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The end of quality?
Thread poster: Robert Rietvelt

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:50
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Nov 29

I received this message from an agency:


"Hello Robert Rietvelt (ESPANED.COM)

One of our clients wants very basic translations into Dutch for internal use and is asking about some hybrid solution that would be better than simple machine translation. Since we currently do not offer such a service, we were wondering if you could give us your rates and share your experience with such services by answering the questions below:

1) Rate for Post-editing of a machine translation
2) Rate for Lower-quality “basic” unpolished translation for internal use only (not using machine translation)
3) Which tools do you find best for machine translation? What is your experience with post-editing or such lower-quality “basic” translations?
Thank you and best regards,"


Do I read this correctly (number 2), are they really asking me to make a bad translation on purpose? What are basic/unpolished translations anyhow? I wouldn't even know how to make a bad quality translation, at least not on purpose.

What is going on in our translators world?

[Edited at 2018-11-29 16:53 GMT]


neilmac
missdutch
 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Different quality levels Nov 29

Varying the quality level is not a new concept. We don't all go shopping at Harrods, fly first class or buy the best and most expensive wines.

The trouble is how to implement it in translation.

Post-MT editing is a disaster and doesn't save much time, if any.

Does the client want a draft that hasn't been reviewed by the translator or a reviewer and not spellchecked and run through QA?

The trouble is there could be errors in such a translation, whereas even if we buy discount goods or services, we still expect them to at least deliver their essential function.

[Edited at 2018-11-29 17:44 GMT]


Teresa Borges
neilmac
Dan Lucas
Vanda Nissen
José Gomes (X)
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Richard Purdom
 

Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 20:50
Member (2005)
English to German
Ideas Nov 29

Dictating to Dragon and not correcting the typos?

Getting a first-year student to do it for icecream? (or for university credits - I've seen that done with a scientific book on AI, and the outcome was atrocious. So if they want atrocious, that might be a way to get it?)

Or of course they could just read the text in the source language to start with.


neilmac
Anna Augustin
 

B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:50
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Varying the quality level Nov 29

Of course, what the client wants isn't really poor quality or "basic level" translation. What they really want is CHEAP translation. Good quality translation shouldn't be cheap, because good translators deserve to be properly paid. However, I think you should advise your agency that what their client wants can be achieved very simply; all they need to do is to employ the services of a translator offering their services for $0.03 or less per source word. They can be guaranteed that the quality will be "basic level" and that the price will be cheap. Tell the agency that you regret you can't provide that service as you only do good translations and your rates are the price for a good quality service.

[Edited at 2018-11-29 17:02 GMT]


Robert Rietvelt
Teresa Borges
Slobodan Kozarčić
Heike Holthaus
neilmac
Dan Lucas
Michele Fauble
 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:50
Member
English to Italian
"Gist translation" Nov 29

Robert Rietvelt wrote:

Do I read this correctly (number 2), are they really asking me to make a bad translation on purpose?


The concept of "gist translation" (for internal use) is not new to me, but I never actually did it. I guess you could do it by providing an unpolished and rather literal translation that basically just conveys the message, with no reread/proofreading or other QA checks and just a basic spell-check...

... but why would you? O_o


 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:50
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good point Nov 29

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

... but why would you? O_o


Why would I indeed.

Told them my official price and never heard of them again.

[Edited at 2018-11-29 17:10 GMT]


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:50
Member
Italian to English
Agree Nov 29

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

Varying the quality level is not a new concept. We don't all go shopping in Harrod's, fly first class or buy the best and most expensive wines.

The trouble is how to implement it in translation.


I don't think you can. I think it's a bit like being pregnant - you either are or you aren't. A translation is either fit for purpose or it isn't. There are those errors which get the point across but which make people laugh, which in my book = unfit for purpose, such as "The hotel wishes to inform you that due to lift maintenance work, today you will be unbearable".

Or these instructions that were doing so well.... until the last line.
etk7qeepvv9rofxjyje4.png

But do these clients want to be "unbearable", or to "expose" themselves? I doubt it.


neilmac
jfnelson61
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B D Finch
IanDhu
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:50
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I think gist is a summary translation, i.e. a good deal shorter Nov 29

Mirko Mainardi wrote:
I guess you could do it by providing an unpolished and rather literal translation that basically just conveys the message, with no reread/proofreading or other QA checks and just a basic spell-check...

Certainly we can produce less polished translations if there's both a need and the will. I actually delivered one early this week, but I asked my client not to open the file icon_eek.gif ! He'd asked for a deadline quite early in the morning for publication online just three hours later, and he stressed how important it was. I really wanted to be able to do the last proofread after a night's sleep, but I was worried about waking to a power cut or no internet connection, or even dying in my sleep icon_frown.gif . So I ended the day sending a translation that was fit for purpose, inasmuch as it was all there in English and spell-checked, but it might not have been as "marketing" as my usual translations. I did tweak it quite a bit before delivering the final version by the deadline next day and was certainly happier with it, but I'm sure the first one would have been acceptable for publication. And certainly acceptable for an internal document


Jessica Noyes
Christine Andersen
 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:50
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
"Good enough" or "Fit for purpose" quality Nov 29

Indeed, why would you?

This job probably calls for light post-editing since the goal is to achieve what is called “good enough” quality. I’d say it’s above gisting, though.

For a translator who strives for quality, I think it would actually take too much effort (and quite a different mindset) to work on delivering subpar output. You won’t get the satisfaction of a job well done.

MT Post-editing Guidelines - https://www.taus.net/academy/best-practices/postedit-best-practices/machine-translation-post-editing-guidelines

Guidelines for achieving “good enough” quality

“Good enough” is defined as comprehensible (i.e. you can understand the main content of the message), accurate (i.e. it communicates the same meaning as the source text), but as not being stylistically compelling. The text may sound like it was generated by a computer, syntax might be somewhat unusual, grammar may not be perfect but the message is accurate.

- Aim for semantically correct translation.
- Ensure that no information has been accidentally added or omitted.
- Edit any offensive, inappropriate or culturally unacceptable content.
- Use as much of the raw MT output as possible.
- Basic rules regarding spelling apply.
- No need to implement corrections that are of a stylistic nature only.
- No need to restructure sentences solely to improve the natural flow of the text.



[Edited at 2018-11-29 17:32 GMT]


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
transtranslation/essay Nov 29

Whilst my direct clients often ask me for provisional translation or synopsis just to get the idea and assess what, when, and how to translate (if at all), yet I also see requests for PEMT/"basic unpolished" translation merely as a pretext for further downshifting and forced compromising.

Moreover, I really fancy at the "humanized MT-like without MT" trends, because it's no translation


 

Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:50
Member (2005)
English to Latvian
+ ...
a start to better quality Nov 29

Have you seen anyone offering low quality services?

Even those who work at the bottom of the industry will proudly proclaim that they offer high quality translations done by real translation experts. Saying otherwise would be a business suicide.

It is difficult for a client to evaluate the translation quality and bad and cheap translators push good ones out of the market due to information asymmetry. The reputation of the translation agencies is the one thing that can provide remedy and provide trust to translation buyers.

If the agency decides to sell bad translations, it immediately loses all trust as a reputable agency. How can you know that their more costly translations are not just proofread bad ones? Why would you even want to pay more? Do you see supermarket goods from the same brand with these labels – poor quality and high quality with considerable price difference? I see some gadgets that have a price range but they clearly have different specifications that are meaningful to users.

You can say good-bye to this agency if they go forward with this plan. But it is not that bad because now another agency has a chance to establish itself as provider of higher quality translations. It might not be quick and easy and somehow depends on market needs and regulations but it will certainly happen.

I find MTPE guidelines interesting because that's exactly what many agencies require for their QA, especially the last two to disregard stylistic issues. The reason why they don't care, is because their clients don't care. It is a myth that most clients care about translation quality. In most cases they don't, they just want to sell their products and make as much money as possible. They only care when there is a competition or regulations require their products to be safe and complying to certain standards.

Pharmaceutical translations is one of the fields where there is an appearance of more interest in quality. That's not because pharmaceutical companies are more ethical or caring (they are not) but because there are strict regulations demanding to provide good, tested translations that are precise and understandable to patients and medical professionals alike.

I believe that professional translator associations should advocate stricter regulations about product translation quality. While not every instruction for use (IFU) is as critical as taking a wrong dose of medication, low quality translations have real impact on consumer experience. Consumers are not in the position to assess translation quality therefore they need to be protected from substandard IFUs. The naked truth is that majority of IFUs are really bad because most people don't read them. The problem is already at the level of source texts but poor translations only make them worse.

I hope that the obsession with machine translation/post-editing will expose the dirt of translation industry and will increase the demand for high quality work.


Robert Rietvelt
Carolina Finley
Christine Andersen
Gloria Teixeira
 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:50
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yeh..... Nov 29

Jean Dimitriadis wrote:

Indeed, why would you?

This job probably calls for light post-editing since the goal is to achieve what is called “good enough” quality. I’d say it’s above gisting, though.

For a translator who strives for quality, I think it would actually take too much effort (and quite a different mindset) to work on delivering subpar output. You won’t get the satisfaction of a job well done.

MT Post-editing Guidelines - https://www.taus.net/academy/best-practices/postedit-best-practices/machine-translation-post-editing-guidelines

Guidelines for achieving “good enough” quality

“Good enough” is defined as comprehensible (i.e. you can understand the main content of the message), accurate (i.e. it communicates the same meaning as the source text), but as not being stylistically compelling. The text may sound like it was generated by a computer, syntax might be somewhat unusual, grammar may not be perfect but the message is accurate.

- Aim for semantically correct translation.
- Ensure that no information has been accidentally added or omitted.
- Edit any offensive, inappropriate or culturally unacceptable content.
- Use as much of the raw MT output as possible.
- Basic rules regarding spelling apply.
- No need to implement corrections that are of a stylistic nature only.
- No need to restructure sentences solely to improve the natural flow of the text.



[Edited at 2018-11-29 17:32 GMT]


In general, this is not the way I work, not even close.

[Edited at 2018-11-29 18:27 GMT]


Jean Dimitriadis
 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:50
Member
Italian to English
Difficult for a client to evaluate translation quality Nov 29

Kaspars Melkis wrote:
It is difficult for a client to evaluate the translation quality


I think this is the major problem that Robert's client has. Their ultimate goal is almost inevitably to save money, but are they really aware of what the true cost of that will be? I think many believe that the same concepts apply to translation as do to wine and flights, that with different quality levels the product is still fit for purpose - when good translators know that isn't how it works, but that the following scenario is more common:

inpn0aa7n4zrdaeigtlj.png


Kaspars Melkis wrote:
If the agency decides to sell bad translations, it immediately loses all trust as a reputable agency.


I don't agree - there are some very big agencies making millions by turning out substandard work - again it comes down to the fact that people either don't want good quality, or can't recognise it.

Kaspars Melkis wrote:
I hope that the obsession with machine translation/post-editing will expose the dirt of translation industry and will increase the demand for high quality work.


I hope so too. But I'm not holding my breath.


Kaspars Melkis
Gareth Callagy
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Julia Steiner
 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:50
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
They don't want low quality. Nov 30

They're asking a good translator for a cheaper price.
That's all.

Bet if you sent it in without proofing or spell checking it they'd complain sharpish like.


Josephine Cassar
Anna Augustin
 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:50
Member (2004)
English to Italian
no... Nov 30

they are asking for a quick translation at a passable level... I would just do it quickly and deliver it without re-reading it... job done! icon_biggrin.gif

Christine Andersen
Barbara Micheletto
Richard Varga
 
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