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When is a translation project ready to be delivered?
Thread poster: Alvaro Morales

Alvaro Morales  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:06
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 6, 2009

Dear colleagues,

Since about two years I am suffering some kind of prefectionism syndrome which makes me reticent to deliver a text, even if it's ready well before the deadline.

I usually translate and proof my own texts, but lately I find rather difficult to set an end point where I can consider the text ready to be delivered.

So I re-read the text several times, run the spell-checker another few, use several QA checkers if possible, verify the format follows exactly the source... But even so I do not feel confident to deliver the text.

As expected, this leads to a virtual absolute absence of complaints from customers, but also into real dilemmas each time I have to press the "Send" button in Outlook in order to deliver a project and, I guess, a consequent loss of profitability of my job.

Anyone having the same feeling? Ideas to set a stop point where you can consider the text is ready to go? Any feedback will be very well received!

Thanks everyone,

Álvaro.


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Taija Hyvönen
Finland
Local time: 17:06
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
I know exactly what you are talking about Jul 6, 2009

For me, a translation can never be perfect. No matter how many times you go over it, there is always something you can change.

Unfortunately the only remedy I have is the deadline being so close that I have no time to look at it anymore...


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Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 17:06
Italian to Danish
+ ...
The Job Is Finished When The Client Is Happy Jul 6, 2009

Hi Alvaro,
Although a bit of perfectionist myself, I feel that it must be very difficult to live in a stage where you cannot get yourself to deliver the job.

I have learned to live with the fact that whenever you deliver a job - which you have proofread and checked in all possible ways - it is not the end of the world if a client comes back and asks for this or that to be changed. If I agree and if the required changes don't change the quality of the translation altogether, then I just implement them. And then everybody's happy!

There is no such thing as perfection. But you can do your utmost to get as close to it as possible. And then you have to let go!

Dinny


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Rod Walters  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 23:06
Japanese to English
Let it slide for a while Jul 6, 2009

Hi Álvaro,

You could try letting it slide for a while ... and that way find out how much better a bit of perfectionist anxiety is compared to customer dissatisfaction.

When that little voice says "check it again", I think it's best to heed it.

(And these habits carry over to other things. I bought a chainsaw last weekend. Chainsaws need to be checked when you hear the Voice too...)


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:06
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Obsessive-compulsive disorders can be treated Jul 6, 2009

Only partially kidding. There's a limit to everything, and if you can't see that point, then you might consider engaging a second person to review your work. You can even "sell" this as one of the steps on the road to EN 15038 compliance, but it will in any case take some of the burden off you and perhaps restore your confidence to the point where you can work in a more normal manner.

There was a period of months after a severe illness in 2006 where I was unable to work for a while, and afterward only at a snail's pace, doubting nearly every sentence I translated. If I hadn't been able to rely on an independent reviewer who assured me that except for the occasional typo things were OK, I would probably still be revising some of those texts.

The time you save by bringing another person into your workflow can also be spent doing other work, so overall your productivity and profitability may improve.

In the German forum a while back there was a long thread about "perfectionism" and the bad effects on one's health. I stayed out of that one (I think, hard to remember now) because it all seemed rather unproductive. We're in business, people. Some of us might enjoy the "suffering artist" image and cultivate difficulties where we can, but I think most have other things on the agenda or at least on the wish list, and a good cooperative arrangement with competent colleagues can be a huge morale booster and get one out of traps like that.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:06
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
When the time is up Jul 6, 2009

Alvaro Morales wrote:
So I re-read the text several times, run the spell-checker another few, use several QA checkers if possible, verify the format follows exactly the source... But even so I do not feel confident to deliver the text.


An idea: Learn to price the translation per word, then assign a certain amount of time to the word count. Then stop checking the translation when the assigned time runs out.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:06
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Bad idea Jul 6, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:
An idea: Learn to price the translation per word, then assign a certain amount of time to the word count. Then stop checking the translation when the assigned time runs out.


I know someone who does this - a very skilled translator. He has managed to ruin his reputation with this practice. However, he does not (or did not) use others to check his work. If that cost is factored into the stopping point, then I would support your suggestion.


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Gemma Sanza Porcar  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:06
Member (2008)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Translation delivery Jul 6, 2009

Dear Álvaro,

Some years ago a very good friend of mine told me:

"Las traducciones nunca se acaban, solo se abandonan".

Think about this and try to implement it to your work.

Best wishes,

Gemma

PD: but it´s normal that you lose sleep over just only one word


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:06
French to English
Was it Yeats? Jul 6, 2009

Who said "I spent the morning revising a poem and put in a comma. In the afternoon I took it out again." This is exactly the sort of thing I can do if clients give me a too-generous deadline. Good thing they don't often, deadline pressure is cheaper than Prozac.

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a05
English to Russian
+ ...
some tips Jul 7, 2009

1. stop processing when you notice that you are actually reversing some of your previous changes.
2. try to get more feedback from the customer and engage them in a discussion on translation options etc. Then you will not perceive your customer relations as a teacher-student or even prosecutor-defendant but rather as cooperation. You will no longer be the only party responsible for the quality.
3. allow more time between the completion of your translation and the checking/proofreading run. Let other jos get in between. Then you will be less passionate about petty details, because you are already focused on another topic.


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 11:06
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
Not to be a perfectionist... Jul 7, 2009

But you did not proofread your post before you hit the "post" button. You said "prefectionism". I could make jokes about prefects and how they try to be perfect prefects and that they are sticklers for "prefectionism." But that wouldn't be very nice. And anyway, I make mistakes myself.

[Edited at 2009-07-07 15:03 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-07-07 16:09 GMT]


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Alvaro Morales  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:06
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I did... Jul 7, 2009

Reed D James wrote:

But you did not proofread your post before you hit the "post" button. You said "prefectionism". I could make jokes about prefects and how they try to be perfect prefects and that they are sticklers for "prefectionsim." But that wouldn't be very nice. And anyway, I make mistakes myself.

[Edited at 2009-07-07 15:03 GMT]


Thanks, Reed! But I DID proofread it (and a couple of times)... What I did not was spellcheck it. That's actually what I meant: no matter how much you devote to a text, there are always mistakes that go unnoticed...

By the way... should "prefectionsim" be "prefectionism"?

[Edited at 2009-07-07 15:17 GMT]


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 11:06
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
Touché Jul 7, 2009

Alvaro Morales wrote:

Reed D James wrote:

But you did not proofread your post before you hit the "post" button. You said "prefectionism". I could make jokes about prefects and how they try to be perfect prefects and that they are sticklers for "prefectionsim." But that wouldn't be very nice. And anyway, I make mistakes myself.

[Edited at 2009-07-07 15:03 GMT]


Thanks, Reed! But I DID proofread it (and a couple of times)... What I did not was spellcheck it. That's actually what I meant: no matter how much you devote to a text, there are always mistakes that go unnoticed...

By the way... should "prefectionsim" be "prefectionism"?

[Edited at 2009-07-07 15:17 GMT]


Alvaro,

You are a translator and a gentleman.

Reed


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Sushan Harshe
India
Local time: 19:36
English to Hindi
+ ...
I like work, it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. Jul 7, 2009

He Alvaro,
1] You are not the person to decide the perfection level of the job.
2] For every language, in grammar there are preferential spellings and other preferential
3] At QA the other translator (prphs like me!) is trying put a hi/er stamp on it.
4] Then again you are fighting to prove yours' was correct and bla..bla..bla..

This is the process!

Do not take burden of world war!! You are responsible for it!


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:06
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
A related dictum Jul 7, 2009

Gemma Sanza Porcar wrote:
Some years ago a very good friend of mine told me:
"Las traducciones nunca se acaban, solo se abandonan".

That reminded me of a rather similar dictum, quoted, for example, here:

http://www.tamaryellin.com/pages/essay.html

"It is not your duty to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it."

Oliver


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