using parallel documents -- is it advisable to tell clients?
Thread poster: xxxjeantrans

May 1, 2013


I recently got some feedback from a client's proofreader for a translation I did for them.
The proofreader made quite a lot of comments, most of which I thought were subjective and did not improve the quality of the translation. I found a parallel document for the file to be translated, which appeared to be the official version. While I countered most of the proofreader's comments with my own comments, my question is: is it advisable to let the client know that the parallel document was used? I would appreciate any thoughts or comments.



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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:54
Chinese to English
Yes, don't hide sources May 2, 2013

Ultimately, nothing good is going to come of hiding what you do from clients.

First, a general point: you say the proofreader's comments didn't make the translation any better, but did they make it worse? If not, then you don't have to change them back. You certainly don't have to defend yourself: a proofreader is not passing judgement on your work! If the proofreader hasn't positively damaged the document, just accept the changes. Clients like linguists who work well together. If you want to, you can add a comment saying, "These changes are all acceptable, though many of them seem to me to be unnecessary."

Second, yes, tell your client about your sources. Either (a) they'll be glad you found and used an official version, and will think highly of your research skills; or (b) they dislike the official version, which is why they wanted it retranslated, and they'll tell you to avoid it, so then you'll be able to serve them better. They won't suddenly turn around and say they're not going to pay you because a translation exists after all! There's no downside to being open with clients about our processes (as long as they're good processes).

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
par for the course May 2, 2013

jeantrans wrote:

The proofreader made quite a lot of comments, most of which I thought were subjective and did not improve the quality of the translation...

This happens all the time. This - and my fragile ego - is why I prefer not to know if any changes are made to my translations once I've delivered them. Occasionally there might be some justification for the changes or some improvement, but in general I just find someone picking over the bones irritating.

Apart from that, I agree with Phil, it's usually best to be upfront with your customers.

[Edited at 2013-05-02 10:22 GMT]

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thanks May 3, 2013

Hi Phil and neilmac,

Thanks very much to both of you. You both more or less summed up my own feelings on the subject. It is still nice to hear from freelance translators though. You helped me feel more at ease about it. Phil, thanks for your suggestion on how to phrase things -- which I put to good use. I went ahead and told the client, but as of yet have received no reply. Hopefully no news is good news .... I appreciate both your comments,


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