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Proofing your messed up translation
Thread poster: Iuliana Bozkurt

Iuliana Bozkurt  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 22:40
Member (2008)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Dec 23, 2014

Dear colleagues,

by writing this post, I am very eager to find out whether any of you has encountered such situations before or maybe whether I have a wrong perception of the situation.

Briefly: a very important translation agency was awarded a translation project by a very important client (I am saying very important here not in order to seem self-sufficient, but just to inform you about the size/expectations for this project). And I received the translation (from English) into Romanian. I should tell you that I worked in over 200 projects for this client and I never ever had any quality issues with them.

I did it, I delivered it 2 months ago... until... ta-dam! The client said they are not satisfied with it. The project manager now asks me to review it. The issue is that my translation has already been proofread, BUT, and here starts the entire problem, the proofreader messed up my original document. I checked the client's remarks and I was astonished to find that the proofreader really used an inadequate style, a clumsy terminology etc. My original sentences they referred to were replaced by weird, silly sentences. Yep. I did not recommend the proofreader, I don't even know who he/she is. Probably some student (in anything else but Translation Studies) or something.

The agency expects me to thoroughly revise a couple of hundred pages DURING THE WINTER HOLIDAYS (they just let me know about this 30 mins ago) and to fix... what? The proofread version of my translation!

I told them that I cannot work without previous notice during the holidays (which is painfully true, as I have no babysitter for my 1 yo girl) and that under no circumstance will I check the proofread version of my translation. And I also told them that if I work on the files (after Jan 5), I will only work on MY TRANSLATION. I will not touch those messed up, ''proofread'' documents!

Please share your thoughts on this matter. Thank you very much!

Signed:

An upset translator


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Aakash5555
India
Local time: 01:10
Member (2014)
English to Hindi
+ ...
You are right Dec 23, 2014

Your stand is absolutely right as the Translator is always responsible for his own work, not fot the silly mistakes done by some newbie Proofreader.

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Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:40
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
I think you are right Dec 23, 2014

Not much more to add than that

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:40
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Unacceptable, IMHO Dec 23, 2014

I completely understand your reaction, Iuliana. It does sound as though they are to blame for the quality issue, and they're trying to offload their problem onto you, with absolutely no justification.

I don't know what your normal terms are for making (reasonable) changes to your work without added payment, but I doubt that you'd be willing to do anything two months on. I imagine, and hope, that you've already been paid for the work. It really is a completed job, completed with no complaint. End of story. If they now want you to work on any translation, yours or a proofreader's version, they must surely pay for that work. And they must schedule it into your workflow. You can't be criticised for taking some time off at the end of the year. If you don't want to accept last-minute, urgent work (even for double tariff?) then they'll have to abide by that.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:40
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Very bad timing for a start! Dec 23, 2014

Many of us have been in this situation, and there is no reason to feel guilty about it. Annoyed perhaps, but it is not your fault!

AFTER 5 JANUARY, when I hope you have had a good break...

Can you compare the documents, possibly a section at a time, in Word, to show what changes were made compared with your original translation? If you can do it fast, then it will be a useful way of showing that the final document was not what you delivered.

Then pick one or two big mistakes and explain why your version was correct and not the other. The aim is to show the client that you really do know what you are doing and the proofreader did not. Then they may simply accept your version without discussing every tiny point.

If they want you to spend more than maximum a couple of hours on it, then they must pay for your time.

Ask the client to look at your version, and if they are still not happy with it, to point out specifically what they are not satisfied with. Make them spend time explaining why. Stand firm and explain why your version is better.

Otherwise you can go on for ever with a guessing game, perhaps changing passages that were quite correct, if you do not know precisely what they are complaining about.

But put it away, forget about it if you can, and have a good break first. Don't let it spoil your holiday!

If you can come through as a conscientious person who does actually know what you are doing, then the client should respect the way you handled the issue.

Best of luck, and best wishes for the holiday!


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 15:40
Romanian to English
+ ...
a suggestion Dec 23, 2014

why don't you re-submit your original work?

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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:40
Member (2009)
English to Russian
+ ...
In my opinion, Dec 23, 2014

A "review" in this case should only take you up to half an hour (probably less). It is the time you already spent on discovering the problem with the "proofreading" plus the time you need to write 3 or 4 short sentences to the client describing the proofreader's mess. It's your professional conclusion, and you don't have to comment on each issue, only on the general situation. You already described the problem here, so what you need is to write the same to the client. They usually understand (it happened to me as well, when the client hired an outsider to work as an in-country reviewer).

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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 03:40
Chinese to English
Problems with easy solutions... Dec 23, 2014

I don't mean to minimise your annoyance, Iuliana, but this problem does seem to have a really easy solution. Forget the fact that the agency messed up, focus on the fact that you can fix this: tell the agency to use your unedited translation and see if the client complains. It could be a quick and easy win for both you and the agency.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:40
Member (2008)
Italian to English
just get paid Dec 23, 2014

Bearing in mind that you don't want this to turn into an excuse for not paying you, I would suggest that you respond very politely and professionally, expressing your sincere surprise at the poor quality of the proofreader's work, and reminding them that your own translations are always proof-read before you deliver them.

In this particular case (you could add) you took particular care, before delivering this translation, to ensure that it was perfect and would not require any changes or improvements. You would therefore not accept any changes to it, however small, and would advise your client not to accept any of the changes suggested by the proofreader, since they would be wholly deleterious to the quality of the translation.

I would finish by saying that in future, if they have any translations by others that they would like you to proof-read, you would be glad to provide them with this service.


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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:40
Member (2009)
English to Russian
+ ...
Proofreading services Dec 23, 2014

Tom in London wrote:
I would finish by saying that in future, if they have any translations by others that they would like you to proof-read, you would be glad to provide them with this service.

I think that would only make sense if Iuliana is interested in providing this type of service. As far as I know, lots of translators would not touch other suppliers' work, even if payment is good. But that's irrelevant.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:40
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I know Dec 23, 2014

Natalia Mackevich wrote:

Tom in London wrote:
I would finish by saying that in future, if they have any translations by others that they would like you to proof-read, you would be glad to provide them with this service.

I think that would only make sense if Iuliana is interested in providing this type of service. As far as I know, lots of translators would not touch other suppliers' work, even if payment is good. But that's irrelevant.


I know- and I'm not seriously proposing that she should offer proofreading services. But it would look good in the letter.



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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:40
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Proofing your messed up translation Dec 23, 2014

First of all, I agree with what everyone else wrote.

This is what I would do to resolve the situation.

1) Find my original translation I sent to the agency.
2) Do a track changes with my translation and the proofread version sent to the client.
3) Accept only those changes that you agree with (typos, better word choice, etc.)
4) Use the "reject all changes" to reject anything that is left.
5) Final spell check and formatting check.
6) Done!


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:40
Member (2008)
Italian to English
One more thing Dec 23, 2014

One more thing: as a general principle in all professional walks of life, you should never admit that you have made a mistake or that anything you have done could have been done better.

The minute that you acknowledge that something you have done is not as good as it should have been, you're opening the way for all kinds of further criticisms to be made against you, and all kinds of additional changes and additional thankless work for which you will not be paid.

Or as an old former architect colleague used to say to me "never admit liability". Always counter any criticism by upholding the work you have done and defending every comma and every full stop. You should be happy about doing this, since presumably you have indeed done your very best work every time.

[Edited at 2014-12-23 18:28 GMT]


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Carole Wolfe  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:40
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
No bullying allowed! Dec 23, 2014

The agency is trying to make you doubt yourself when it is they who dropped the ball by engaging the services of an incompetent proofreader.

I agree with Phil and Lee: tell the agency that your work is much better than the proofread version and ask it to submit your original translation to the client for evaluation. It sounds to me that the client will give you a "thumbs up" for your work or, at the worst, find a few mistakes.

Hit the ball back into the agency's court and get its reactiion.

Good luck and try not to be upset.


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Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:40
English to Spanish
... Dec 23, 2014

lee roth wrote:

a suggestion

why don't you re-submit your original work?


With an added note that you have corrected all the errors introduced by the "proofreader".


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