Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Where have all the proofreaders gone?
Thread poster: Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 06:33
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
Oct 24, 2014

After a week of extensive proofreading, I now came to the point of not wanting to do this task anymore, mainly for one reason: Thanks to the use of speech recognition software, I now can translate half as many words than I can proofread in a specific time period - but I am having a hard time finding clients who want to pay more than a third of the respective translation rate. Proofreading doesn't pay enough any more. Lately, I have heard so many translators say they gave up or were going to give up proofreading and there are more and more language professionals turning to speech recognition. That makes me wonder who will end up proofreading translations and leaves me convinced that it is time to ask for higher proofreading rates.

I would be interested to hear your opinions about it - do you still proofread? If not, what are your reasons? Have you discussed this issue with clients? How do agencies perceive it?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:33
Russian to English
+ ...
Still doing it Oct 24, 2014

I've found that I can use speech recognition while proofreading to speed up the process. The key is to dictate an entire phrase, not individual words. Speech recognition is more accurate that way. I then run a comparison between the original document and my proofread version so my client can see the changes, if desired. I recently revised a 100,000 word document that way, producing about 6000 words per day. And it was a very bad translation.

However, I don't like proofreading/editing/revising and avoid it whenever I can.

[Edited at 2014-10-24 14:26 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 23:33
German to English
+ ...
answering the various points Oct 24, 2014

I don't understand this part:
Thanks to the use of speech recognition software, I now can translate half as many words than I can proofread..

I think that you are saying that if you can proofread 1,000 words in xx minutes, then you can translate 500 words in that same amount of time. (I assume that you mean translate, plus do the necessary research, plus proofread your own work = the complete package that translation entails).
but I am having a hard time finding clients who want to pay more than a third of the respective translation rate.

Many of us do not charge by the word for proofreading, but by the hour. You can have two 10,000 word documents, one which was translated very well, and one which was translated very poorly. The second one may take 10 times as long to proofread than the first one. The fee should not be the same. If you charge per hour, then this balances out as it should.
but I am having a hard time finding clients who want to pay more than a third of the respective translation rate.

I state my fee (per hour) and give an estimate of how long it should take, therefore how much the final fee will be. I estimate on the high side and reduce the fee if I find out that it has taken me less time, but don't increase the fee if I end up taking more time. Many clients don't want to pay that fee, so that's that. I prefer translation over proofreading anyway.
Proofreading doesn't pay enough any more.

Proofreading pays whatever you choose to charge.
That makes me wonder who will end up proofreading translations and leaves me convinced that it is time to ask for higher proofreading rates.

For the second point, there is no question about asking for rates - as independent translators, we set our rates and tell customers what we charge.

But here is a bigger picture to keep in mind. Many companies now create a particular tactic, where they hire a translator for say .05 or .03/word - i.e. a low rate - and maybe even have that person resort to machine translation in order to rush through a fast, crude "translation". Then they hire someone to "proofread" this work for maybe .02 or .01/word - final cost for them is .05 + .02 = .07/word; or .03 + .01 = .04/word, adding up the two people hired. The ONLY reason this works is that the proofreader is charging per word. If the proofreader charged per hour, then the shoddy translation that results from these practices would become so expensive, that they would have to abandon the practice.

To stop the trend, I suggest that proofreaders do what logically should be done in the first place - charge by the hour. Examine the document before agreeing to anything. My policy is to advise the client that there is a tipping point - at a certain degree of poor quality, it is more expensive to proofread (per hour charge) than it is to re-translate.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Charge by the hour. Oct 24, 2014

That's what I do, and it pays just as well as translating. Customers usually want an estimate of how long it will take, and sometimes I get this wrong, but it's no big deal. The only thing I don't understand is how they can afford to pay me and the translator and still make a profit.

James: why on earth do you use speech recognition for proofreading? Doing a complete rewrite of an unusable translation, sure...

[Edited at 2014-10-24 14:27 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:33
Member
English to French
Still doing it Oct 24, 2014

Maxi Schwarz wrote:
Proofreading pays whatever you choose to charge.

40 euros/hour to incumbent agency customers who trust me and whom I trust. A bargain. No misunderstanding either about the scope, and to a large extent, an hourly rate prevents me from reading rubbish. My throughput varies between about 800 and 2000 source words/hour with those agencies (proofreading/editing/whetever).
But it's not something I look forward to, and I often do it because I can't take on the translation itself. I find translating more pleasant.

FWIW, I use speech recognition for translation (not proofreading), but in my line of work, typing is not really the bottleneck. It's just easier to lay back and stare at the ceiling while pronouncing my translation instead of crouching over the keyboard.

Philippe


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:33
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I don't have the patience any more Oct 24, 2014

It is partly to do with preference and my workload - I can get away with telling clients I don't have time for their proofreading jobs, because I normally have enough translation anyway.

It is partly a matter of choice, and partly an acknowledgement of the fact that while I still weigh my own words carefully - and defend them when others proofread my work - I sometimes miss things I am supposed to catch in other people's translations.

I spend enough time checking my own - and agencies are beginning to send the proofread versions back for comment. In principle a good thing, and often gratifying, but that is enough proofing for me!

Quite apart from that, with a few exceptions, proofreading is not what it used to be when I started. I enjoyed learning from colleagues who generally produced excellent results. Even if not so much is actually new to me now, I still occasionally get that feeling of 'Wow, THAT is the way to do it!' But it is rare.

Another factor is the rates.
I have gone past the stage where I sit up all night trying to save a hopeless job at a pathetic rate per hour.

If the client is not prepared to pay one way or another for my time, then I simply turn down the job. I sometimes accept rates per word if they are high enough and I know the translations will be good. It saves discussion with the client.

I simply refuse offers to pay for the time when the client proposes 15 minutes or half an hour to 'QA' a couple of hundred words - it takes more time than that to open the file and send the results back! Negotiation is hopeless and just takes more time.
Especially if I am supposed to fill in a form about critical errors, grammar, style, terminology and whatever else may come up, and read several pages of guidelines, which are never included in the time paid for....

That, as far as I am concerned, is not proofreading but nitpicking, and I suspect it is utterly useless anyway.

Proofreading used to be friendly support for a colleague - no one is perfect, and a fresh pair of eyes can often raise a text from good to excellent.

But now the focus has changed. In the name of 'consistency', all the originality is wiped out, texts are dull and repetitive to the point of being unreadable. I can't meet the requirements any more, if that is what the client actually wants!

So I have pulled out except for a few old clients who still do things the old-fashioned way.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 06:33
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Charge for the hour makes more sense... Oct 24, 2014

...and I guess I got into this by taking jobs from a few clients for whom I work on a regular base in translation and where I am quite satisfied with the conditions when it comes to translating for them. Then, taking some proofreading jobs from the same clients I found that it wasn't working out for me. I won't accept any more proofreading projects from these clients and will wait for those jobs that are paid by hour - but they are rare to come by. However, personally I also prefer translation.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Petitavoine  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:33
Member (2012)
German to French
+ ...
That's what I fear, too, Christine Oct 25, 2014

In the name of 'consistency', all the originality is wiped out, texts are dull and repetitive to the point of being unreadable.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxxxLecraxx
Germany
Local time: 06:33
French to German
+ ...
efficiency and necessity of proofreading Oct 25, 2014

Just some general remarks regarding the alleged absolute necessity and efficiency of proofreading by another translator.

I've always been struck by the fact that many (if not most) agencies deem proofreading done by "a second pair of eyes" to be an integral part of translation. To be honest, I'm actually not so sure about its efficiency to track down mistakes (and I'm not talking about spelling mistakes here, where it surely is an efficacious means). To my mind, a proofreader has to have the same (or better) language/translation/terminology etc. skills as the translator, but curiously enough, proofreading jobs are often given to beginners. How can a beginning translator comprehend the exact reasoning of a (more experienced) translator who has put hours of thinking, terminology research etc. into his translation? Wouldn't it be better to give the translator a not so tight deadline and better payment so that he can proofread by himself after a good night's sleep?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Frankie JB
France
English to French
+ ...
Poofreaders are not vital!! Oct 25, 2014

Marcel G. wrote:

Just some general remarks regarding the alleged absolute necessity and efficiency of proofreading by another translator.

I've always been struck by the fact that many (if not most) agencies deem proofreading done by "a second pair of eyes" to be an integral part of translation. To be honest, I'm actually not so sure about its efficiency to track down mistakes (and I'm not talking about spelling mistakes here, where it surely is an efficacious means). To my mind, a proofreader has to have the same (or better) language/translation/terminology etc. skills as the translator, but curiously enough, proofreading jobs are often given to beginners. How can a beginning translator comprehend the exact reasoning of a (more experienced) translator who has put hours of thinking, terminology research etc. into his translation? Wouldn't it be better to give the translator a not so tight deadline and better payment so that he can proofread by himself after a good night's sleep?


You speak my mind Marcel - precisely! Most of the time it would be much better for quality (and for cost) to give extra time (and money) to (reliable and dutiful) translators than rushing lower-costers and using some superficial proofreaders...

Unfortunately, many agencies don't seem to understand that one lower-cost translator, say 0.07/sw, plus one (superficial) proofreader, say 0.03/sw, don't equal one higher-cost, higher-standard translator asking 0.10/sw who is given more time to translate and review his work... They don't seem to realize that ISO's recommendations are not compulsory and not always the wisest modus operandi, both for quality and for cost... They unquestioningly apply ISO's guidelines even though it's often against common sense... It's really a shame because in many cases it's detrimental to all parties involved: translators of course, proofreaders because they feel powerless and diddled, agencies because it means more administrative work for them (and often unnecessarily reduce their margins, because, in the example below, a 0.09/sw translator would probably still be a better option than a 0.10/sw T+P combination), and for final clients too because of quality and cost (while it could reduce the gap between both sides, as on one side many clients are bemused by what they consider excessive rates while on the other side translators feel unfairly treated)...

I'll just add that, of course, it's not always useless to have a second pair of eyes, especially when it's absolutely critical that there's no misreading and the material to translate is very complex, or there's little context, or it's for publication, etc.

To re-adjust to this thread's topic: I don't know "where have all the proofreaders gone", but I know that after feeling shortchanged and frustrated on many proofreading occasions in my two first years of experience, I have decided to reduce review tasks to less than 20% of my workload, and I don't care if it means I'll be downgraded on their list of preferred vendors. Self-esteem first!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 12:33
Chinese to English
Very ambivalent Oct 25, 2014

Marcel G. wrote:

Just some general remarks regarding the alleged absolute necessity and efficiency of proofreading by another translator.

I've always been struck by the fact that many (if not most) agencies deem proofreading done by "a second pair of eyes" to be an integral part of translation. To be honest, I'm actually not so sure about its efficiency to track down mistakes (and I'm not talking about spelling mistakes here, where it surely is an efficacious means). To my mind, a proofreader has to have the same (or better) language/translation/terminology etc. skills as the translator, but curiously enough, proofreading jobs are often given to beginners. How can a beginning translator comprehend the exact reasoning of a (more experienced) translator who has put hours of thinking, terminology research etc. into his translation? Wouldn't it be better to give the translator a not so tight deadline and better payment so that he can proofread by himself after a good night's sleep?

I sometimes feel this way, too. I don't want to think this way because I *love* being proofread by a really good colleague. Having my mistakes picked up, getting suggestions for other ways of handling tricky bits... it's one of my great luxuries. I certainly believe that the *perfect* translation process does involve two translators - of equal quality, or the proofreader the more experienced.
But much of the time, it is as Marcel says. And it's actually quite easy to understand why: imagine you're an agency, and you have two translators available for a job. One is more experienced; the other less. Which way are you going to assign the work? All other things being equal, you're more likely to give the translation to the more experienced person, the proofing to the less. But that just leads us straight to the situation Marcel describes.
I almost never accept proofreading jobs these days, for all the reasons mentioned above. And I get little from most experiences of being proofread. But I've been doing some more literary stuff lately, where there is more willingness to spend some time with the text, and the editing I've received has been really high quality.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:33
English to Polish
+ ...
Gone Oct 27, 2014

Proofreaders are largely gone because:

1. The pressure on rates makes it difficult for agencies to continue both to retain proofreaders and to pay translators somewhat acceptable rates while still making the desired profit.

2. Some agencies that don't give up on the final polish are shifting the responsibility for providing it onto translators, turning them into effectively small agencies and generalist subcontractors. Get your own proofreaders, editors, native speakers and professional consultants, keep the formatting and provide DTP, do all this within standard agency rates.

(Because of lazy marketing and no serious zeal to sell on quality or anything else than low price.)


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:33
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Yes, and... Oct 27, 2014

Phil Hand wrote:
And it's actually quite easy to understand why: imagine you're an agency, and you have two translators available for a job. One is more experienced; the other less. Which way are you going to assign the work? All other things being equal, you're more likely to give the translation to the more experienced person, the proofing to the less.


Or, the agency could assign the proofreading task to the translator, and risk losing the translator.

Proofreading a poor translation is harder work. And while one can optimise one's translation speed to get paid more (since it is paid per word), one can't really optimise one's proofreading speed (if it is paid per hour).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It does take more Oct 27, 2014

[quote]Samuel Murray wrote:

Phil Hand wrote:

Proofreading a poor translation is harder work.


It gets even harder if the work is done by several translators. You get an explosive package of fixing attempted nonsense and the obligation to achieve consistency in terminology across all files.

Yesterday had the case. Three files: two excellent translations, one attempted nonsense (for the same end customer):

1. Fix the language
2. Fix mistranslations
3. Fix terminology
4. Fix consistency across all files

Yes, it takes more time than translating from scratch. I do charge per hour, but usually invoice less hours than I actually spend. Why? Good question. Probably to avoid discussions (in any case, "attempted nonsense" is usually an exception; mostly translations I edit are good).

[Edited at 2014-10-27 13:05 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 06:33
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Never enough time Oct 28, 2014

Merab Dekano wrote:

I do charge per hour, but usually invoice less hours than I actually spend. Why? Good question. Probably to avoid discussions (in any case, "attempted nonsense" is usually an exception; mostly translations I edit are good).



I sometimes get paid by the hour, but the client states how much time I am supposed to spend. In some cases I contacted my client to let him know that because of the bad quality of the translation there wasn't sufficient time to guarantee a good final quality - and usually in these cases I am granted more time (and more money) to finish my job.

It shouldn't be a problem with decent clients - and I can understand their point of view - I am sure there are colleagues that won't charge less, like Merab does, but more, if they can.


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


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


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

Where have all the proofreaders gone?

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 »
LSP.expert
You’re a freelance translator? LSP.expert helps you manage your daily translation jobs. It’s easy, fast and secure.

How about you start tracking translation jobs and sending invoices in minutes? You can also manage your clients and generate reports about your business activities. So you always keep a clear view on your planning, AND you get a free 30 day trial period!

More info »



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