Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Shall the proofreader be more competent and/or more experienced than the translator?
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:33
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Jun 19, 2008

We watch sports events on TV. The most emotions we get when there are two stong and +- equal teams having an important match. Esp. when we are fans of one ore another team. This is really fine, normal, and, at least, LOGICAL.

Now let's consider this "model" for our area - two teams or two persons of +- equal "strength" have a competition, and they need not to throw a big orange ball into each other's basket - they are "fighting" for the client (not the final score). And, there are cases, when both teams are "equal", i.e. the proofreader who revises the job of the translator is on the same level of experience and knowledge of the subject comared to the translator. Do you think it is fair and logical? The worst is when some agencies give to "proofread/revise" jobs done by one translator to another translator. How these stories usually end? In many cases "that translator makes many mistakes [sorry, I really had to MARK something, esp. for the client who does not know the target language]". Why? Just to tell the client "Hey, do not give this job to him/her. You see how bad he/she is? So many things to be CORRECTED [like "till" into "until", and similar]. You'd better give this job to ME". All in all - do you think it is fair, professional, and, at least logical, that a translator gets revised by a proofreader who is not more professional/experienced that the translator? I am not even speaking of "vice versa" situations, when the translation is revised by an unqualified proofreader and when a text before proofreading is better then AFTER proofreading.





[Edited at 2008-06-20 09:11]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:33
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Couple of issues Jun 19, 2008

MariusV wrote:

We watch sports events on TV. The most emotions we get when there are two stong and +- equal teams having an important match. Esp. when we are fans of one ore another team. This is really fine, normal, and, at least, LOGICAL.

Now let's consider this "model" for our area - two teams or two persons of +- equal "strength" have a competition, and they need not to throw a big orange ball into each other's basket - they are "fighting" for the client (not the final score). And, there are cases, when both teams are "equal", i.e. the proofreader who revises the job of the translator is on the same level of experience and knowledge of the subject comared to the translator. Do you think it is fair and logical? The worst is when some agencies give to "proofread/revise" jobs done by one translator to another translator. How these stories usually end? In many cases "that translator makes many mistakes [sorry, I really had to MARK something, esp. for the client who does not know the target language]". Why? Just to tell the client "Hey, do not give this job to him/her. You see how bad he/she is? So many things to be CORRECTED [like "till" into "until", and similar]. You'd better give this job to ME". All in all - do you think it is fair, professional, and, at least logical, that a translator gets revised by a proofreader who is not more professional/experienced that the translator? I am not even speaking of "vice versa" situations, when the translation is revised by an unqualified proofreader and when a text before proofreading is better then AFTER proofreading.




The first issue: Are the translator and the proofreader actually competing with each other? That's not supposed to be how it works. Often, an agency doesn't provide the names of either the translator or the proofreader to the end client. (And the end client doesn't get the original pre-proofread version or the changes either.) Under those circumstances, you'd have one anonymous player competing with another.

Second: Am I to understand that the translations should be done by less experienced/professional translators and that experienced/professional translators are supposed to clean up the resulting mess? That's a recipe for having low bidders do the translation for someone else to clean up. Or perhaps have experienced translators be tasked to clean up MT.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:33
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yes Jun 19, 2008

Yes:

1. Competing. Instead of doing each other's work. This is what I wanted to discuss about. And anonimity does not matter (esp. when there is an agency/PM in between).

2. It does not mean that the translation shall be done by someone "inferior" and the revision by someone "superior". Both can be good, but I am speaking about the general principle that the proofing shall be done by "an old wolf" of translations (a very experienced translator) or a professional technical specialist of the area having a high knowledge of BOTH languages (not just "an experienced translator"). Otherwise it turns into a soccer game between two linguists for the Client's Cup.

[Edited at 2008-06-19 23:31]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:33
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Teamwork is key Jun 20, 2008

I can not support this idea of competition. I do a lot of translation work, and I do a lot of proofreading/editing work.
As a proofreader I have never seen me in a competitive role with the translator. Teamwork is key in our business. Why should I compete I earn at least the same amount of money per hour when proofreading and and proofreading is a good chance for me to improve my translation skills. If the original translator is really good, I can learn more elegant constructions if the translator is bad, I can learn what errors can be made.
If there are errors in the translation, I correct them, hoping that another proofreader will do the same with the errors I introduce in my corrections. If a translation is good, I tell the client/agency hoping that I will get more proofreading work from this translator (because this is a kind of easy money and often fun/interesting to read)

As a translator I always hope that there is a proofreader who will do his/her best to improve my translations. If I'm given the chance to get the feedback from the proofreader I can see where I still do have weaknesses.

In my experience there is a very small chance that the proofreader does not positively try to improve my work.

In summary
a) there is no competion, but teamwork
b) it is not a game, and there exists no Client's Cup
c) it has nothing to do with emotions, it is business



[Edited at 2008-06-20 04:29]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:33
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
errr... Jun 20, 2008

Dear Sigrid, fairly speaking, I do not quite get it:

In summary
a) there is no competion, but teamwork
TRANSLATION BUSINESS, LIKE ANY OTHER BUSINESS HAS A COMPETITION AND THERE ARE UNFAIR COMPETITORS LIKE ANYWHERE ELSE.

b) it is not a game, and there exists no Client's Cup
IT IS JUST AN ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE - BUTTER-FINGER PROOFREADERS DO EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO SHOW THE CLIENT HOW "HARD" THEY WORKED, and if the translation of one translator is revised by another translator who is not very fair, there is a pressure for the jobs from that client - that revising translator who is NOT more competent than the translating translator just wants to find any possible (not real) faults.

c) it has nothing to do with emotions, it is business
I WOULD LIKE TO SEE YOU IN A SITUATION when you provide a decent translation and some monkey proofreader inserts some 10-12 CRITICAL ERRORS in a page of translations, say, some technical materials, where such errors can be fatal + states that he/she CORRECTED the translation. Would you really say "it has nothing to do with emotions, it is business"? And would not be willing to fight for your professional self-esteem, or, at least, to prove that you are not a donkey for the client who responds "Sorry, but we do not know the target language"???

All in all, did you have in mind that the proofreader shall NOT be MORE COMPETENT than the translator??? I understand that the function of proofreading is to IMPROVE the text and notice some errors (if any skipped by the translator). So how can one then IMPROVE the text if he/she is on the same competence level with the translator??? How can you say "this is wrong, this shall be improved, this shall be considered" if you are not MORE/ENOUGH competent for that?





[Edited at 2008-06-20 05:00]

[Edited at 2008-06-20 05:01]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
The Misha
Local time: 03:33
Russian to English
+ ...
Teamwork is highly overrated Jun 20, 2008

Dear Siegrfried,

Whether you like it or not, it's a sad fact of life. Someone in a team is always slacking, and you are usually the one holding the bag as a result. Otherwise, why are most of us freelancing?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:33
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Been there, done that Jun 20, 2008

Someone in a team is always slacking,.....


and sometimes it is me, and I'm grateful if someone helps out


Otherwise, why are most of us freelancing?


There are many reasons, and one that should not be underestimated is, that some of us do have strong narcistic personalities that make them bad team players.

Yes, I do react emotional too, but I would never call anybody a "monkey proofreader" or consider myself being a "donkey for the client".

This discussion reminds me of the times when I started working as an anaesthesiologist, when I had to learn that even the most unexperienced nurse assistant on the ward and the cleaner do have an important job to keep the system performing optimally. Therefore I'm claiming "been there, done that". I have been the arrogant "as.....e" often enough, as an anaesthesiologist and later again when I started in IT and translation. And in every situation, I "at least I hope I did" did learn that the team is always better than the individual.

Regarding the "competition discussion", yes, you guys are right, there is a competition and I even often refer to it as "there is a war going on, in this industry". The difference is, in my opinion that I try to compete in this "war" as part of a team, not just as an individual.

If you can, watch the film "A beautiful mind". In one scene there is a beautiful explanation how Nash (a famous mathematician) discovers a important strategy to be successful. Highly recommended.

Siegfried


Direct link Reply with quote
 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 08:33
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Who is the monkey? Jun 20, 2008

Siegfried Armbruster wrote:

Yes, I do react emotional too, but I would never call anybody a "monkey proofreader" or consider myself being a "donkey for the client".

... I ... did learn that the team is always better than the individual.

Regarding the "competition discussion", yes, you guys are right, there is a competition and I even often refer to it as "there is a war going on, in this industry". The difference is, in my opinion that I try to compete in this "war" as part of a team, not just as an individual.


Indeed. I find the emotional hand-wringing over the relative levels of skill a bit out of place. I've seen my share of useless "corrections" (where the client has been wise enough to include a final review by the translator in the workflow), but unless I'm seriously sleep-deprived I try to deal with these rationally, document any potential problems and then let it go. (However, I will admit extreme impatience when a British proofreader is used for an EN-US text and the text comes back marked up with "corrected" British spelling and punctuation.) Even a rather hopeless job of proofreading usually contains some useful suggestions. The most important thing, I think, is proper feedback and discussion of any potential changes. If changes are made without consulting me and these are wrong... oh well. I archive all my delivered jobs, so if someone comes back later and tries to sue me (as has happened twice to one colleague), I can show what the source text provided was and what I delivered for a translation.

We've already had the discussion about "competition" in other threads, and my thoughts on that are documented well enough in public that I probably seem more than a little arrogant. But I don't think it's particularly productive to refer to someone as a monkey because he or she makes a rather ignorant suggestion for a change. If the client (agency?) is unfamiliar with the target language, in the end the suggestions from the person who gives the greater impression of mature competence will probably be adopted. That may not be the person using the word "monkey".


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Maria Chudova  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 09:33
Member (2008)
Spanish to Slovak
+ ...
let it go Jun 20, 2008

Labas

I do not agree that the proofreader MUST be more experienced, because "otherwise it turns into a soccer game between two linguists for the Client's Cup." The proofreader is just offering a different look, seeing what the translator could not see because he (or she) was too involved... naturally, if he is more skilled, it is good.

Yes, it is always more difficult with "small" languages as Lithuanian or Slovak - I recall one czech working in a french institution, who always questioned my or my colleague´s translations from french for that institution - without realizing that Czech and Slovak are two different languages and not all solutions can be just copied. Sometimes I argued, cited dictionnaries and examples from Google, sometimes it was easier just let it go,adopt his translation, because both were valid. And - sometimes I had to admit that he was right. But yes, he was an annoyance and I understand your anger.

I think it is more a question of personal honesty and integrity, than a question of skill, to correct objectively, without doing unnecesary overwork meant to harm another.

But I believe that honesty is much better on a long term than "competiveness".

Let it go. If you have an opportunity to argue for your translation, do it, but don´t let the anger to cloud your mind.

Regards, Maria


Direct link Reply with quote
 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:33
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hail the Proofreader? Jun 20, 2008

Well, from the last two posts it seems that some simplification to the topic should be made (I see that I have probably expressed myself in a too much "complicated" way).

All in all, I wanted to discuss one important issue - whether the proofreader has to be more competent than the translator.

About those "monkeys" - I did not have ALL PROOFREADERS in mind. I had in mind those incompetent proofreaders (not proofreaders in general - it seems more than clear) - those "monkeys" who, instead of improving, and possibly, correcting/noticing some human factor errors in the translation text, simply destroy the translation when the text AFTER proofreading is WORSE than BEFORE the proofreading?

Can there be a discussion and team work in a situation when the proofreader inserts school grammar mistakes - discuss the grammar issues? To give the best impression? On what, for what purpose? Is it the work of the translator to prove something he/she does not have to prove, provide evidence that the translator went to school, let alone to prove that the proofreader really INSERTED mistakes? Can a person who translates/revises birth and death certificate translations, does not know the area (or even grammar) be competent to work in a team, of, say, a translation project in organic chemistry? A normal work in a team can be possible when the specialists of it are competent. ALL competent.

P.S. Couldn't we simply discuss ON THE TOPIC? Not about the issues who is arrogant, how and where one made some very smart posts, who is and who is not a narcistic personality?



[Edited at 2008-06-20 09:05]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 08:33
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Fits Jun 20, 2008

MariusV wrote:
About those "monkeys" - I did not have ALL PROOFREADERS in mind. I had in mind those incompetent proofreaders (not proofreaders in general - it seems more than clear) - those "monkeys" who, instead of improving, and possibly, correcting/noticing some human factor errors in the translation text, simply destroy the translation when the text AFTER proofreading is WORSE than BEFORE the proofreading?


I think you miss the point, Marius. Of course some proofreaders are not qualified to "correct" certain texts, and sometimes the results of their work are pretty awful. There may be a number of reasons for this. But I think the best response is simply to document this incompetence objectively, cite appropriate references, examples, etc. and let the work speak for itself. There's no reason to pitch a fit and call someone a monkey or some other name. If the client can't see the fur and the tail after a sober explanation of why the proofreader made hash of things, that's his problem. You've done your best, documented the issues, and when the customers start making rude remarks about the messed-up translation, you'll be on record as having given an appropriate warning.

I have noticed, however, that some of the strongest reactions to corrections come from those who are least able to understand their own mistakes. This phenomenon is explained rather well in a research paper by Kruger and Dunning:

http://www.apa.org/journals/features/psp7761121.pdf


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:33
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
You can always choose to be part of a team or not Jun 20, 2008

Can there be a discussion and team work in a situation when the proofreader inserts school grammar mistakes - discuss the grammar issues? ......Is it the work of the translator to prove something he/she does not have to prove, provide evidence that the translator went to school, let alone to prove that the proofreader really INSERTED mistakes? Can a person who translates/revises birth and death certificate translations, does not know the area (or even grammar) be competent to work in a team, of, say, a translation project in organic chemistry? A normal work in a team can be possible when the specialists of it are competent. ALL competent.


I give you two examples:

a)
I did a EN-DE translation in the automotive area for a chinese agency. So far so good. After a few days, I got several comments from the proofreader who questioned several terms and sentences in my translation, I started very politely to answer each query, but soon got the feeling that something might be wrong here. A little bit later I discovered in Kudoz questions, where a person asked if you could translate certain terms this way or if a better term existed. Funny enough, it was my translation that was discussed there. I had a look at the proofreader's profile and found to my astonishment that he/she was native in Englisch and Malayan, and that he/she did not even mention German as working language. I informed the agency, that I'm not going to accept this, got fully paid and never worked for this client again

b)
I was offered a proofreading job yesterday, consisting of a Excel list consisting of terms that where supposed to be surgigal instruments. It turned out, that the end customer decided to separate e.g. the adjectives from the nouns (to decrease the number of words that need translating) and sorted the resulting list in alphabetical order before it was sent to the agency. After I told the agency, that this approach will result in GIGO I was told that the 19 translators and the 18 proofreaders for this project had no problem with this task. I still decided not to join this "temporary" team.

In most other cases, either as a proofreader or as a translator the final product always benefitted from the contribution of each person involved.

What I want to say is, it is our decision to join/build/leave a team, but at the end the team approach will in my opinion produce better results.



[Edited at 2008-06-20 10:28]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:33
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It depends who and what you are proofreading for Jun 20, 2008

I always reckon I am working 'in the team' with the translator when I proofread. There is so much work in my pair that competition is not a problem - the more really good translators we can train up, the better.

When I started out in translation (in house), I learnt an enormous lot from proofreading. The translator was responsible for terminology, I was told, so I did not have to worry about that. My job was at first to cast native English eyes over technical and legal work done by Danish subject experts.

I was looking for things like typos, collocations and the odd danicism. The language was often quite stereotyped, and very specialised, so it was more important to get a subject specialist to translate than a native speaker.

The results in these cases were impressive. I would usually call the translators and tell them about my suggestions, then listen to their comments and explanations if any. I learnt to tell them one or two positive things I had found first, and then they were willing to listen to criticism (if it was justified), even from a rookie like me! I made some really good friends that way. It is a pleasure to pick up ideas from real experts and see how the job should be done.

I have also been very grateful to others who have proofread for me and pointed out mistakes or suggested improvements before my work was sent to the client. No one is perfect, after all.

With more training and experience, I have done my share of 'proofreading' - or revision - for clients who think they can write English, beginners, and Danish subject specialists who may or may not be trained translators. Here the quality varies from really professional to abysmal... depending on who has done the job and other factors. Some should really not be allowed to translate, while others can improve with time, good advice and practice.

If the translator is an expert, it may be hard to find a proofreader who is better. But a less expert proofreader can still catch typos and learn from the process.

It is also a question of who is available... and the proofreader's approach.
A translator is human, and therefore never too experienced to have work proofread. It may be difficult to find a more experienced proofreader - and luckily not necessary. But a proofreader who is willing to learn can benefit from doing the job... and may even be able to improve the translation a little.



Direct link Reply with quote
 

Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:33
German to English
Necessary nuisance Jun 20, 2008

I got a piece of work back yesterday where someone has been very liberal with changes. Looking over it I noticed that one change was wrong and the sentence no longer made sense - maybe the proofreader had been in a bit of a hurry. As a result I had to check all the other changes carefully, which took another half an hour (which I didn't get paid extra for), and found only a couple of changes which were actually better than before (and no actual mistakes). That sort of thing can be rather irritating, but it's usually made up for by the next proofreader who simply improves your text.

It's interesting to hear that some people get quite so upset by this sort of thing, though! Or maybe it's just Marius's extravagant use of capitals that makes him sound so outraged? I don't see it as competition at all, so it's rather sad to think that my changes might be seen by others as nasty jostling for attention.

I have no idea if "my" agencies take the time to pore through the translations and proofread versions; I rather doubt it. If they look carefully, they will probably see that certain proofreaders add more changes than others, rather than that certain translators' work gets more changes. And they will surely realise that they usually aren't able to judge if they are seeing an over-eager proofreader or a careless translator.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:33
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
Thank you for being positive ;) Jun 20, 2008

Anne and Christine, excellent inputs, great learning for someone like me, a relative beginner. Unfortunately I rarely get the chance to see the proofreading of my own translations, only if there is trouble

I learn a lot myself when I proofread, I really try to take note of how other people translate.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Shall the proofreader be more competent and/or more experienced than the translator?

Advanced search







Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search