Bad termbases / glossaries
Thread poster: Ditte Duclert

Ditte Duclert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:19
Member (2011)
English to Danish
+ ...
Sep 6, 2019

Hi,
Over the years it has happened a number of times: a client has a termbase / glossary that is riddled with errors and spelling mistakes. Usually the end client appreciates the heads up, we correct the terms and continue. But from time to time the end client insists (for whatever reason) on using the terrible glossary even upon being notified of inconsistencies and/or glaring errors.

What do you do in these instances?

I mean, I want to respect the end client's
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Hi,
Over the years it has happened a number of times: a client has a termbase / glossary that is riddled with errors and spelling mistakes. Usually the end client appreciates the heads up, we correct the terms and continue. But from time to time the end client insists (for whatever reason) on using the terrible glossary even upon being notified of inconsistencies and/or glaring errors.

What do you do in these instances?

I mean, I want to respect the end client's wishes, but as a translator it just hurts my eyes (I am sure you understand...).

Your thoughts would be appreciated
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Heike Holthaus  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:19
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
Deliver with a translator's note Sep 6, 2019

I would document that I made the client aware of the error(s) by delivering with a translator's note detailing the error and a better solution. Sending this as a ZIP file might prevent a "I didn't get the note" response in case of a dispute.

Morano El-Kholy
Teresa Borges
Andy Watkinson
 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:19
Member
English to French
My stance: the customer is king Sep 6, 2019

Ditte Duclert wrote:
...What do you do in these instances?

I cover my backside: I state the facts, provide examples, warn about potential implications on climate change and world trade, but deliver what they want.

There may be compelling reasons to stick to wrong/inconsistent terms and my job description doesn't include insisting about questioning reference material.

I don't feel bad at all about it. As a translator, I've seen much worse than dodgy glossaries.
If they realise they want things fixed, all the better.

Philippe


Joe France
Fiona Grace Peterson
Kay Denney
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:19
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Damage limitation Sep 7, 2019

I think all you can do is grit your teeth and do what the client is paying you for. Make sure your views are clearly stated in writing, of course.

Deliver and then part company with the client.


Teresa Borges
Josephine Cassar
Christine Andersen
 

DZiW (X)
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Although a client is always right, is their boss really sure? Sep 7, 2019

I mean deliberate* usage of bad/wrong terms is not much different from subversive PEMT for it's a sabotage. BUT WHY--authority, information, or time? Profanity.

However, if the price is ok, one could agree--providing they officially* will never mention the name and will have no claims on the translator.


 

Ditte Duclert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:19
Member (2011)
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Sep 7, 2019

I appreciate your thoughts. I think sending the note in a zip file with the return file is not a bad idea - then I have definitely covered my backside. I had not considered that.

 

Keijo Sarv  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 20:19
Member (2015)
English to Estonian
Other Dec 8, 2019

It always puzzles me how can any translator accept the task of compiling a glossary if he/she has no necessary knowledge about the subject, so that he/she just invents some random nonsense instead of using the well established and officially used terminology (and even doesn't bother to check available dictionaries about that particular field). Inadequate grammar skills are another issue as well.

When dealing with bad glossary, I generally inform the client about the issues and bring
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It always puzzles me how can any translator accept the task of compiling a glossary if he/she has no necessary knowledge about the subject, so that he/she just invents some random nonsense instead of using the well established and officially used terminology (and even doesn't bother to check available dictionaries about that particular field). Inadequate grammar skills are another issue as well.

When dealing with bad glossary, I generally inform the client about the issues and bring few examples. If following the glossary is strictly needed, I correct typos in translation at least.
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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 19:19
Russian to English
+ ...
It depends on how bad it is Dec 8, 2019

If the translations client insists on are ungrammatical, stylistically poor, obsolete, don't match the language variant (e.g. American expressions in a British English text), etc., I will use them but will probably raise my rate.

On the other hand, if the requested translation is outright incorrect, there is no way I will use it. It's a huge liability issue which I will never accept.


 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:19
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
I refuse Dec 9, 2019

How often do you receive good TM's or TB's?

I had once a Japanese client who insisted that I would use their glossary, which was full of nonsense written in a language that looked like Dutch, but I still don't know where it is spoken. The result was a unreadable text, but the client was happy. When they came along with the sequel, I told them to look for another translator.

My target language is Dutch, not crap. I don't sell nonsense, but quality.

[Edited at 2019
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How often do you receive good TM's or TB's?

I had once a Japanese client who insisted that I would use their glossary, which was full of nonsense written in a language that looked like Dutch, but I still don't know where it is spoken. The result was a unreadable text, but the client was happy. When they came along with the sequel, I told them to look for another translator.

My target language is Dutch, not crap. I don't sell nonsense, but quality.

[Edited at 2019-12-09 11:25 GMT]
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Kay Denney
Katarzyna Slowikova
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:19
Member (2018)
French to English
. Dec 9, 2019

Keijo Sarv wrote:

It always puzzles me how can any translator accept the task of compiling a glossary if he/she has no necessary knowledge about the subject

In my experience, it's the client, rather than a previous translator, who is responsible for the glossary. And their boss worked in a London pub for six months, so that obviously trumps my entire childhood living and learning in the UK, and my 20+ years of experience in translation, and my master.


Christine Andersen
Laura Kingdon
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:19
Member (2018)
French to English
. Dec 9, 2019

Robert Rietvelt wrote:
I had once a Japanese client who insisted that I would use their glossary, which was full of nonsense written in a language that looked like Dutch, but I still don't know where it is spoken. The result was a unreadable text, but the client was happy. When they came along with the sequel, I told them to look for another translator.

My target language is Dutch, not crap. I don't sell nonsense, but quality.

[Edited at 2019-12-09 11:25 GMT]


Yup, I feel your pain. Reminds me of when I was trying to make a client understand that it's not because Word doesn't underline his French word when he sets the language to English, that the word means the same in English. I gave him several examples of the word I was suggesting instead, but he insisted that he had seen his word somewhere. He ended up sending me a link to a website translated from Italian. I told him that if he wanted his text in Globish, that I was not the right person to review his text. There was a deafening 2-second silence, then he harumphed and asked for more examples. Since he was paying me by the hour, I happily came up with a dozen, several of which I lifted from the websites for the US and UK federations in his industry. I also sent a screenshot showing that I had searched for his term on both those websites, with 0 search results.

He not only acknowledged that I was right, he even took me to a very swank restaurant once the book was finished, to thank me for all my input.


Christine Andersen
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 19:19
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
If you can convince the client you are right, they will respect your judgement in future Dec 9, 2019

There are two things to do - either drop the client and find better ones, or convince them you are right, which might be well worth it in the longer term.

When I worked in-house, a highly diplomatic colleague used to deal with complaints, and I learnt a lot from him. He usually tried to convince the client we were right, because the agency did not want to lose too many clients, and needed to keep up its good reputation.

On the rare occasions when someone had made a mist
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There are two things to do - either drop the client and find better ones, or convince them you are right, which might be well worth it in the longer term.

When I worked in-house, a highly diplomatic colleague used to deal with complaints, and I learnt a lot from him. He usually tried to convince the client we were right, because the agency did not want to lose too many clients, and needed to keep up its good reputation.

On the rare occasions when someone had made a mistake, my colleague apologised, calmed the client down and found a solution. But he kept statistics, and about 95% of complaints were not in fact over errors. He sometimes found another solution anyway, which saved the client's face, but he always explained that there was a good reason for whatever the translator had written in the first place.

Clients ended up pleased to see that we really knew what we were doing, and felt they had learnt something.

That was in the last century! (Only just, but still...). These days some clients think they - or their machine translations! - are infallible, and if that is the case, grit your teeth, deliver what they want, and move on.

However, there are still clients who will accept an explanation, and it IS worth the effort to give it to them. They will come back to you and be far less likely to question your judgement in future.
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Katarzyna Slowikova
 

Ditte Duclert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:19
Member (2011)
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Dec 10, 2019

Thanks for your thoughts. I agree, that it is worth the effort, particularly when you are working with a long-term end client.

I also agree that oftentimes it probably isn't a previous translator, but rather something done in-house by someone who doesn't really have a clue…

But yes, we need to cover our backs and make sure we deliver proper work, so thanks for your input and suggestions!


 

Miroslav Novak
Local time: 19:19
Polish to English
+ ...
Errors complicate life Jan 17

Bad terminology may mean errors or awkward choices. Errors are obvious and easy to correct. Awkward choices may need customer's consultation.

Leaving things as they are won't help. The customer will continue using bad knowledge. The translator will get used to substandard work. Both may get along. But the market is increasingly pursuing quality. Other translators will go that way, too.


 

Katarzyna Slowikova  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:19
English to Czech
+ ...
Freelancers are FREE to refuse! Jan 29

I'm surprised that nobody really recommended to ditch a client who pushes the translator to lower their standards in this manner.
May I remind you that contrary to employees, we're our own bosses and don't have to work with people that do not respect us. If the client insists that their crappy glossary/TM takes precedence over all our experience and language expertise, we can and should refuse the job. If the client, for whatever reason, wants a substandard translation, they'll surely (and
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I'm surprised that nobody really recommended to ditch a client who pushes the translator to lower their standards in this manner.
May I remind you that contrary to employees, we're our own bosses and don't have to work with people that do not respect us. If the client insists that their crappy glossary/TM takes precedence over all our experience and language expertise, we can and should refuse the job. If the client, for whatever reason, wants a substandard translation, they'll surely (and sadly) find plenty of translators willing to deliver it.
By accepting all and any demands by clients, no matter how absurd or misinformed, we're further eroding the respect for our profession. Have some balls, people!!!
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Christine Andersen
 


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