Your Translating Experiences- communication, client expectations, difficullt clients etc
מפרסם התגובה: Marijaflora

Marijaflora
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May 22

Hi everyone,

I am new to Proz and would like to become a Translator. I speak Serbo-croatian and English at a native level, and also can read Russian.
I have not undergone any formal training yet however. I have only completed a few translation jobs thus far, and I feel now that I should get lots of advice + undertake study before trying to translate as I'm not yet at a place to be a professional translator.

My lack of experience was brought to my attention in a ha
... See more
Hi everyone,

I am new to Proz and would like to become a Translator. I speak Serbo-croatian and English at a native level, and also can read Russian.
I have not undergone any formal training yet however. I have only completed a few translation jobs thus far, and I feel now that I should get lots of advice + undertake study before trying to translate as I'm not yet at a place to be a professional translator.

My lack of experience was brought to my attention in a harsh way by my last client. The job was to translate a University personal statement letter into English & I was advised to keep the meaning in tact but at same time make it sound more professional in English.
I clearly misunderstood the brief as I made approx 25 % changes to the wording to make the letter sound more polished in English (in essence editing it).
Short story, the client was VERY unhappy, stated it was "very awful", changing the wording was not allowed, & basically berated me (borderline abusively) that I shouldn't be doing such work unless I could do it with "dignity".
I didn't offer him revisions as I didn't feel he was open to them.

Sorry for the long story, but to avoid anything like this happening in the future I'm wondering would experienced translators mind to help me by helping with the following questions about their Translating experiences please?

* How to know if a client wants literal or non-literal translation?
Everything that I have read has stated that Translating must be NON- literal but when I provided a non-literal translation to this client he was very angry. How do you read each client to know what they truly want?
A client making a statement like "keep the meaning but polish the text" can be somewhat subjective. How does a Translator know to what degree they should polish/edit -
i.e. 5%, 10%, 20%, 50% etc?

*How to communicate to a high level to avoid miscommunications or potential client dissatisfaction?

*Have you ever experienced clients who were dissatisfied, or angry clients, or generally any bad experiences and how did you manage them?

*Do experienced Translators ever make any mistakes or is it expected to have no mistakes?

*Do you have different "rules" when translating different types of documents?
How "creative" can you get with your wording? I am now afraid to at all, still fresh from the awful experience with this client...

Eg: if the translation was for Website Localization and translated literally to:
"Nexxus company- is the foundation on which our attitude to life, people, and ourselves is built. It has an amazing ability - it changes life for the better and will certainly lead to success. We know that for sure!"

Clearly, of course the wording would need alot of changes to sound professional and consistent to an English speaking market. But what if the client doesn't like your "version"?
Does this become the translators failing or is it that the clients expectations are unreasonable, or does it come down to "creative differences"?

*Any other advice you would have for a newbie to Translating?

Thankyou,
Marija


[Edited at 2020-05-23 14:12 GMT]
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AMARILDA RUCI  Identity Verified
אלבניה
Local time: 19:40
חבר (2019)
מאלבנית לאנגלית
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
You always remain faithful to what the source text conveys May 22

Dear Marijaflora,
What I have learned from my 14 years of experience as a translator is that you must remain faithful to the source text. There are 3 phases in translation. In the first one you try to translate the source into the target language just like you are interpreting and don't mind the mistakes. In the second phase, you have to go back and read through it, i.e proofreading if your target texts flows well and if you have remained loyal to the original text. What can flow well in
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Dear Marijaflora,
What I have learned from my 14 years of experience as a translator is that you must remain faithful to the source text. There are 3 phases in translation. In the first one you try to translate the source into the target language just like you are interpreting and don't mind the mistakes. In the second phase, you have to go back and read through it, i.e proofreading if your target texts flows well and if you have remained loyal to the original text. What can flow well in one language does not necessarily mean that it will flow well into the other. You need to do a lot of browsing for terms, idioms while in this phase to ensure the original text is conveyed into the target text, and have remained intact. After finishing this phase, do not return back to it for at least one, two or three days, thinking of what you could have done better. In the last phase, you try to give your last touch just like a painter who wants to unveil his art picture to the audience. You read it out loud, figuring out what your audience's review would be, becoming as such your own critic of the material.
There doesn't exist any accurate formula on the percentage you talk about. You have to remain faithful to the original text. If the source text is literal than the target text should be literal too. Always remain faithful to your original text.
Kind regards
Amarilda
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Aline Amorim
Oliver Urošević
 

Marijaflora
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Thnaks Amarilda May 23

Thank you Amarilda for your answer and support.
How you ever had any situations where the client did not like how you worded a translation?

For example if translating a business website, and the literal translation text was
"our company is a company built on trustful and honest relationships with partners and employees."
and you reword it as:
"our company is a company based on honest and open relationships with our partners and employees".

Wha
... See more
Thank you Amarilda for your answer and support.
How you ever had any situations where the client did not like how you worded a translation?

For example if translating a business website, and the literal translation text was
"our company is a company built on trustful and honest relationships with partners and employees."
and you reword it as:
"our company is a company based on honest and open relationships with our partners and employees".

What if the client get mad and states that you have changed the meaning?
Can it sometimes be the case that the client doesn't understand or won't accept that what sounds good in the source language doesn't always in the target one?






[Edited at 2020-05-23 12:14 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-05-24 08:47 GMT]
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Marijaflora
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translation May 23

Also, are there any places online that show examples of what it is considered good translation work and what is considered poor translation work?

[Edited at 2020-05-23 12:14 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-05-23 12:15 GMT]


OLUWASEYI OTOKITI
 

Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
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Local time: 19:40
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xxx May 23

All translations should read is if originally written in the target language.
Sometimes this can be done with a near-literal translation, sometimes it takes a great deal of work and rephrasing.
Various tradeoffs need to be weighed depending on the type of document youre translating.

Marijaflora wrote:
*How to communicate to a high level to avoid miscommunications or potential client dissatisfaction?

Not always possible if the client hasn't any previous experience of ordering translations.
Sometimes you just have to look at the objections and take it from there.

Marijaflora wrote:
*Have you ever experienced clients who were dissatisfied, or angry clients, or generally any bad experiences and how did you manage them?


Only a handful in many years. Sometimes because of proofreading mistakes or (rarely) misunderstandings on my part, mostly because of differences of opinion. In the latter case I've never encountered a client with completely unreasonable expectations - usually there's a point to the criticism, although I can't always agree.

Marijaflora wrote:
*Do experienced Translators ever make any mistakes or is it expected to have no mistakes?


We do make mistakes, usually misunderstandings of unfamiliar subjects. But with enough research it's usually possible to avoid outright mistakes. Copy errors are another matter - they occur and are hard to avoid.

Marijaflora wrote:
*Do you have different "rules" when translating different types of documents?


Sworn translations should err on the side of caution, and prioritize completeness and clarity rather than nice language.

Marijaflora wrote:
How "creative" can you get with your wording? I am now afraid to at all, still fresh from the awful experience with this client...


95% of clients just want a good, readable text that captures the essence (and all the facts) of the original, without any fanciful additions. Other than that, you should be free to juxtapose or extract subclauses, sometimes whole sentences, use native idioms of a quite different character, very occasionally suppress or alter little bits of information that have no equivalent etc.

Marijaflora wrote:

Eg: if the translation was for Website Localization and translated literally to:
"Nexxus company- is the foundation on which our attitude to life, people, and ourselves is built. It has an amazing ability - it changes life for the better and will certainly lead to success. We know that for sure!"


That's copywriting, always a matter of opinion. The translation should be expressed in a style that sounds natural, interesting and appealing to the target audience. Not all translators are natural copywriters - and not all customers understand that dealing with translators is different from dealing with ad agencies.

Marijaflora wrote:
*Any other advice you would have for a newbie to Translating?

Be aware of what you don't know.


[Bearbeitet am 2020-05-23 12:49 GMT]


OLUWASEYI OTOKITI
Philippe Etienne
 

Marijaflora
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experiences May 23

Thanks so much for your thorough and informative response @joakim
Its very helpful!


 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
גרמניה
Local time: 19:40
חבר (2016)
מאנגלית לגרמנית
The worst clients are those who "half-know" your target language May 23

The first rule as a freelancer (of any profession) is to give the clients what they want. If you don't do that, you will simply fail.

That said, it can be tricky to find out what clients want, and it might sometimes be necessary to educate clients about certain things. For example, it can be very useful to give the client an assurance that you know what you are doing: by asking smart questions, by checking out their intentions, by proposing certain solutions and explaining reasons.<
... See more
The first rule as a freelancer (of any profession) is to give the clients what they want. If you don't do that, you will simply fail.

That said, it can be tricky to find out what clients want, and it might sometimes be necessary to educate clients about certain things. For example, it can be very useful to give the client an assurance that you know what you are doing: by asking smart questions, by checking out their intentions, by proposing certain solutions and explaining reasons.

English as a target language can be particularly tricky, I suppose, because many clients have at least a working knowledge of English and might start bickering about things with their half-knowledge. I would assume that this problem will not occur much with Serbocroatian. I don't have this problem much with German, but even with German you sometimes have people who translate your result back with Google and start whining about certain terms you used, without really knowing what they are talking about. Normally, with some patient explanations, you can give the client confidence that you know better.

Of course, there is also the remote chance that the client is right and you are wrong. This can happen easily if the client is an expert in the subject matter and you are not. In such cases, you need good research and you need to make yourself familiar with the subject matter, ideally before you deliver the first draft. Also, do not hesitate to ask clients about context, technical details, and again, intentions. Asking (smart) questions does not make you look bad, it shows the client that you want to do it right, and gives them confidence in you.

A good translation does not only convey the actual content, it conveys the intention of the original text into the target language in a way the author would have written it if they were native in the target language. If the result of your translation is correct but long-winded and boring, check if the original author intended it to be long-winded and boring...
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Marijaflora
Sheila Wilson
Oliver Urošević
neilmac
 

Marijaflora
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experiences May 23

The other thing, with this client, is that as he didn't like my copy-writing/how I had embellished the translated text (which in hindsight I should not have), from this moment on, I lost his confidence in other matters.
Specifically, what I'm referring to is that he mentioned that he had my translated text reviewed by another native English speaker and was advised that my work had spelling mistakes.
However, I am 150% confident that there were no spelling errors, and I had had the fi
... See more
The other thing, with this client, is that as he didn't like my copy-writing/how I had embellished the translated text (which in hindsight I should not have), from this moment on, I lost his confidence in other matters.
Specifically, what I'm referring to is that he mentioned that he had my translated text reviewed by another native English speaker and was advised that my work had spelling mistakes.
However, I am 150% confident that there were no spelling errors, and I had had the file reviewed by two people before sending it to him and also had put it through Grammarly checker. I sent him a screenshot of the Grammarly check of my file showing that there were no spelling errors and I explained to him that there were some spelling differences for some words depending on whether you use American English or British English, but despite this evidence, I got the sense that he still did not believe me.
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Marijaflora
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thankyou May 23

Thank you @kay-viktor

I think this was part of my problem. I believed that asking too many questions about context and intentions would make me look bad.

"...it conveys the intention of the original text into the target language in a way the author would have written it if they were native in the target language.........."

Ironically though, where I went wrong with my bad experience is that I genuinely believed that they would not have written the letter th
... See more
Thank you @kay-viktor

I think this was part of my problem. I believed that asking too many questions about context and intentions would make me look bad.

"...it conveys the intention of the original text into the target language in a way the author would have written it if they were native in the target language.........."

Ironically though, where I went wrong with my bad experience is that I genuinely believed that they would not have written the letter the way it was translated if they were a native English speaker, so in essence I took it upon myself to copy-write the text, making it sound more professional and refined, wrongly believing that they would be happy.
I guess I should have realized though that while that may be the case when it is a website translation, for something like a Uni motivation letter, which is more personal, by editing too much, they might perceive their "voice is being taken away"?
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Tina Vonhof
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Local time: 11:40
חבר (2006)
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Changed the meaning May 23

Marijaflora wrote:

Thank you Amarilda for your answer and support.
How you ever had any situations where the client did not like how you worded a translation?

For example if translating a business website, and the literal translation text was
"our company is a company built on trustful and honest relationships with partners and employees."
and you reword it as:
"our company is a company based on honest and open relationships with our partners and employers".

What if the client get mad and states that you have changed the meaning?
Can it sometimes be the case that the client doesn't understand or won't accept that what sounds good in the source language doesn't always in the target one?



[Edited at 2020-05-23 12:14 GMT]


I'm sorry this happened to you, it was wrong of the client to become abusive. Most of the time clients want a translation that remains faithful to the original wording. But you need to make sure before you accept the job that you know what is required of you. Take this as a learning experience and you'll soon get better at both communication with clients and translation itself.

In this case, indeed, you have edited the sentence and it is definitely an improvement. If you had been asked to edit, it would have been fine but in a translation, you should preserve the original wording as much as possible. Even when you are asked to edit a text, be careful because the writers are not always open to critique, even when they have asked for it. Make only the most necessary changes initially and suggest to the client that you could do more if they wish.

Do not even think at this point about doing anything but general translations. Take a year or two to ease yourself into translation, learn as much as possible online, from proz.com webinars, and by reading a lot. If you can, work with a proofreader you trust for the first little while. Most of all, be realistic and honest with yourself about what you are capable of and decline jobs if you feel you don't have the necessary knowledge or experience. There is a fine line between a challenge and a disaster.

I'll send you via your profile a document explaining the difference between translation, revision, and editing, that may be helpful.




[Edited at 2020-05-23 16:20 GMT]


Marijaflora
 

Marijaflora
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Tina May 24

Thank you very much for the advice Tina.

[Edited at 2020-05-24 08:56 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-05-24 08:58 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
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Local time: 19:40
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Repetition a nono May 26

Marijaflora wrote:


For example if translating a business website, and the literal translation text was
"our company is a company built on trustful and honest relationships with partners and employees."
and you reword it as:
"our company is a company based on honest and open relationships with our partners and employees".

What if the client get mad and states that you have changed the meaning?
Can it sometimes be the case that the client doesn't understand or won't accept that what sounds good in the source language doesn't always in the target one?




[Edited at 2020-05-23 12:14 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-05-24 08:47 GMT]


In my opinion, "our company is a company" is a terribly redundant and clunky way to start the translation of the phrase. The rest of the sentence doesn't seem too bad initially, but perhaps the client was wanting a specific mention of "trust", which is a bit of a buzzword nowadays in business, especially in certain sectors like online finance (https://www.enisa.europa.eu/topics/trust-services)

Regarding your second question, yes, clients can be obtuse, blinkered and stubborn, but as the saying goes, "the customer is always right"... And it's usually a waste of time trying to educate them.


Marijaflora
 


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