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"P" symbol - WHO makes the decision about competence?
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 14:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Mar 13, 2009

I just saw my profile and clicked on "Apply" to the "Proz Certified Pro Network". And, fairly, I did not quite get several things. Just will quote what is written there:

"This sample translation may be used as part of the application process to evaluate your translation ability. As this sample may be evaluated by PRO peers, it must not contain either any proprietary or confidential information."

"This sample translation will be evaluated based on its commercial viability. Write it as if it was intended for a potential client; it should be an error-free, gramatically correct and natural sounding translation."

My (naive) questions:

1. "this sample may be evaluated by PRO peers" - OK, have nothing against my colleagues - there are many competent and really professional people, but does it mean that my "sample translation" will be evaluated by another translator? From the formal side, at least from what is written, the conclusion can be simple - translators evaluate each other's "sample translations" (i.e. a colleague evaluates another colleague) and if this evaluation is positive, it means the one evaluated will become a "professional"?

2. "it should be an error-free, gramatically correct and natural sounding translation."
Does it mean that if the translation does not contain errors, grammar mistakes and "sounds natural" (well, who and upon what criteria decises about that "natural sounding"?), it already means that the evaluated one is a real professional? Are these the real criteria for "professionalism in translations"?

Sorry for being straghtforward, but this sounds like a complete nonsense for me. I'd understand that there should be a competent body or very experienced translators who can decide about the professionalism - how can one, being in the same shoes as his/her colleague, carry out any decisions? Same nonsense would be examinations at the university on a certain subject (following the same logics) - one student examines another student and after the examination they award each other with diplomas having convinced each other that they are able to read, write (without grammar mistakes), and look like "viably sophisticated"?














[Edited at 2009-03-13 22:14 GMT]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:55
English to French
+ ...
I was asked to review one such sample Mar 13, 2009

I was asked a while back to review one such translation sample - I had to state whether it was commercially viable. I backed out of it, as I felt I couldn't simply answer that question with a yes or no, especially since the term "commercially viable" is not well defined.

In that one case, I found the translation to contain a few mistakes that were not major mistakes but that did slightly affect the overall quality. Now, if that translation were used on packaging, it would probably have been a viable translation. But if it were used in a patent, it probably wouldn't have been viable. Furthermore, since the identity of the translator is confidential and there are no details on their specializations, I couldn't tell if the translator was working as a patent translator or if s/he was only translating packaging. So, it is in my opinion impossible to tell whether the translation is commercially viable or not.

I think it's OK that colleagues rate each others' translation samples - but not the way it was presented to me. More detail would be needed on what kind of document the translation sample would be part of, who the target audience is and most importantly, whether the translator who submitted the sample was working in the field and within the market that buys such translations. It would also be nice if the person evaluating the sample could add some details in.

For now, I'd rather refrain from deciding whether such samples would be commercially viable if sold.

[Edited at 2009-03-13 22:01 GMT]


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Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:55
English to German
+ ...
Perhaps you would like to follow this thread as well Mar 13, 2009

I would like to point out that there is a similar thread:
http://www.proz.com/forum/prozcom:_translator_coop/130058-should_the_p_symbol_be_for_internal_eyes_only.html


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:55
Flemish to English
+ ...
Another method Mar 14, 2009

If you pass the preselection test at the EU and you are one of the lucky one's to be allowed to particpate in the actual translation test, you remain an anonymous number. 6 copies of your exam are taken and evaluated by 6 different persons in both Brussels and Luxembourg. Your average score determines your grade. If you pass the standard, you can go on to the oral exam.
Wouldn't it be neutral to adopt such a method here? Not one person, but 6 persons give their score and they don't know the name of the candidate. They only evaluate what is on paper according to certain standards.

[Edited at 2009-03-14 08:23 GMT]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:55
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
It is evaluated by someone who is already in the Certified Pro network Mar 14, 2009

I believe that, at university, it is quite common for undergraduates' work to be evaluated by a Ph.D. student working in the department.

The other thing is that, as far as I know, it is evaluated by more than one colleague, and, if the various colleagues who evaluate it agree upon whether it is professional or not that should be reliable. I do not know any details about how many colleagues evaluate a particular translation, or whether a greater number of colleagues take a look at one where there are different opinions about it. However, I very much doubt that anyone gets into the Certified Pro network based on the evaluation of a single colleague.

I think I have given my opinion on about two translations up to now, and took the opportunity to write detailed comments, rather than giving any verdict.

Astrid


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:55
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
You have a point there, Viktoria Mar 14, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

I was asked a while back to review one such translation sample ... More detail would be needed on what kind of document the translation sample would be part of, who the target audience is and most importantly, whether the translator who submitted the sample was working in the field and within the market that buys such translations. It would also be nice if the person evaluating the sample could add some details in.

For now, I'd rather refrain from deciding whether such samples would be commercially viable if sold.

[Edited at 2009-03-13 22:01 GMT]


It would not affect the anonymity of the evaluation process if evaluators could be told who the target audience is - and target audience is usually among the criteria for assessment with official examining bodies. However, how do we make it easy, then, for that information to be available? Are these sample translations not simply the ones uploaded to the profile page? If they are, then there needs to be a button there that the person uploading the translation has to click to select the target audience (and choose the most appropriate from a list of usual possible target audiences). This would also be useful when clients look at sample translations on the profile page, in any case.

Astrid


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:55
Flemish to English
+ ...
P and Pi Mar 14, 2009

When you participate in exams of official bodies, your copy is evaluated by several professionals who only get to see a number. They evaluate it according to certain standards, based what is written on paper, and not based upon a profile or a profile page.
These different professionals mark the exam copy and when they come to a weighed conclusion/average, the name of the applicant is revealed to the president of the jury.
The examiners themselves never get to know the names of who is behind the copies.
Such a method of evaluation is neutral and excludes favoritism.
It would greatly enhance the value of the "P".

Moreover, it would be helpful to explain the types of errors -against grammar, choice of terminology, spelling, meaning- which are made. Thus it becomes a learning process for the examinee.
---
For interpreting, let’s introduce "Pi".
The criteria would be less difficult: only those graduated from an interpreting school recognized by Ciuti.org or members of Aiic would get a Pi after their name.
Both organizations guarantee a high-level conference interpreter training. At the top interpreter schools, you have to pass admission tests to get in, go through one or two years of training and pass exams at which the judges are professional interpreters. At the start of the career as an interpreter, the chaff is already separated from the wheat.
P and Pi would this site make a more professional place.
Not a hodgepodge of people turning into translators by creating a profile page and shouting it out loud on the forums.
-*-*-
AFAIK: Exams at university are evaluated by the assistants of the professor holding the chair, in most cases PhD-students with a degree in the subject matter.
--*-*-
In English, it is "straightforward" and "professionalism", not the professionalism.
"The" indicates as particular kind of professionalism.
Such errors would cost you two points on your copy.
No time now to get "Peed".:) I'll give it a try later.


[Edited at 2009-03-14 09:44 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-03-14 10:32 GMT]


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 14:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
wait...where is elementary logics? Mar 14, 2009

My example with university exams was just to show one thing - there are students at the university (1st year, 2nd year, graduates), and there are teachers (doctors, professors in the subject). I meant that examinations are carried out on a simple principle - a university teacher examines his/her students. A teacher is on a much higher academic degree (he/she has BA, MA, and higher academic levels) and he/she has MUCH MORE competence on the subject of examination. So, he/she as a teacher is qualified to examine his/her students and to put marks for examination and to "entitle" students for diplomas. Here, in the Proz Pros case, "students examine students". Whether this matter and material is confidential or not (whether they know or not the person whose work they "examine"), where is simple logics where anyone can "examine" the level of someone? Same would be if university students examine each other's work and knowledge. Let alone - on such "floating" criteria like "commercial viability"? Let alone other logical issues - say, one translates poetry and fiction...How this "commercial viability" can be applied here? Poetry is "commercially viable" or "not"? This is nonsense. Such things as grammar, terminology and similar - these shall be clear "by default" as, at least in my opinion, any translator shall be, at least, literate and "grammar errors" issue shall be out of question here. Criteria shall be based on TRANSLATION CRITERIA - exact, clear, and defined...Not on grammar criteria or any other strange and irrelevant criteria.

In brief, I wanted to say that "members evaluating the work of other members" is a complete nonsense. It is against any logics. Evaluation shall be carried by much more competent specialists in comparison to the person/work evaluated and this shall be done on the basis of exact, relevant, and logical criteria. Such a system "as it is" is not fair nor makes any sense.


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Paul Cohen  Identity Verified
Greenland
Local time: 09:55
German to English
+ ...
How to evaluate a translation? Mar 14, 2009

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

I think I have given my opinion on about two translations up to now, and took the opportunity to write detailed comments, rather than giving any verdict.


Thanks, Astrid. From what you've told us, the evaluation process appears to be based on yes-no verdicts and/or written comments, and not on a standardized rating scale.

I'm very glad to see that Marius has started this thread. This is another topic that has been on my mind since the "P" was introduced. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the enormity of the challenge of evaluating fellow members' ability.

I certainly don't have the magic formula, but I would say that the concept of "commercial viability" is a good starting point.

If you gave me a translation by a peer and asked me to decide whether or not it was commercially viable, I'd most likely have real trouble responding with a simple "yes" or "no". I'd really be on the spot.

However, if you gave me a list of concrete errors, I could proofread a translation in one of my areas of specialization -- just as I would proofread a job in real life -- and rate that translation according to a pre-defined scale.

Here is a scale that was mentioned recently in this thread: http://www.proz.com/forum/translation_theory_and_practice/129134-what_do_you_consider_a_mistake_in_a_translation.html?action=Reply"e=1&post_id=1069153&forum_id=21

MelLANGE error typology:

Mistakes could include the following:
Content Transfer
Omission
Addition
Distortion
Indecision

Source Language Intrusion
Untranslated translatable
Too literal
Units of weight/measurement, dates and numbers

Target Language Intrusion
Translated DNT (Do-Not-Translate)
Too free

Language
Syntax
Wrong preposition

Inflection and Agreement
Tense/aspect
Gender
Number

Terminology and Lexis
False sense
False cognate
Term translated by non-term
Inconsistent with glossary
Inconsistent with target text

Hygiene
Spelling
Accents and diacritics
Incorrect case
Punctuation

Register
Inconsistent with source text
Inappropriate for translated text type
Inconsistent within target text

Style
Awkwardness
Tautology

Other

Once you have established a point value for each mistake -- for example, 1 point for a spelling mistake, 2 points for a wrong preposition, 3 points for a distortion -- you need to decide how high to place the hurdle. 10 points and your out? 15 points? 5 points? Whatever. The idea is that you would then need a rating scale.

No system is foolproof. But you definitely need a system -- and that system gains credibility if it is made public and is based on a standardized scale.


[Edited at 2009-03-14 22:18 GMT]


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xxxPRen
Canada
Local time: 08:55
French to English
+ ...
Marker's guide Mar 14, 2009

Have a look at the CTTIC marker's guide (and candidate's guide) at
http://www.cttic.org/certification.asp


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whither has fle
France
Local time: 13:55
French to English
Who makes the decision about competence? Mar 14, 2009

I'm wondering just how much more complicated this could possibly get! I don't see anything wrong with an experienced translator giving his or her approval of a sample translation......and, honestly though, isn't it a bit unusual for a native speaker to make grammar mistakes?? However, I think it would be both interesting and useful to define "commercial viability" as long as we avoid the trap of confusing "excellence" in translation quality with "existing" or "non-existing" markets!

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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:55
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Who, in the whole world, is more qualified than US? Mar 14, 2009

Marius, I doubt very much whether we are "students examining students". We have a student community here at Proz.com, and the students are registered as students. Those of us who are regular freelancers - and have been doing it for some years - have gained experience, which is something valuable and qualifies us more each year.

As for "members examining members" being equal to "students examining students", the expression "member" does not define a particular academic level, as the term "student" at university does. There are many members of Proz.com who are highly qualified, and there are some members who are lecturers and professors, and also translate. I have met some of them in person at Proz.com conferences.

To get people who are qualified enough to assess the work of translators:

(1) You have to choose from among all the people in the world who exist. Those are the only people that there are.

(2) Let's start by excluding - as examiners - people who do not have a complete education.

(3) Next: presumably you wish to leave out of consideration all those people who are not in language-related professions.

(4) Ideally, out of those in language-related professions, you wish to choose your examiners from among those whose profession involves them in translation in some way.

(5) So you maybe would like to choose from either those who teach translation courses in higher education OR experienced translators who know all about translation quality from daily involvement, OR a mixture of those two groups.

Fine. Those latter two groups of professionals are both to be found among the members of Proz.com.

Since we have all the professionals we require for the job among the members on the site, we only have to sort ourselves out, internally, and establish who has more experience, and who has less. This "Certified Pro" scheme is an attempt to do that. Since we have to start somewhere, a small group was formed at the beginning, selected, as I understand, from those who appear to have the relevant experience. We are now in the process of trying to add to that group, and those who are in it have to be trusted with evaluation, because there is nobody else to do the job. I doubt if there were any students among the initial group.

Astrid

[Edited at 2009-03-14 14:28 GMT]


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 07:55
SITE FOUNDER
No disagreement here, Paul Mar 14, 2009

Paul Cohen wrote:
No system is foolproof. But you definitely need a system -- and that system gains credibility if it is made public and is based on a standardized scale.

True - and I don't know of anyone involved with the program who would disagree with that.

Rome wasn't built in a day. I have been told that the ATA was administering tests for years (decades?) before the grading process was fixed and made public. (Please correct me, ATA folks, if I have been misinformed.)

By the way, evaluation of translation samples is necessary only when a candidate has not (yet) been certified by an association. Therefore it does not even come into play in most cases. Nevertheless, the topic has been discussed at some length among program participants, technical work is currently being done, and I expect that the process will be standardized and published by the time the program is a year old.

You are also correct that it is an enormous challenge. Fortunately, we have the work done by various associations, standards organizations and companies to build upon. Some fantastic work has been done in this area.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 07:55
SITE FOUNDER
There are qualified people here, MariusV Mar 14, 2009

MariusV wrote:
In brief, I wanted to say that "members evaluating the work of other members" is a complete nonsense.

With respect, your thinking is too limited. Of course there are people with ProZ.com profiles who are unprofessional. But do you think that no one here is qualified to evaluate translation samples? Where do you think graders in associations come from? Many of them are ProZ.com members. There are also professors, authors of authoritative works, current and former board members and presidents of associations, etc. among the membership.

Just as there is no minimum level of professionalism required to create a profile here, there is also no maximum. There are some very qualified people here.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 14:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I do not doubt their qualifications Mar 14, 2009

Henry D wrote:

MariusV wrote:
In brief, I wanted to say that "members evaluating the work of other members" is a complete nonsense.

With respect, your thinking is too limited. Of course there are people with ProZ.com profiles who are unprofessional. But do you think that no one here is qualified to evaluate translation samples? Where do you think graders in associations come from? Many of them are ProZ.com members. There are also professors, authors of authoritative works, current and former board members and presidents of associations, etc. among the membership.

Just as there is no minimum level of professionalism required to create a profile here, there is also no maximum. There are some very qualified people here.


Dear Henry,

I DO NOT doubt the qualifications of other colleagues – neither in general, nor per my language pair(s). I respect them all.
What I want to tell is that this "ProZ.com certification" is ONLY based on an opinion - personal opinion of other colleagues/other members" on the basis of some well... undefined (to put it mildly) criteria (like "commercial viability", "no grammar/spelling errors", etc.). These can be criteria for a personal opinion. But not more. Criteria for the evaluation of professionalism shall be relevant and shall be exact. As it is now, for me it sounds more like when other "acknowledged" members of a certain club tell "we like that person or not"... I am convinced that the "professional level" of someone has to be evaluated under certain established, clear, and RELEVANT procedures. Same applies to the evaluators - they shall be selected on the basis of the same procedures and criteria, i.e. not just anyone evaluates anybody on an anonymous basis. Let me give a simple example - can I evaluate and issue a “diploma” to my colleague about his/her knowledge of, say, Trados? I can ONLY express my personal opinion how well he/she works with Trados on the basis of my modest knowledge. But even if I say "He/she is a real Trados genius" - I am competent to issue a formal "paper" as a confirmation (or a "T", "P", "S" sign) being in the same literate Trados user shoes as my colleague? Look - "Trados-certified" diploma can only be issued after certain tests/examinations defined by Trados itself and only their qualified experts (who are much more qualified than us, the users) who can say "pass" or "fail"...Why do they have all those "Trados certified" programs? They could do the same like in Proz - they could ask the opinion of other colleagues on the criteria like "Trados usage speed", "TagEditor knowledge viability", "No font in Trados TMs", and like? But they do have "Trados certification" courses, tests, examinations, don't they?

All in all, we have a situation when the "fate” of someone's "pro" or "non-pro" is in the hands of "colleague-to-colleague" anonymous personal opinions based on undefined criteria. And respect to other colleagues has nothing to do here. Let alone - the criteria for creating profiles, putting whatever info there, or whatever else.


[Edited at 2009-03-14 15:58 GMT]


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