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Agency seeking translators working to and from source and target languages
Thread poster: Nikki Scott-Despaigne

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:15
French to English
Mar 28

Just to say that I am disappointed to see an agency post in search of translators who must work both to and from the source and target languages. ProZ is not at fault, of course. I am surprised but mostly disappointed that a language professional actively seeks to have professionals translating into a non-native or non-dominant language. I certainly won't be applying.

Don't know what others think.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:15
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
As long as it works for the agency Mar 28

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

Just to say that I am disappointed to see an agency post in search of translators who must work both to and from the source and target languages. ProZ is not at fault, of course. I am surprised but mostly disappointed that a language professional actively seeks to have professionals translating into a non-native or non-dominant language. I certainly won't be applying.

Don't know what others think.


I don't see any issue with it. Actually for the Chinese to English pair, most jobs are done by non-natives, and this is particularly true for the jobs in a technical field. Just for illustration purpose, there are a lot of medical doctors native in Chinese willing to do medical translations, but it will be hardly possible to find any English speaking medical doctor willing to take medical translation jobs from Chinese to English, in the whole world.

Another example, the translators who have been deemed as the best ones who translate Chinese poems into English are native in Chinese.

[Edited at 2017-03-28 22:00 GMT]


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
What's wrong with translating into a secondary language? Mar 28

If a native French national translates from English into French, that's, of course, translation. However, if she translates from French into English, it's called reverse translation. Yes, it has a name and it is not some spurious or unethical practice, as some people in our profession like to portray it.

In fact, some people have misread Eugene Nida's writings on translation equivalence (and writings from other scholars) to conclude that there is a rule or principle by which a translator should never perform reverse translations because it's somehow unethical or poor professional practice. Even the American Translators Association's handout Translation: Getting it right propagates this erroneous view.

How do we think some national literatures came to being? How do we believe some works of literature came to our knowledge? Translations and reverse translations were performed through the ages.


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 18:15
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
I do quite the contrary Mar 29

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

Just to say that I am disappointed to see an agency post in search of translators who must work both to and from the source and target languages. ProZ is not at fault, of course. I am surprised but mostly disappointed that a language professional actively seeks to have professionals translating into a non-native or non-dominant language. I certainly won't be applying.

Don't know what others think.

If an agency says they only accept translators that work solely in one direction, I tell them to buzz off. It's their loss if they want to work with inferior translators.


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The Misha
Local time: 06:15
Russian to English
+ ...
This has nothing to do with ethics Mar 29

There may be - and usually are - many other factors at play here, such as cost, availability, convenience, turnaround time and what not. In the end of the day, if a customer (such as the agency here) believes that translations by non-natives are sufficient (which is the key word here) for its needs, and there is no misrepresentation involved anywhere, who is to tell them otherwise?

By the same token, if one follows this "into native language only" logic, everyone should be driving a Mercedes, rather than a Tata or a Soviet Lada (or, truth be told, a Renault) because, naturally, a Mercedes is a much more superior car, so everyone should be getting one rather than committing the sin of being "unethical" by driving anything less.

The problem with most nonnative translators is not that what they do is "unethical" as such, but rather that they are not sufficiently qualified for the task at hand, regardless of what they themselves may think or claim. That's why this mythical "good book" is generally useful as a quick heuristic, not because it has something to do with ethics.

On a personal note, I am truly perplexed by some claims by militantly proud natives I have seen on here. I mean, come on, you are a "professional translator" who has lived in your "source" language country for 20 years, and gone to school there, and married a native, and made friends with the Pope or the Chancellor:) - and you still cannot do a passable job into your "target" language in your area of specialization? Well, maybe you are in the wrong line of work then...

[Edited at 2017-03-29 00:32 GMT]


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Stepan Konev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 13:15
English to Russian
Seconded Mar 29

As an inferior translator, I don't accept reverse translation assignments.
Because I've seen such "translations" into my native language... heaven forbid...


[Edited at 2017-03-29 05:13 GMT]


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Jan Truper
Germany
Local time: 12:15
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
Translation is a vast field Mar 29

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:
I am surprised but mostly disappointed that a language professional actively seeks to have professionals translating into a non-native or non-dominant language.


I generally share your sentiment, but translation is a vast field, and there can be situations where it might be advantageous to have the translator work from his native into a foreign language.

For example, I am an English - native German translator.
I once was hired by an agency to translate subpoenaed private emails, text messages and other communications of several German CEOs and top executives of two German banks into English. This was in the context of a large banking sector court case about obscene amounts of money that was taking place in London.
The end client (the plaintiff's law office) had specifically asked for a native German translator to do this work, and to stick to the source texts as close as possible. They did not care at all about syntax, flow, etc. – they just wanted to figure out if certain things had been disclosed within these communications.

I do not actively pursue jobs into my non-native language, but if someone insists and is willing to pay me the right amount (I tend to charge a higher rate for translation into my non-native language because I find it a tad more difficult), it's their choice and I'll be glad to help.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:15
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
The "golden rule" of translation Mar 29

Professional translation bodies in France, the UK and in the US too, I believe, consider that translation into one's native tongue is the golden rule of translation, the only way to be sure of an authentic result.

I am sometimes asked by regular clients to provide written translations into French. They hear me speak French, they see the French I am capable of writing and believe, erroneously in my mind, that I am capable of translating into French. I decline the request. I see all too often translations by non-native speakers and it is obvious, most often horribly obvious. It can be obvious by one word, one turn of phrase, one verb conjugated in a way that no native speaker would ever conjugate a verb. To my mind, and that of many a reader, it has an immediate adverse effect on the credibility of the content.

Each of us will have his/her own opinion on the matter, but this is the very first time I have seen any agency actively seeking translation professionals whom they insist on being able to translate both ways in a language pair. Freelance mother-tongue translators is something all reputable European agencies I know of use as a main selling point, if not the main selling point, along with relevant qualifications and experience.

The job ad in question is the absolute first time I have ever seen a professional agency seeking translators who work both ways in a language pair. In my view, this sets this agency apart as one that is to be avoided. It sets them apart as unprofessional and one that may not be up to standard in other areas, such as rates, payment terms and so on.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:15
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
A thing of the past? Mar 29

Mario Chavez wrote:

How do we think some national literatures came to being? How do we believe some works of literature came to our knowledge? Translations and reverse translations were performed through the ages.


But are no longer, therefore, perhaps for a reason. The world has changed.
Works that are translated by non-native speakers of the target language, without the direct collaboration of a native speaker do probably not make it very far these days.

An original work that is written in a secondary language can be a formidable piece of litterature. Litterature is full of them. These are not translations.


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Haneder  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 12:15
German to French
+ ...
Crowded pairs Mar 29

In my honest opinion, the German to French pair is crowded enough of not having to do reverse translation. This may be an exception from Chinese to English but not really for European languages. In my view, this is rather a bad practice of the agency of not having a set of translators for DE-FR and another to FR-DE.

Living in my source language, and being a court translator, i may have to face reverse translation for direct clients where i do not have the opportunity to pass on the assignments due to privacy concerns. I am too very much confronted with agencies in Austria doing the "mother tongue" principle for German while not being so demanding for French. As a French speaker, I notice it when i read in Austria a reverse translation. Even with years of practice there is no way that they do not rely on a dictionnary and there are many turns you do out of feeling not out of a dictionnary. I cannot tell this because they would reverse into the calling of my German not being perfect either.

To come back to the topic, being forced to do reverse translation (and usually having one native reviewing my translations) is something absolutely not economical at an agency rate. I would be much much more productive in working for another agency and spending that time into my mother tongue.

Of course if you do not have enough jobs to cover your living into your mother tongue, this is another issue but not really mine and i do not need such agencies.

[Edited at 2017-03-29 07:27 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-03-29 07:36 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-03-29 07:40 GMT]


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:15
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
@Jan Truper Mar 29

You raise points I find interesting, in paticular the specific situation you have described.

In France, many years ago, the courts in the Rennes area of Brittany systematically sent translations to those who were registered in the pair French>English or English>French, without making any distinction between source and target languages. I don't know if the practice has changed, nor if it differs from one region to another.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:15
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Interesting too Mar 29

The Misha wrote:

On a personal note, I am truly perplexed by some claims by militantly proud natives I have seen on here. I mean, come on, you are a "professional translator" who has lived in your "source" language country for 20 years, and gone to school there, and married a native, and made friends with the Pope or the Chancellor:) - and you still cannot do a passable job into your "target" language in your area of specialization? Well, maybe you are in the wrong line of work then...

[Edited at 2017-03-29 00:32 GMT]


You car analogy made me smile. Could I have an Aston Martin please? (It's smaller and probably easier to park than my old (but long) Peugeot).

I take your point about "sufficient" and "passable". After more than 23 years in my "source" language country, I can do sufficient and passable translations into French. The point is I chose not to as "passable" is not sufficient for my clients.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:15
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I notice.... Mar 29

...that in their profiles, all those contributing to this thread who uphold a translator's right to translate OUT of their native language are all offering a translation service OUT of their native language into English, and that all of them make basic mistakes or quaint/inappropriate/outdated terms when posting here in English.

So on that evidence alone I strongly agree with Nikki.

To any agencies who happen to be reading this: caveat emptor !

[Edited at 2017-03-29 13:31 GMT]


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:15
Member
Italian to English


Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile


Exactly Nikki!! Mar 29

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

After more than 23 years in my "source" language country, I can do sufficient and passable translations into French. The point is I chose not to as "passable" is not sufficient for my clients.


And although some translators may be able to do a "passable" (or even good) job translating out of their native language, I bet it takes them twice as long. Why work for half-price?


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The Misha
Local time: 06:15
Russian to English
+ ...
You would lose that bet Mar 29

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

After more than 23 years in my "source" language country, I can do sufficient and passable translations into French. The point is I chose not to as "passable" is not sufficient for my clients.


And although some translators may be able to do a "passable" (or even good) job translating out of their native language, I bet it takes them twice as long. Why work for half-price?


It seems you are dangerously deluding yourself. At your own peril.


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