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NEVER ask the client
Autor wątku: Daniel Frisano

Daniel Frisano  Identity Verified
Włochy
Local time: 15:17
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od 2008

angielski > włoski
+ ...
NOWY TEMAT
  Apr 2

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

In a recent text, I found the term 'intestinal structure' used about a staircase. (...) Which result would the Frisano method have led to?


Glad you asked, because I'd solved it in 2 seconds flat. First of all, it's doesn't take a genius to figure out that "intestinal" can be interpreted figuratively as "deep inside", and wouldn't you know it, good old Babylon says:

Untitled-2

This simple case is so trivial that it does not even require to notify the client of the "stretched" interpretation. Some other instances may require that you inform the client of your choice and the underlying reason. How hard is that?

Honestly, I can't wrap my head around the fact that a supposed professional might need clarification on such a tiny doubt. I'm pretty sure I stumble on at least half a dozen of those on any working day.

Sometimes I have this eerie feeling that my whole life I'm dealing with 8-year olds scared spitless of the unknown ...

[Edited at 2021-04-02 20:27 GMT]


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Członek ProZ.com
od 2014

duński > angielski
+ ...
Your guessing method gave the wrong result Apr 2

Daniel Frisano wrote:

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

In a recent text, I found the term 'intestinal structure' used about a staircase. (...) Which result would the Frisano method have led to?


Glad you asked, because I solved it in 2 seconds flat. First of all, it's doesn't take a genius to figure out that "intestinal" can be interpreted figuratively as "deep inside", and wouldn't you know it, good old Babylon says:

This simple case is so trivial that it does not even require to notify the client of the "stretched" interpretation. Some other instances may require that you inform the client of your choice and the underlying reason. How hard is that?

Sometimes I have this eerie feeling that my whole life I'm dealing with 8-year olds scared spitless of the unknown ...


Wrong. You didn't solve the puzzle. You made the wrong guess. Here is the answer from the end client to the agency:

'It should be INTERNAL. Could you please update the German and Swedish translation? (The Danish we will take care of ourselves.)'

My aim is to ensure that the client gets the result they want, not to pretend that I know everything in the universe, including what the client meant when they made a mistake.

Your statement about 8-year-olds is a thoroughly thought-through comment, which excels all on its own in its sheer intellectual brilliance. It says a lot about its author – and no one else.


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Baran Keki  Identity Verified
Turcja
Local time: 16:17
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angielski > turecki
I'd rather be 'not respected enough' then Apr 2

A couple of weeks ago I had to ask a question to a client. It was an English text (excel sheet) written by a Dutch speaker. There were a few lines in there containing the word 'unburden', the lines went like 'unburden reason', 'unburden answers', 'unburden drivers' etc... total gibberish, no way of understanding the workings of the Dutch mind/language. So I was compelled to ask what was meant by 'unburden'. The client explained that it was the translation of the word "ontzorgen", which translate... See more
A couple of weeks ago I had to ask a question to a client. It was an English text (excel sheet) written by a Dutch speaker. There were a few lines in there containing the word 'unburden', the lines went like 'unburden reason', 'unburden answers', 'unburden drivers' etc... total gibberish, no way of understanding the workings of the Dutch mind/language. So I was compelled to ask what was meant by 'unburden'. The client explained that it was the translation of the word "ontzorgen", which translated as (in addition to 'unburden', it seems) "well taken care of". Had I seen the original Dutch word in the first place (the excel sheet was only in English, and it was a bad translation or composition too) I might have Googled it and found out what it meant (it turned out that it was already answered here as a Kudoz question). I don't want to imagine what sort of rubbish I would've come up with for that word in Turkish if the client hadn't helped. They didn't sound too condescending about it, so I guess I didn't lose their 'respect'. Well, even if I did, stuff it, it's better than thinking up a cringeworthy translation in the absence of any meaningful context, clue etc.
To Dutch colleagues: I'm curious as to know why this particular word was translated into English as "unburden". This may be one of its meanings, but it was completely at odds with the context. The text was about a customer satisfaction survey. Thank you.

[Edited at 2021-04-02 21:02 GMT]
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Thomas T. Frost
expressisverbis
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expressisverbis
Portugalia
Local time: 14:17
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od 2015

angielski > portugalski
+ ...
Okay, so, let us follow your reasoning... Apr 2

Daniel Frisano wrote:

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



You have a tooth that causes you a lot of pain.
Your dentist examines you and suggests a dental treatment/surgery:
‘Daniel, for the sake of your health, I'm going to have to extract all your teeth and as you have no bone mass, an implant is not possible! Only a dental plate will solve your problem.'
So, would you let your dentist make this decision himself just because you think he would lose his credibility if you made it yourself in his place?
Don’t you think it is important for you to be an active participant in this final decision?
After all, it is your health!
Now, please use your capacity for solving problems/questions and try to think of similar situations for a lawyer or a plumber.



[Edited at 2021-04-02 21:17 GMT]


Thomas T. Frost
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Daniel Frisano  Identity Verified
Włochy
Local time: 15:17
Członek ProZ.com
od 2008

angielski > włoski
+ ...
NOWY TEMAT
All right, I give up Apr 2

Seriously, you win.

The overall reaction and those couple of examples made me realize that this habit is even more deeply rooted than I thought.

And they also shed new light on those comments I sometimes receive from my clients about how smooth it is to work with someone who just gets things done the right way without any fuss, and without nagging them with endless requests like their other translators in the other languages do.

I was wrong all the way from
... See more
Seriously, you win.

The overall reaction and those couple of examples made me realize that this habit is even more deeply rooted than I thought.

And they also shed new light on those comments I sometimes receive from my clients about how smooth it is to work with someone who just gets things done the right way without any fuss, and without nagging them with endless requests like their other translators in the other languages do.

I was wrong all the way from the start: PLEASE keep asking.
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Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
Wielka Brytania
Local time: 14:17
Członek ProZ.com
od 2005

angielski > łotewski
+ ...
I agree to the consensus Apr 2

For a professional it is important to ask questions when something is not clear while avoiding trivial questions that can be solved easily by other means.

Clients may not like interruptions but they are grateful for questions that improve translation or even a source text. I am not sure if all agencies appreciate questions however.

I sometimes deliver the final translation together with questions about the source text. If the client agrees with the chosen interpretatio
... See more
For a professional it is important to ask questions when something is not clear while avoiding trivial questions that can be solved easily by other means.

Clients may not like interruptions but they are grateful for questions that improve translation or even a source text. I am not sure if all agencies appreciate questions however.

I sometimes deliver the final translation together with questions about the source text. If the client agrees with the chosen interpretation, then no further changes are needed. Otherwise I am happy to provide updated translation.
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Thomas T. Frost
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Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
Wielka Brytania
Local time: 14:17
Członek ProZ.com
od 2014

niderlandzki > angielski
+ ...
Plumbers, dentists and lawyers 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 ...



Plumbers, dentists and lawyers are all perfectly happy to ask their clients questions when needed. It's part of the job. An important part.

If your lawyer noticed something odd about what you were asking them to do, would you want them to ask questions and get to the bottom of it or just plough ahead regardless?


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Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Grecja
Local time: 16:17
Członek ProZ.com
od 2008

grecki > angielski
Do not feed Apr 3

Daniel Frisano wrote:
Never ask the client, ever.


I'm much too late with this, but for next time, in case there is one, please all:

DO NOT FEED THE TROLL!

Thank you.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
USA
Local time: 09:17
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od 2005

angielski > chiński
+ ...
Agreed, however, Apr 3

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.


Many clients encourage their linguists to make linguistic queries when necessary, instead of guessing. Some companies even have dedicated staffers responsible for replying to linguistic queries.


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Teresa Borges
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neilmac  Identity Verified
Hiszpania
Local time: 15:17
hiszpański > angielski
+ ...
Meanwhile, in the real world Apr 3

True life example. My best client is a provider of electronic billing services, operating in several countries and languages. Quite often the strings —supposedly in Spanish— which I have to translate into English are obviously erroneous, often due to incorrect back translation (and MT) from other languages. When these things crop up, as they often do, I am obliged to ask the client “WTF is this supposed to mean”, and they are only too glad to respond.
On other occasions, when unde
... See more
True life example. My best client is a provider of electronic billing services, operating in several countries and languages. Quite often the strings —supposedly in Spanish— which I have to translate into English are obviously erroneous, often due to incorrect back translation (and MT) from other languages. When these things crop up, as they often do, I am obliged to ask the client “WTF is this supposed to mean”, and they are only too glad to respond.
On other occasions, when undefined abbreviations appear, again I’m obliged to find out what they mean in each particular context, and when I’m stumped, I end up having to ask the client as a last resort. The way I look at it, my clients are usually better acquainted with their source material than I am, as they work in that specific field, whereas a translator I’m covering several areas of expertise. The expression “Jack of all trades, master of none” springs to mind. I prefer to think of it as being proactive
And, quite often, funnily enough I find it satisfying when it turns out the client hasn’t a clue what the thing means either. At the end of the day, I just think it’s safer to ask, rather than guess incorrectly.


[Edited at 2021-04-03 07:29 GMT]
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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bośnia i Hercegowina
Local time: 15:17
angielski > chorwacki
+ ...
Expert vs. logistic and context questions. Apr 3

Depends on a question and the project.

For instance, if you hire an architect, they won’t ask you questions re. layout design but they may ask you questions re. your habits and lifestyle to see what layout will be most functional for you. Yes, they can also figure out your lifestyle just by observing you but can’t know all the nuances or how your family operates on a daily basis etc, in fact they’ll most likely consult all family members including kids.

I would be
... See more
Depends on a question and the project.

For instance, if you hire an architect, they won’t ask you questions re. layout design but they may ask you questions re. your habits and lifestyle to see what layout will be most functional for you. Yes, they can also figure out your lifestyle just by observing you but can’t know all the nuances or how your family operates on a daily basis etc, in fact they’ll most likely consult all family members including kids.

I would be cautious about translator asking too many basic questions too frequently. But a translator asking good questions (especially questions providing new insights even for PM) will certainly stand out as a very positive example.
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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bośnia i Hercegowina
Local time: 15:17
angielski > chorwacki
+ ...
Badly organized client. Apr 3

neilmac wrote:

True life example. My best client is a provider of electronic billing services, operating in several countries and languages. Quite often the strings —supposedly in Spanish— which I have to translate into English are obviously erroneous, often due to incorrect back translation (and MT) from other languages. When these things crop up, as they often do, I am obliged to ask the client “WTF is this supposed to mean”, and they are only too glad to respond.
On other occasions, when undefined abbreviations appear, again I’m obliged to find out what they mean in each particular context, and when I’m stumped, I end up having to ask the client as a last resort. The way I look at it, my clients are usually better acquainted with their source material than I am, as they work in that specific field, whereas a translator I’m covering several areas of expertise. The expression “Jack of all trades, master of none” springs to mind. I prefer to think of it as being proactive
And, quite often, funnily enough I find it satisfying when it turns out the client hasn’t a clue what the thing means either. At the end of the day, I just think it’s safer to ask, rather than guess incorrectly.


[Edited at 2021-04-03 07:29 GMT]


When I had string projects, there were always several other columns providing 1) term description/definition and 2) sentence examples.

Maybe the situation is worse when you get back translations or MT like in your case, but even in that case the 1) and 2) above will provide a great amount of clarification.

If they are saving money on a string rather than full sentence/full text translation then they should provide some descriptions or term definitions (which they are too lazy to do), as they are aware these are isolated terms without much context or flow.



[Edited at 2021-04-03 08:46 GMT]


Mervyn Henderson
 

Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Grecja
Local time: 16:17
Członek ProZ.com
od 2008

grecki > angielski
Living space Apr 3

Lingua 5B wrote:

For instance, if you hire an architect, they won’t ask you questions re. layout design but they may ask you questions re. your habits and lifestyle to see what layout will be most functional for you.


The house I live in now was built for me. Originally, the architect didn't ask me any questions and she came up with a generic sort of house design that, for example, had the fireplace in the wall that would face the best view, thus blocking it off.

So we came to the site together and walked around it, as I pointed out the aforementioned view, where the sun rises and sets at different times of year, which direction the cold wind blows from, etc., and explained that I would be working from home, so wanted a sizeable amount of office space. Other things, too.

Then she went away and came back with a design that worked, for me, in this particular place.

If she'd asked me a few questions at the start she could have saved herself some work.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Hiszpania
Local time: 15:17
hiszpański > angielski
+ ...
If we ask or not ... Apr 3

... what do you care? Almost everyone appreciates advice, which they may or may not take, but you can't in all seriousness expect any appreciation of an aggressive "NEVER do this", "NEVER do that" etc. You even shout a PLEASE in capital letters to tell other people to do what they want - well, THANKS A LOT for that.

Plus, as just about everyone has pointed out, questions don't address how to translate so much as how to avoid text which the end customers probably don't want, but jus
... See more
... what do you care? Almost everyone appreciates advice, which they may or may not take, but you can't in all seriousness expect any appreciation of an aggressive "NEVER do this", "NEVER do that" etc. You even shout a PLEASE in capital letters to tell other people to do what they want - well, THANKS A LOT for that.

Plus, as just about everyone has pointed out, questions don't address how to translate so much as how to avoid text which the end customers probably don't want, but just haven't realised they don't, because they don't know enough about it. Does a builder simply knock out a wall because the houseowner says so, even though the builder knows it's a supporting wall? Prudent professionalism, I call it.

[Edited at 2021-04-03 08:58 GMT]

[Edited at 2021-04-03 09:00 GMT]
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od 2014

niderlandzki > angielski
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Trolls Apr 3

Philip Lees wrote:

Daniel Frisano wrote:
Never ask the client, ever.


I'm much too late with this, but for next time, in case there is one, please all:

DO NOT FEED THE TROLL!

Thank you.


I would normally agree with this, but actually, I think this is quite an important discussion. There does seem to be a general reluctance in the translation world to ask questions (which might reveal knowledge gaps) compared to other professions. Knowing when and how to ask questions is important.


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