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NEVER ask the client
Objavljivač niti: Daniel Frisano

Daniel Frisano  Identity Verified
Italija
Local time: 09:47
Član (2008)
engleski na italijanski
+ ...
Apr 2

Now I've finally seen this big old piece of wisdom one too many times: when you can't figure it out, ask the client.

No wonder translators are seen as a bunch of inepts with no decision-making abilities, and consequently no negotiation power. Why, they can't even get their job done without help from those who are paying for that job!

Remember, we're supposed to provide linguistic advice, not ask for it.

Never ask the client, ever. Make your ch
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Now I've finally seen this big old piece of wisdom one too many times: when you can't figure it out, ask the client.

No wonder translators are seen as a bunch of inepts with no decision-making abilities, and consequently no negotiation power. Why, they can't even get their job done without help from those who are paying for that job!

Remember, we're supposed to provide linguistic advice, not ask for it.

Never ask the client, ever. Make your choices, explain the reasons if needed, and let them know that their material is safely in the hands of someone who knows what e is doing.
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Adriana Sandru
 

Liviu-Lee Roth
Sjedinjene Američke Države
Local time: 03:47
rumunski na engleski
+ ...
It depends . . . Apr 2

Daniel Frisano wrote:

Now I've finally seen this big old piece of wisdom one too many times: when you can't figure it out, ask the client.

No wonder translators are seen as a bunch of inepts with no decision-making abilities, and consequently no negotiation power. Why, they can't even get their job done without help from those who are paying for that job!

Remember, we're supposed to provide linguistic advice, not ask for it.

Never ask the client, ever. Make your choices, explain the reasons if needed, and let them know that their material is safely in the hands of someone who knows what e is doing.



In my field of work, official correspondence in criminal matters, if I notice a mistake or something is unclear, I am REQUIRED to notify the client and ask for clarification. So far, I received only thanks from the client, no complains.

Best,
Lee


Elena Doroshenko
Rachel Waddington
Novian Cahyadi
Kirsten Larsen
Thomas T. Frost
expressisverbis
P.L.F.Persio
 

Heike Holthaus  Identity Verified
Sjedinjene Američke Države
Local time: 03:47
Član (2012)
engleski na nemački
+ ...
I strongly disagree Apr 2

I strongly disagree with your statement. In fact, I have gotten positive feedback on asking questions more than once, e.g.

"Her thoughtful questions ... helped assure that the translation was only of the highest quality"

It is, however, important to know WHEN and HOW to ask questions, and to do so only after you have exhausted all of your other options.


Christine Andersen
Kay-Viktor Stegemann
texjax DDS PhD
Elena Doroshenko
Wolfgang Schoene
Rachel Waddington
Novian Cahyadi
 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Nemačka
Local time: 09:47
Član (2016)
engleski na nemački
Not all questions are created equal Apr 2

The trick is to ask smart questions only, to solve dumb questions on your own, and to know the difference.

Elena Doroshenko
Morano El-Kholy
Wolfgang Schoene
IrinaN
Rachel Waddington
Novian Cahyadi
Kirsten Larsen
 

Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
Velika Britanija
Local time: 08:47
Član (2014)
holandski na engleski
+ ...
100% disagree Apr 2

Good translators ask questions. Being afraid to ask questions is a sign of a translator who is out of their depth.

Obviously, do your research first and don't bother your client with questions you should be able to sort out for yourself. But communication between a translator and their client is key to a good translation.


Elena Doroshenko
Matthias Brombach
Morano El-Kholy
Wolfgang Schoene
Novian Cahyadi
Sabrina Bruna
Thomas T. Frost
 

Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Holandija
Local time: 09:47
engleski na holandski
+ ...
Late Apr 2

I think you're one day late with this advice...

Rachel Waddington
 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
Sjedinjene Američke Države
Local time: 03:47
Član (2003)
španski na engleski
+ ...
I generally agree, but... Apr 2

...the caveats suggested in previous responses are in order.

Sometimes, requests for clarification prior to beginning a project are advisable simply to cover yourself (i.e., to assure that the client or PM does not tell you that you need to make extensive changes after you have turned in the translation).

I would not think that such communications are evidence that the inquiring translator is either a nincompoop or brain-dead....


Novian Cahyadi
P.L.F.Persio
Barbara Carrara
expressisverbis
Mervyn Henderson
Teresa Borges
Wilsonn Perez Reyes
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Holandija
Local time: 09:47
Član (2006)
engleski na afrikaans
+ ...
We all essentially agree with you, I imagine Apr 2

Daniel Frisano wrote:
Now I've finally seen this big old piece of wisdom one too many times: when you can't figure it out, ask the client.


The wisdom that you should learn is that the translator is the final person who is responsible for ensuring that the translation is correct. (Except in agency-like or team-project-like situations where there is a hierarchy of checks and balances.) This means that if you don't the answer to something, and you can't get away with fudging it, you MUST find out what the answer is... and the client is often a good point of contact for that. Not always, though: the client trusts the translator to know when not to ask questions from the client.

No wonder translators are seen as a bunch of inepts with no decision-making abilities, and consequently no negotiation power.


I don't think there is necessarily a correlation. However, the further the client (or the person that the translator deals with) is from the text, the more difficult it may be for the translator to act with the required decisiveness. This isn't necessarily so, but it is good for translators to be aware that one *can* lose one's grip on the "negotiating position" of the situation when complacency sets in.


Baran Keki
Mervyn Henderson
Chiara Foppa Pedretti
 

Sadek_A  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:47
engleski na arapski
+ ...
..... Apr 2

There was that British copywriter who hurriedly delivered a brief, generic piece on Arabic poetry, originally in English to be translated into Arabic, for a low-profile periodical. In the middle of that piece she wrote that "Arabic poetry is big". Inside her head the idea was presumably clear, but only to her; to others, there was no context before or after to indicate what she meant by big. Is it big for varied, great, difficult, unreachable, etc.? These were all valid replacements for her "big... See more
There was that British copywriter who hurriedly delivered a brief, generic piece on Arabic poetry, originally in English to be translated into Arabic, for a low-profile periodical. In the middle of that piece she wrote that "Arabic poetry is big". Inside her head the idea was presumably clear, but only to her; to others, there was no context before or after to indicate what she meant by big. Is it big for varied, great, difficult, unreachable, etc.? These were all valid replacements for her "big". You don't ask for linguistic advice, but you have to ask for context, or else you could be delivering quite the opposite of the source message (which is likely to have been written by someone else other than the client themselves).Collapse


P.L.F.Persio
Giuliana Maltempo
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Bali D.
Philip Lees
 

Baran Keki  Identity Verified
Turska
Local time: 10:47
Član:
engleski na turski
Negotiation power? Apr 2

If your question is pertinent and aimed at nipping a potentially embarrassing mistranslation in the bud, it should even increase your negotiation power.

ph-b
Barbara Carrara
P.L.F.Persio
expressisverbis
Thomas T. Frost
Teresa Borges
Christel Zipfel
 

ph-b  Identity Verified
Francuska
Local time: 09:47
engleski na francuski
+ ...
Being professional Apr 2

I agree with Heike (and others): there's nothing wrong with asking clients when you've exhausted every other possibility and you do it as sensitively as possible. And I too got thanked for flagging something I did not understand.

An Irish insurance company asked me to translate one of their policies for the French market. But the text quoted the wrong EU insurance directive. I spent a long time checking facts as I could not believe that its lawyers had got them wrong.

I
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I agree with Heike (and others): there's nothing wrong with asking clients when you've exhausted every other possibility and you do it as sensitively as possible. And I too got thanked for flagging something I did not understand.

An Irish insurance company asked me to translate one of their policies for the French market. But the text quoted the wrong EU insurance directive. I spent a long time checking facts as I could not believe that its lawyers had got them wrong.

In the end, I called my contact there and explained (talk of walking on eggshells!) what I thought the issue was. Would she mind double-checking my findings?

She got back to me the following day with this message: "That’s brilliant. Thank you SO much! I’ve been singing your praises here!!!!!"

Professional advice: clients expect that from us and if they're serious about their business, they'll listen to professionals like us.
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Barbara Carrara
Heike Holthaus
P.L.F.Persio
Mervyn Henderson
Rachel Waddington
expressisverbis
Thomas T. Frost
 

expressisverbis
Portugalija
Local time: 08:47
Član (2015)
engleski na portugalski
+ ...
Query sheets: a way to turn your queries into knowledge Apr 2

One of the most important aspects of a successful translation project is communication and consistency, so I believe that asking questions is not a sign of ignorance.
However, it is also important to make sure you do your own due research before jumping in to ask a question - this is obvious!
To facilitate communication and (terminological) consistency, many companies and clients provide a query sheet, which is very useful mostly in large and complex projects.
I participate in
... See more
One of the most important aspects of a successful translation project is communication and consistency, so I believe that asking questions is not a sign of ignorance.
However, it is also important to make sure you do your own due research before jumping in to ask a question - this is obvious!
To facilitate communication and (terminological) consistency, many companies and clients provide a query sheet, which is very useful mostly in large and complex projects.
I participate in similar (medical, and legal) projects, and I can say I always learn a lot and the collaboration can be very positive and friendly.
The query sheet used is usually an online form and sometimes a spreadsheet, and for me it is a central resource for asking questions and making comments.
This way, you can promote collaboration, communication, consistency, knowledge and trust between you, your project manager and your client.
As Voltaire wisely said: 'doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.'
It doesn't hurt to ask, IMHO.
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Baran Keki
Thomas T. Frost
P.L.F.Persio
Angie Garbarino
Rachel Waddington
Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Teresa Borges
 

Teresa Borges
Portugalija
Local time: 08:47
Član (2007)
engleski na portugalski
+ ...
My experience Apr 2

Over the years, I’ve seen so many times these three institutions - European Council, Council of the European Union and Council of Europe – mixed up that, unless the text makes clear which one is meant, I prefer asking the client and by doing so I’ve avoided some embarrassing mistakes.

Rachel Waddington
P.L.F.Persio
Wilsonn Perez Reyes
Mervyn Henderson
Kay Denney
 

Daniel Frisano  Identity Verified
Italija
Local time: 09:47
Član (2008)
engleski na italijanski
+ ...
POKRETAČ TEME
To all those who believe in asking Apr 2

Then don't complain that you're not respected enough or underpaid.

I've never had a dentist or lawyer or plumber requiring me to make the decisions they were hired to make.

Because if they did, they'd lose much of their credibility, wouldn't they?

And I'd be left wondering why I'm paying someone who needs my help to get things done ...


Adriana Sandru
 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Član (2014)
danski na engleski
+ ...
Logically flawed argument Apr 2

Daniel Frisano wrote:

Then don't complain that you're not respected enough or underpaid.

I've never had a dentist or lawyer or plumber requiring me to make the decisions they were hired to make.

Because if they did, they'd lose much of their credibility, wouldn't they?

And I'd be left wondering why I'm paying someone who needs my help to get things done ...


To the best of my knowledge, teeth are not consciously designed and built by humans. They usually grow by themselves without any person directing their growth. You may be aware of this phenomenon.

Source texts are not something that come into existence all by themselves, as you may know as well. They are written by humans, as you may also know. As such, they can be flawed and the translator cannot always guess what the writer intended to write – in the occasional cases where the writer wrote something else than they intended to write.

If you want to make a comparison for the purpose of drawing a logical conclusion, you need to compare two things that fundamentally have similar characteristics. Otherwise it’s just idle chatter that may be entertaining but not useful for any practical purpose.

In a recent text, I found the term 'intestinal structure' used about a staircase. You may be able to follow me when I claim that this doesn't quite seem to make sense (except perhaps if it is related to the poop deck on a ship, but let's not let this particular case distract us). I did send a note about this intestinal comment to the client, and it turned out that the client had intended to write 'internal structure'. Which result would the Frisano method have led to? A literal and thus nonsensical translation – or a guess?


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Baran Keki
Robert Forstag
Sergei Leshchinsky
Rachel Waddington
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Liviu-Lee Roth
 
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