Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >
As a student translator starting out, am I taking a “proof readers” comments too much to heart?
Thread poster: Will Masters

Will Masters  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 30, 2011

A couple of days ago I completed a translation going from one of my foreign languages into English for an ONG company based in Europe. Upon completion, with still being a student, I had it double checked by a pair of professional translators I know quite well, and was told by both that the only issues that were likely to arise were stylistic ones, as the translation on the whole was good.

I submitted the translation, and with in a few hours received an email stating that the proof reader that had been appointed to double check my work thought it was of exceptionally low quality as the translation apparently bore no resemblance to the original text. I disputed this (having had it already looked at by experienced professionals in the field), and asked to be shown examples of where the meaning had been changed completely. They refused to do this, saying the only time I could see their corrections and the like would be when the full text has been edited.

Shortly after my initial response, a series of correspondence took place between myself, the organisation in question and the actual proof reader looking at my work. The emails took place in a combination of both languages, English and the other. I responded in whichever language I was written to in, and in both languages the proof reader wrote extremely poorly, neither of which being their native. every email I received was littered with mistakes (grammatical, lexical, you name it!), with every other word either being spelt completely wrong, a complete coinage, or in the wrong place in the sentence. They (the proof reader) told me that the translation could not be accepted, as the entire piece of work was going to have to be done again from scratch BY this same proof reader :S!

What I would like to know is: after having the work double checked by a pair of professionals who said that it was fine to submit, having translated INTO my native language, and being safe in the knowledge that I am sufficiently fluent in the second language to be able to translate OUT of it (I'm not going to pretend I speak/write it like a native as that would be a lie, but am fluent none the less in as much as I don't often have to be corrected other than on little mistakes), am I taking it too much to heart that a proof reader whose proficiency in both languages leaves a great deal to be desired has said that the translation was not of a sufficient quality?

This is definitely one of those “burns” that I would have thought other translators have experienced at some point or another in their careers, and one that I am determined to learn from. On the plus side, it was an ONG company and not one that would have otherwise lost the custom of (and who equally have lost a translator regardless). What are your thoughts?

[Edited at 2011-11-30 18:49 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-11-30 18:51 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:44
Hebrew to English
Dilemma Nov 30, 2011

To clarify: Have the company already agreed to redo the translation? Or is this what the proofreader told you? I'd get this confirmed by the company first.

Secondly, I'd cease all communication with the proofreader. You won't get anything else beneficial out of it. The correspondence between you which you already have can probably be used as "evidence" of the proofreader's poor language skills - although you'd have to point this out yourself - as in correct the emails yourself - don't presume the proofreader's poor skills will speak for themselves....

Usually, if an accusation of poor quality is going to be made, then they really should send you the document back highlighting all these "deficiencies", so you have the chance to review them yourself and either admit defeat, or fight your corner.

In my opinion, consultation with you and working through the feedback should be the next step rather than commissioning a re-translation.

Do (some) proofreaders have a vested interest in slating a translation? YES. Of course, but not always. If this proofreader has just messed around with stylistics and played with synonymy, then this should easily shine through on any revised document, and should be easy enough for you to demonstrate. If they have changed it for the worse (given the available evidence, you seem to think likely) then this should be even easier to illustrate.

Liaise with the company, ignore the proofreader. Or it runs the risk of descending into an unprofessional slanging match.

Respectfully point out your concerns and be firm in asking for appropriate timely feedback, most translators have it somewhere in their T&C that they will be willing to correct any flaws or perceived errors in a follow-up stage, but you need feedback for that, which if they won't give you, is their mistake, not yours.

If there are issues that cannot be resolved after the follow-up/revision stage, then this is when the company should look at re-translation, not before (in my opinion).

[Edited at 2011-11-30 18:59 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Will Masters  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
to clarify Nov 30, 2011

Thank you TY for your thoughts. For clarification, the company is being guided entirely by the proofreader from what it seems, and with them saying that it needs redoing, the company appears to have accepted that this is the best way to proceed. The proofreader is also the one who has said that whilst making the corrections, they will re-translate the relevent parts of the text to "improve" it and this appears to have been accepted by the company in question.

I have just taken your advice about correcting the proofreader's English when I just replied to the most recent I received but hadn't responded to. Now, all I can do is wait and see what their next reaction will be.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 18:44
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
There are proofreaders, and then there are nit-pickers Nov 30, 2011

I know that when I am in a hurry, I tend to be far more severe as a proofreader than when I have adequate time.

This is because if I am not sure the translation is correct, I play safe and change it to something I feel more certain about. If I don't have time to check first, then I make changes instead. But often the translator knows at least as much about the subject as I do!

This forum is full of stories about proofreaders who sabotage good translations... for whatever reason. One is that inexperienced linguists are sometimes allowed to proofread, because they CAN learn a lot that way. I did myself when I started out. But not without a safety net - colleagues who undid my worst gaffes before they went any further, and I was by then old enough to know I was not perfect myself.

Some people think they must make a lot of changes, just to justify being paid for proofreading, regardless of the quality of the original translation.

But I have been on the receiving end of proofreading of the kind you describe, and it does hurt. The more professional and conscientious you are, and the better you know your work is, the more you will be taken aback if it happens! Don't let it get to you, just pull out of that situation as soon as you can, and move on.

You did the correct thing by having your text checked before submitting it, and your correspondence with the proofreader afterwards apparently confirms that the company has been unlucky in their choice of proofreader.

IF - and only if - you have your work checked by the same professionals with the same result elsewhere, then you have a problem. Otherwise put it down to experience and I wish you better luck next time!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Will Masters  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
couldn't agree more Nov 30, 2011

Thank you Christine for you comment. I agree completely with what you say about "on the job experience" so to speak is a fantastic way of learning and starting out in the profession. It's why normally I wouldn't take the comments badly, as I always learn so much from the feedback I am given. I just found it strange initially that the proofreader's responses had been so sharp, especially given their linguistic compentencies.

You mention about the translators I asked to look over the work. One has looked over most of my translations in this language combination, and was just as shocked as I was when I told them the response (they apparently aren't used to being told flat-out "that's cr*p" or words to that effect). The other I have known for a while but who I haven't asked to proofread for me before now as they constantly seem inundated with work and I didn't feel it fair to them to add to their already large workload.

As you say, it's all an been experience, one that will help me in the future, but one that unfortunately hit rather hard.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

GerSi  Identity Verified
Slovenia
Local time: 18:44
Member (2010)
German to Slovenian
+ ...
proofreader-translator relationship Nov 30, 2011

Hi Will,

working as a proofreader and as a translator myself, I could say, in general we are not supposed to like each other much. This makes the proofreader alert to find as many mistakes/errors/mistranslations as possible and the translator to submit the best possible translation to begin with.

Some rare proofreaders see other translators as such a threat that they think if they would criticize the work of others enough, they will get more work themselves or be better paid for the proofreading.

If you are sure the proofreader makes many grammatical mistakes, why should you feel bad about it?

If they don't want to show you the corrections, then there is something very fishy about it. You have the right to know about your mistakes and above all, every "normal" client/agency would be willing to make you aware of the errors as soon as possible in order to prevent further errors.

But be careful! If your translator-friend told you there could be some issues regarding stylistics, be sure that the person is being honest with you. Maybe they didn't want to hurt your feelings and let the proofreader do the "dirty job". It is up to you to decide, or at least the native English speakers .

I suggest you insist on viewing the corrected files no matter if now or after the completed proofreading.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Will Masters  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
re: proofreader-translator relationship Nov 30, 2011



But be careful! If your translator-friend told you there could be some issues regarding stylistics, be sure that the person is being honest with you. Maybe they didn't want to hurt your feelings and let the proofreader do the "dirty job". It is up to you to decide, or at least the native English speakers .

I suggest you insist on viewing the corrected files no matter if now or after the completed proofreading.



The finished translation is definately something I would be interested to see, after this proofreader has made all the changes they can to it. The translators (one a native of the source language and fluent in the target, and the other a native of the target and fluent in the source) I showed the work to before hand, are usually extremely rigorous with their corrections as they demand the best from themselves and from others - a quality that I admire and respect very much. When I say they made comment on the style the translation was written in, they later pointed out that style is entirely subjective, and so it wasn't a major issue as far as they were concerned, but would be something to be aware of in the future. You are right though, with having known them for some time, they may at times be inclinded to spare feelings to a point. That said, hopefully, they'll continue to show as much "tough-love" with me as they have been so far in the past


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:44
Hebrew to English
Evidence Nov 30, 2011

I agree with Gersi. The crucial thing here is the lack of evidence. I wouldn't be afraid of voicing this to the company - that you find it very unbecoming and unprofessional to be denied evidence in this matter:

1) If no evidence exists (or if the full text has not been edited - their words) then how can they cast accusations of poor quality themselves? If they haven't seen the completed edited file, they are being highly precipitative in their actions.

2) If the evidence exists - and they themselves have properly reviewed it - then why won't they share it?


In addition, have you tried to find out anything about this proofreader? (with the details you already have)...native language, accreditation, specializations etc....This might help to see the bigger picture - and help you determine whether (you think) the proofreader is qualified to do the job.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:44
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
This sounds fishy Nov 30, 2011

Will Masters wrote:
The proofreader is also the one who has said that whilst making the corrections, they will re-translate the relevent parts of the text to "improve" it and this appears to have been accepted by the company in question.


Maybe that's at the root of the problem. They could be on to a nice little earner here. It would be a shame but not unheard of.

Sheila


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Melissa McMahon  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 02:44
Member (2006)
French to English
Don't take it to heart: it sounds like you might be the only language professional in this situation Nov 30, 2011

When a translation agency uses a proofreader or checker, this is a very structured and accountable process.

When quality concerns have been raised about anything I have submitted to an agency, there is no "opinion vs opinion" contest. I am submitted a spreadsheet showing the specific original term or phrase being questioned, my translation, the proofer's correction or suggestion, and a line for comment or explanation on why the proofer disputes my choice. Quality control is a serious business, it has to be transparent and accountable.

It sounds to me that this ONG may not have much knowledge or experience of how professional translators work, and has got one of their "bilingual" employees to cast their eye over your work.

The key here is the claim that "the translation apparently bore no resemblance to the original text". Given they will not point out actual discrepancies and claim the problem is global, I can only think that this is the comment of someone who believes a translation should be a "calque" of the original: you changed the word order! You didn't transliterate! In other words, it is the classic comment of a non-professional who doesn't understand that translation is about recreating the original text, not slavishly following the original.

So while it may well be there are proofreaders who sabotage translators, I don't think that's what's happening here, I think it's just you've run into people who don't really understand what translation is but think they know better than you.

If there's money at stake here, you need to take a stand: ask for specific evidence of low quality, ask what the qualifications of their "proofreader" is, bring in your independent third parties. If this is a student project that's pro-bono or virtually so, it might be worth making your case by way of "client education" but you may just have to walk away.

Sounds to me like it's them, not you.

Melissa


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxinge van dri
Local time: 18:44
German to Dutch
+ ...
I would wish them good luck Nov 30, 2011

and bye bye. No e-mails anymore, nothing. Not only you offered a free service, but also they have severe (and hopely unfounded) criticisms. Who are they that they can do this. Is this sound collaboration?
Of course it hurts, but the relationship is spoiled now, you'll have to focus on other things. Look for NGO which appreciate you. English native speakers are in high demand.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:44
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Seems like Nov 30, 2011

From your first description, it seems the most common scenario - the proofreader is trying to kick you out in order to keep all the translations of the company for himself. It happens quite often. It will be more frequent in the near future.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 18:44
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Style can be an issue Nov 30, 2011

The first 'complaint' I ever had about my work was a client whose first comment was that it was probably an excellent translation, but it sounded too much like his company's biggest competitor! He was kind enough to point out exactly what he meant, which is a precondition, and was quite happy when I rephrased the sentences he pointed out. I learnt to check clients' websites whenever possible to gauge their style.

I have simply given up on one or two clients over the years - they don't like my style and I cannot bring myself to write theirs. But there are plenty who come back for more - a translator has to be fairly chameleon-coloured, but there are limits, and some translators and clients simply do not match.

You may want to check little things like the use of apostrophes - and it is definitely, not definately... That is the sort of thing non-natives pick up on and criticise, while making different mistakes themselves.

OK, you were letting off steam rather than delivering a polished translation, and there is no spell checker in these forums, so you are excused, but it is worth bearing in mind.

Hope you are feeling better - you are clearly not alone!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Will Masters  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
re: Nov 30, 2011

Thank you all for your comments and thoughts on the matter.

@Melissa you've given me another view point to consider the situation from that up until now I had never thought of. It never occured to me that it could simply be a question of different opinions of how a text should be translated: identical structure to the original or recreating it to make sense to the new target audience. This idea is definately one that I will bear in mind in the future should (but hopefully not) a situation like this arise again. Luckily, on this occasion at least, there was no money at stake, for which I consider myself lucky given the way it's turned out


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:44
Italian to English
+ ...
spelling Dec 1, 2011

Will Masters wrote:

Thank you all for your comments and thoughts on the matter.

@Melissa you've given me another view point to consider the situation from that up until now I had never thought of. It never occured to me that it could simply be a question of different opinions of how a text should be translated: identical structure to the original or recreating it to make sense to the new target audience. This idea is definately one that I will bear in mind in the future should (but hopefully not) a situation like this arise again. Luckily, on this occasion at least, there was no money at stake, for which I consider myself lucky given the way it's turned out



Hi Will,

I can see the effort you've put into your posts but I can see where there might be problems - spelling and punctuation for example.

Good luck.

Suzi


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

As a student translator starting out, am I taking a “proof readers” comments too much to heart?

Advanced search







WordFinder
The words you want Anywhere, Anytime

WordFinder is the market's fastest and easiest way of finding the right word, term, translation or synonym in one or more dictionaries. In our assortment you can choose among more than 120 dictionaries in 15 languages from leading publishers.

More info »
Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search