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How much to charge for proofreading?
Thread poster: MikeMcG58
MikeMcG58  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:22
Member (Jan 2017)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mar 19, 2008

I have recently been given a 43 page workbook that was translated from English to Spanish using a Babel Fish type program. The translation is terrible. It is too literal. It deals with oilfield safety practices. I have looked it over and it needs a great deal of reworking.

How much do I tell the client I would charge? What is a reasonable rate to quote for proofreading it? By the word or by the page?

I need an answer quicklyy. Please email me if possible at mikemcg58@windstream.net


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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:22
Member
French to English
+ ...
By the hour Mar 19, 2008

Hello,

I always charge proofreading by the hour. You should however inform your client that the translation is horrible and that it will require a lot of reworking.

You could calculate whether your per-word translation fee would be more fair to the client (i.e. would it be faster just to re-translate entirely? This could be easier for you also).

I've never had a problem with clients accepting a per hour rate for proofreading and if you search the fora a bit, you'll find that a lot of people work this way - it's fair for both customers and editors/proofreaders.

Good luck!
Jocelyne


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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 12:22
English to Swedish
+ ...
That's a well known trick! - Don't fall for it! Mar 19, 2008

CHARGE YOUR NORMAL TRANSLATION RATE!

***********************
Sven Petersson
Medical translator
Website: www.svenp.com
***********************


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:22
English to French
+ ...
For what it's worth... Mar 19, 2008

In case of a terrible machine translation, the only two options I would envisage are either charging my full translation rate per word or to refuse the job altogether. I doubt this will help you, but this is honestly what I would do. If you accept a terrible machine translation, you are asking for trouble - you may well end up being paid only two dollars per hour in the end. Moreover, the proofreading of machine translation is not only a practice that should be discouraged - it should be fought vehemently.

Look up the term "machine translated" in the forum search and you'll find plenty of arguments that support the above.

All the best!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:22
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Are you crazy? Charge more! Mar 19, 2008

Sven Petersson wrote:
CHARGE YOUR NORMAL TRANSLATION RATE!


No, charge more, because translation is easy compared to what you're gonna have to do here. In translations, you have some hope that you don't have to guess about every other sentence, at least.


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:22
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Flatly reject proofing - offer to translate from scratch Mar 19, 2008

Hi Mike,

Judging by the description you gave, I'd flatly reject the proofing assignment since it appears impossible to achieve anything reasonable on the basis of the MT text. Instead, I'd make an offer to the client to translate the source document from scratch, quoting your usual translation rate. When doing so, make sure to convey a clear message to the client that this will cost them less than the tedious proofreading/editing job (which should be charged by the hour anyway).

Steffen


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:22
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Agree entirely with Steffen Mar 19, 2008

It would be far too much extra and unnecessary work to sort out a load of rubbish, and would take at least three times as long as translating it. The result would still be less satisfactory in the end.

Astrid


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Maria-Carmen
Local time: 11:22
English
Ask the client what they want you to do Mar 19, 2008

Hello,

My advice for you in this case is to ask the client what they want you to do with the text: check it for blunt mistakes or re-work the whole text entirely.

Make them aware that the translator didn't do his/her work properly and that the proofreading in this particular case would take much longer than usual. Ask them how much time they want you to spend on the text and let them know that this will affect the quality of the final work.

Charging per hour is the best idea when it comes to proofreading, as is agreeing with the client on a number of hours you would need for the task. Always keep in mind that clients usually work against budgets, so if they are to pay you more than they planned for, they will probably have to pay the translator less than agreed. Which would only be fair in this case.

Good luck with your work.

Carmen


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:22
English to German
+ ...
There is a technical term for this kind of job Mar 19, 2008

"turd polishing

An engineering term referring to the process of examining a product, process, or system for defects, fixing the defects, then repeating as new defects appear, instead of re-engineering the solution with fewer defects."

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=turd%20polishing



My apologies in advance to the moderators as this kind of language may be considered inappropriate. A translator colleague taught me this one...


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 12:22
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Oilfield SAFETY procedures by MT???? Mar 19, 2008

I'm sorry to say, but all you can do is to tell them they are insane and they risk human life. Do the search on machine translation and its usefulness either on this fora (plenty of first hand info) or generally on Internet and don't touch this job!

Magda


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Claudia Digel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:22
English to German
+ ...
Run away as fast as you can Mar 19, 2008

Hi Mike,

I agree with what others have said, you should charge at least your translation rate if not more for this kind of work.

However, if the client really thinks that they can save money by running the text through a MT tool and having it proofread afterwards, they are probably not willing to pay properly for this job in the first place.

My advice is to run away as fast as you can - not only from this job but also from all future jobs that might come from the same client.

Best regards,
Claudia


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Evangelia Mouma  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 11:22
English to Greek
+ ...
I agree with Claudia Mar 19, 2008

First because proofreading a mess is more than difficult and second because if there is the suspicion that your client used an MT for such a translation and played a trick by asking you to proofread it, then can you trust him?

Best,
E.


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Nikolaj Widenmann
United States
Local time: 04:22
Member (2007)
Danish to English
+ ...
It depends who the client is Mar 19, 2008

To me it would depend on who the client is.

End-client.
If you are translating this directly for an end client, you might be dealing with someone who is not a language professional. They may have tried to cut corners by using a machine translation and assumed that it would just be a matter of "fixing a few things here and there." In this case, you may want to politely educate them on the inadequacies of machine translations and then offer to re-do the translation from scratch at your normal translation rate, as suggested by some of our colleagues.

Translation agency.
Of course, if your client is a translation agency, then they should know better. On the other hand, if the PM does not read Spanish, he/she would just send it off to you without further scrutiny. Depending on your past experience with them (if any), you could either offer to translate the source text at your normal translation rate or reject the job all together.

Good luck.

[Edited at 2008-03-19 15:25]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:22
English to French
+ ...
MT Mar 19, 2008

You can tell your client this: if MT was so good, you would be out of work because I doubt there is one translator in the whole wide world who can match the price of MT, let alone beat it.

You can also tell him that the only real use of MT is to help understand a website or e-mail written in a foreign language when time is of the essence. It goes no further. Publishing MT translations is the same as selling a house with a foundation made of paper. The first person who will enter the house will die on the spot.


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MikeMcG58  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:22
Member (Jan 2017)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I knew it was MT Mar 19, 2008

Evangelia Mouma wrote:

First because proofreading a mess is more than difficult and second because if there is the suspicion that your client used an MT for such a translation and played a trick by asking you to proofread it, then can you trust him?

Best,
E.


I knew he was using MT. TThat's why I approached him about the job. I saw one workbook he had already published and the very first word was wrong. I was horrified when I saw the rest of it.

I asked him to give me electronic copies before he published any more. Fortunately it is self publishing and no publisher laid out money to produce these work books.

One example: it is oilfield safety. The title was Well Service Safety Training. The MT translated it "well" as in "I feel well" it was not even close to what the name was.


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