Translating or Adapting?
Thread poster: MillaSol

MillaSol
United States
English to Portuguese
Nov 19, 2014

Regarding the translation practice, I wonder what would be the line between researching the best possible translation for a word and the realization of a work beyond just translating.

I'm translating a software that includes a professional test from English to Portuguese. It seems to me that the research I've been doing might be pushing the limits of a typical research and becoming more like an adaptation of the test to Brazil. For example, there is a list of professions and some of them don't exist with the same name in Portuguese, so I've been researching about professions to find out what would be the closest profession for that one.

Somebody told me that this type of research is not what I was paid for and if I'm doing it I should definitely discuss about price with my client.

How can I keep myself focused only on the translation? And how can I calculate the price for it in case after the revision the client feels like there is a need for an adaptation of the test?

Thank you so much.
Milla


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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:15
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Translating or Adapting? Nov 20, 2014

I would go ahead and adapt, pointing out to the client where I have had to do so. But then again, I work in fields where mere translation is not enough, I go the extra distance because I know that what the client needs is something that will appeal to the speakers of the target language, and those speakers neither know nor care what the original text was like in the source language.

The point is mostly to turn in a text that is fit for purpose. If there is not an exact equivalent to fit into that box, then you have to either get rid of the box (that'll be the developer's job, you just need to flag the box for them to find and delete it) or you have to improvise and put something that might work equally well, or at least well enough for the entire application not to crash.

I charge a pretty hefty rate, often a flat rate for the entire project, and I factor in things like this, and to-ing and fro-ing after delivery because a client might quibble the use of a particular term ("badass" doesn't go down very well, yet you see it all over the place in texts in a similar register to what I'm translating for the fashion industry, for example) or if they feel I haven't put enough emphasis on the crucial point or whatever.
Sometimes nobody quibbles anything, in which case I still deserve the hefty rate because that usually means I have previously worked hard with the client to make sure I fully understood their brief.

I presume you have already negotiated your rate with the client? And I presume too that you don't feel that your fee covers full-scale rewriting?
If you see that the text would need to be reworked extensively, you might consider providing a translation and simply flagging parts that would need revision. This can be done by an editor rather than the translator (the editor won't be looking at the source file, just polishing up the target file).
If it's simply a matter of a handful of terms that can't be translated word for word, but in table format, so you can't bla-bla your way round the absence of an exact equivalent, then you might just suggest something that could probably work, while specifying that there is no exact equivalent. Clients do need to understand that there are rarely any exact equivalents after all.

HTH


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 15:45
English to Hindi
+ ...
Charge for your creative input and time Nov 21, 2014

This appears to be a case where the normal per word rate would be inadequate. If you are bringing in your creative energies and skills into the job, you certainly should charge for these, and usually this charge can be hefty.

Also if you are spending a lot of time on research you should charge for that too.

It might be a good idea to charge a per project fee, after taking into account all the above. It may be fairer to you than a per unit rate.

But you will have to get your client to agree to such a fee before starting work.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 12:15
English to Croatian
+ ...
Adapting vs. translating? Nov 21, 2014

The example you gave is not adapting, IMO, it's just the differences in education/legal system where professions may appear in different forms, names, etc, and it's a part of translator's education to know this (cultural and legal background, etc).

Term research is a part of translation process, you may wanna revise your per word price in that case.

Adaptation refers to style, tone, idiomatization.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:15
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It's part of normal work Nov 21, 2014

Lingua 5B wrote:
The example you gave is not adapting, IMO, it's just the differences in education/legal system where professions may appear in different forms, names, etc, and it's a part of translator's education to know this (cultural and legal background, etc).

Term research is a part of translation process, you may wanna revise your per word price in that case.

Exactly. If translation was as simple as translating the words, why pay a professional translator? Customers would simply translate using automated translation and perhaps a couple of dictionaries.

In my opinion, conveying the meanings to the code/system/customs/law/taste of the target market is all part of our expertise, and expertise is after all what we sell. If the job consists of long lists of separate unrelated terms and this means a lot of research for each of the entries, the job should have been approached on a per-hour basis, not a per-word basis.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 12:15
English to Croatian
+ ...
Yes, and there's more to it... Nov 21, 2014

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
In my opinion, conveying the meanings to the code/system/customs/law/taste of the target market is all part of our expertise, and expertise is after all what we sell. If the job consists of long lists of separate unrelated terms and this means a lot of research for each of the entries, the job should have been approached on a per-hour basis, not a per-word basis.


If it takes too much time to research, you probably accepted the job outside of your specialty field, or you came to the part of the text with a different/new area (legal/law in this case), but then you research and this is no news to a trained translator. It's also no news that you tailor your rate accordingly as you are aware some degree of research will be involved no matter what.


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MillaSol
United States
English to Portuguese
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all Nov 21, 2014

Thank you all for your responses. I'm just starting to work as a translator and all help is very valuable. I've read all the comments and I understand the different points of view. I do think I'm doing some adaptations and I'll give some thought and decide what to do at this point. Thank you, Milla

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