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"Revision" to avoid paying full translation rates
Thread poster: xxxACOZ

xxxACOZ  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 19:28
French to English
Oct 12, 2016

I was recently asked to "revise/correct" a text which was mainly either Google-translated or translated by a non-native with a very poor knowledge of English. Much of the translation was a word-to-word job and would have made no sense to an English speaker. In between the linguistic atrocities were bits of text that had been imported from previous translations and were of good quality. I offered to do the job on a per-page basis at about 50% of my usual rate. I was not willing to do a reread on an hourly rate. This is the second time recently that I have come up against this and I see it as something of a scam. What are other translators' experiences?

 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:58
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Hm Oct 12, 2016

This sound more like a post-editing job. Someone "threw together" a so-called translation from Google and some previous translations; thus the difference in quality. Post-editing jobs should be paid as regular translations and not being disguised as revision projects.

Personally, I wouldn't accept this project unless I'm paid my usual rate.


 

James Hodges  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 18:58
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Just reading this boogles the mind.... Oct 12, 2016

Having a few horror stories of my own, I sympathize with your predicament. Trying to simply make sense of such "translations" can be very stressful. It is even more stressful when the client cannot appreciate the situation for themselves.

 

Alexander Chisholm  Identity Verified
Italian to English
+ ...
I think clients can appreciate this ... Oct 12, 2016

It's just that they're dishonest.

If, on a thorough read-through, I became aware of the situation, I would contact the client and recommend they stump up for a new translation.


 

Lianne van de Ven  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:58
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Full or hourly rate Oct 12, 2016

I have seen this occasionally too, and I certainly always check this out when I get translated content. My standard policy is to charge by the hour for any revision because there is no way to assess the quality of a text in advance, whether poorly translated, compiled or machine translated. I have seen larger documents with excellently translated first few pages, and the rest was MT. So, unless I know the quality of a translation (knowing the client, their workflow, the translator they used), it's an hourly job for me.

I would get back with your client and explain your observations and that this was not what you expected. Most of my clients are willing to adjust their payment in such cases.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:58
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Explain that it is probably actually SLOWER than translating from scratch Oct 12, 2016

Many people have an idea that MT must be a help, but it rarely is if you want a reasonable translation, even if it is sometimes useful for getting a gist. Instead of starting with the source, translating in a smooth workflow and editing the result, as a professional translator normally would, you have to read each sentence, find out what is wrong with it, and THEN translate it.

Post editing is a completely different process from translating, and will almost inevitably take longer. Fees for doing it should be higher, not lower, than translating from scratch unless it really is a specialist translation engine working in a specific field with controlled input. Even then, I consider it a PITA, but it may be viable for some purposes.


 

Endre Both  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:58
Member (2002)
English to German
Incompetence rather than malevolence Oct 12, 2016

“Never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity” (Robert J. Hanlon). I'd add to that: Never underestimate PMs' cluelessness with regard to the translation process.

Like Christine said, point out to them that weeding through nonsense is slower (and therefore more expensive) than translating from scratch. Some people will learn from that, others will go on looking for people who can be convinced to do work for free.

Incidents like this one are a good reminder that you need to take a look at the entire material (the full source text, TMs, glossaries etc.) before quoting. PMs are often surprised by my insistence on that, so I assume they are accustomed to getting quotes without their vendors actually knowing what they commit themselves to.

[Bearbeitet am 2016-10-12 07:49 GMT]


 

lisa kramer taruschio  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:58
Italian to English
Always charge same revision rate as translation Oct 12, 2016

From the get-go, I give the client my rate per word and tell them that my revision/editing/proofreading (etc.) rate is the same as my per word rate for translating because the work is as labor-intense and time-consuming if not more so than translating because I have to work on 3 texts (original, translation, and revision) instead of two and still have other issues like formatting, revisions, questions). I do not elaborate more than this because I think this is self-explanatory. The client can take it or leave it.

 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:58
Member (2014)
English to German
Yes, occasionally Oct 12, 2016

I try to avoid reading such machine generated stuff, as someone already mentioned, it does mess with my mind and the result wouldn't be great either. I wouldn't consider working with that at all - sometimes clients are not aware that this isn't how it works.

Should they wish to have the text translated then I would be happy to oblige.

[Edited at 2016-10-12 08:44 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:58
Member (2008)
Italian to English
YEs! Oct 12, 2016

ACOZ wrote:

I was recently asked to "revise/correct" a text which was mainly either Google-translated or translated by a non-native with a very poor knowledge of English. Much of the translation was a word-to-word job and would have made no sense to an English speaker. In between the linguistic atrocities were bits of text that had been imported from previous translations and were of good quality. I offered to do the job on a per-page basis at about 50% of my usual rate. I was not willing to do a reread on an hourly rate. This is the second time recently that I have come up against this and I see it as something of a scam. What are other translators' experiences?


Yes! I'm glad someone has finally said it out loud.

For the very reasons given by ACOZ, I **never** accept proofreading jobs unless they are from a trusted long-term client. "Proofreading"usually means redoing the translation completely, for a much lower rate. Advice to all translators: NEVER ACCEPT PROOFREADING JOBS !!!


 

njweatherdon
Canada
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
Establish clear terms that work for you, don't budge (unless you're desperate, but they won't know) Oct 12, 2016

I quote a translation rate, and an editing rate which ranges from proofreading (low price) to intensive editing (higher price).

I do not commit to a price before I see a project. If a price commitment is required before doing the project, it is the highest available price. And, most importantly, I explicitly state that if extensive knowledge of a foreign language is required for the editing, that I will charge for a translation, not for editing.

Anyone who will call it one thing when it is another thing, in order to cheat you on prices, does not deserve your assistance. I suggest that you refrain from ever doing business with people who make such offers unless you will soon starve or are tearing your hair out in boredom for lack of anything to do.

Anyways, I strongly agree with the person who suggested that the client may not even know. You should be able to figure out a lot about the situation depending on the way they respond to a) you informing them that this may be the case, and b) their view on paying you something more appropriate for your efforts which went beyond what someone would normally expect.

FYI, my first professional editing project was also a door into my translation career. I informed the person that the document was so poorly written (I suspected machine translation, in 2008, which would have made it horrendous) that it would be impossible to make sense of it without access to the original document (in French). I've translated about 50 research papers for the organization since then and eventually got referred to UN and World Bank projects.

You know, sometimes someone's pulling a fast one or are in over their head and don't know how to say it, and it takes someone to straight up say what the situation is to correct it.

But probably, they'll just get pissy, insult your work in some way, make some excuses about something or other, and otherwise wear away at your willingness to stand up for yourself, etc. Not the kind of client worth working for any longer than strictly necessary to pay the rent, in my opinion. My guess ...


 

njweatherdon
Canada
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
also ... Oct 12, 2016

I would like to add that on a few occasions I've seen post-editing jobs which were really simple proofreading jobs. It MIGHT MAAAYBE be worth looking at these projects from time to time.

E.g., someone proposes to you 10,000 words at 1c a piece. If you're remotely busy you probably don't even open the email. But on a quiet day, you might take a look at the file, and see that the work is so piss easy that you'll have your $100 or so by lunch. You wont get rich at that rate, but the point is that projects with low word rates may still pan out to $20-30 range for a half day or more of work.

Which, of course, is precisely the opposite situation you refer to, where there is a large amount of work for each word and the headline rate looks OK but in fact is too low.

OK, so I quote 9-12 cents for translation and 0.018-0.044 for proofreading-editing. If a firm price is needed before seeing the files, I never agree to anything but the lowest price. And yeah, sometimes if I have nothing better to do I'll take a job at lower rates, but not unless the rates are suitable to the difficulty level of the project.


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:58
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Wolves in sheeps' clothing Oct 12, 2016

I agree with Christine that editing machine translations or wretched human translations typically takes longer than translating from scratch, and I share Tom's general suspicion of "proofreading" projects (which are often disguised "rewriting/disaster relief" projects).

I would never accept a "proofreading" project without carefully looking at the text in question first.

[Edited at 2016-10-12 14:23 GMT]


 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:58
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Conditional acceptance Oct 12, 2016

When I accept a proofreading/editing/revision job, I stipulate that the translation must have done by a competent translator.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
A happy client, no doubt Oct 13, 2016

ACOZ wrote:
I offered to do the job on a per-page basis at about 50% of my usual rate.

Considering that the majority of the text will take as long to correct as to translate from scratch, and that the few good translations still need to be reviewed, then how are you going to end up earning your normal rate for the time you spend on this job?

Haven't you done exactly what the client wanted - given them a translation for less than the price of a translation? Seems like they've found a willing market, so they'll refuse to pay more than 50% in future after spending a few seconds on Google Translate.


 
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