What services should the agency provide to the translator?
Thread poster: Wendy Cummings

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:39
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 12, 2010

Like most of you out there (I assume), the vast majority of my work comes from agencies. There are several with whom I have a very good relationship and they generally serve me well.

Today however a small issue arose that led me to question what the agency actually does, other than simply forward orders from the client to me, and the translation from me to the client.

I received a job (15,000 approx) for translation in the finance sector, which as we know can have a lot of company-preferred terms for various financial products etc. I was then provided with 4 previous documents that had been done for this company (not by myself) - both source and target - with the comment that the client had been extremely pleased with these translations and so I could perhaps use them as a guide.

I asked whether they were included in the TM, and the answer was simply: No.

This is an agency that expects me to use Trados as standard, which I am happy to do. Am I wrong to expect, therefore, that the agency should take the initiative and align these documents and create an extract/memory that I could use? I could of course do it myself - and indeed I may end up doing so - but I had assumed this sort of terminology/TM management was not just my responsibility.

Any comments?


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:39
French to German
+ ...
Comments... Jul 12, 2010

Hi Wendy,
I would like to comment in a positive manner about some agencies I work with (rather than "for"):

- they send an updated TM for each assignment related to the same end client;
- they have an internal or external QA done for each single translation (*);
- they send terminology files (either in Excel sheets or in Multiterm databases) and/or guidelines along with nearly each assignment;
- they align ST and TT whenever needed (I know this because I saw the so-called ALIGN! user in some of their Trados TM's);
- they do the DTP themselves or externalise it to specialised companies;
- they have the contents of images translated separately - you only need to tell them where the images are;
- etc.

These are, I think, the minimal requirements a professional agency should expect from themselves if they want to stay on the market.

(*) so wannabes and poor translators are quickly excluded from job assignments... Believe me, this is a big relief and a progress , especially when they also ask you to do some QA.

ETA: ahem... given the above, are you sure that such services should be provided by the agency to the translator?

[Edited at 2010-07-12 19:45 GMT]


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 02:39
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
You charge them for that ! Jul 12, 2010

Wendy Leech wrote:

Like most of you out there (I assume), the vast majority of my work comes from agencies. There are several with whom I have a very good relationship and they generally serve me well.

Today however a small issue arose that led me to question what the agency actually does, other than simply forward orders from the client to me, and the translation from me to the client.

I received a job (15,000 approx) for translation in the finance sector, which as we know can have a lot of company-preferred terms for various financial products etc. I was then provided with 4 previous documents that had been done for this company (not by myself) - both source and target - with the comment that the client had been extremely pleased with these translations and so I could perhaps use them as a guide.

I asked whether they were included in the TM, and the answer was simply: No.

This is an agency that expects me to use Trados as standard, which I am happy to do. Am I wrong to expect, therefore, that the agency should take the initiative and align these documents and create an extract/memory that I could use? I could of course do it myself - and indeed I may end up doing so - but I had assumed this sort of terminology/TM management was not just my responsibility.

Any comments?


Hello,

If you have enough experience and clients which I assume you have based on your profile I suggest that you start :

1/ Invoicing any service you make for your clients whatever it is. "Time is money"

2/You bought trados ; so it's a service you offer not something that is a must (the software costs 500 EUR (or 4000 EUR if you get the Pro version) and you didn't buy it to charge less

3/ Never accept to work more for less

4/If the previous translator was so good why didn't give him the translation ? Probably because :

a- He was too expensive and they want to cut costs
b- He wasn't that good

5/ If they want you to use their terminology ; they should provide a glossary or a TM. If they can't they have to pay more.

An agency is a client as any other ; you shouldn't think they owe you or that you owe them. It's only business no more no less !

Do you really feel that you will be paid for the extra time ?

I had a client once for an DTP work ; which was very friendly and all. They paid the job very well ; however they kept coming back to change this and that... And they showed some unprofessional behavior...Frankly, I didn't hesitate to cut all ties with them and to tell them what I thought about their attitude...

When you run a business (as opposed to friendship) you need to be:

1/Professional
2/Strict

And above all you need to value your time.

Wheras the client should be highly valued and well treated. You also need to start thinking "do I really want to work with this client ?"& "will I earn as much with this client as any other ?" .

That's my point of view anyway.

Best regards,

Moh


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Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:39
Member (2008)
English to French
Couldn't have said it better. Jul 13, 2010

I completely agree with Laurent & Mohamed

I have however been in the same situation a few times - in addition to the TM I receive "reference material" that's not included. I've actually been pleasantly surprised a few times after aligning and dumping the material into a memory and analyzing... the agency might have saved themselves several hundred dollars had they bothered to do it themselves! I never complain about extra info/reference/glossary


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 04:39
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Could be your advantage Jul 13, 2010

So are you sure you want the agency (end-customer) to know how little there was to translate?
If they do the aligning they will provide you with an analysis, and they pay you less or much less due to the matches found in the TM.
So I rather deal with it myself and let them pay the full amount, like it was the habit only a few years ago.

And keep in mind that you have to know both source and target language to do the aligning well. Otherwise you end up with chunks of text that do not serve any purpose at all.

Regards
Heinrich


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 02:39
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
It happened to me too :) Jul 13, 2010

Arianne Farah wrote:

I completely agree with Laurent & Mohamed

I have however been in the same situation a few times - in addition to the TM I receive "reference material" that's not included. I've actually been pleasantly surprised a few times after aligning and dumping the material into a memory and analyzing... the agency might have saved themselves several hundred dollars had they bothered to do it themselves! I never complain about extra info/reference/glossary


It happened to me too ! And it is indeed pleasant

However, sometimes there is no match and they expect you to use the same terminology (this is the situation I pictured from Wendy's description), which in my point of view calls for an extra fee...


So are you sure you want the agency (end-customer) to know how little there was to translate?
If they do the aligning they will provide you with an analysis, and they pay you less or much less due to the matches found in the TM.
So I rather deal with it myself and let them pay the full amount, like it was the habit only a few years ago.

And keep in mind that you have to know both source and target language to do the aligning well. Otherwise you end up with chunks of text that do not serve any purpose at all.

Regards
Heinrich



I agree with you, given that sometimes one is gladly surprised. However, I've been in many situations where the alignment wasn't an easy task to do...In few situations 25% of the time was wasted on alignment ! Event though this is the worst case scenario, I believe she should charge them an extra fee for it...


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 04:39
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
One more thing Jul 13, 2010

Of course if the customer wants the TM after translation you charge for the work, but if you can keep it for yourself I don't see how you can charge for it.
On the other side if you don't get TM or glossary they cannot expect you to follow terminology 100%.
Regards
Heinrich


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:39
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Perhaps the client doesn't know about alignment Jul 13, 2010

Wendy Leech wrote:
I was then provided with 4 previous documents that had been done for this company (not by myself) - both source and target - with the comment that the client had been extremely pleased with these translations and so I could perhaps use them as a guide. ... I asked whether they were included in the TM, and the answer was simply: No.


It is likely that the client is unaware that a TM can be populated by alignment. The questions I see on CAT tool mailing lists suggest to me that many translators aren't aware of this either.

Also, not all clients are aware that a TM can be used for concordance/context searches. Some clients think that TM is meant for pre-translation and leveraging only. They don't realise that having previous translations in a TM makes consistency much, much easier than just having the old file next to you on your desk. For them, TM is all about pre-translation and nothing else.

I understand your frustration, though. It is now up to you to align these files if you want to use them. Your client thinks that you can absorb the style of the previous files by just browsing them. Or, the client thinks that reading these files will not take long (people often don't realise how long it takes to read something or how long it takes to write something).

A comforting thought is that even if you do align them into a TM, there is no guarantee that you'll figure out what it was that the client was so happy about about the old documents. The TM might help you to get terminological consistency but what if the client was happy with something else, like a choice of wording or idiomatic phrasing that has little to do with terminology.

In fact, it can even be that a client was "very happy with the translation" because he remembers the good service he got when he used the other translator. (-:






[Edited at 2010-07-13 09:10 GMT]


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Annamaria Amik  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:39
Romanian to English
+ ...
Rough estimation of whether it is worth it Jul 13, 2010

Here's what I do in such cases:

1) Analyze their reference source files using an empty TM (or perform a quick and rough OCR recognition, if their reference files are pdf or another "non-tradosable" format).

2) Then I analyze my source files using the same memory (ticking Use TM from previous analysis in Workbench/Analyse Files), which allows me to see if it is worth spending time on alignment at all.

3) If there are tons of fuzzy matches or 95-99% matches, it is likely that the difference comes from formatting only, so I proceed with the alignment. If the fuzzies are few, you would probably spend more time on alignment than you would save with Trados, so perhaps it's better to just read their reference materials.

HTH,

Annamaria


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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 03:39
English to Czech
+ ...
Two basic types of agencies Jul 13, 2010

Hi Wendy,
there are basically two types of agencies:
1) Professional LSPs = the ones Laurent has described in his post
2) "Postman" agencies = the ones that are simply forwarding a bunch of files between you and the client.

I suspect the agency you are talking about is type No. 2 and you'd better avoid it. The problem usually is that such agencies don't use well-defined processes and that the PMs often perform tasks mechanically without knowing what they are doing and why. This makes their work prone to mistakes that are very likely to fall upon your head eventually.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:39
French to German
+ ...
Eventually? Jul 13, 2010

Stanislav Pokorny wrote:
This makes their work prone to mistakes that are very likely to fall upon your head eventually.


Eventually... this means 99.99% of the cases, I assume?


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