\"Innovative\" source doc
Thread poster: sylver

sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:47
English to French
Apr 22, 2003

What do you do when the author of your source document appears to be possessed by a mystic frenzy and decided to revisit thouroughly the source language, its grammar and regular ingineering concepts, past the point of non-recognition?



I mean, when every few lines contain words that either do not exist, do not have the meaning they are used for, or merely do not make sense.



Of course, I exagerate a little -no much- but what do you guys and gals do when the source doc is completely messed up?



. Translate as is?

. Query all and every ambigious sentence? (we are talking about 90%, not just a couple sentences)

. Tell the customer that you translate from regular English only and that you are not familiar with venusian slang?

. Shoot the dog?



I am open to any suggestions beside the ones I mentionned above.


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xxxncfialho  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:47
German to Portuguese
+ ...
I had one like this... Apr 22, 2003

and finished it the best I could, but I told the agency/client that the source was a mess and the translation also would be one...they wanted me to translate it anyway because the client was conscient about this....like I alredy had accepted the job I did it....but I didnt like doing it

Regards,

Natália


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Bob Kerns  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:47
Member (2002)
German to English
Don't shoot the dog !! Apr 22, 2003

I\'ve encountered this problem several times and in each case I have simply told the customer that I\'m \"not sufficiently familiar with the terminology of the source document to be able to provide a translation with my usual high quality\". That usually works.



If the job comes from an agency I tell the agency straight that the source text makes no sense; it\'s then up to the agency as to how to explain this to the end customer.



Never accept jobs like this; they\'ll only ruin your reputation in the long term. Just imagine how you would feel if your translation ended up somewhere on the Internet and was visible for all on Google or wherever. Even if nobody knows who produced the translation, you will probably have a bad consience for at least a few days. And even worse, another translator could inform the customer that your translation makes no sense. The customer could then take action against you.



Shoot the customer\'s dog instead.



Greetings from Germany.


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:47
German to English
+ ...
Usually query Apr 22, 2003

I usually query the weird English, but I\'ve never had anything that bad. I usually get a doc half in German and half in English that the author has tried his or her hand at \"to help\".



I would tell them straight out that you can\'t translate it. Better than tearing your hair out trying to figure out what they meant. Maybe it\'s actually a poorly translated doc? Tell them they should start with the original text.


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jccantrell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:47
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Agree Apr 22, 2003

I have also had to deal with such texts (could it be worse than handwritten engineering notes, written in German by an obvious non-native speaker of current German who grew up when the writing was Fraktur, and probably learned to write using cyrillic?!?!?!?!?).



I am not quite as \'blumenreich\' with my speech as Bob is. I tend to call a spade a spade. I would let the customer know, in VERY clear terms, that the German was written by a non-native speaker, contains words that do not make sense in the context and is beyond MY ability to translate accurately. Of course, the fact that I have worked in engineering for 30 years (God, has it been THAT long?), and still work in engineering, lends credence to my views.



I have found that such jobs usually come from law firms embroiled in a lawsuit where they are usually looking for the gist of the text. If that is the case, the customer should let you know, and you can act accordingly.



Another tip: Charge by the hour for this sort of job!


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:47
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Request proofreading of the source text Apr 22, 2003

Hi,

I once received so terribly written text to translate and offered proofreading and editing of source text AND translating it. The customer was very happy about it, because they did not realise how poor quality it was (and they intended to publish it!). If proofreading in the source language is not your specialty, recommend your colleague who can do it. Pure win-win situation!



HTH

Magda


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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:47
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Feel the same way Apr 23, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-04-22 12:50, ncfialho wrote:

and finished it the best I could, but I told the agency/client that the source was a mess and the translation also would be one...they wanted me to translate it anyway because the client was conscient about this....like I alredy had accepted the job I did it....but I didnt like doing it

Regards,

Natália



Very much the same situation. I already informed the agency that the doc is a piece of trash. Apparently, they were reconsidering the thing, but in the mean time, they wanted a translation for that junk and subsequent additions.



Actually, it\'s a little more delicate as the client/agency are in Asia, and I have to deal with the concept of \"face\" too.



The \"sorry, I can\'t deal with the subject\", would have been a great line, but I can\'t, having already done the largest part of that job, highlighting every second sentence. Now that they are warned, difficult to refuse to translate additions and corrections.



In regards to \"proofreading\" the source text, well, if I could understand what the original meaning clearly, I wouldn\'t have the problem in the first place, so I can\'t proofread any better then I can translate. Sure, it would be better if I just rewrote the whole thing, but when you have non consequitur sentences, you have no other option then asking or guessing. Considering this is a tech manual, Outch!

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Terry Gilman  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:47
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Can you get someone to back-translate part of the English original? Apr 27, 2003

You are in an awkward corner. Saving face (theirs) is an issue, but business losses, lawsuits or even bodily injury (what kind of \"technical\" text?) are worse.

Now that you have proceeded this far, one suggestion would be, if you know the Asian company\'s native language (I assume you do), can you/your agency find someone to do a back-translation of part of the English so that the people on the client side will understand how imprecise the wording is? (This has worked for me and other people I know.)

If it is a company, urge them to ask an English native speaker in house or at one of their sales agent\'s offices or at a trusted law firm (depending on the circumstances)to check the original text. Depending on how important the agency and agency-client relationships are to you, offer to work with the person on the client side. Good luck.


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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:47
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Haunted... Apr 28, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-04-27 15:51, Terry Gilman wrote:

You are in an awkward corner. Saving face (theirs) is an issue, but business losses, lawsuits or even bodily injury (what kind of \"technical\" text?) are worse.

Now that you have proceeded this far, one suggestion would be, if you know the Asian company\'s native language (I assume you do), can you/your agency find someone to do a back-translation of part of the English so that the people on the client side will understand how imprecise the wording is? (This has worked for me and other people I know.)

If it is a company, urge them to ask an English native speaker in house or at one of their sales agent\'s offices or at a trusted law firm (depending on the circumstances)to check the original text. Depending on how important the agency and agency-client relationships are to you, offer to work with the person on the client side. Good luck.





I wish I did speak the customer\'s language, but so far as Asian languages go, I can barely babble a bit of Thai, and that\'s not gonna cut it in Japanese.



In regards to the risk of bodily injury, I know my subject - air conditionning - well enough to avoid advising dangerous actions, and risk of legal proceedings are not really an item considering the status of source document and the fact that I did report and query unclear statements.



However, I have a feeling that my customer is merely trying to comply with the law (user manuals MUST be translated if the product makes it on the French market.) and is not very concerned about the quality, although I may be wrong about that.



Time will tell, but for now, I\'m still fighting through with \"less then perfect\" documents. :\'(



if they decide not to correct things, I will have to drop them, but to be fair I have to give them some time to correct their processes.

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