Establishing a Translation Team
Thread poster: Marina Steinbach

Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:00
Member
English to German
+ ...
Mar 31, 2012

I was thinking about teaming up with a colleague.

Have you already tried this?
How is this done on the ProZ platform?

It would be interesting to exchange experiences.

Cheers,

Marina


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Your goals Mar 31, 2012

I see many different possible goals with this translation team. What are your main goals?

Some examples are:
- Being able to accept bigger jobs
- Complement each other's technical expertise with CAT tools
- Complement each other specialisations
- Review each other's translations to improve quality
- Cover for you when you want to enjoy holidays or are ill

Can you tell us more about what you would like to accomplish? Maybe the colleagues can share some ideas once we know more.


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Marila Tosi  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 17:00
English to Italian
+ ...
Also... Mar 31, 2012

...the language pairs you are interested in, the main fields you both are willing to cover and how to let people know you are a team (advertising on blog, website, ProZ profile)...

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Hepburn  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:00
English to French
+ ...
Teamwork on a small scale welcome Mar 31, 2012

I have been wishing for this to happen for a long time.
So far,and the nearest I got to it -(strange formulation indeed...) is to beg clients to put the proofreader or the translator and myself in touch so we can collaborate on the "what and why" of the remarks or changes made. I have NEVER been able to get the client to lift that mutual incognito!

I too would welcome Marina's suggestion, as far as teaming up with one or two English-French, or Spanish-French colleagues.

At this very moment I was offered to translate 20 000 words for next Monday and refused flatly. The client then suggested to split the file into two parts and I accepted. I also immediately asked her to give my e-mail address to the other translator so we can adjust any discrepancies which might arise between our choice of terms or style : no reply about that!

It is so strange that I do not get it at all. What do they fear?

However, if one or two colleagues in the English-French - Spanish French pair read this and show some interest, let's do it! And if it works, I would be forever grateful to Marina.

Hopeful is my second name...

Claudette




[Edited at 2012-03-31 07:14 GMT]


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Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:00
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
translation/revision teams at agencies Mar 31, 2012

Claudette Hepburn wrote:

put the proofreader or the translator and myself in touch so we can collaborate on the "what and why" of the remarks or changes made. I have NEVER been able to get the client to lift that mutual incognito!

I also immediately asked her to give my e-mail address to the other translator so we can adjust any discrepancies which might arise between our choice of terms or style : no reply about that!


I have exactly the same problem. It would make the whole translation/revision process so much more constructive if translators/reviewers could work together rather than in the dark. I suppose agencies are worried we would discuss rates (and the lower-paid person would insist on a rise).


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Texte Style
Local time: 17:00
French to English
lots to fear! Mar 31, 2012

Claudette Hepburn wrote:

So far,and the nearest I got to it -(strange formulation indeed...) is to beg clients to put the proofreader or the translator and myself in touch so we can collaborate on the "what and why" of the remarks or changes made. I have NEVER been able to get the client to lift that mutual incognito!

At this very moment I was offered to translate 20 000 words for next Monday and refused flatly. The client then suggested to split the file into two parts and I accepted. I also immediately asked her to give my e-mail address to the other translator so we can adjust any discrepancies which might arise between our choice of terms or style : no reply about that!

It is so strange that I do not get it at all. What do they fear?


[Edited at 2012-03-31 07:14 GMT]


I remember suggesting setting up a forum on the company website where I used to work.
I saw it as a place for the in-house and free-lance translators to discuss our work together: brainstorm termino that seemed mysterious, perhaps team up for projects and have each other proof each other, perhaps PMs could simply post translations up for grabs... a bit like here, only more intimate and specialised.

The boss freaked out: no way was he going to have them talking to each other. One might find out that the other was being paid more to do the same work, they might decide to all team up and demand higher rates together, they might even say uncharitable things about management to each other or start asking whether anyone else was having trouble being paid. Or one might be peeved to see another asking questions for a translation on a topic that they specialised in and ask why we didn't give him the job instead of the other guy. In short, just like here with Kudoz and the BB .

I did occasionally squeeze permission from him to put translators in touch with each other when a project was split between them. And I also learned to ask good translators to recommend translators when they had to refuse work: that way they already knew each other if I got both of them to share a project. I simply asked them to copy to me when they e-mailed each other so that I knew what decisions they were taking and could chip in if I saw they were discussing a term that had already cropped up in previous work.

As for being in touch with the proofreader, well the proofreader would have to be willing to justify the changes they made and exercise tact to explain why the translator was wrong.

I was lucky to work for years in-house with a proofreader who went through all her corrections with me. That took time, and we both learnt a lot in the process and achieved a standard that we both felt proud of. That company went under in 2009, prices were falling and we could no longer spend so long checking our work and still make money.

We never managed to implement the same procedure with the freelancers: a lot of them were far too touchy and refused to admit any mistakes, and some considered it a waste of time when as far as they were concerned the project was over. They were of course frightened that we might say there were too many mistakes and want to renegotiate prices. Top prize for touchiness went to a translator who told me that proofreading was unnecessary since his work was perfect, to which I retorted that the word "not" had been missing in a one sentence in his translation. What's more it was an important contract, he was a sworn translator and was going to stamp it, so my careful proof actually saved him from being attacked by the client. He was actually a pretty good translator, but we never worked with him again.

If that agency refuses to put you in touch with the other translator, I suggest making a mini-glossary of terms that crop up all over and giving it to the agency in the hopes that they will pass it on to the other translator. If, like my previous boss they are paranoid but do still want to deliver a quality translation, they might well send it on.


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Hepburn  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:00
English to French
+ ...
Not much hope then! Mar 31, 2012

Thank you for all that info and descent into the dark fears of the profession!

I am well into my long text now, but no news from the collegue who is doing the second part of the text. I am sure he/she has not been given my e-mail as I had suggested.

As it turns out, I would have loved to have a shoulder to cry on, as that text is full of boxes that WordfastPro ignore! What I am going to do with them, I do not know, but it is bound to be difficult. I suppose they are images, but I thought WordfastPro could cope with them. Well for the time being I plod on and will tackle the problem on Monday.

Have a nice week-end!

Claudette


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:00
Italian to English
ProZ.com Teams Mar 31, 2012

In case anyone is not aware, there is an established system for site Users to form teams. It is explained here: http://www.proz.com/faq/4373#4373

Searching through User profiles, it is not hard to find people in existing teams though, as I am not in a team myself, I can't comment on the recruitment process.


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Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:00
Member (2009)
French to English
Sympathies Apr 1, 2012

Claudette Hepburn wrote:

Thank you for all that info and descent into the dark fears of the profession!

I am well into my long text now, but no news from the collegue who is doing the second part of the text. I am sure he/she has not been given my e-mail as I had suggested.

As it turns out, I would have loved to have a shoulder to cry on, as that text is full of boxes that WordfastPro ignore! What I am going to do with them, I do not know, but it is bound to be difficult. I suppose they are images, but I thought WordfastPro could cope with them. Well for the time being I plod on and will tackle the problem on Monday.

Have a nice week-end!

Claudette


The only way I have found around image boxes is to either:

A) Establish beforehand that the client/agency is responsible for the DTP work to do that (I do have one monolithic client that is happy to do this work).

B) Wait until you are done with the rest of the translation, clean/save it, add text boxes either over or off to one side which describe the contents.

Courage!


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Germaine  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:00
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
Still hoping... Apr 1, 2012

Texte Style wrote:
As for being in touch with the proofreader, well the proofreader would have to be willing to justify the changes they made and exercise tact to explain why the translator was wrong... I was lucky to work for years in-house with a proofreader who went through all her corrections with me. That took time, and we both learnt a lot in the process and achieved a standard that we both felt proud of...


I have been working with a proofreader twice a year for the last six years on a particular contract and I have to say, these opportunities are the highlights of the year! It's never about being right or wrong: we know that we can learn from each other and simply both aim at delivering the best translation possible. In fact, things are running so smoothly that she also became a client at different occasions over the last two years.

Texte Style wrote:
We never managed to implement the same procedure with the freelancers: a lot of them were far too touchy and refused to admit any mistakes, and some considered it a waste of time... They were of course frightened that we might say there were too many mistakes...


That's the problem with finding a good team-mate: you need someone who is capable and confident enough to collaborate with you rather than compete, and moreover, someone who share the same values when it comes to rigour, constancy, quality, continuous learning, ethics, etc. If you are going to share work, you also need some sort of style compatibility.

Going through Proz site, you can notice profiles, Kudoz answers/comments/discussions and forum posts which are indicative of what you're looking for (or not!) in a possible team-mate. Then, send an invitation and see... Just remember that credentials and a good sale pitch from the prospect still need to be checked out where it counts: in translation samples. (I know. It's basic. But between professionals, we tend to trust and forget, don't we?)

Good luck!

P.S.: anyone specializing in juridico-finances?


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:00
Member
French to English
+ ...
Text boxes Apr 1, 2012

Drifting off topic here, and this has been covered in other threads (qv), but there IS a (relatively) easy way of dealing with text boxes in Word and Powerpoint.

There is a helpful macro called 'Werecat' that has been designed specifically for this purpose, and although sadly no longer supported by its developer, genertally works perfectly well in my experience (Wordfast Classic / Office XP)

Basically, you download the macro, install it in the same folder as for the Wordfast macro, and then enable it under 'modules and add-ins'; it then adds 2 icons to the toolbar, one for handling Word files and the other for PPT.

You open the document from which you wish to extract the text, then click on the appropriate coloured button, and a little error message asks you to wait while it processes the text. It then generates a new Word file with all the text out of the text boxes, tagged with a non-translatable style.

You then translate this document as normal (I usually extract it early on in my workflow, but only translate at the end, by which time some at least of the text may have already been added to the TM!), clean up, and then at the end, click the same Werecat button again to send the text back into its correct boxes, and hey presto! The only thing that remains to be done may of course be to 'massage' the text and formatting within the boxes, especially if your translated tetx tends to be longer than the source text.

One word of warning though: it is VITAL not to either add or delete any hard line returns (= paragraph marks) in the Werecat document, as it then loses its place and cannot re-insert the text properly! You then get a frightening error message, but with a little care, it is usually possible to find where the error is and correct it. A typical error scenario is where someone has (wrongly!) inserted a hard return (instead of a manual line break) within a text box, for a title or something, and translating in Wordfast, it invites you to "replace paragraph marks with spaces"; if you do so, make sure you mark the spot in some way, so you can go back and re-insert the hard return at that point before trying to re-insert the text.

This is a really useful little utility which has saved my life on a number of occasions — and now with OCR programs that output the converted text in text boxes, it comes into its own all over again!


Download from here:

http://www.volny.cz/ddaduc/werecat.html

[Edited at 2012-04-01 06:38 GMT]


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:00
Member
French to English
+ ...
Quite agree! Apr 1, 2012

Germaine wrote:

[It's never about being right or wrong: we know that we can learn from each other and simply both aim at delivering the best translation possible.


Yes, I think if all parties are confident and have no "axe to grind", then it can — and should — be a question of team work all down the line.

I must admit, I've had little problems in this situation, perhaps it all depends on which agencies you work for?

I did once have a problem with a proof-reader 'correcting' my work (this was for a Chinese agency) — it was immediately obvious from both her corrections and her comments that she was not a native English speaker, and when the agency eventually put me in touch with her, she did admit she was out of her depth and had been pressed into doing it.

On another occasion, a text I had written in a special style and register was 'corrected' by someone who above all clearly knew nothing about the subject (classical music, one of my passions!) — the agency was about to accept her 'corrections', which completely destroyed all the careful crafting I'd put into styling the document to suit its purpose, but when I gave them a profile of the person she had to be (just from the way she used language) and I was right the nail, they finally realized I knew what I was talking about.

Although I don't these days do too much proofing, having realized how I was being exploited by the agencies, when I do, I usually attempt to establish contact with the translator (with the agreement of the agency of course!) so that it can be a co-operative rather than confrontational exercise.

Sometimes, from colleagues' questions on KudoZ, I have been able to guess they were working on the same document as I, and we have often been able to give each other mutual support despite the agency — who have sometimes seemed relieved afterwards at our initiative!

Talking of proofing, the other day I was asked by an Indian agency to proof read free of charge a test translation they were doing to win a contract; I was promised that I would get more work out of it, as long as my rates fitted in with their budget! I thought this was a bit dishonest, and declined!!


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Prophylaxis Apr 1, 2012

Claudette Hepburn wrote:
At this very moment I was offered to translate 20 000 words for next Monday and refused flatly. The client then suggested to split the file into two parts and I accepted. I also immediately asked her to give my e-mail address to the other translator so we can adjust any discrepancies which might arise between our choice of terms or style : no reply about that!

It is so strange that I do not get it at all. What do they fear?

I think agencies know that it is best if freelancers (of any profession) do not know how much work others are getting. They do not like translators to think that they have other resources, and don't want you to be in touch with them (or they allow it very rarely) because that would reduce their freedom to assign jobs.

For instance, if you don't have any work at all but happen to know that another of their translators is very busy already but got a new job as well, you would feel frustrated that the job did not go to you. By not revealing the names of the other translators, they protect you (and them) against this kind of situation.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Indeed Apr 1, 2012

Texte Style wrote:
lots to fear!

I share your exact views on the matter.

And personally I do not want to know whether my customers have other people working for them on the side. All I want and need to know is that they are happy with my work.


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Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:00
Member
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Establishing a Translation Team Apr 6, 2012

Dear Colleagues,

Russell Jones wrote:
In case anyone is not aware, there is an established system for site Users to form teams. It is explained here: http://www.proz.com/faq/4373#4373


Russell has exactly provided the information I was looking for.
Thanks Russell and all others for sharing your ideas and experiences.

Marina


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