Overzealous Editor: What can I do?
Thread poster: Alexandre Chetrite

Alexandre Chetrite
Local time: 09:11
English to French
Feb 9, 2011


I am doing a translation and I don't know who is the editor, but the editor found (in his opinion) many mistakes and has to translate from scratch most of the text.Style errors too (how can one prove this??)

I don't agree at all. I ran a spell-check and checked twice my file.

What can I do?

The translation agency tells me that they don't know whom to trust and that all they want is a high-quality translation. Can the translation agency cancel the project, not pay the translator and editor and give the work to somebody else at this point?

Can the translation agency decide to pay me less because of what the editor said? How can I justify my work?

Good day.


Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:11
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
What is the editor's job? Feb 9, 2011

Alexandre Chetrite wrote:
The translation agency tells me that ... all they want is a high-quality translation.

An editor usually has two jobs that are often not neatly separated -- he has to check for errors, and he has to make improvements. Improvements are often (but not necessarily) preferential. Therefore the fact that the editor had made many changes doesn't mean that he had found many errors, and the client should be told this. Unless an editor is specifically instructed to check only for proveable errors, the editor is likely to change more than just errors.


Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:11
English to German
+ ...
Here is what I did once Feb 9, 2011

A long-term client had hired a new proofreader who apparently like a maniac felt compelled to rewrite most of the text. I contacted the client and informed them that about all edits were based on personal preference, and that I unfortunately would have to charge extra because somebody has to proofread the proofreaders new version, right?

It worked like a charm and I was told to ignore all stylistic preferences and to only accept edits for real typos.


Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:11
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
My cases Feb 9, 2011

Overzealous editors can be a new one who want to sell themselves high to agencies without respect to other translators etc. OR they can be editors not living in home countries and are rarely exposed to the current language in question. I used the third person assessors to settle the cases. Beware also that a dishonest agency may use such editors to get you out of future jobs at it although you have done good jobs for a long time.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:11
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Do your job Feb 9, 2011

Ask the customer for the edited file and write a detailed report (yes, I know it takes a long time) explaining what you think the editor has done wrong or misunderstood or why your translation was more correct.

You will have to provide sufficient examples of solid references, like law, official reports, expert sources on the matter, research institutes, universities, EU Directives and other documents, etc.

The editor should do the same, so that the customer can take a solid decision about who is right. In this case, you, the editor, and the customer will have to do some extra work. Complaining is clearly insufficient. Show your willingness to do this work immediately, to prove your professional attitude.


Eyob Fitwi  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:11
Member (2013)
English to Amharic
+ ...
Get a third reviewer Feb 9, 2011

I was in a similar position once, as an editor. I had to edit the translation severely. What I did was inform the agency of the nature of my editing. I got into a fight with the translator and asked for a third person's view, which I insisted on. Got vindicated in the end, though admittedly a few typos got by me (due to tight deadline and the unexpected editing).

The editor should explain exactly what he/she edited - is it spelling and/or gramatical errors, 'less direct' translations, jargons, etc. Note, if the project is a translation in a specialized field, you should consider that it could be tricky; what one may consider as improvements may turn out to have been necessary. You should explain to your agency as well on what you consider problematic in the editing. Being as precise as possible would be very helpful.

Some editings and corrections/improvements are acceptable. You can't be perfect. The editor should be willing to concede some as well. This is of course if you are able to make contact with the editor or discuss it through your agency.

I think that sometimes what could've been worked out with a simple correspondence between the translator and editor either directly or through a third party ends up getting flared over.

In my case, we both asked for a third reviewer and agreed that the person declared wrong would pay for the reviewer; there is really no other option for the agency if they don't know the language. If trying to clear this out through communicating doesn't work, I think you may have to stand by your work and ask for a third reviewer.


Carolin Haase  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:11
English to German
+ ...
With Tomás Feb 9, 2011

I do a lot of editing/revising but I am always required to write a short text and comment upon the mistakes the translator made. There are obvious mistakes like typos, spelling and grammar, and there's the style. A text can be nicely written but full of errors and horribly written but absolutely correct in terms of spelling, etc.

Generally, I find it more important to have a well written text in front of me that contains spelling errors, typos etc. than one that's badly written but otherwise flawless. We all make mistakes and have bad days - but a trabslator who actually has no sense of style, so to say...well, that's just terrible.

Correcting the style, syntax, terminology is always really hard because it leaves virtually nothing of the original translation. And it is harder to prove the mistakes, too.

However, in your case, have the agency send you the corrected text so you have the chance to comment upon it. Make a list of your choices and the editor's choices and compare them.
As to payment, just wait and see what happens.
There's always the possibility that the editor was indeed correct and there are mistakes in the text that shouldn't be there at all. If you find that's the case, you could still offer a discount.


Tony Bennjamin  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:11
Indonesian to English
+ ...
Find out about the language Feb 9, 2011

Sir, I think you should ask the client what English does he/she is using. Because different English, will have different spelling and meaning. ie. Colour in English UK and Color in English US. After you found out, try using the MS. Word and check for spelling.


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