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Proofreading problem
Thread poster: Trisha F

Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dec 28, 2013

I got this file from an agency I like working for. I must proofread it but it is long and complicated. It is also poorly translated and I mean, extremely poorly. I feel tempted to tell the agency I practically had to do it all over again and do not think that the translator who did this deserves a job in the first place. However, I do not know how this is going to sound to them. I am sure this has been asked before but I still would like to know what you would do. I feel it is unethical to pose as a translator and get paid for this big job when you did it wrong. Proofreading is not that well-paid and I have been working on this for hours on end already.

 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:44
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
ethics! Dec 28, 2013

Trisha F wrote:

I got this file from an agency I like working for. I must proofread it but it is long and complicated. It is also poorly translated and I mean, extremely poorly. I feel tempted to tell the agency I practically had to do it all over again and do not think that the translator who did this deserves a job in the first place. However, I do not know how this is going to sound to them. I am sure this has been asked before but I still would like to know what you would do. I feel it is unethical to pose as a translator and get paid for this big job when you did it wrong. Proofreading is not that well-paid and I have been working on this for hours on end already.


First and foremost, are you being paid by the hour or per word?
(i.e. I hope you're not losing out on this)

And then what format are you in? If for example it's a Word file you can do the corrections with Track changes (or do a comparison if you've already started putting the corrections in the file), that way the client will see just how much you've had to change.

Of course you must let the client know that you've had to practically re-do the entire thing. You might also say that much as you love working for them, you don't want to proof this translator ever again.

I do feel for you. I remember in the first week of January this year (ie 2013) I was asked to proof several things from the same client, stuff that I would normally have done had I not been unavailable over the holidays. The PM said "please can you prove to the client that the translation was good, just not your style and certainly not MT like they're claiming. I found myself in the unenviable position of saying that of course it was not MT but the only way I could prove it was because it had too many spelling mistakes, machines don't mispell words, they just use the wrong ones! This year I decided to remain available.


 

Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:44
French to English
+ ...
It's not proofreading then... Dec 28, 2013

even within the broad terms that are used for this term in this field. If it's that bad you have to tell them that it is so poorly done that you need to charge more (and they need to know their translator isn't so good).

 

felicij  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:44
German to Slovenian
+ ...
I always tell the agency Dec 28, 2013

when I am doing a proofreading of a poorly translated document. And I do it in the early stage with examples and explanations, why the translation is bad and needs re-translating. I must say that the agencies always take my notes into consideration and sometimes even offer my translation fee for the proofreading.
Give it a try, especially if this is an agency you work on a long-term basis.


 

Ledja  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:44
Member (2008)
English to Albanian
+ ...
In my experience Dec 29, 2013

I always ask to see a sample of the file before accepting the job, and I make my reasons for this crystal clear to the agency:

- I need to know that the translation is of good standards and I won't be caught up retranslating most of the text.
- If I know what I'm dealing with beforehand, I'll be able to propose a more accurate timeframe and rate.

If you're already caught up in it, however, and there's no re-negotiating your rate and deadline, then by all means, do let the agency know of the poor standards you've spent unaccounted time rectifying, but in my experience, you're likely to get no more than a "thank you for your great work". Live and learn.


 

Lisette Vogler-Chase  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 16:44
Member (2013)
English to German
+ ...
pull out of the job! Dec 29, 2013

I had something similar a few months ago. It actually seemed to be a machine translation they asked me to 'proof-read'. They then checked on my progress by email every 1/2 hour - driving me mad! I eventually decided to pull out of the job because the work they were asking me to do was going far beyond 'proof-reading'. Taught me not to accept any jobs without seeing a sample of the source text prior to accepting the PO. Serious agencies will always send you the source text for evaluation beforehand.

 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:44
Russian to English
+ ...
You absolutely have to tell them that -- about the text. Dec 29, 2013

Trisha F wrote:

I got this file from an agency I like working for. I must proofread it but it is long and complicated. It is also poorly translated and I mean, extremely poorly. I feel tempted to tell the agency I practically had to do it all over again and do not think that the translator who did this deserves a job in the first place. However, I do not know how this is going to sound to them. I am sure this has been asked before but I still would like to know what you would do. I feel it is unethical to pose as a translator and get paid for this big job when you did it wrong. Proofreading is not that well-paid and I have been working on this for hours on end already.


You should have told them, in fact, after you briefly reviewed the text, and asked them whether they wanted you to retranslate it, or not. I don't think you should ever worry what anybody might think-- you just do what is right.


 

Srini Venkataraman
United States
Local time: 08:44
Member (2012)
Tamil to English
+ ...
Inform the agency Dec 29, 2013

I always inform the agency, either before or after the work, about the translation quality. Only about 5% of the time I see such "extra words in the target, not in the source or wrong translation like novel(-> story)cure instead of novel(->new)cure". Another time I got a job, with good hourly rate but they expected me to complete the Tamil proofreading ( remember, it is manual work, no dictionary help) at 6000 words/hour and so complete in 1 hour. I declined it, as it is likely to take 4+ hours.

 

Jekaterina Kotelnikova  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:44
English to Russian
+ ...
let them know that the translation is BAD Dec 29, 2013

I did a proofreading job recently and the translation was terrible!!!

There were so many mistakes - misspelling, wrong terminology, style and many, many more! 10 min into the assignment I had contacted the agency and sent a print screen of my corrections (literally every second word was wrong) explaining that the translation was done very poorly and was almost incomprehensible. In less than half an hour they gave me a response saying that the client did not agree to retranslate the document so the agency raised the RPW (almost as high as my RPW for translation) and asked me to go on with the proofreading.


 

Nathalie Fuson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:44
Dutch to English
+ ...
The client will appreciate the honest input Dec 29, 2013

I understand that you don't want to sound as though you are putting down the competition, but from a purely professional point of view I think your client will appreciate knowing that they are paying someone too much for a job that is not well done. Just be tactful and suggest that they try a different translator since the one they are using is not providing the service they think they're paying for. If it improves their efficiency they will be grateful to you and send more business your way.

 

Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I let them know. Dec 29, 2013

As Ledja said, you live and learn. I had felt like pulling out of the job but then I had already worked on it so much that I finished it. I just told the PM politely that the translator who worked on it truly sucked and added copious notes that explained why he/she sucked big time.

I had never had a problem with this sort of collaboration with other translators from this agency. Everyone seemed to be very professional until now. I honestly do not know how that person got to work on this. I also think I had to do my bit, not to help incompetent and unskilled people get translation jobs as they truly don't deserve them. It may sound harsh but I do not know why this person should make any money out of being a fraud whilst many qualified people could have done it far better and earned a few pennies in the process.

Anyway, I did not try to renegotiate much, money-wise as it is a bit late and I should have acted sooner but I did report the substandard work, even if I only get a thank you message for it.


[Edited at 2013-12-29 21:44 GMT]


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:44
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I dare to disagree on this Dec 30, 2013

Ledja wrote:

I always ask to see a sample of the file before accepting the job, and I make my reasons for this crystal clear to the agency:

- I need to know that the translation is of good standards and I won't be caught up retranslating most of the text.
- If I know what I'm dealing with beforehand, I'll be able to propose a more accurate timeframe and rate.



I'm a proofreader and an out-sourcer at the same time.

As an out-sourcer:

If a proofreader of mine wants to see a sample of the file before accepting the job, I'd immediately look for someone else. It is a waste of both my time and his time. I really don't care about his wasting his own time but he should not waste mine.


As a proofreader:

I have never asked my clients to send me a sample of the file before accepting a job. The reason is the same as above. Potentially, the time to be wasted in doing so is not limited to that spent in previewing the file. Such a request may trigger a lengthy discussion which I cannot afford.

Some of the drafts I reviewed were bad but some are extremely good. As long as the low quality draft is still within the acceptable range, you will get evened up for your time in the long run.

It has happened several times that I had to tell my clients that the files need to be re-translated later on, they just agreed to pay me the fee for translation.

No agency has ever complained about my delay in letting them know that the files need to be re-translated. What is the benefit for me to let them know earlier? Giving them time to locate another translator? It will cause more delay if they do.


 

Annamaria Amik  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:44
Romanian to English
+ ...
Huh? Dec 30, 2013

jyuan_us wrote:
I'm a proofreader and an out-sourcer at the same time.

As an out-sourcer:

If a proofreader of mine wants to see a sample of the file before accepting the job, I'd immediately look for someone else. It is a waste of both my time and his time. I really don't care about his wasting his own time but he should not waste mine.


It is absolutely normal to ask for a sample of the translation before accepting proofreading jobs! Why? For the very reason this thread was started. Because the translator can end up doing translation at proofreading rates. And as an outsourcer, you shouldn't waste his time either.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:44
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Never accept anything blind! Dec 30, 2013

jyuan_us wrote:

I'm a proofreader and an out-sourcer at the same time.

As an out-sourcer:

If a proofreader of mine wants to see a sample of the file before accepting the job, I'd immediately look for someone else. It is a waste of both my time and his time. I really don't care about his wasting his own time but he should not waste mine.



I never accept any work blind. Even PMs I have been working with for ages sometimes send me something way too far out my comfort zone. I might be their first choice of translator for a particular client, only this time it's a contract instead of bumph about their new collection, and the PM hadn't bothered to actually open the file. Or they might be desperate and think perhaps if I'm bored I might try it.

There are all sorts of fields I don't touch with a barge pole, including legal, finance and a lot of technical. And when it comes to technical, there are loads of PMs who'll tell me it's not too difficult and I should be OK, but then it turns out that I barely understand it. Sorry, I'm the one who decides whether it's difficult for me.

And even if proofreading is charged by the hour, I have to work out whether I have enough hours, and I can only do that if I can look at the translation. I used to proofread 2000 words an hour of competent translations at an agency I used to work at, nowadays I rarely get to proofread such great work and mostly have trouble achieving 1000 words an hour, in that people only outsource proofreading when it's really necessary! And if I have to re-do the entire translation it might take me a whole day to get those 2000 words under my belt.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 15:44
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
That is why many translators simply refuse to take on proofreading at all Dec 30, 2013

jyuan_us wrote:
I'm a proofreader and an out-sourcer at the same time.

As an out-sourcer:

If a proofreader of mine wants to see a sample of the file before accepting the job, I'd immediately look for someone else. It is a waste of both my time and his time. I really don't care about his wasting his own time but he should not waste mine.


Sorry, but if agencies waste much of my time I stop working for them. I am trying to make a living, and I am lucky enough to be able to charge for the time I spend working for them. Any professional should do the same.

Proofreading for a competent translator is a pleasure, and in general the agencies who pick the right translators in the first place understand this. They send high quality texts for proofreading and nobody wastes time.

Why should these agencies cover the cost for others, who take the same attitude as you do?


As a proofreader:

I have never asked my clients to send me a sample of the file before accepting a job. The reason is the same as above. Potentially, the time to be wasted in doing so is not limited to that spent in previewing the file. Such a request may trigger a lengthy discussion which I cannot afford.


Well, I don't discuss at length. If the text needs retranslating and the outsourcer is not prepared to pay for it, then I pull out immediately. I am not able to negotiate with the end client, and the original translator is not my problem either - the agency has the contract with him/her. So they can move on at once to find the best solution they can.


Some of the drafts I reviewed were bad but some are extremely good. As long as the low quality draft is still within the acceptable range, you will get evened up for your time in the long run.

It has happened several times that I had to tell my clients that the files need to be re-translated later on, they just agreed to pay me the fee for translation.


Then you have been very lucky. Very often the agency will not pay, and the supposed proofreader ends up translating for free. I've been there and done that. After sitting up all night to meet the deadline, I usally have a migraine attack, and cannot work for the next 24 hours... So I am pressed for my next deadline too.

Unfortunately some agencies hardly ever send poor translations, while others very often do. By refusing immediately to proofread for the ones who send unacceptable texts, or asking for the necessary (paid) time, I always get paid for my work.


No agency has ever complained about my delay in letting them know that the files need to be re-translated. What is the benefit for me to let them know earlier? Giving them time to locate another translator? It will cause more delay if they do.


I don't understand. I regard it as common courtesy to let the agency know at once if a text is poor. That is why I ask to see it before I quote for proofreading it in the first place.

It gives them a chance to prepare the client if there is going to be a delay, and then find the right solution. If that means finding another translator, then so be it.
It works both ways too. I have in fact picked up rushed jobs that way for agencies I know well, and helped to save the situation.

As a translator I build up a relation of trust with the agencies I work for regularly - they don't waste my time and I don't waste theirs.


 
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