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Proofreading poorly translated texts
מפרסם התגובה: lundeghe

lundeghe
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Local time: 13:52
Partial member (2016)
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Jul 14

Dear colleagues,
There is a company that has been sending to me a lot of proofreading work these days. However, I have the impression that this company is deliberately or perhaps ignorantly using a translator who is not up to the task. The texts they send to me are mostly certificates, transcripts, report cards and other documents of the same field. Most of the translations are TERRIBLE and I have to redo them from scratch.
Have other colleagues found themselves in this kind of situation before? How do I manage such situations? This company has been giving me good jobs and I value our cooperation.


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William Tierney  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:52
חבר (2002)
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Welcome to Phase II Jul 14

Dear Lundeghe,

Welcome to Phase II of your translation career. You have been identified as a competent translator, so an unscrupulous translation agency is asking you to "proofread" a translation. They pay the lowest cost possible for trash, have you "edit" it, and sucker you into providing a translation at a proofing rate.

I would suggest that you politely tell the agency to find another chump (or however you'd like to phrase it, in sparkling business terms), and add a smiley emoticon for good measure.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
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Local time: 08:52
חבר (2003)
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+ ...
A common practice Jul 14

What you describe is a common practice among certain agencies - and also a common topic of discussions in these forums.

Given that the agency you describe has been engaging in this practice repeatedly, it seems clear that it is doing so deliberately.

If these arrangements are unsatisfactory to you, then you need to insist on seeing each text to be proofread before you commit to taking on the work. You can then offer a rate or flat fee for the project that is profitable to you (i.e., based on the estimated time it will take you to "proofread" [i.e., "rewrite"] the text).

Be aware that if you assert yourself in this way, the agency may simply decide to stop dealing with you and move on to someone willing to accept their terms.


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
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Local time: 20:52
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Tell them Jul 14

"I refuse to proofread any further work from this translator."
"I had a look at the document and most of it needs to be retranslated, for which I'm going to have to charge the full translation rate. Please let me know whether you want me to proceed."

If they're in fact a decent company, they'll agree to it. Otherwise, drop them.

[Edited at 2017-07-14 17:55 GMT]


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
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Local time: 14:52
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Good jobs? Jul 15

lundeghe wrote:

Dear colleagues,
There is a company that has been sending to me a lot of proofreading work these days. However, I have the impression that this company is deliberately or perhaps ignorantly using a translator who is not up to the task. The texts they send to me are mostly certificates, transcripts, report cards and other documents of the same field. Most of the translations are TERRIBLE and I have to redo them from scratch.
Have other colleagues found themselves in this kind of situation before? How do I manage such situations? This company has been giving me good jobs and I value our cooperation.


You wrote "This company has been giving me good jobs", but also "most of the translations are TERRIBLE and I have to redo them from scratch". So, are those really "good jobs"? If you started this thread, it means you're unsatisfied with the current situation.

IMO, what you could do is either stop proofreading for them and just translate, or ask them to see the translation before accepting the job (as Robert was saying), or ask to be paid a hourly rate. I believe the first option would be the easiest (but obviously you would get less work and the agency may turn to someone else altogether), the second the most 'reasonable' for both, and the third the most fair but at the same time the most unlikely to succeed.

At any rate, I would first politely try to let them know there is a problem with the quality of the translations you're sent for 'proofreading'...


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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
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Local time: 08:52
חבר (2003)
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Proofreading Jul 15

I suggest you tell the client that you will correct grammar and spelling only. If this happens a few times, there will most likely be negative feedback from the end-client. While this may seem "passive-aggressive", it is a useful way of dealing with this situation. Either the agency will pay you for editing in addition to grammar and spelling check or they will assign the proofreading tasks to another translator.

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Rebecca Davis  Identity Verified
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Local time: 13:52
חבר (2008)
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One way of approaching this Jul 15

My standard reply to any proofreading request includes a warning that I will carefully review three sentences of the document, and if more than 25% of the terms need correcting or changing, then I will either charge my full translation rate, or turn the job down. It takes me about 5 minutes, and works remarkably well...
This agency is taking advantage of you. You might also want to suggest that they use you as the translator in the first place, and see what they say.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:52
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Talk money to the agency Jul 15

Suggset the agency asks you to translate the job in the first place. You have three good arguments:
- the job will be returned more quickly (time is money)
- your work will require proofreading, not retranlsation
- it will cost less.

Remember, apart from having to ensure a liveable income, the point of being a professional freelancer is that we are "free" to work with who we want. If these people are providing you with work that you do not like and/or work that is poorly paid, then concentrate on building up others sources of work to drop this one.

I'm back to working with agencies after having reduced my working time as a translator for a study-break. I am now back to translating and as I regenerate new direct clients, I am working with agencies, obviously at a lower rate than when working with a direct client. Over time, the agencies will be in the background and/or dropped altogether, with perhaps one exception. So don't be scared to drop a client, but make sure you prepare to cover for it if they have been giving you a fair amount of work.

[Edited at 2017-07-15 10:00 GMT]


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lundeghe
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Local time: 13:52
Partial member (2016)
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TOPIC STARTER
Proofreading poorly translated texts Jul 15

Dear colleagues,
I have carefully read through your comments. They are all very helpful.
Last week, the company sent me one of those proofreading jobs. So I used track changes to proofread the document. The number of errors was very high. For that reason, I took time to produce a clean copy. Then I submitted both copies to the PM with a short comment saying ''Il est parfois mieux de retraduire que de relire un texte mal traduit'' That was suppose to send a warning signal.
However, they sent another proofreading job with virtually the same problem yesterday. It looks like the text was translated by the same person who has been doing other translations.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:52
חבר (2006)
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Charge by the hour, not the number of words Jul 15

I always charge by the hour for "proofreading". Your time (as well as your skill) is what you're actually selling and it's impossible to know how long a "proofreading" job will take until you've done it. Most agencies won't agree to this, but some do. If they don't agree to an hourly charge, invoiced when the time spent is known, then I decline the job.
I, too, have had to "proofread" translations quite obviously done by a non-native speaker of English which took far longer to complete than a re-translation from scratch would have taken, although the PM swore blind that the translator in question was a native speaker. The translation was peppered with the kind of mistakes no native speaker of English would have made. Most annoying. I don't want that kind of job, anyway.


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Texte Style
Local time: 14:52
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How are you being paid? Jul 15

If you're being paid per word, then you're probably being ripped off, the proofreading rate will not cover everything you're doing.

If you're being paid per hour, check whether you're earning as much per hour as when translating.

I always tell clients I will be billing per hour at a rate that makes it as expensive as translating from scratch. I rarely get asked to proofread as a result, and if I have to do it for a client I don't like to refuse stuff for, at least I get paid handsomely and they expect me to be pretty thorough about it!


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Nor Afizah Thalhan  Identity Verified
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Local time: 20:52
חבר (2013)
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My way Jul 15

Hi Lundeghe,

I firmly believe that your problem is not uncommon. All of us face this once in a while. Basically, i will ensure there is transparency in the error level between me and the client (does not matter whether they are regular of first timer). I have a standard rate for proofreading (which is half of translation rate) however upon receipt of the source document, i make it a point to analyze the error level and communicate my review to the vendor/project manager. More errors>rate per word is higher than half of translation rate. But you must always justify. It is up to the project manager to accept my review or vice versa-i will only commence my job is my preferred rate is stated on P.O. The professional project managers from reputable agencies understand this and their flexibility is tremendous as they do prioritize on quality. I see myself as a partner who may assist to communicate the message, not random translator who rush jobs just to get paid with any amount. I'm not sure whether this is applicable to you but so far it worked for me.

You may take a look at how my pricing page is designed:

http://fizatranslations.com/pricing/

All the best!


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
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Local time: 14:52
חבר (2008)
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I have to do everythig from scratch... Jul 17

in my book that means :

I will charge MY normal translation rate, possibly with a surplus for good measure...


Ed


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Oksana Weiss  Identity Verified
גרמניה
Local time: 14:52
חבר (2011)
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Phase III Jul 17

William Tierney wrote:

Welcome to Phase II of your translation career. You have been identified as a competent translator, so an unscrupulous translation agency is asking you to "proofread" a translation. They pay the lowest cost possible for trash, have you "edit" it, and sucker you into providing a translation at a proofing rate.


I wonder whether I have already reached Phase III (presumably to "smell" stinking jobs even before they are landed in my inbox). Probably not, as I still diligently review all low-quality translations coming my way and send their polished versions back accompanied with a complaint and a warning that next time I shall apply the translation rate instead of the proofreading one. I always receive profusive apologies from PMs and get good quality jobs afterwards. Until some time later, usually two or three months, when I cool down and the story repeats itself...


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
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Local time: 14:52
חבר (2003)
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Go higher up the ladder Jul 18

Often mailing the PMs is a waste of time. They politely agree with you, but nothing else happens. Another PM at the same agency sends you another hopeless job...

You have to send a CC of your mail to the accounts department, or someone higher in the system if you want to be noticed. It takes time to find out who to contact, but it is far more effective.
Over the years, I have had agreements with several agencies that I would translate for them, but I did not take on proofreading/editing/reviewing.

Some agencies do not listen even then - drop them! And beware of the ones who call the task 'QA'. They tend to expect a lot of work and pay peanuts!

Charge by the hour, too. When quoting, estimate at least a third of your rate for translation, add 10-20%, and say you will give a discount if you take less time.

I am partly retired now, which means, among other things, that I only proofread/edit for a very small handful of reliable clients.
I answer enquiries, however, and tell the client what I think after a first glance at the text, and point out sometimes that it really should be re-translated instead.


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