Translator's note for client vs. translator's note for end-user
Thread poster: Bianca K

Bianca K  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:41
English to German
Jun 29, 2016

Hi all,

I am wiriting my master thesis on translation and am examining one topic in particular:

Translator's notes/comments/queries which are addressed explicitly to the client and which do not appear in the final translated version.

So far I have not seen a consistent distinction in terminology between A) the TN for the client and B) the TN for the end-user - although "translator's queries" is a term I have only seen being used for A).


How do you let your clients know about issues or questions?
I have combed through the forums here, but have mostly found discussions on situation A).

I'd be happy to hear about your experiences!
Bianca


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philgoddard
United States
German to English
+ ...
It's not really a valid distinction. Jun 30, 2016

I assume that you're using 'client' to refer to an agency. In that case, you use translator's notes, and if the agency thinks they're relevant, they pass them on to the end user.

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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 03:41
German to English
+ ...
good question - some procedure clarifications Jun 30, 2016

Bianca K wrote:

Translator's notes/comments/queries which are addressed explicitly to the client and which do not appear in the final translated version.

So far I have not seen a consistent distinction in terminology between A) the TN for the client and B) the TN for the end-user - although "translator's queries" is a term I have only seen being used for A).


How do you let your clients know about issues or questions?
I have combed through the forums here, but have mostly found discussions on situation A).

By "end user" you probably mean "end client". The first fact is that often we work directly for end clients and not a translation company / agency.

The first step in translation is to examine the document before accepting it, and if you accept it, sussing out any questions or concerns from the onset. These questions are usually put into an e-mail, or clarified over a phone call, Skype chat, etc. They don't come into the translated document (which in any case hasn't been written yet, so there is nothing to add such questions to).

If there is a translation company and their end client, then we usually ask the t.c. which passes the question on to the end client. If after doing a translation you want to alert the end client about particular things, you ask the t.c. to alert their end client. If you are working directly for the end client, then this is an easy step.

Sometimes comments do get put into a completed translation - usually while it is being examined by the end client, or the translation company, or (if there is one) their proofreader. MS Word has a comments feature which lets you put comments in a bubble to the side. When everything is done, those comments can be cleared from the final document. Even when the comments are not cleared, you can get a view of the document minus the comments, and it can be printed out that way.

hth


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:41
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Translator's note for client vs. translator's note for end-user Jun 30, 2016

A) For the Client: Separate notes for the client regarding issues with the translation. The client decides how to handle these issues.

B) For the Reader (who may not be the client or agency): Possible options include footnotes (for long explanations) or parentheses (for brief clarifications) or the addition of explanatory information to help the reader.
Examples:

Centro Nazionale di Studi Urbanistici (CeNSU)
Possible translation:
National Center of Urban Studies (abbreviated CeNSU in Italian)

Il Codice Civile....
Possible translation:
The Italian Civil Code

[Edited at 2016-06-30 22:59 GMT]


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Agnes Lenkey  Identity Verified
German to Spanish
+ ...
Two categories with reference to translator's notes Jul 1, 2016

Hi Bianca,

I mostly work for direct clients, but occasionally (5-10% of my work) for agencies to. I think there is a slight difference in these two cases.

I mean, I send my notes to the client (a direct client is my client and an agency is my client as well), but:

* If it is a direct client, I know that they do not speak the language, therefore my observations are slightly different from the ones I send to the agency, who have a proofreader who does speak the language I have translated into.
My notes to the “direct end client” are made up usually of two clearly separated parts, most of the time in a Word document or included in the message body of the e-mail itself:
Part 1 – Questions and observations regarding translation issues (formulation is not clear, there is no exact translation to this term, etc.).
Part 2 – Observations regarding orthographical errors or any other type of errors in the source text, these I send as an option to the client: if they want, they can “improve” their original text, if not, just forget about it (I send it always, even if sometimes this may be bothering for the person who redacted the text – his boss now sees that he/she has to improve his/her writing skills, but I think it is my obligation to point out errors, even if in some occasions this might even be contra-productive).

* My notes to the agency are made based on the same principles, but according to the instructions of the agency regarding all issues related to “translator’s notes” (glossaries, TMs, comments in the corresponding field/segment, observations, etc., all according to the instructions of the agency).

Like Phil says, the agency passes on the end client the notes it deems relevant (in my positive experience, the serious agencies pass on all notes), sending me the received answer afterwards. I assume, like Phil, that your question refers to “direct clients” when you say “end user” and to “agencies” when you say “client”, but to be honest I think the question must be formulated in a clearer way, so everybody can send you their answer or way of acting in these situations.

Hope this helps a little, best regards,

Agnes

@ LegalTransform: I don't know, maybe I understood the question badly, I was not sure if Bianca refers to the questions and observations we send to the client/agency vs. client/direct client, or, as you say, notes to the agency/direct client vs. notes to the end-user/reader, like in *Italian Civil Code*. To be honest, I don't know. That's why I told her to maybe formulate her question in a slightly different way.

@ philgoddard - Phil, what happened to your photo? It was nice to see you with your family, I may change mine as well, I'll make a photo with my children to add it here. Sorry if this observation bothers you in any way, it really was meant only as a nice "translator's note" with a smile.



[Edited at 2016-07-01 08:17 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-07-01 08:18 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-07-01 08:25 GMT]


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Kelly Neudorfer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:41
German to English
Comments vs. Footnotes Jul 1, 2016

I'm assuming the scenario is that I'm translating let's say a report for a company which they will then publish. If I have questions/comments for my contact in the company, I will insert a comment in the Word/pdf file. If it's a note that's important for the reader, then I will add it as a footnote.

Just as an example, let's say there's a sentence about a state government in Germany that's in a "Black/Green Coalition." For the company I might add a comment saying something like "This probably doesn't mean anything to readers in other countries. I've added a translator's note in case you want to keep it, but you could also change it to "Coalition of the CDU and Green parties"." And my translator's note would be a footnote explaining what Black/Green means. Then the company could choose to keep the translator's note and the Black/Green, or they could choose to delete the translator's note and change the text.


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Bianca K  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:41
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Clarification: end-user=reader Jul 2, 2016

Thank you everybody for your comments!
I do not have a lot of practical experience, so these are very helpful insights.

You are right, I should have expressed myself clearer:
by client I mean either direct client or translation agency, by end-user I mean the reader, who is neither client nor agency and has nothing to do with the translation workflow.


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Texte Style
Local time: 10:41
French to English
note or question Jul 4, 2016

As far as I'm concerned, any questions I may have will be asked prior to delivery.

When asking I always specify what I will do if ever the client doesn't get back to me by delivery time.

eg 'I'm not sure whether the author means "a" or "b" here. If I don't hear back by Friday, I shall presume "a".'

If the translation requires a bit of explanation in a note, then I'll write the note as if for the end client and flag it to the agency as I deliver.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
There should be no such thing Jul 4, 2016

as a translator's note for the client...

Texte Style wrote:

As far as I'm concerned, any questions I may have will be asked prior to delivery



... and I would only put a translator's note for the reader in truly exceptional circumstances (which occur about once every five years)


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Bianca K  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:41
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all again Jul 4, 2016

for all the answers.

I've used separate word documents for translator's notes, as it does make it easier to structure the comments (e.g. in table format).

@ Agnes Lenkey - the 2-part-structure seems even better, so far I've just put the comments in order of appearance.


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Texte Style
Local time: 10:41
French to English
well Jul 5, 2016

Chris S wrote:

I would only put a translator's note for the reader in truly exceptional circumstances (which occur about once every five years)



I think it depends on the type of text you are translating. It would be a clumsy device in subtitles or user manuals of course.
Mostly if something requires more explanation in the translation you should be able to work it into the body of text. However sometimes this will hamper flow, or the text won't fit in the space allowed. I try to avoid it, but I think I use it more than every five years. One or two perhaps


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:41
German to English
queries vs. notes Jul 7, 2016

Those might be good terms to use to distinguish these two very different things. Like others, I almost never use an actual translator's note. Adding or deleting a footnote can lead to problems down the line that seem to cause more trouble than they're worth. Even a parenthetical "(translator's note: ...)" is very disruptive. I sometimes have to add more detail or subtract irrelevant detail, but I just do that and it doesn't involve any kind of note.

I actually do often deliver translations that contain MS Word comments with alternative translations in those cases where the client is probably able to make a more accurate decision more quickly.
There are questions of fact or emphasis that are relevant for the translation, that cannot be resolved through research or context, and that clients or their authors can generally answer immediately. (Things might be more complicated when an agency or other outsourcer is involved as a middleman, but not necessarily.)
I insert what I consider to be the best or most likely solution into the main text (you never know if someone will actually read the comments) and I explain the situation and the alternatives in the client's language in a comment (I usually insert the term or phrase from the original text at the beginning and then list one or more alternatives and the conditions that would make them better).
It is important to be very concise and very clear in the comment, to exhaust all other reasonable options for resolving the issue, and to not end up with a whole mess of comments.

I also once had to condense an existing, published translation for its partial reprinting in another book. The translator had inserted alternatives in the main text and used slashes to separate them. However, no one ever made a selection among the alternatives and the published book contained a number of/ a few/ several alternatives every three or four sentences.

Inserting queries in the e-mail accompanying the translated file is certainly an option, but it generally seems like more work to produce a less immediately clear result.


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Bianca K  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:41
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Re: Queries vs. notes Jul 7, 2016

@ Michael Wetzel: this is the distinction I chose for my disambiguation of the two cases, too.

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