How to get the best quality out of a team?
Thread poster: wonita (X)

wonita (X)
China
Local time: 22:09
Feb 14, 2012

Some time ago I completed a Chinese to German project, in team with a colleague whose native language is German. The agency asked him to do the translation, and then I should check if there was anything wrong with his understanding of the source language, and fit the problem if necessary.

So here is my question to you, dear colleagues, for a team with a native in the target and a native in the source language, how should the assignment be divided to get the best translation: who should do the translation and who should do the editing?


[Edited at 2012-02-14 16:36 GMT]


 

Johan Kjallman  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:09
Member (2008)
Italian to Swedish
+ ...
Like the client says, unless you're perfectly bilingual Feb 14, 2012

Hi Bin,

I recently did a project the way your client wants you to do it. I translated into my mother tongue, while a translator with the opposite working language pair checked that I had understood all nuances of the text correctly (there were quite a lot of references to local customs etc.). The other translator was of course also able to spot typos, missing text etc., and give alternative suggestions for certain phrases, while I had the last saying on what sounds best in my native language.
I haven't tried the other way around, but I think this method worked pretty well. If you do it the other way around, I guess the risk is that the proof reader/editor will have to do a quite a few linguistic corrections, unless the translator's knowledge of the target language is flawless.

BR /Johan


[Edited at 2012-02-14 18:20 GMT]


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
50/50 Feb 14, 2012

Just do your own portion of the task simultaneously and then exchange your works with each other to proofread. Provided that you've got a shared TM it will be very efficient, I think.

 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 09:09
Chinese to English
I agree with the way you describe Feb 14, 2012

It's absolutely crucial that you don't fall into that horrible "Chinese native translator + English/German native polisher" model that so many agencies in China try to push. It's a dreadful way to translate, and the results are invariably rubbish.

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 02:09
German to Serbian
+ ...
Backtranslation - one option? Feb 14, 2012

One of the ways to do this is for you to backtranslate his German output into Chinese, then compare it with the original source text. Of course, your Chinese version of the translated text and the original version should match in sound and meaning, while it does not necessarily imply an identical form. While doing this, you shouldn't see the original Chinese text until you have finished your version, to avoid any influence or suggestions.

This method takes more time and is more complicated, of course.

[Edited at 2012-02-14 20:30 GMT]


 

Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 01:09
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
The agency is right Feb 15, 2012

The agency's method is correct. If the translation is from language Y into language X, the native speaker of language X should translate it, and then a speaker of Y who can also read X (not always easy to find) should check it.

 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
introduce clarity Feb 15, 2012

TransAfrique, how a shared TM translation with mutual proofreading can be any worser than A-->B followed by proofreading A-B?

First, the linear approach is but a waste of time.
Second, shared documents are not for toying only.
Third, shared TM's make translation & proofreading go side-by-side.
Fourth, mutual proofreading is a very efficient device, especially when there're 2+ translators.
. . .

So, the glossary is prepared and shared, the TM is also shared, real-time checking/proofreading is available and so on. Ok, I still can wink my own errs, but how on this Earth it's possible to stay blind to others' mistakes?!


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 09:09
Chinese to English
The problem is competence Feb 16, 2012

In your pair and in my pair, DZiW, there are differences in competence between the source-native and target-native translators.

Generally, source native translators are not competent to *proofread* the target text. They can check for errors of understanding, but not for text quality.

Target native polishers (still widely used in my pair) are not competent to translate, or to check for equivalence. They will not help to catch translation errors, and often fail to produce good target texts as well, because the source-native translator produces a target text which is insufficiently clear, or does not convey the subtleties of the source text. So the polisher does not have enough to work on.

Target native translators are competent to both translate and produce high-quality target texts. Using a source-native translator and then a target-native translator is usually a waste of effort, because the source-native translator typically produces a very poor target text, which needs completely rewriting. It would be more efficient to use the target-native translator directly.

Obviously the ideal is that everyone is highly competent, and can adapt equally well to the translating or reviewing/proofreading role. But we live in the real world, and we have to work with what we've actually got.


 

wonita (X)
China
Local time: 22:09
TOPIC STARTER
Right you are Feb 16, 2012

But let's put aside this specific project, just in general, wouldn't it be better to have another translator in the same pair, native in the target, to proofread?

I've never come up to the idea to have my Chinese translations proofread by a native English/German. It's always done by a Chinese colleague.

[Edited at 2012-02-16 10:25 GMT]


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 09:09
Chinese to English
Depends on what the value of the proofreading is Feb 16, 2012

We've talked many times on here about how "proofreading" is a misleading term. The second pair of eyes in the translation process actually has a number of different roles: checking for accuracy of understanding; checking for appropriateness of language choices; and proofreading proper, finding all the little typos and other errors that can creep in.

In a language pair were there are lots of highly competent translators working in both directions, you can just tell the second translator to proofread (or review, or whatever word you want to use), and they will basically do everything listed above.

In our pair, you often literally cannot find two competent translators to work on the same project. So you work with what you've got, and you prioritise. If your priority is getting an accurate account of all the nuances of the Chinese text, I think the process you describe is the best one. It will produce a decent text (written by a native speaker), which has been a thorough meaning check.

This process probably wouldn't be good enough for publication - there, you would need a competent proofreader (maybe a translator, or maybe a specialist proofreader). So you might choose a different arrangement.

But the point is that the normal Chinese-X translating team is one Chinese native and one X native. Very very rarely do you get two X natives working on a Chinese text. Given this team, I think the process the agency proposed is the only reasonable one.


 


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