Category Archives: Translation

What is quality in translation?

João Vicente’s comment about people who can’t translate prompted me to open a discussion about quality.

Much has been said and written about “translation quality”. There are books, articles on peer-reviewed academic journals, blogs, and so on.

For me, quality is a well translated, well researched and well written translation. Those texts where you can’t find “the echo of the original language”. I think JV and many others share this criteria for quality.

But what about those bottomfeeders, of which we are asked to edit/revise/proofread and we find the translation is literal, spelling is lousy and syntax has taken a day off. For them, this is quality. That’s the way they learned and that’s what their market accept. Or, they don’t, but their clients just dump them without giving them any reason and they believe they are the cream of the crop of translation because they “make the translator invisible” and convey the author’s ideas verbatim. I call them “Escola de Samba da Tradução Literal” (for my English speaking friends, The Literal Translation Ensemble”).

Then, you get one these people proofreading your translation. And they claim it is of poor quality because you “did not follow the words in the original text”; you did not translate all the “pleases, yous, yours”, etc.; your “punctuation is all over the place”, and you translated “term” as “termo” and not “prazo” (when referring to the duration of a contract – in Brazilian law, it can be termo (more of this on another post). And then you have to spend a long time justifying to the PM, who does not speak your language, that you are right. Enough to blow 7 gaskets.

So, m’learned friends, what is quality?


Filed under Translation

Some translators have not made it to the 21st century

Oh my… Some translators have not realized we are in the 21st century.

I am working on a project (about 10.000 words) with files on docx and html. Imported them all on memoQ, translated e voilà. I sent the first batch to the PM and she asked me what I did to keep the html file as it was…

I was a bit surprised as I have been working with this PM for a couple of years now and she always insists I use Trados (right…). She then told me that another translator was having trouble translating the html file and asked me how I did it… I explained that I had used memoQ but it could be done with DejaVu and TagEditor. The answer was even more baffling: The translator does not have a CAT….

Well… Yesterday, she told me the proofreader was having a hard time proofreading the html file and would send me a word file with the corrections so that I could implement them. Those of you who know me well know I have a very short fuse. Before blowing a gasket, I took 5 deep breaths and sent her the memoQ bilingual rtf and asked said proofreader to use track changes there…

Talking to other colleagues, one of them mentioned that a crappy translation he refused to proofread was returned to the original translator. He got it back and was told that aforementioned translator did not use a CAT because “Trados messes with the formatting”…. (!!!)

I had a chat yesterday with Val Ivonica and we were talking about this new “trend”. Good Lord, are they so daft they can’t figure out that there is another way of doing things?

What say you, dear reader?



Filed under Translation

A new trend on the market?

First, I’d like to comment on a new “trend”, if this is the name in the translation sphere. A couple of months ago, I got a phone call from of the “vendors managers” or whatever fancy title they have from one of the big players for which I have been working on and off since 2000. Large jobs, small jobs, weird topics, a total mishmash. We always had a friendly relationship and I considered them a good and reliable client.

So, said lady wanted to discuss new rates “so that they could send me more work, as I hadn’t worked for them for some time because my rates were too high”. She sent me a lengthy email, praising their good work and stable of Fortune 500 clients, yada yada yada. The rate they were willing to pay “to swamp me with work” was 60% of I had been charging them for the last 11 years!!! I politely said No, I am not interested.  I hinted that I had lots of work at my regular rate and that I wanted to work less and earn more.

To make a long story short, since January they keep sending me work at the “new rate” and I decline them all. Now they resorted to phone calls. Again, the same answer.

To be honest, I don’t know if the PMs were informed that I don’t want to work for the new rate or if they are trying to win me over. I am standing my ground and saying NO, thanks.

If their business model is that of acquiescing to every whim of Fortune 500 companies, my business model to is charge more. The funny thing is that the other clients I work for are not Fortune 500 companies or big agencies and they are happy with my rates…

Makes you wonder…

Anyway, only this week I got an email from another large LSP asking me to reduce my price about 30% so that they could send me more work as they had detected an increase in translations into Brazilian Portuguese…. Really?

I know that the market forces and laws apply to the translation market. And I also like (and want) to pay less. But I do wonder what’s going to happen on the market – and myself, for that matter – if this trend catches on.

Better brush up other skills?


Filed under Translation