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Dealing with excessive counter-productive "editor feedback."
Thread poster: Eric Stone

Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 12:32
French to Spanish
+ ...
Never understood... Feb 9, 2017

...how translators are not native in both languages.
Some exceptions, certainly, but...
Learn is not earn.


 

Rebecca Davis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:32
French to English
+ ...
The way I look at this... Feb 9, 2017

Translators are paid to translate, and editors are paid to edit.
If they know what they are doing, the editor makes the final call and leaves the translator alone. It is not the translator's job to teach the editor the target language.
I get on well with most of my regular editors. If they genuinely have a query, they are welcome to contact me while they are editing my translation, which makes much more sense, or send me a couple of queries for review, once they have finished. Hundre
... See more
Translators are paid to translate, and editors are paid to edit.
If they know what they are doing, the editor makes the final call and leaves the translator alone. It is not the translator's job to teach the editor the target language.
I get on well with most of my regular editors. If they genuinely have a query, they are welcome to contact me while they are editing my translation, which makes much more sense, or send me a couple of queries for review, once they have finished. Hundreds of questions simply mean that the editor has no idea what they are doing, which is not your problem.
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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 01:32
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Not necessarily Feb 10, 2017

Merab Dekano wrote:

jyuan_us wrote:

Merab Dekano wrote:

To teach how to sing, you have to sing well yourself in the first place. To correct someone else’s work, you have to be able to produce that work in the first place.



[Edited at 2017-02-09 15:46 GMT]


I agree with your statement "To correct someone else’s work, you have to be able to produce that work in the first place". However, it is not necessarily true "to teach how to sing, you have to sing well yourself in the first place".


Moreover; even if you sing well, it doesn’t guarantee you will be a good singing teacher. Now, if you cannot sing, you certainly cannot (shouldn’t?) teach.

I am talking about classical singing, not just “hey youuuu…”.

There's a reason why I conduct instead of sing.


 

Hamish Young  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 06:32
Member (2010)
Chinese to English
Know exactly what you mean! Feb 10, 2017

Hi Eric,

I'm in your language pair and I have similar experiences every now and then. Occasionally the editing is so bad it's laughable. It's very frustrating to see your carefully written sentences mauled by someone who clearly does not know the language as well as you do.

I try not to waste my time accepting or rejecting edits or giving justifications, I think it's best just to tell the PM what the problem is and let them deal with it. A good company will recognize t
... See more
Hi Eric,

I'm in your language pair and I have similar experiences every now and then. Occasionally the editing is so bad it's laughable. It's very frustrating to see your carefully written sentences mauled by someone who clearly does not know the language as well as you do.

I try not to waste my time accepting or rejecting edits or giving justifications, I think it's best just to tell the PM what the problem is and let them deal with it. A good company will recognize the situation and not hold it against you. If they do hold it against you, then in the long run it will save a lot of pain if you just stop doing business with them. In my experience, the companies with Chinese-native editors of English don't pay particularly well either.

I regularly work as an editor myself. Too many editors out there seem to be trying to justify their payment by making as many edits as possible. In my view an editor should be looking primarily for actual objective errors and should avoid the temptation to make gratuitous stylistic edits. The less edits the better really, unless the job has not been done by a competent translator.
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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 19:32
French to English
+ ...
Correct ONE page Feb 10, 2017

To save your time and still show that you are making the effort, correct the proof-reader's errors on ONE page. If there are as many as you say, this will make the problem obvious.

 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:32
Member (2018)
French to English
been there done that Feb 10, 2017

I feel for you, obviously you can't go through absolutely every correction and discuss at length. If the client really wants to do that, you should tell them you intend to bill extra for that time.

When I'm quoting my top rate, I point out that this time has already been factored in. This makes the client feel secure, they know ahead of time that I'll take the time to go through everything. They will come back with queries, but usually they'll run out of steam long before me, give
... See more
I feel for you, obviously you can't go through absolutely every correction and discuss at length. If the client really wants to do that, you should tell them you intend to bill extra for that time.

When I'm quoting my top rate, I point out that this time has already been factored in. This makes the client feel secure, they know ahead of time that I'll take the time to go through everything. They will come back with queries, but usually they'll run out of steam long before me, given my penchant for pedantry! After a few back-and-forth episodes they see that I know what I'm talking about, because I've referred them to various links to serious websites showing why what I put was good. If there's a medical component, for example (I rarely do medical stuff but it happens), I'll point out that the website I referred to has been vetted and approved by Health Online, meaning that the medical info is valid. I might just give a Wikipedia link, but invariably I'll say that the page was just my starting point and it just happens to list all the links to official sources at the bottom of the page. For your example of "hail" vs. "come", if it is indeed a Biblical reference, I would refer to the actual Bible quote.

Once they see that you know your stuff, they'll relax and start to trust you more.

One good tactic is to be gracious and concede a minor point now and then. Admit that, while what you put was perfectly acceptable, their term did have a slightly better ring to it. This shows that you're not being completely inflexible, you don't have a superiority complex, and you come across as being genuine and willing, working to ensure the text is as good as possible rather than just wanting to be proved right.

It can be wearying but worth it. I went through this with one woman, and she has insisted on working with me every time she moves to a new company. I now have three clients thanks to her, giving me well-paid, interesting jobs.
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Eric Stone
Taiwan
Local time: 01:32
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Frustrating indeed! Feb 11, 2017

Hamish Young wrote:

Hi Eric,

I'm in your language pair and I have similar experiences every now and then. Occasionally the editing is so bad it's laughable. It's very frustrating to see your carefully written sentences mauled by someone who clearly does not know the language as well as you do.

I try not to waste my time accepting or rejecting edits or giving justifications, I think it's best just to tell the PM what the problem is and let them deal with it. A good company will recognize the situation and not hold it against you. If they do hold it against you, then in the long run it will save a lot of pain if you just stop doing business with them. In my experience, the companies with Chinese-native editors of English don't pay particularly well either.


Hamish, have you had any experiences with direct customers? I find them just to be a little overbearing at times, even when they do pay decent rates. I tend to tell them flat out that I'll be happy to give them quick responses and answer all of their questions along the way, but at the same time I'm not going to be available to drop whatever I'm doing to have a phone call about something that could have been easily settled in 2 lines of text at the drop of the hat (of course, with much more delicate phrasing).

I do worry though that despite my best efforts to be polite and available, my limiting of my own "personal time" could cause problems. In your experience, do you find that you lose many valuable potential clients do to boundaries such as this?

My current client is now insisting that I come up with a non-time-based pricing plan in exchange for me addressing each and every one of those 93% of edit that were simply a result of the editing team not having a good enough understanding of English, so while I think all of you for your suggestions it looks like I'm going to have to figure out how to charge per-response (or per edit), possibly based on word count of the edits, without scaring the client away. Suggestions for this are welcome as well!


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:32
Member (2018)
French to English
How can they expect you to provided a non-time-based pricing plan? Feb 11, 2017

Eric S. wrote:

My current client is now insisting that I come up with a non-time-based pricing plan in exchange for me addressing each and every one of those 93% of edit that were simply a result of the editing team not having a good enough understanding of English, so while I think all of you for your suggestions it looks like I'm going to have to figure out how to charge per-response (or per edit), possibly based on word count of the edits, without scaring the client away. Suggestions for this are welcome as well!


This is bullying. It's not up to them to decide how you are to price the time spent on addressing their issues.
I would suggest you make a ludicrous estimate. Take one point, a fairly complex one. Time yourself as you look into it thoroughly and draft your argument as to why what you put was good and why their correction dumbs your text down. Then work out how much you could have earned during that time with a translation at your top rate. You can tell them that's your fee per point. They might reconsider billing per time.

If they don't want you to bill for your time, that probably means they don't trust you. You might want to meditate that and try to foster trust somehow, or not?

If they are worth it, you could foster that trust by going through a small portion of their edits for free just to show them how much work is involved, prove that you do know your stuff and that they don't.


 

Jan Truper  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:32
Member (2016)
English to German
... Feb 11, 2017

Eric S. wrote:
My current client is now insisting that I come up with a non-time-based pricing plan in exchange for me addressing each and every one of those 93% of edit that were simply a result of the editing team not having a good enough understanding of English, so while I think all of you for your suggestions it looks like I'm going to have to figure out how to charge per-response (or per edit), possibly based on word count of the edits, without scaring the client away. Suggestions for this are welcome as well!


No client can "insist" and make you do things that you do not agree to. As a freelance translator, basically you are selling your time. There's no way to know beforehand how much time all these extra explanations will take, so I would insist on getting paid my hourly rate.
I personally would refuse to do such time-based work if a client refused to compensate it with a time-based rate.

If you feel that you absolutely must deal with this issue nonetheless, you could do a couple of sample explanations and take note of the time it takes you to figure out an average time per explanation.
Based on your hourly rate, you can then figure out how much to charge per explanation (and when in doubt, always go for a higher number).
In this case, you could suggest to only charge for the issues where the editor is at fault.

You could also suggest to have a review done by a third (trusted and native English!) translator/editor.

[Edited at 2017-02-11 11:00 GMT]


 

Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:32
Member (2008)
English to French
Even worse Feb 12, 2017

The worst is when it's for a test translation and the person evaluating the test is obviously a freelancer who doesn't want their client usurped.... I once had a horribly marked-up text come back to me; the most blatant example of ill will was when my translation of "imminent event" as "imminent event *in my target language*" was changed to "horrible event that had a great impact *in my target language*", actually stating in a comment that it was a mistranslated because "imminent" meant "grave" ... See more
The worst is when it's for a test translation and the person evaluating the test is obviously a freelancer who doesn't want their client usurped.... I once had a horribly marked-up text come back to me; the most blatant example of ill will was when my translation of "imminent event" as "imminent event *in my target language*" was changed to "horrible event that had a great impact *in my target language*", actually stating in a comment that it was a mistranslated because "imminent" meant "grave" and "serious", not "impending/about to happen". I actually went dictionary diving in case there was some archaic/obscure meaning of "imminent" I didn't know (even though I'm a native English speaker). There wasn't. Obviously didn't get the client, but I was appalled by the lack of professionalism of this anonymous peer.

Meanwhile back to your specific problem; I echo everyone's suggestion to only comment 1 page worth's of markups ... you know it doesn't have to be the first page ... I would personally choose the page with the most blatantly wrong edits, and then suggest to your client that before investing any further money in a he-said/she-said scenario, perhaps they could submit that one single page to a 3rd party, either of their choosing, or that you both agree on, who is an English native, preferably a British copywriter, doesn't have to read a lick of Chinese, since it seems that your content isn't what's in question, but rather your vocabulary and style, and that this expert should indicate whether the edits improve or hinder the English.

On a side note, this post has brought back memories of when I lived in China and once, sightseeing in LeShan, at the Giant Buddha, this man ran up to my younger sister and I across a square, eyes-wide, as if in with fear, panting, and pointing behind him at two people walking our way "This my boss. He wants I ask you, to have picture!", of course, having lived in China over 6 years at the time, I caught the subtext of "I told my boss I speak perfect English and that of course I could ask those two lovely young lady foreigners if they could take a moment to pose with us, and if you don't I'm as good as fired." I told the poor guy "no problem, we understand, we'll take a picture with your boss" in Chinese and he gave me a look of absolute relief. So yeah, I'm cognizant of the issue of really basic speakers trying to pass themselves off as near-native/professional in your language pair It's like in Confessions of a Shopaholic, when the protagonist pretends to know Finnish

[Edited at 2017-02-12 06:03 GMT]
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Ilan Rubin (X)  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 20:32
Russian to English
It's not really normal Feb 12, 2017

Generally speaking, it's a bad client and you should avoid them in future if they insist on such behaviour. Otherwise, it becomes an abusive relationship.

For now I would offer them explanations on a CALL (e.g. Skype/Viber etc). This is generally faster than typing, is of limited duration (as the client doesn't have all day) and after 2 or 3 explanations the client will probably realize you know what you are talking about and / or get bored.


 

Hamish Young  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 06:32
Member (2010)
Chinese to English
Hmmm! Feb 12, 2017

Eric S. wrote:

Hamish Young wrote:

Hi Eric,

I'm in your language pair and I have similar experiences every now and then. Occasionally the editing is so bad it's laughable. It's very frustrating to see your carefully written sentences mauled by someone who clearly does not know the language as well as you do.

I try not to waste my time accepting or rejecting edits or giving justifications, I think it's best just to tell the PM what the problem is and let them deal with it. A good company will recognize the situation and not hold it against you. If they do hold it against you, then in the long run it will save a lot of pain if you just stop doing business with them. In my experience, the companies with Chinese-native editors of English don't pay particularly well either.


Hamish, have you had any experiences with direct customers? I find them just to be a little overbearing at times, even when they do pay decent rates. I tend to tell them flat out that I'll be happy to give them quick responses and answer all of their questions along the way, but at the same time I'm not going to be available to drop whatever I'm doing to have a phone call about something that could have been easily settled in 2 lines of text at the drop of the hat (of course, with much more delicate phrasing).

I do worry though that despite my best efforts to be polite and available, my limiting of my own "personal time" could cause problems. In your experience, do you find that you lose many valuable potential clients do to boundaries such as this?

My current client is now insisting that I come up with a non-time-based pricing plan in exchange for me addressing each and every one of those 93% of edit that were simply a result of the editing team not having a good enough understanding of English, so while I think all of you for your suggestions it looks like I'm going to have to figure out how to charge per-response (or per edit), possibly based on word count of the edits, without scaring the client away. Suggestions for this are welcome as well!


If it's a direct customer, then I guess at least you are getting well paid, but is this a regular customer with lots of work? If it is, then I guess you will want to make some concessions to keep them, but if not I think you need to make them realize that this is not the way you want to work, and not be worried about scaring them away.

I've had some pretty fussy direct customers, but because they don't usually provide regular work I don't worry if I lose them. My general experience is that the smaller boutique agencies are the most reasonable clients, and I've never lost one of these clients by setting reasonable boundaries on my time.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:32
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Great idea Feb 12, 2017

ILAN RUBIN wrote:
For now I would offer them explanations on a CALL (e.g. Skype/Viber etc). This is generally faster than typing, is of limited duration (as the client doesn't have all day) and after 2 or 3 explanations the client will probably realize you know what you are talking about and / or get bored.

Good idea to make the client spend as long on this as you spend.


 

Eric Stone
Taiwan
Local time: 01:32
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Trust isn't enough for this one Feb 13, 2017

It's a no go with the whole notion of only responding to the 'top 20 mistakes' or showing them 'one page of edits' and hoping that seeing the percentage of edits that were their mistake outweigh the valid edits 9 to 1. While they fully realize this and agree that they can't expect me to respond to so many mistakes on their editors' part, they insist that they want a detailed response for all edits, and are willing to pay more for my responses to the editor's mistakes.

I tried calcu
... See more
It's a no go with the whole notion of only responding to the 'top 20 mistakes' or showing them 'one page of edits' and hoping that seeing the percentage of edits that were their mistake outweigh the valid edits 9 to 1. While they fully realize this and agree that they can't expect me to respond to so many mistakes on their editors' part, they insist that they want a detailed response for all edits, and are willing to pay more for my responses to the editor's mistakes.

I tried calculating this price based on time, and then when they said it was too subjective.

I tried calculating based on the word count of the 'false edits' (leaving the correct edits out of the word count), but for some reason they also felt that this was too 'subjective' even though I pointed out its quite concrete.

When they insisted I just raise the price of the translation to include all feedback, I calculated it based on the extra time I would be spending replying to false edits (again, not including the time spent on valid edits), and came to a figure of about 185% the original price (for 185% the original time spent). This price was apparently too high for them.

After spending hours out of days doing research, reviewing your guys' advice, and writing formulas in excel to work out a fair price, the client has rejected all other forms of additional payment, and is now backtracking, basically suggesting that I just do what I originally recommended (basically begging them) - allow me to just respond to the valid edits, and if there is an excess of false edits, simply write a note that they are false edits without leaving a detailed response.

Hopefully things will be smoother once we put it all in the contract.

I'm still open to advice! I may update if there's any other news.
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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:32
Member (2018)
French to English
how do you know something's valid? Feb 13, 2017

Eric S. wrote:

After spending hours out of days doing research, reviewing your guys' advice, and writing formulas in excel to work out a fair price, the client has rejected all other forms of additional payment, and is now backtracking, basically suggesting that I just do what I originally recommended (basically begging them) - allow me to just respond to the valid edits, and if there is an excess of false edits, simply write a note that they are false edits without leaving a detailed response.

Hopefully things will be smoother once we put it all in the contract.

I'm still open to advice! I may update if there's any other news.



I fail to see how this is OK. You still have to check every single correction, just to determine whether it's valid or not, which is going to take time even if you don't bother to check everything in a dictionary. You don't specify whether you are billing for this or not?


 
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