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Google Translate: The New Plague
Thread poster: jmleger

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:16
English to German
+ ...
In memoriam
There is a saying among women Dec 7, 2010

"If you are attracting the wrong men, you are doing something wrong."


The same goes for the translation business.

jmleger wrote:
My questions are: has anyone else noticed this? And what measures have you taken?



Hint:

The homepage of your website claims in huge letters: "We help you finish your project on time and under budget."

More key words are:

record time / bring your budget down / affordable services / fast services / TTD’s low-cost translation services, etc.

So, what kind of translators do you expect?

Unfortunately translation agencies all over the world are making the same mistake over and over. In their effort to sound as attractive as possible to potential clients they forget that their website happens to be read by their most valuable human capital as well, the translators. But how could I possibly know, I am in advertising and marketing for 27 years only.


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:16
French to German
+ ...
Obvious, but... Dec 7, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:

(.../...)
Unfortunately translation agencies all over the world are making the same mistake over and over. In their effort to sound as attractive as possible to potential clients they forget that their website happens to be read by their most valuable human capital as well, the translators. But how could I possibly know, I am in advertising and marketing for 27 years only.


as Adolf Galland (*1912 +1996), aka The Fighting Fob, wrote - not the exact quote, sorry: "Mistakes have the particularity of being eternal. They are being made over and over again."

[Modifié le 2010-12-07 06:40 GMT]


 

René Stranz-Nikitin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 22:16
Czech to German
+ ...
The reverse auctions force translators to accept unsustainable rates and lead to desperate reactions Dec 7, 2010

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

René Stranz-Nikitin wrote:

I think the use of reverse auctions like ProZ.com is as unethical as a translator delivering raw GT. Just on both sides nobody cares.



So just that I can rephrase.

You think using the proz.com job posting system is an unethical as delivering garbage instead of a translation?

It takes a peculiar sense of ethics (or humor?) to wander this deep into Preposterous Land.


Dear Kryzsztof,

You did not understand what I meant. I only said, that cynic reverse auctions, that force translators to offer unsustainable rates and drive them into poverty, will provoke cynical reactions. Even if the translator worked for 0.06 $ per word instead of 0.03 $.

I am just sad about the latest developments in our industry and there is a lot of "new technical achievements", that I won't touch with a barge pole. One of them is the integration of MT in CATs. The older ones are reverse auctions.

The way to go for agencies is to build their pool of well-tested language professionals and not to give the job in a hurry to unknown people and to push down the rates with the help of reverse auctions.

So if you want to find out, if jmleger is a victim or if he just got what he deserved, ask him for the absolute per word rate he agreed with the GT-desparado.

Best regards

René Stranz-Nikitin
www.uersn.de

Please note that English is neither my target language nor one of my source languages.


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:16
French to German
+ ...
Just some additional questions... Dec 7, 2010

How much time do you waste on double- and triple-checking whether MT was involved or not? Can you tell us how much money this will cost you for 1,000 words (TL) for example?

Would those amounts of time not be better invested in adequate preventive QA measures? As a comparison and a hint, how many army candidates make it to become - and to remain!!! - elite soldiers (meaning: members of special forces in any country)?

[Modifié le 2010-12-07 08:46 GMT]


 

Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 22:16
Member (2004)
English to Polish
No, really... Dec 7, 2010

René Stranz-Nikitin wrote:
You did not understand what I meant. I only said, that cynic reverse auctions, that force translators to offer unsustainable rates and drive them into poverty, will provoke cynical reactions.


Poor little thingies! It's breaking my heart! Only sad puppies are sadder... no, sad kittens! Hmm... maybe puppies?

So now we have learned why they turned to GT - out of poverty! Not because they are clueless, ill-prepared for the job or simply dishonest. Before i hear more tales of woo, just a hint: not everyone has to be a translator.

The more I read this topic, the more I see that those translators are the perfect match for those agencies - they absolutely deserve each other. And if the client does not know better, he will be in a good (i.e. bad) company. Common sense is not a prerequisite to successful business, but it certainly helps...


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:16
French to German
+ ...
Common sense? Dec 7, 2010

Jabberwock wrote:
The more I read this topic, the more I see that those translators are the perfect match for those agencies - they absolutely deserve each other. And if the client does not know better, he will be in a good (i.e. bad) company. Common sense is not a prerequisite to successful business, but it certainly helps...


With the reservation that common sense seems to be the less commonly shared thing among humans.


 

René Stranz-Nikitin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 22:16
Czech to German
+ ...
I agree, agencies waste more and more time in recent years. Dec 7, 2010

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

How much time do you waste on double- and triple-checking whether MT was involved or not? Can you tell us how much money this will cost you for 1,000 words (TL) for example?

Would those amounts of time not be better invested in adequate preventive QA measures? As a comparison and a hint, how many army candidates make it to become - and to remain!!! - elite soldiers (meaning: members of special forces in any country)?

[Modifié le 2010-12-07 08:46 GMT]


I entirely agree with this. It's all about the greed of so many agencies.

When I started to translate in the 1990ies, the PM gave me the source text on paper or a Word file to overwrite. The whole project preparation was rather simple and didn't cost much time. They had somebody to proofread my translation (often only a sample of the text was proofread, because I was their well-tested professional and they trusted me), but after all that I earned 2/3 of the amount the agency billed to the end client.

Today it is possible to get well paid translation jobs only in times when the demand is really high and the agency doesn't have time to waste with entirely superfluous steps.

But when the demand is low, agencies try to do as much of the job on their own (OCR, formatting, preparation of TMs, pre-translation with CAT, rate bashing with the help of reverse auctions like ProZ.com), giving to the translator only a small fraction of what the end client pays and also very often only a small fraction of the time the end client provides to proceed the job. So double- and triple-checking whether MT was involved is just a new step increasing this greediness.

So this whole agency-world turns into a real danger for end clients seeking quality, because the demand just can't be always high.

And to my colleagues from Poland, who answered to my posts here: I don't have a single agency client from your country, although my agency-client list soon reaches the figure of 100. I am saying this only to illustrate the situation.

My best agency clients are those, who let me do the OCR, formatting and further preparation on my own. This way I know very well what was done in the steps before and I will have enough time to provide a translation that will meet the highest quality standards.

When I see a job in the ProZ.com job posting system I consider it as already lost. Lost for us professional translators, but most probably also lost for the end client, because the danger of low quality of the resulting translation is very high. It shows, that the agency has enough time to waste with rate bashing, checking with MT results and so on.


 

B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:16
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Why do you care how it has been done? Dec 7, 2010

Jerzy Czopik wrote:

When you get a well done translation, why do you care how it has been done? Provided there is no reason to keep the text fully confidential Google and any other ressource is good enough to produce a translation.
So instead of damning it by definition I would simply try to find an agreement - if the translation is OK and no NDA does prevent the usage of Google, leave it.


The answer to this should be obvious: the translations were recognised as being MT because of their poor quality! If MT produced translations of adequate quality, then large clients who can afford to buy and customise their own MT software would not generally need to use either translation agencies or translators, just a combination of (probably in-house and non-dedicated) proof readers with occasional queries to outside translators for quality checking.

Also, if you look at some of the half-baked questions posted on KudoZ, it is clear that some agencies are paying the lowest possible rates and are using translators with the lowest possible skills.

[Edited at 2010-12-07 10:45 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:16
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
It could also be just teething problems Dec 7, 2010

Dawn Montague wrote:
3. So why is this a growing problem? As others have mentioned, it might be dishonesty. It might be a lack of qualifications. Or it might be greed (and no intention of nurturing a long-term relationship) - or all of the above. It certainly isn't the work of a professional. Do I think price is associated with this trend? Definitely!


Yes, I think that apart from MT-assisted translation being new ground for many translators (so they don't know what all the pitfalls are and how to avoid them), money certainly is an issue. If the translator works in a market where prices are under pressure (e.g. a European translator working for American clients, along with a declining dollar) he may find MT-assisted translation a viable option to maintain his income level.

In some language combinations, GT-assisted translation is 30-40% faster than non-GT-assisted translation, but the types of errors that one makes with GT are more difficult to spot during proofreading, so the translator's proofreading of his own translation takes up to 50% longer. This requires that translators think different when they estimate how long a job might take them (and how long before the deadline they should be finished with the translation part of the job). Could it be that some translators simply run out of time before their deadlines?

And how do you vet your translators?


Vetting usually happens only once. The problem is when existing reliable translators switch over to other technology (e.g. CAT and MT) and they experience teething problems.


[Edited at 2010-12-07 10:55 GMT]


 

Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 22:16
Member (2004)
English to Polish
What's the point? Dec 7, 2010

B D Finch wrote:
The answer to this should be obvious: the translations were recognised as being MT because of their poor quality!


Why would that require a different reaction or proceeding than a poor translation done by a human translator?


Also, if you look at some of the half-baked questions posted on KudoZ, it is clear that some agencies are paying the lowest possible rates and are using translators with the lowest possible skills.


So?


 

LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:16
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Sometimes translators make it obvious that they have used GT Dec 7, 2010


How much time do you waste on double- and triple-checking whether MT was involved or not?


For example, when they neglect to select the WFP option to "remove the 'MT' segment label after editing."

Of course, that can also mean that they have not edited it at all...


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:16
French to German
+ ...
Don't give me ideas, Rudolf... Dec 7, 2010

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:


How much time do you waste on double- and triple-checking whether MT was involved or not?


For example, when they neglect to select the WFP option to "remove the 'MT' segment label after editing."

Of course, that can also mean that they have not edited it at all...

Too late! You gave me one (and this is not humour...): some agencies may wish to shift to an SaaS solution, with an integrated feature to monitor progress - and to control inputs.


 

Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:16
German to Spanish
+ ...
What is wrong with using GT? Dec 7, 2010

jmleger wrote:

As a project manager, I have become aware these past few month of a new practice among some translators. Namely, we see some people trying to pass off translations made with Google translate as their own. Sometimes the copy is more or less edited, sometimes, it is serveed raw! (As if there was a chance in a million of the trick actually working). We note this particularly when we supply Word files or similarly editable copy to translators.

We have established a policy at our firm. If after a few tests of the copy we can establish that the copy went through Google Translate (in a preponderance of evidence), we inform the translator, reject the work, and cross him/her of the list of our providers for ever + 1 day.

My questions are: has anyone else noticed this? And what measures have you taken?

Should the be some sort of special official stigmata to mark these people as a danger to the profession, not to mention the clients they purport to serve? How could we sanction these people, we as a group? Are we condemned to act individually in the face of such dishonesty and lack of professionalism? If it were a question of pay I might understand it, but sometimes it's the better paid people who pull stunts like that, which is doubly infuriating.



What is wrong with using GT? One thing is trying to defraud the supplier submitting a fully automatic translation as done by oneself and the other is to use auxiliary tools which have been created for this purpose. I think there is no one translator today that do no use aids like online dictionaries and for me that's what GT is. An online dictionary, only a more advanced one, and endowed with certain regex rules to translate from one language to another.

On one hand, GT and Bing are based in part on human translation that, at least from my point of view, are perfectly correct and acceptable. And, on the other hand, we must not forget that these translations are automatically submitted as suggestion to the translator in the latest translation tools. For example, one of the latest avalaible translation tools only validates automatic translation, if GT and Bing translations match. Imho, not so bad idea..

I believe that, used correctly, GT may also have their advantages: it may save time when searching for terminology and can suggest how to reformulate a sentence, in which we have stay bloqued for some time...


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:16
French to German
+ ...
*This* is basically wrong when using GT Dec 7, 2010

*This* is basically wrong when using GT: translators are in breach of the implicit confidentiality they are supposed to guarantee to their clients.

Sharing contents with an automated, unprotected and worldwide system remains sharing.


 

Claudio Porcellana (X)  Identity Verified
Italy
simply a a lapse of memory ? Dec 7, 2010

Hello

I started this job in 2000, so I cannot be 100% sure, but I'm quite sure that some of our peers in the '80 or so, felt the same pain in the ass for CAT birth, while a few others tried very soon to take advantage of it, just like today with MT

in any case, limits of MT lie in its machine nature: a MT, as every machine (robots included), cannot work properly without a "brain behind the operation". This is why my current claim is MT + DVM + common sense sparkl
... See more
Hello

I started this job in 2000, so I cannot be 100% sure, but I'm quite sure that some of our peers in the '80 or so, felt the same pain in the ass for CAT birth, while a few others tried very soon to take advantage of it, just like today with MT

in any case, limits of MT lie in its machine nature: a MT, as every machine (robots included), cannot work properly without a "brain behind the operation". This is why my current claim is MT + DVM + common sense sparkle, and not certainly MT + monkey sparkle!

MT can be very useful for pre-translation, not for every topic and/or not for every language couple, BUT AFTER this pre-translation it's my bare brain that edits the output!

The advantage is more speed, so more productivity, so more value for the money, and I frankly can't see any different difficulties to find my own mistakes: why however?

again, machines are created by men, not the opposite, and surely they are more accurate/reliable in certain situations, medical robots in neurosurgery for example

I think they can be simply another tool of ours as PCs, electronic dictionaries and CATs

on the other hand, I agree with others, that there is a huge risk they lower the average translation quality but only if left in unskilled hands as any other machine/tool

Then, I think it's better if we master MTs (as TMs in the past), understanding their Pros & Cons, and being able to extract the best from them, as they are here to remain
(regrettably for you, I admit )

on the other hand, if you are worried about privacy instead, please consider these points:
if you use GT with SDL Studio, MemoQ or Wordfast (may be other recent CATs), for example, you send to Google ONLY the source, exactly as searching everyday for data with your browser, doing a simple Bing or Google research that 100% of translators do

so, if these tools/procedures are not forbidden by a NDA, why GT use could be forbidden?

if you use instead the Translator's toolkit, you can:
choose using the Google general memory, so feeding it with your translation
OR
choose using your own memories, that you can decide to NOT SHARE using the relevant option, so NOT feeding AT ALL the Google MT with your translation

this is what I understood, and tested, carefully reading rules and using both tools

and last but not least, if you don't encrypt your emails, forget that they will not observed by anyone (Echelon or similar pests)

cheers

Claudio

P.S. note that I was a fierce opponent of MT until some months ago, but now that I'm sure it's here to remain, I prefer to have the wave breaking just behind my PC rather than on top of me

[Modificato alle 2010-12-07 20:09 GMT]
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