What to do when you receive a really bad TM
Thread poster: Susan Welsh

Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:21
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Jun 10, 2014

I seldom receive TMs from customers, since very little of my work is repetitive. But I just finished a fairly large job for which I was sent a really dreadful TM. The document being a regulatory ruling by a government agency, it was full of long, convoluted (Germanic) sentences and technical terms, with lots of tags. There were a very large number of TM matches of one sort or another. As a result of the bad quality, it probably took me considerably longer to translate than it would have if I had ignored the TM.

What would you do in a case like this? I have informed the PM, and am considering refusing to accept any more work from this company. It doesn't speak well for their concern with quality. But they have good Blue Board reviews from other translators, so I'm not sure.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

The Misha
Local time: 03:21
Russian to English
+ ...
This isn't your pain - at least it shouldn't be Jun 10, 2014

Susan,

I occasionally get bad legacy TMs translating games or legal glossaries full of, ahem, not particularly successful translations. Generally, they range from simply non-native to horrific. I always ask if they insist I stick to the TM or whether they want me to do it right. If they don't want me to do it right, who am I to say otherwise? It's their money and their business. I am a professional, I am only in it for money. The world is not going to end if someone doesn't want to heed my professional advice they pay for. Let it go.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 15:21
Chinese to English
Ask earlier Jun 10, 2014

Most of the time, PMs are good about this sort of thing. PMs often say to me, if the TM is wrong then just ignore or change it for us. Occasionally they'll say, "The client insists," at which point I reconsider whether I want the job! But make it a conversation with the agency early on, rather than an argument later.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:21
Member
French to English
+ ...
I agree with Phil's comment Jun 10, 2014

This is particularly pertinent for me right at the moment, as I am working on a very large job for which a TM was provided; the PM said to me gaily "You won't need to check the 100% matches, as the TM is fine and has already been validated by the client" — this was part of their excuse for driving the price lower.
However, when I came to use the TM, I found a very high percentage (about 90%!) of the supposed '100% match' TUs were in fact seriously flawed; it was obvious that many different translators of widely differing abilities have had a hand in creating this TM.
When I pointed this out to the PM, she said "Oh, well, just go with it anyway" — but there are other issues at stake here, as was immediately highlighted: I translated one initial file, so they could have it assessed by their 'Senior Translator', and it came back covered in masses of red ink — except that around 90% of that was highlighting errors from the original TM! Now just imagine if I had not said anything, and been rejected for this job on the basis of faulty translations by other translators!

I got back to the PM, and she said "Can it really be as bad as you say? Please give me some examples..." — so as I translated the next page of the document, I noted down all the 100% match, client-validated TUs that had unacceptable errors in them; my notes came to a whole page! She then threw up her hands in horro and sais "Oh well, then, you'd better carry on checking and correcting" (even though of course they are not going to actually pay me any extra for doing so!)

Like Phil says, had the PM not responded in this way, I would have had to reconsider my decision to work for this client in jobs involving this TM — I could not possibly 'bend' my own style to match the existing errors, so the result would be a translated document that was a mish-mash of inconsistent and even possibly contradictory translations.

Now The Misha has said it's not my problem, and I should just let it drop; BUT I do not want to see my name associated with sub-standard work of this nature. Imagine that someone at the client's notices the faulty translation and complains; naturally, as the last person to have handled this particular document, it is I who would be blamed for the quality shortfall — and it would take a lot of time and effort to prove that the problems come from the previous TM.

As Susan says, putting right faulty TUs as you go along can often take a lot longer than simply translating from scratch — if nothing else, there is the added step to 'delete original TU'.

So I would say any agency that supplies a faulty TM and then insists you stick to it is not a very professional agency — and not one I would wish to continue working for.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:21
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Wait for their reply Jun 10, 2014

Before rejecting this client for future projects, I would wait for their reply. I once had a very similar issue with a new client. I pointed out that the TM was probably put together, at least in part, by a non-native speaker who used some sort of machine translation. The TM was horrified, asked me to ignore the TM, actually paid me extra to proofread as well as translate and is now one of my best clients - and the TMs I now receive from them tend to be pretty good.

If, on the other hand, the next project would have had the same issue, I would probably have stopped working for them.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Domenico Trimboli  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:21
Member (2013)
English to Italian
?! Jun 10, 2014

Tony M wrote:

"Oh well, then, you'd better carry on checking and correcting" (even though of course they are not going to actually pay me any extra for doing so!)"


Sorry Tony, this is plain crazy, especially with a large job. Editing the TM is tiring and time-consuming. You should certainly be paid for this.

Just my 2 cents,

Domenico


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Wouter van Kampen
Thailand
Local time: 14:21
Danish to Dutch
+ ...
ignore with consent Jun 10, 2014

Notify the PM and get her or him to agree to translating from scratch, and - not to forget - to pay you accordingly.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:21
Member
English to French
Why wouldn't they pay you for the extra work? Jun 10, 2014

Tony M wrote:
... I noted down all the 100% match, client-validated TUs that had unacceptable errors in them; my notes came to a whole page! She then threw up her hands in horro and sais "Oh well, then, you'd better carry on checking and correcting" (even though of course they are not going to actually pay me any extra for doing so!)...

They moved the goalposts and now ask you to correct 100% matches instead of maybe just ignoring them.

One has to be very clear about the scope of a translation fee: whether it includes reading 100% or not, post-proofreading in context, validation of reviewer-/end client's edits, TM update...
After you tell them unpaid 100% matches are rubbish with a few samples, they should be grateful that you offer to correct them for an extra fee. You showed you are concerned about quality and walked "the extra-mile" rereading a sample of 100% matches for free.

If they won't pay extra, you let them know that you will therefore stick to the purchase order: use the wrong terminology from the TM, not reread the 100% matches and change the target in fuzzies only to the extent of changes in the source in order to keep consistency with wrong terminology.
But they still get more for their money: as a free benefit, they know their TM is bad, the translators they used to build it are bad, and the translation will be bad.

From my experience, agencies are always sensible when faced with such issues. They know it is better for the business to lower their margin while keeping a customer happy than the opposite. Even if the agency has already got away with delivering sloppy work ("client-approved" TM...), they may not be that lucky next time.
Bad TMs may also be the result of organisational issues, such as TM update not done after review, etc. To keep communication at a low-keyed level, it is a good idea to suggest that instead of them hiring sub-standard translators.
Tony M wrote:
BUT I do not want to see my name associated with sub-standard work of this nature....

Nobody does. If you work offline, you may be able to conceal or change your authoring name in TUs. Or they tell you that their in-house reviewer will deal with the mess, in which case fine. If you get bad feedback 3 months later from another PM, you have everything documented to show the failure doesn't come from you.

Besides, no agency in their right mind is prepared to deliver a text that they know will be flawed. They're warned, and you're on the right end of the stick. If the job is very large, the difference may be huge (because you will spend a lot of hours fixing stuff), and there comes negociation time.

Philippe


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:21
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks... Jun 20, 2014

...to everyone for your comments. I am still waiting for the PM to call me, as he promised to do, to "discuss the project." It's been a week, so I think this agency may end up in my "dead" file.

Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

What to do when you receive a really bad TM

Advanced search







SDL MultiTerm 2017
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2017 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2017 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »
Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search