's son even if he drives the company to its ruin so obviously that even a blind man could see it.

Laurent K.

[Edited at 2009-07-17 20:27 GMT]


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 00:23
Member (2002)
English to Russian
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MODERATOR
You are wrong Jul 17, 2009

Rodna Ruskovska wrote:
Agencies test translators, but agencies do not test proofreaders!!!


Agencies DO test editors/proofreaders - there are sprecial tests for this purpose.


Many times the so called proofreader is another translator. Who guarantees that this person knows the language better than us? Maybe this persons language abilities are lower than ours...?


There are certain standards in many fields, and they should be respected.


...for the proofreading to be accurate, there should be more than one proofreader... at least three.... And the proofreader should detail his/her decisions! Otherwise it's just nonsense....


In accordance to ISO standards, the translation should be proofread and checked by the quality manager; the proofreaders would be far too many.


I have been a witness where the proofreader was a total idiot ... they mentioned that they will come back to me and when I reminded them - they mentioned that they are soooooooo busy ...


Excuse me, but I believe they will never come back. Calling names is not an argument... The only way to prove that you are right would be spending lots of time, explaining each and every issue and providing valid arguments why your version (and not the editor's one) is correct.

Natalia


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:23
French to German
+ ...
Excuse me too... Jul 17, 2009

Natalie wrote:

Excuse me, but I believe they will never come back. Calling names is not an argument... The only way to prove that you are right would be spending lots of time, explaining each and every issue and providing valid arguments why your version (and not the editor's one) is correct.

Natalia



but I thought the OP posted in a matter which I understand to be, among others, of objectivity vs. subjectivity.

Objectivity: randomization is rarely used in Gujarati, but the word exists.

Subjectivity: this Gujarati word is difficult from my point of view, hence I will decide it is faulty.

Why should any person be "more right" than another just because of their position in the hierarchy? Do we deal with objective facts or with preferences?

Laurent K.

[Edited at 2009-07-17 20:44 GMT]


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:23
Portuguese to English
+ ...
It's a bad problem Jul 17, 2009

I quit working for an agency I'd been with for 6 years because of this kind of problem. It kept getting worse and worse and I was spending way too much time explaining myself and correcting the proofreaders (and sometimes the clients.)

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Tae Kim  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:23
Member (2007)
English to Korean
+ ...
Proofreaders should approach their editing work with utmost respect for the translator Jul 17, 2009

I have come across many instances like this with regards to the issue. My work is about 30% proofreading and rest are direct translation. My established clients would not normally re-send my work with proofreaders' negative comments and corrections, but sometimes new clients would send such things, and everytime I get these comments from the proofreaders, it makes me feeling so discouraged downright frustrated since it conveys a message that they are questioning my work. Trust is at issue here and this is one of those fine lines where infringement on somebody's hard honest work is easily up for grabs with no truthful merit.

Proofreading does not give the proofreader a right to freely alter or modify whichever way he or she wishes. And experienced agencies all know it, so they ask proofreaders in advance not to change translations for stylistic reasons, and ask just to check for hard facts, omissions, numbers, etc. That is the right way to approach proofreading. It's the unexperienced proofreaders who wrongfully think that proofreading is about changing translations to the way they want. I can go on and on, but the bottomline is, only with experience, can you sense the whole core issue in this matter - proofreading must be done with respect for the translator in mind and proofreaders can only change hard facts that were genuinely mistranslated. This is the core principle all proofreaders must adhere to before taking on any prooreading work. Without this guideline, it'll only result in negative experiences for all involved in the project.


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 01:23
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
We have to do it several times a year Jul 17, 2009

on somewhat regular bases. It just happens.

And yes, we have got our lesson - not to take it too seriously - now we just back translate first 4 or 5 of the such "corrected" segments and send them to our client - adding that further analyses and substantiation of our correctness will be a paid job.

Up to now in all cases it has worked.

Uldis

Kevin Lossner wrote:
In the end I wouldn't worry about it a whole lot if you are generally established and enjoy the trust of your clients and theirs.


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 01:23
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Yeah, been there, seen that Jul 17, 2009

Turned out it was end client's secretary (I will not comment on her education level...).

Uldis

chiriz wrote:
Be careful about calling a proofreader an idiot. That "idiot" may actually be an end client reviewer.


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:23
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Ahem! Jul 17, 2009

"The only way to prove that you are right would be spending lots of time, explaining each and every issue and providing valid arguments why your version (and not the editor's one) is correct."

Maybe in Poland you are guilty until you prove you' re innocent, but in the western world the accuser has the burden of proof.

Therefore, the proofreader is the one who must explain his/her corrections.

Can I send a letter to the Boeing Corporation and tell them "your airplanes are not good but I'm not telling you why"...???? That's what the proofreaders are doing in the translation industry: "I'm not telling you why".

Boeing will think I'm an idiot if I do something like that (or a translator, since we are the only industry on the planet which accepts unexplained reviews - not even highschool teachers accept them from their students).

Your argument about ISO standards etc is a bunch of nonsense. I have seen tons of translations which passed through 3-4 "ISO" standard proofreading stages and they instructed physicians to do the exact opposite from what the source document said. That's because there's no accountability in this business. There would be accountability if parties were subjected to lawsuits or similar penalties. The editor does "whatever the hell they want", since the project manager doesn't speak foreign languages...

You want another example? Guess which huge construction equipment company sells a long haul dump truck (that's a big truck for long distances), which the Greek translator says it's a... "basement loader" (?!?) and it's also on the cover. That translation went through all "ISO" stages (5 of them).

One day, I will sue at least one "malicious reviewer" and that'll be the end of that stupid "punk" practice.

"Agencies DO test editors/proofreaders - there are sprecial tests for this purpose."

In my 17 years in the business, with a volume more than enough to support families, children and my exploratory trips, and with 223 agencies on record (including the largest 10 agencies), and with project management on my record as well, I have NEVER seen a test "specifically for proofreaders". ALL editors and proofreaders are the translators which the agency has. Very few people do "only editing" and there's no special test for them.

To Umang: You should provide some feedback to reasonable questions from your clients. But in cases such as the one you mentioned, in which the editor changes all of your sentences, you should ask the following:

"Dear client, I assume that the editor was paid to perform professional editing, that is, documented and explained. However, I see no explanations in this. Maybe the editor forgot to send you the file with the explanations for each change, which must be provided, since they are your only defense in the case that the end client complains about the translation".

In the case that the reviewer is the end-client's reviewer, simply tell them
"there are no errors in the original translation, the changes are subjective, and if that's how you want it, no problem, keep it, it's your product afterall".





[Edited at 2009-07-17 23:37 GMT]


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Umang Dholabhai  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 04:53
Member
English to Gujarati
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A justified solution can only be this : Jul 18, 2009

Proofreading does not give the proofreader a right to freely alter or modify whichever way he or she wishes. And experienced agencies all know it, so they ask proofreaders in advance not to change translations for stylistic reasons, and ask just to check for hard facts, omissions, numbers, etc. That is the right way to approach proofreading. It's the unexperienced proofreaders who wrongfully think that proofreading is about changing translations to the way they want. I can go on and on, but the bottomline is, only with experience, can you sense the whole core issue in this matter - proofreading must be done with respect for the translator in mind and proofreaders can only change hard facts that were genuinely mistranslated. This is the core principle all proofreaders must adhere to before taking on any prooreading work. Without this guideline, it'll only result in negative experiences for all involved in the project.


What Tae says is what should be the standard practice and which is with many of the agencies. It is significant to note though that the reviewer in question was the end client reviewer over which the agency has no control whatsoever. My only contention was - how could the end client hold the translator guilty when the very meaning of the source text has been altered. I personally feel that even if the client understands the target language, if the reviewing is done without the back translation in reference it amounts to establishing guilt without a trial.

In the case that the reviewer is the end-client's reviewer, simply tell them
"there are no errors in the original translation, the changes are subjective, and if that's how you want it, no problem, keep it, it's your product afterall".


Eleftherios, I did tell them this. In fact I informed them categorically that "I have implemented the changes as per your wish without any comment or indication of the errors committed (by the end client reviewer)". As I indicated in my earlier post, a factual summary of my justifications would have been a thesis and not a synopsis which I felt was not worth the effort in this particular case. Under normal circumstances I give detailed justifications along with the resources and the page numbers (if applicable) or URL's quoted.

Do we deal with objective facts or with preferences?

Laurent K.


The question remains unanswered.

[Edited at 2009-07-18 03:36 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-07-18 03:43 GMT]


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