It has finally happened
Thread poster: Lincoln Hui

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 09:50
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Jul 16, 2014

I have received a Google-translated segment on my virtual desk for review.

This is a QC task from an agency in an excel spreadsheet with score calculation that I'm sure many of us have seen. I've often eviscerated the translations sent my way by this agency for good reason, but this tops them all.

Now, I will grant that not the entire 400-word file was Google-translated; only one 45-word string (out of a total of 24 strings) was fed through Google Translate.

Not that the human-translated parts were that much better, mind you - even if I completely discounted the Google-translated string plus the next three worst errors, the file would have gotten a goose egg according to the agency's scoring formula.

I emailed the agency and they agreed to pay extra due to the abysmal quality, so I have no complaints on my end, but what I'm wondering is, what the hell was the translator thinking? Did they think they were going to get away with throwing Google Translate in there somewhere and hoping that nobody spots it? Granted the string was a particularly difficult one and maybe the translator didn't know what to do - it was pretty obvious that they had little grasp of the source language and not much more of the target language. But if they tried maybe they would have had a chance of fooling a careless reader, whereas a blind man would have caught Google Translate.

...but then again, this translator was also dumb enough to leave a number of Simplified Chinese words in a translation that was supposed to be Traditional Chinese. Maybe some people are that stupid.


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Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:50
English to Russian
+ ...
So what? Jul 16, 2014

What is the point?

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Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 10:50
Japanese to English
+ ...
... Jul 16, 2014

Seems to me to be a natural step in the devolution of the industry. Some agencies pay crap, so some translators produce crap through GT and give it to them. It makes sense on many levels.

It would be interesting to know if your proofreading fee + whatever they paid this "translator" would have been enough to hire a real professional. Well, at least you got some work from it I guess.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:50
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Not the most important question? Jul 16, 2014

Lincoln Hui wrote:
what I'm wondering is, what the hell was the translator thinking?

Sure, but maybe they weren't what we'd call a "real" translator at all, just someone hoping to earn a bit of "easy money".

it was pretty obvious that they had little grasp of the source language and not much more of the target language.

The real question here is surely "What was the agency thinking hiring them?". The agency IS supposed to be a "real" one, not just a bunch of individuals who want to make a bit of "easy money". And every time a false translator gets paid anything at all for delivering substandard work to them, this agency is reinforcing the idea that translation is "easy" and a good way for just about anyone to earn a few coins.

The profession is being harmed by all these imposter translators, certainly. But I reckon it's being harmed a lot more by these agencies who just expect us to cover up for their ineptitude. That's where I lay most of the blame!


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 09:50
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Test Jul 16, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Lincoln Hui wrote:
what I'm wondering is, what the hell was the translator thinking?

Sure, but maybe they weren't what we'd call a "real" translator at all, just someone hoping to earn a bit of "easy money".

it was pretty obvious that they had little grasp of the source language and not much more of the target language.

The real question here is surely "What was the agency thinking hiring them?". The agency IS supposed to be a "real" one, not just a bunch of individuals who want to make a bit of "easy money". And every time a false translator gets paid anything at all for delivering substandard work to them, this agency is reinforcing the idea that translation is "easy" and a good way for just about anyone to earn a few coins.

The profession is being harmed by all these imposter translators, certainly. But I reckon it's being harmed a lot more by these agencies who just expect us to cover up for their ineptitude. That's where I lay most of the blame!

I believe that it's test translations that I'm evaluating, though I haven't actually asked. I've seen the same source text before with another batch of translations that I eviscerated. Those were pretty bad but at least you could make a case that they tried.


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:50
Member (2004)
English to Italian
lol... Jul 16, 2014

Orrin Cummins wrote:

Seems to me to be a natural step in the devolution of the industry. Some agencies pay crap, so some translators produce crap through GT and give it to them. It makes sense on many levels.


Absolutely... that's my answer to bottom-feeders... "for that rate, I can put it through GT..." icon_smile.gif


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:50
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
We need to sort the MT from the professionals Jul 16, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:

...

The profession is being harmed by all these imposter translators, certainly. But I reckon it's being harmed a lot more by these agencies who just expect us to cover up for their ineptitude. That's where I lay most of the blame!


I agree, and we should not go along with it.

We should simply refuse to cover ineptitude. I do not work for agencies like that. If I have time, I let them know that the translation is not good enough, and comment perhaps on a couple of blatant errors. I tell them it would take longer to edit it than to retranslate from scratch.

If I haven't got time for that, I simply tell them my rates and say I am too busy, which may be enough to scare them away! Or I say sorry, but I do not work with MT.

I think we need to differentiate the market. Google Translate is not going to go away, but it is important to let people know what it can and cannot do.
The fallacy is that language is easy because everyone can speak, and some people can speak more than one language... We really have to fight the idea that you can break language down as Henry Ford broke down the process of assembling a car, and let robots reassemble it in another language.
A car is a car, but they are all the same. Language is never mass produced, and so-called artificial intelligence is still a statistical gamble - computers are NOT intelligent.

We should let people see the results of machine translation, straight and unadulterated!


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:50
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I once reviewed a Simplified Chinese PDF Jul 16, 2014

Lincoln Hui wrote:

I have received a Google-translated segment on my virtual desk for review.

This is a QC task from an agency in an excel spreadsheet with score calculation that I'm sure many of us have seen. I've often eviscerated the translations sent my way by this agency for good reason, but this tops them all.

Now, I will grant that not the entire 400-word file was Google-translated; only one 45-word string (out of a total of 24 strings) was fed through Google Translate.

Not that the human-translated parts were that much better, mind you - even if I completely discounted the Google-translated string plus the next three worst errors, the file would have gotten a goose egg according to the agency's scoring formula.

I emailed the agency and they agreed to pay extra due to the abysmal quality, so I have no complaints on my end, but what I'm wondering is, what the hell was the translator thinking? Did they think they were going to get away with throwing Google Translate in there somewhere and hoping that nobody spots it? Granted the string was a particularly difficult one and maybe the translator didn't know what to do - it was pretty obvious that they had little grasp of the source language and not much more of the target language. But if they tried maybe they would have had a chance of fooling a careless reader, whereas a blind man would have caught Google Translate.

...but then again, this translator was also dumb enough to leave a number of Simplified Chinese words in a translation that was supposed to be Traditional Chinese. Maybe some people are that stupid.


It was a 80 page post-DTP PDF review. It should be assumed that the copy had gone though at least a translator and an editor before the agency sent the file for DTP layout. Surprisingly I found more than 20 pages completely Google translated. This is devastating to everybody including the editor and the agency. Sometimes I simply couldn't understand some people's behavior.


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:50
Member (2004)
English to Italian
you assumed wrongly... Jul 16, 2014

jyuan_us wrote:

It should be assumed that the copy had gone though at least a translator and an editor before the agency sent the file for DTP layout. Surprisingly I found more than 20 pages completely Google translated. This is devastating to everybody including the editor and the agency. Sometimes I simply couldn't understand some people's behavior.



many agencies do this... pay crap rates, translators puts it in GT, agency doesn't check (no money for that), document gets to the final stage.... what editor? icon_smile.gif


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:50
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Let translations be done by real translators Jul 17, 2014

Christine Andersen wrote:

Sheila Wilson wrote:

...

The profession is being harmed by all these imposter translators, certainly. But I reckon it's being harmed a lot more by these agencies who just expect us to cover up for their ineptitude. That's where I lay most of the blame!


I agree, and we should not go along with it.

We should simply refuse to cover ineptitude. I do not work for agencies like that. If I have time, I let them know that the translation is not good enough, and comment perhaps on a couple of blatant errors. I tell them it would take longer to edit it than to retranslate from scratch.

If I haven't got time for that, I simply tell them my rates and say I am too busy, which may be enough to scare them away! Or I say sorry, but I do not work with MT.

I think we need to differentiate the market. Google Translate is not going to go away, but it is important to let people know what it can and cannot do.
The fallacy is that language is easy because everyone can speak, and some people can speak more than one language... We really have to fight the idea that you can break language down as Henry Ford broke down the process of assembling a car, and let robots reassemble it in another language.
A car is a car, but they are all the same. Language is never mass produced, and so-called artificial intelligence is still a statistical gamble - computers are NOT intelligent.

We should let people see the results of machine translation, straight and unadulterated!



I completely agree with you, ladies.

Yes, GT will not disappear, and the results become obvious when one reads an operating manual or assembly instructions. Sometimes the translation simply makes no senser at all. Unfortunately some agencies can not or do not want to pay a real, that is a human translator for the job. Sometimes I thinks it's only about profits which leaves little concern for the customer, the actual target audience, if you wish.

This is a sad development, but one we will have to learn to live with. Excellent translators will always find work because there are so many clients who appreacite good quality.


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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:50
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Hmm Jul 17, 2014

Lincoln Hui wrote:

I believe that it's test translations that I'm evaluating, though I haven't actually asked. I've seen the same source text before with another batch of translations that I eviscerated. Those were pretty bad but at least you could make a case that they tried.


I believe I would ask about that, I always feel it's a good idea to know why you're doing what you're doingicon_wink.gif


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missdutch  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:50
Member (2010)
English to Italian
+ ...
It happened to me too Jul 17, 2014

In March 2013, a good client of mine asked me whether I'd be available for quite a substantial editing job (19,000 words) on a translation which he expected in a fortnight. The translation had to be done from one of my working languages into Italian.

He was very excited about the translator (whom I'm going to refer to hereafter as "It") he chose for the task. On paper, It seemed terrific; he told me who It was and I thought it'd be all swell.

My client is a small, but solid and reliable Northern European agency. The young owner is a very good linguist, who pays his collaborators quite good rates, and he's one of the rare breeds of outsourcers who pays in a couple of weeks.

I opened up the first file, full of rosy expectations which, unfortunately, soon turned out to be disappointed: the choice of words was, at the very least, weird; terminology was all over the place; it was full of small, annoying typos which shouldn't be found in the work of someone who claimed (among many other things) to have been working as a professional translator for a long time.
It looked like the translator hadn't understood the original text, even, that It hadn't read it.

After wasting two hours on the first page, and a rather awkward Skype conference with both client and translator, who had the nerve to tell me my corrections were merely "cosmetic", the client asked me to re-translate the whole thing, for a different and higher rate.

I put the old translation away, and started afresh. When I took on the file containing Terms & Conditions, I thought I'd check out the old translation anyway, since the translator claimed It was specialised in the legal field. This time, the sentences made no sense at all, and were choke-full of repetitions and out-of-context words more than ever.
Then, it finally hit me. I run one sentence through Google Translate: it read uncannily the same. I run another sentence, then a third one. Then, I run random sentences taken from all the different files.

When I wrote to the client, with several examples (he doesn't speak Italian, therefore I also run the original text from the client's language into English, with the same pitiful results), at first, he was more flabbergasted than angry. He couldn't believe that someone with an apparently good reputation could do something like that.

This translator, as it came out some time later, is a notorious repeat offender, though in the other horror stories I heard about It, GT didn't figure.

In conclusion, it's not always true that only cheap and bad agencies get cheap and bad translators using GT.
And I find this specific one a rather nasty, passive-aggressive way to deal with those agencies: if you don't agree with the rate and/or other conditions, don't work with them. No money, no honey. Just say no, walk away, don't look back.
But using GT as a kind of retaliation is the worst, most coward stratagem one could think of in our profession.


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:50
Member (2004)
English to Italian
agree... Jul 17, 2014

missdutch wrote:

But using GT as a kind of retaliation is the worst, most coward stratagem one could think of in our profession.



He could have at least edited the text a bit.... icon_smile.gif


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:50
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Sad to hear Jul 17, 2014

missdutch wrote:
He couldn't believe that someone with an apparently good reputation could do something like that.

This translator, as it came out some time later, is a notorious repeat offender, though in the other horror stories I heard about It, GT didn't figure.

And the reason why I'd like to see our WWA section being open to ALL feedback from our clients, not just "s/he is so wonderful" feedback. We can tell the (sanitised) truth about outsourcers; why can't they give constructive criticism about us, good or not so good?


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Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 10:50
Japanese to English
+ ...
You mean... Jul 17, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:


And the reason why I'd like to see our WWA section being open to ALL feedback from our clients, not just "s/he is so wonderful" feedback.


It isn't already? That's interesting...and somewhat meaningless.


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