How to deal with such a situation?
Thread poster: expressisverbis

expressisverbis
Portugal
Local time: 02:30
Member (2015)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Jan 22

Dear colleagues,
I am a very reserved person/professional and it took me a while to come here and ask for an advice.
I am facing something that I haven’t experienced before.
A translation agency I work for (since last year) always performs an internal revision of my translations. They told me in the very beginning it was an internal checking before they deliver the job to their end clients.
I agree with this method, no significant problem so far from my side…
As
... See more
Dear colleagues,
I am a very reserved person/professional and it took me a while to come here and ask for an advice.
I am facing something that I haven’t experienced before.
A translation agency I work for (since last year) always performs an internal revision of my translations. They told me in the very beginning it was an internal checking before they deliver the job to their end clients.
I agree with this method, no significant problem so far from my side…
As the texts are delivered rarely with any typos, or any other substantial issues, the project manager/production manager, whose mother tongue is Polish and knows Spanish and the basics in Portuguese, reviews my translations.
Once I receive the translations reviewed, I get strange questions.
For instance, in a marketing text, dark blue, and dark grey which are translated in European Portuguese as “azul-escuro” and “cinzento-escuro”, the project manager asks me if one of the colors can be translated as “azul profundo” (dark blue) in order to avoid the repeated word “escuro”. This is clearly a nonsense in PT-PT in this context, unless we are translating a literary text.
There was a time, the same project manager asked me for a personal pronoun starting with “O”, just because they need to be consistent with the Polish text (the translation field was education). In Portuguese we don’t have a personal pronoun starting with letter “O”...
I find myself looking for suitable explanations. Every time this happens, I send references, sources, and links in order to prove terms are accurate and correct.
I don’t mind doing this, but taking into account that I am not a newbie in translation field, and my academic background is rooted in Arts/Literature… this makes me unhappy, and mostly I don’t have time enough for doing my “homework”, which is providing clear answers to such questions.
I also ask myself whether this behavior is appropriate and/or common in revision or checking tasks. It never happened to me before.
Revision and checking are two completely different tasks that should be performed by natives only, not by a P.M. who knows the basics of a language.
The company says this is a normal procedure, they just want to be sure terms are correct, and their questions are perfectly reasonable/acceptable. I have a different view.
How to deal with such a situation?
I am always polite and respectful in my answers, sometimes I am funny, but I must confess this can be a bit annoying and makes me quite sad.
This is not a critical note at all on the agency; I like to work with them, my “concern” is this project manager/production manager, I met a couple of months ago.
Your views will be very welcomed and valued.
Thanks!
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Ravindra Patwal
raptisi
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:30
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Be excruciatingly polite Jan 22

I have been in this situation in the past, perhaps when a new revisor has come on board and is anxious to show the boss how punctilious they are, using you as a guinea pig.

The best solution I have found is:

Take some time and have fun writing an unbelievably polite, extremely long and detailed explanation of why you made all your translating decisions. This could go on for pages and pages if necessary. It could be itemised into a series of long paragraphs dealing wit
... See more
I have been in this situation in the past, perhaps when a new revisor has come on board and is anxious to show the boss how punctilious they are, using you as a guinea pig.

The best solution I have found is:

Take some time and have fun writing an unbelievably polite, extremely long and detailed explanation of why you made all your translating decisions. This could go on for pages and pages if necessary. It could be itemised into a series of long paragraphs dealing with each decision, one at a time.

They won't bother you again, but they'll keep on giving you work.






[Edited at 2020-01-22 15:25 GMT]
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Liviu-Lee Roth
expressisverbis
Christine Andersen
Eliza Hall
Ravindra Patwal
Olavo Nogueira
P.L.F.Persio
 

Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:30
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
You are doing the right thing - but scale it down a bit Jan 22

expressisverbis wrote:
I am always polite and respectful in my answers, sometimes I am funny, but I must confess this can be a bit annoying and makes me quite sad.


You are doing exactly the right thing in being polite and respectful in your answers and sometimes being funny, as you say. But don't let it make you sad. It can be annoying but they are only trying to help.

Don't waste your time trying to explain the workings of your language. Don't send references and links and all that – at least not all the time. Make your replies shorter. After a while, they will hopefully begin to understand that you are the expert.

When a translation comes back with lots of comments, obviously review them all but don't reply to each and every one of them. Pick out one or two remarks which might be more sensible (if there are any) and explain those (or even make a change, if reasonable) and then just brush the rest away with a general remark like "And the rest is all fine as it is." Hopefully, they will eventually get the hint and realize that you know the language better than they do. If not then maybe speak to them or send them an email – staying polite and maybe light-hearted, of course – explaining that all those review comments are getting a bit too much, costing you lots of time and that you were hoping that by now they would be able to trust you and your expertise a bit more.

Anyway, still better than project managers, software engineers or desktop publishers making "corrections" without your knowledge (and without any knowledge of the language). That happens, too.


Christine Andersen
expressisverbis
Sandra Cravero
Laura Kingdon
Vaclav Hruza
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:30
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
You are far too modest! Jan 22

Translators may be the bottom of the pyramid of clients, agencies, proof-readers, revisers, DTP experts and all the rest who work on a text. But translators are also the foundation the translation business stands on.

You are an expert and a business partner. The customer may always be right in their own field, but you are the expert in your field.

You should not need to spend a lot of time on questions like the ones you describe. A short answer - sorry, dark gr
... See more
Translators may be the bottom of the pyramid of clients, agencies, proof-readers, revisers, DTP experts and all the rest who work on a text. But translators are also the foundation the translation business stands on.

You are an expert and a business partner. The customer may always be right in their own field, but you are the expert in your field.

You should not need to spend a lot of time on questions like the ones you describe. A short answer - sorry, dark grey and dark blue are both dark in many languages, English, for one, and Portuguese. End of discussion.

Language is not always logical, and logic that works in one language will not necessarily fit in another. Those are simple facts of life, and do not need to be explained.

Dismiss questions like that briefly and politely, but let the PM know that you are the expert in Portuguese, and you know what you are doing. I find that is quite a good tactic - and clients come back again, because they have confidence in my work!
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Laurent Mercky
Tom in London
expressisverbis
Thomas Pfann
Teresa Borges
Ravindra Patwal
Esther Dodo
 

Laurent Mercky
France
Local time: 03:30
Member (2019)
Chinese to French
+ ...
Xbench Jan 22

Hi

Have you heard about the QA report files?
IMAO, your client (an agency) makes proofreading by a software and then, you have been found with "inconsistency errors" by the proofreading machine.
After that, rather than sending you back this report file for your own correction, the office lady seems to prefer let you know about any potential mistakes.

-- Just my opinion -- because it happened to me several times but finally we found an operating agreement. ... See more
Hi

Have you heard about the QA report files?
IMAO, your client (an agency) makes proofreading by a software and then, you have been found with "inconsistency errors" by the proofreading machine.
After that, rather than sending you back this report file for your own correction, the office lady seems to prefer let you know about any potential mistakes.

-- Just my opinion -- because it happened to me several times but finally we found an operating agreement.
Note that with Xbench, you can issue an excel file for proofreading.
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expressisverbis
 

expressisverbis
Portugal
Local time: 02:30
Member (2015)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks to all! Jan 22

@Tom: That's what I thought. This P.M. is just trying to put her best foot forward or to make a good impression.

@Christine: Yes, I'm modest in my own way. I have explained exactly that same point to her in the past: languages don't follow the same "patterns".

@Thomas: This can be quite stressful and makes me sad, because I may think they don't trust me.

@Laurent: I know QA report files, and I use X-Bench. The issue is not checking common typos, her questio
... See more
@Tom: That's what I thought. This P.M. is just trying to put her best foot forward or to make a good impression.

@Christine: Yes, I'm modest in my own way. I have explained exactly that same point to her in the past: languages don't follow the same "patterns".

@Thomas: This can be quite stressful and makes me sad, because I may think they don't trust me.

@Laurent: I know QA report files, and I use X-Bench. The issue is not checking common typos, her questions are based on grammar, terminology, and style aspects.
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Laurent Mercky
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
The more you teach, the more you learn Jan 22

At first I thought it was about stress-testing and reassessing, but unless they offer several variants [rewriting/copywriting] of the same translation to the clients, she keeps you alert and in good form while taking Spanish lessons from you.

While such a collaboration may be amusing, productive and mutually beneficial, just double-check your contract and consider adding CONSULTING, say, $10 a question


expressisverbis
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:30
Member (2018)
French to English
. Jan 22

I always answer such questions very thoroughly. Once, working at the agency, we got a new client who was very wary due to bad experiences with the previous agency. They asked tons of questions in the beginning, then gradually came to accept that I knew what I was doing and the questions tailed off. They became our best client!

Another time, I got some very searching questions. I answered thoroughly as usual and the PM then forwarded the answer which was basically "thank you, it's ob
... See more
I always answer such questions very thoroughly. Once, working at the agency, we got a new client who was very wary due to bad experiences with the previous agency. They asked tons of questions in the beginning, then gradually came to accept that I knew what I was doing and the questions tailed off. They became our best client!

Another time, I got some very searching questions. I answered thoroughly as usual and the PM then forwarded the answer which was basically "thank you, it's obvious the translator knows what she's doing. Please always make sure she's the one to work on our projects, she has a wonderfully rich vocabulary". One of the best compliments I've ever received, yes of course I will always fit your projects in!
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P.L.F.Persio
expressisverbis
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
The reality tests us all Jan 22

Kay, it was nice exp, though nowadays most questions are habitually suspected as an ignorance, a blameshifting, or a hidden agenda at best. I often meet non-businessmen who are sure that a real(?) professional must never ask questions at all, whereas the truth is quite opposite.

On the other hand one should decide whether it's ok to misuse frequent questions e.g. 'Dear asker--thank you for your question. As I'm very busy doing the rush job, I will be able to answer it in a week o
... See more
Kay, it was nice exp, though nowadays most questions are habitually suspected as an ignorance, a blameshifting, or a hidden agenda at best. I often meet non-businessmen who are sure that a real(?) professional must never ask questions at all, whereas the truth is quite opposite.

On the other hand one should decide whether it's ok to misuse frequent questions e.g. 'Dear asker--thank you for your question. As I'm very busy doing the rush job, I will be able to answer it in a week or so. Have a nice research! Cheers.
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expressisverbis
Portugal
Local time: 02:30
Member (2015)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
DZiW Jan 22

[quote]DZiW wrote:

At first I thought it was about stress-testing and reassessing, but unless they offer several variants
ing/copywriting] of the same translation to the clients, she keeps you alert and in good form while taking Spanish lessons from you.

While such a collaboration may be amusing, productive and mutually beneficial, just double-check your contract and consider adding CONSULTING, say, $10 a question


Thanks, DZiW.
No, it is not about that. It's a simple internal checking that turned out to be somehow nitpicking.
She can’t take Spanish lessons from me; I am not Spanish, and I am not a teacher.
Consulting! That’s a good point


 

expressisverbis
Portugal
Local time: 02:30
Member (2015)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Kay. Jan 22

Kay Denney wrote:

I always answer such questions very thoroughly. Once, working at the agency, we got a new client who was very wary due to bad experiences with the previous agency. They asked tons of questions in the beginning, then gradually came to accept that I knew what I was doing and the questions tailed off. They became our best client!

Another time, I got some very searching questions. I answered thoroughly as usual and the PM then forwarded the answer which was basically "thank you, it's obvious the translator knows what she's doing. Please always make sure she's the one to work on our projects, she has a wonderfully rich vocabulary". One of the best compliments I've ever received, yes of course I will always fit your projects in!


Indeed, a nice experience with a happy ending


 


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