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How many mistakes are acceptable?
Thread poster: John Cutler

John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
May 6, 2009

I recently asked a fellow translator to collaborate with me on a project. The first small job I asked her to do (Spanish>French) was a 150-word text. After I proofread and spellchecked the text, I found 3 errors. One was the name of a city that wasn’t capitalized and the other two were both missing spaces between a full stop (period) and the next sentence. (I consider that an error.)

I’d like to know if there’s some acceptable pre-proofreading rate of error. Should I stick with this translator or look for another?


 

Gianni Pastore  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:10
Member (2007)
English to Italian
What about the quality of the translation? May 6, 2009

You didn't mention how good was the translation. If good, I would give her another chance.

 

Spencer Allman
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:10
Finnish to English
errors or slips? May 6, 2009

I would not regard any of those as errors but slips

Erros for me relate to accuracy (reliability), wrong grammar, poor lexical choices (e.g.collocation), elements of style and omission/addition


 

Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:10
Italian to English
+ ...
Spellchecker May 6, 2009

More important than the number of errors is that the translator clearly omitted an essential part of the quality process - running the translation through the spellchecker before sending it off. I assume that both the errors you describe would be picked up by a French spellchecker, as they are in English ones.

I don't outsource, so I don't know what I'd do in your shoes. Certainly, if it's the first time she's worked with you, I'd expect her to be super-vigilant about quality and double-check everything, so forgetting to use the spellchecker certainly doesn't inspire confidence. On the other hand, we're all human...

I don't know how capable you are of checking the quality of the translation itself, but perhaps that ought to be the deciding factor. In any case, if you do decide to carry on working with her, a friendly reminder to use the spellchecker wouldn't go amiss.

[edited to correct typing error - no spellchecker on Proz!icon_biggrin.gif)

[Edited at 2009-05-06 08:06 GMT]


 

Sandra Peters-Schöbel
Germany
Local time: 17:10
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
Ask her to use a spell checker May 6, 2009

Besides of the missing information about her quality, it seems to be errors that could have easily been avoided by using a spell checker.

Just ask her to use one next time, to avoid those problems.

It is hard to find collegues who are reliable and will help you out from time to time.
And if her quality is good, keep her working for you and train her to fulfill your expectations...

I myself have made very bad experiences with collegues who either did not deliver on time, seem to be not familiar with CAT tools and standard formatting of documents; last time I even got back a large translation in such a bad quality that the client refused to pay the full invoice amount. I was not able to save it completely, due to the lack of time (she was late in deliveryicon_frown.gif )
So I decided to keep working on my own...

Kind regards
Sandra


 

xxxwonita
China
Local time: 11:10
Kindly remind her to use spellchecker May 6, 2009

If the quality of her work is otherwise good, you should ask her to use spellchecker to proofread her translation before delivery.

The mistakes you mentioned are difficult to detect by human eyes, in my opinion are not serious enough to degrade the translator to be unqualified. She just needs some advice to be more efficient.

By the way, would you have discovered the space problem without a spellchecker?

[Edited at 2009-05-06 08:04 GMT]


 

John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The translation was OK May 6, 2009

Gianni Pastore wrote:

You didn't mention how good was the translation. If good, I would give her another chance.


The translation itself was OK. The text was quite simple to translate: no technical words, odd expressions, etc.


 

Hepburn  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:10
English to French
+ ...
There are mistakes and mistakes May 6, 2009

I would not condemn that translator to oblivion for these three errors which I would consider "light" compared with what could have been much worse: as Gianni said, if the actual translation was good, that is the main point.

You proofread it yourself and corrected those three easily corrected mistakes. Big deal! That is not enough to decide not to use the services of an otherwise good translator - which for me is the most important.

However, I would let her know, in a friendly way, that she has to be extremely careful, since you consider these errors should not have been left. Advise her to double check before sending back the file, if she wishes to carry on working with you.

By the way, who knows of an excellent spell checker? I am fed up with what is available with Word .

Claudette


 

Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:10
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
Not an uncommon problem May 6, 2009

Apparently, judging by the number of purchase orders I have received stating that a spellchecker must be used, this is not an uncommon problem. Why a translator would fail to run the spellchecker before delivery escapes me, but I guess some people get sidetracked and then forget or maybe haven't been translating long enough for it to have become part of their routine.

 

Andrew Steel  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:10
Spanish to English
Establish expectations beforehand May 6, 2009

It sounds to me like the translator neither proofread the text nor ran a spellcheck.

However, if she believed that all you wanted (or expected) was a quick first draft, then there's nothing wrong per se with the end result.

Of course, the worst-case scenario is that she believes that professional translators don't need to proofread or spellcheck their work, that proper nouns don't require capitalisation and that punctuation rules are irrelevant.


Andrew


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 17:10
German to Serbian
+ ...
All three are minor errors May 6, 2009

John Cutler wrote:

I recently asked a fellow translator to collaborate with me on a project. The first small job I asked her to do (Spanish>French) was a 150-word text. After I proofread and spellchecked the text, I found 3 errors. One was the name of a city that wasn’t capitalized and the other two were both missing spaces between a full stop (period) and the next sentence. (I consider that an error.)

I’d like to know if there’s some acceptable pre-proofreading rate of error. Should I stick with this translator or look for another?


All three errors are in the " minor" category. Especially the space after the full- stop, that's not even a linguistic error.

Yes, definitely, this applicant has scored high, if there aren't any other mistakes. I'd be concerned if I found a major mistake in such a small text, e.g. serious mistranslation, distorted meaning, untranslated empty parts of texts or alike. The space after the full-stop doesn't concern me at all.


 

Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:10
French to English
Very common May 6, 2009

John Cutler wrote:
the other two were both missing spaces between a full stop (period) and the next sentence. (I consider that an error.)

In no way am I excusing it, but I see this in my source texts every day. Every single day.
Just so you know it is not some odd idiosyncrasy of your translatoricon_smile.gif


 

Helen B  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:10
English to French
+ ...
It all depends on the type of text May 6, 2009

Leaving 3 errors (however small) in a 150-word text seems a lot to me especially in the case of a first project, where one would normally double-check everything.

As the others have said, it also shows an important part of the quality assurance process was omitted. Spellcheckers are not perfect and cannot replace proper proofreading, but they do help.

If you feel the quality of the translation was good though, why not mention the errors you spotted to the translator and give her another small project?
It will give her the opportunity to improve her work and you will be able to assess her abilities.


 

Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:10
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
2% error rate sounds OK May 6, 2009

Well lets look at it statistically,

150 words and 3 errors = 2% error rate

That just does not seem that bad to me, obviously perfect would be better, but if the quality of the translation was good I don't think a 2% error rate is bad. After all that is why documents should be proofread and edited by a 3rd party, a proofreader/editor's job is to find these small (statistically) errors and correct them.

I have done bit of proofreading and I only start worrying (because the time for the prrofreading takes as long as a new translation) when the error rate reaches around 15%. Fortunately it is very rare to go over 5%, which I consider perfectly acceptable. But that is just me.


 

liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:10
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Harsh May 6, 2009

Well,

Have you ever in your life read any piece of written text that doesn't have an error of some kind? We're all human.

The errors you have mentioned are pretty minor, IMHO.

Just explain to the translator what your expectations are and offer a bit of kindly advice.

If the translation was sound, then all the translator needs to do is polish some tiny oversights.

Hey, maybe I am in a kind mood todayicon_smile.gif

BTW, I can't help but notice that some translators expect total perfection, but do they deliver it themselves?? I try, but I know I don't always.

Liz Askew

[Edited at 2009-05-06 08:58 GMT]


 
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