Are there any agencies providing samples and style-guides?
Thread poster: DZiW (X)

DZiW (X)
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Jan 30, 2019

A friend of mine asked me whether now it's ok that almost all agencies prone to finding faults, specifying no requirements or preferences, let alone a style-guide.

The point is her daughter works for five local and two foreign agencies, but none of them named the specific needs, referencing to such ambiguous terms as "common sense", "readability", "orthodox views", "good industry practices", and so on.

Furthermore, most jobs seem not tell American, Briti
... See more
A friend of mine asked me whether now it's ok that almost all agencies prone to finding faults, specifying no requirements or preferences, let alone a style-guide.

The point is her daughter works for five local and two foreign agencies, but none of them named the specific needs, referencing to such ambiguous terms as "common sense", "readability", "orthodox views", "good industry practices", and so on.

Furthermore, most jobs seem not tell American, British, Australian, and Canada English from somenglish(es) or even dare MT.

Of course, the problem is not about quixotry, play by somebody else's unfair rules, or different interpretations, yet I consider such a trend not a zeitgeist, but rather a nifty catch-22 to low the prices--and translators' self-esteem.

Anyway--
Are there still some agencies providing approved samples or even guides?


Thank you

[Edited at 2019-01-30 18:21 GMT]
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Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
English to French
+ ...
Yes Jan 30, 2019

I cannot name names, but yes, there are…

The diversity of approaches is just unfathomable.

On other occasions, you can consider yourself lucky if you receive the name of the end client or any contextual information actually, let alone any specific requirement.

Talk about a translation brief… Or rather, go fetch it… Yes, that's you, context dog…

Evening,

J


Elif Baykara Narbay
Mirko Mainardi
 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 03:09
Russian to English
+ ...
Sure Jan 30, 2019

To me, style guides are a norm rather than an exception. My biggest client, a large multinational agency, provides one general-purpose style guide plus a custom guide for each end customer that has specific requirements.

Samples, glossaries and TMs are occasionally provided, but unlike the style guides, they tend to cause more harm than good because they often contain mistakes, so I have to explain why I have deviated from the "prescribed" variant.


Matheus Chaud
Jessica Noyes
Stepan Konev
Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:09
Member
English to Italian
Tests? Jan 30, 2019

DZiW wrote:

The point is her daughter works for five local and two foreign agencies, but none of them named the specific needs, referencing to such ambiguous terms as "common sense", "readability", "orthodox views", "good industry practices", and so on.


Those look like possible "reasons" for errors. So, were those tests, LQA checks?

I mean, I guess it's more common for an agency to ask you to do a test without providing specific style guides and instructions (although I believe specific instructions should ALWAYS be provided), but in general I agree with Jean: there are clients who provide you with context material, style guides, query sheets, TMs, glossaries, etc. and others who... don't, although most of my clients do.


 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
German to English
+ ...
I can't see it, for these reasons Jan 30, 2019

An agency is a customer, and between the two of them, I'm supposed to have the expertise. Would an agency have the expertise to produce a guide, which would have to cover all kinds of translations in all kinds of circumstances and countries, and the various languages, that they would give for the person they are hiring, who has the actual training and experience? I can't see how that would work.

Teresa Borges
 

DZiW (X)
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
gist Jan 30, 2019

The possible conflict is--

(1) an agency indicates no specific requirements--neither on their Home page, nor in the correspondence;

(2) they offer a test/job, not mentioning anything again; yet

(3) having the translation done, it suddenly turns out they do have some preferences, rendering some lex/style/grammar equivalents (not errors!) as shortcomings--and demand "discounts". And there come "common sense", "best pr
... See more
The possible conflict is--

(1) an agency indicates no specific requirements--neither on their Home page, nor in the correspondence;

(2) they offer a test/job, not mentioning anything again; yet

(3) having the translation done, it suddenly turns out they do have some preferences, rendering some lex/style/grammar equivalents (not errors!) as shortcomings--and demand "discounts". And there come "common sense", "best practice", "traditions", and other excuses to drive down the price even lower.

* If it's not ok to name agencies even in a favorable light at ProZ, I would be glad to hear from you via ProZ message.

Meanwhile I asked our Russian-speaking colleagues too, and it seems that some agencies went into post-edit MT, so it's unlikely they might need a styleguide

TY
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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:09
Member
English to Italian
And yet... Jan 30, 2019

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

An agency is a customer, and between the two of them, I'm supposed to have the expertise. Would an agency have the expertise to produce a guide, which would have to cover all kinds of translations in all kinds of circumstances and countries, and the various languages, that they would give for the person they are hiring, who has the actual training and experience? I can't see how that would work.


AFAIK, it's not uncommon for a customer to ask a vendor to provide a service/product up to specific specs (in general, outside of the translation industry as well), and this is no different. If a client wants a text that conforms to specific industry naming conventions or glossaries, or that is suitable for a specific age group (PEGI/ESRB/etc.), or that has a certain register/style, or that takes into consideration certain context material, etc. etc., then, by accepting that project, you also accept to comply with those requests (whether you like it or not...)

Obviously, possible problems are part of the deal, especially if you work on a project with several pairs and translators per pair, but that's what project managers are for, although often (in my experience) translators and reviewers are left to discuss such issues among themselves, integrated by queries to the end-client, of course (still speaking of agencies, as per OP).


Liviu-Lee Roth
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 02:09
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, some clients do... Jan 31, 2019

Most of my clients have no style guide, but I work for the EU Institutions and they have a so-called Interinstitutional Style Guide (http://publications.europa.eu/code/en/en-000100.htm) which is extremely useful. I also translate press articles for a Portuguese media group and they have a stylebook. I also provide marketing translation services for several agencies and each request is... See more
Most of my clients have no style guide, but I work for the EU Institutions and they have a so-called Interinstitutional Style Guide (http://publications.europa.eu/code/en/en-000100.htm) which is extremely useful. I also translate press articles for a Portuguese media group and they have a stylebook. I also provide marketing translation services for several agencies and each request is accompanied by a written briefing note.Collapse


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:09
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Not the agency, but the end client Jan 31, 2019

When I worked in house, the head of the English section also taught English at the university, and recommended standard dictionaries and reference books on UK English usage as a default style. He also helped me and doubtless others to tighten up discipline on commas and so on.

Then, if clients raised questions, we could always fall back on our references. English has no central authority, so if we knew the translation was not for the UK market, then different translators were asked
... See more
When I worked in house, the head of the English section also taught English at the university, and recommended standard dictionaries and reference books on UK English usage as a default style. He also helped me and doubtless others to tighten up discipline on commas and so on.

Then, if clients raised questions, we could always fall back on our references. English has no central authority, so if we knew the translation was not for the UK market, then different translators were asked to do the job - using appropriate style guides.

I have followed the same principle ever since - occasionally using the Chicaco Manual of Style or the APA style guide when proofreading academic papers - if the client asks for it. RL Trask, Greenbaum & Whitcut, Ernest Gowers and Michael Swan er my standard gurus.
My Danish colleagues refer to the official Retskrivningsordbogen from the Danish Language Council. I use it too, when I write Danish in private life.

I would advise any translator to get familiar with a good style guide in the appropriate language as a default. This may reduce the number of complaints, but can always be used as a defence against them. Then, where choices are permissible, and the client actually knows what they are talking about, you can agree on a special style guide if appropriate.

If you choose the right style guide, you will find the necessary 'common sense' and 'good industry practices' automatically.

Readability is one of the things that distinguish a good translator from MT - so work at that too. One way is to avoid being so consistent that your text goes dead. Don't be a slave to your CAT tool!
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Kevin Fulton
Carolina Finley
Elizabeth Slaney
 

DZiW (X)
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Cui prodest? Feb 2, 2019

The problem is not only missing directions, mixed languages and styles in the original papers, or a preferred word usage by default (e.g. "besides" vs "furthermore" vs "moreover"), but also
it is obvious from the text it is a speech and the used style is no good.
or the opposite--
Far too officiously. The client didn't accept it.
Agents, how lame of you: what are you doing there at office, I wonder?

So far, the big issue is rather many agencies seem deliberately use antiseptic excuses to low the rates.

I recommended the translator not to take any tests or jobs without specific written (she said some PMs somehow 'forgot' their talks) requirements/ style/ audience, and in response for specifications she got a funny reply:
Dear Miss XXXXX, you really must have much work to do and learn many things before advising us how to do OUR business!


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:09
Member
English to Italian
Type of source Feb 3, 2019

DZiW wrote:

I recommended the translator not to take any tests or jobs without specific written (she said some PMs somehow 'forgot' their talks) requirements/ style/ audience, and in response for specifications she got a funny reply:
Dear Miss XXXXX, you really must have much work to do and learn many things before advising us how to do OUR business!


Well, her client's reply was very rude, but in general, I guess it also depends on the type of source... I mean, if I get a "generic" IT text, or some software to localize (e.g. UI, instructions and system messages), then I wouldn't really need a style guide or specific instructions, while, if I'm localizing a game or translating a marketing-oriented type of text, then I should ideally be provided with info about what the client wants (e.g. style, audience, etc.) and what the source is specifically about (context).

So, what was she translating?


 

DZiW (X)
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
opt-in tacit agreement Feb 3, 2019

Marko, she's been working as an in-house translator for some eight years. Not long ago she decided to diversify the income via agencies. Unfortunately, the aforementioned fault-finding happens with different agencies and various recent tasks--from tests to jobs.

For instance, I checked the top ten agencies at ProZ and some at random from the internet (The Top 100 Language Service Providers), and most say nothing about their styleguides and the preferences, le
... See more
Marko, she's been working as an in-house translator for some eight years. Not long ago she decided to diversify the income via agencies. Unfortunately, the aforementioned fault-finding happens with different agencies and various recent tasks--from tests to jobs.

For instance, I checked the top ten agencies at ProZ and some at random from the internet (The Top 100 Language Service Providers), and most say nothing about their styleguides and the preferences, let alone their portfolio. Perhaps, they do make some individual/opening remarks per every test or project, but it seems trendy to go 'by default'.

Why, I find it wrong that she translated a mixed-style text as is--asking no questions, but not when besides/moreover/furthermore and other synonyms allegedly must not be interchanged in a general (non-techy) text, especially if such a "rule" or "preference" isn't mentioned anywhere.

Certainly, the translator should know all the details before starting a project. However, when there's nothing on the official pages and PMs seem intentionally avoid specifying certain points, or recommend sticking to last...

May be it's but a fresh local or established trick, or how global it goes, but ain't it a nice ploy for claiming extra discounts?
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Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
German to English
+ ...
Mirko Feb 3, 2019

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

An agency is a customer, and between the two of them, I'm supposed to have the expertise. Would an agency have the expertise to produce a guide, which would have to cover all kinds of translations in all kinds of circumstances and countries, and the various languages, that they would give for the person they are hiring, who has the actual training and experience? I can't see how that would work.


AFAIK, it's not uncommon for a customer to ask a vendor to provide a service/product up to specific specs (in general, outside of the translation industry as well), and this is no different. If a client wants a text that conforms to specific industry naming conventions or glossaries, or that is suitable for a specific age group (PEGI/ESRB/etc.), or that has a certain register/style, or that takes into consideration certain context material, etc. etc., then, by accepting that project, you also accept to comply with those requests (whether you like it or not...)

I wrote a generality, and the question was about agencies. Ok, trying to set out my ideas better:

With end clients, I always check for extra information of this kind. With agencies, I'll ask them to ask their client if the project is a kind that needs this, and if they don't know and didn't tell me. Usually I'm left to make the decision, and often the client doesn't even know there is a decision to be made. In general, it is up to me as the professional to decide about the kinds of things you have listed, and that is why I ask pertinent questions. Sometimes I get a client that his that kind of knowledge himself, and specifies such things, and that makes my work easier. At other times the client may lack the knowledge and try to dictate something which would undermine the text they want to have translated.

The idea in the OP however was for agencies to provide a "style guide". First, the style and conventions you use are varied, depending on where the translation is going (to whom, which country), its purpose, and other factors. There cannot be a single style guide. Second, the agency deals with many language pairs. It is not likely that they will be on top of every target language, and understand every context and situation. Their role is to procure translation jobs, find a translator, pass the completed translation on to their client, get paid, and pay the translator. They cannot also have the expertise that the professional translator they hire is supposed to have. Sometimes I have to explain basic and elementary things to some agencies. How can they be guiding me with a generic "guide"? (As per the OP idea as I understood it.)

This is not like an end client who is an expert in their field, for example working for a company that has a particular set of style conventions, and the translation will be used in-house. Of course you would adhere to that and work closely with the client.


 

DZiW (X)
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
> RE Feb 3, 2019

So far,

1) the translator gets a test or a job--without any specific preferences;

2) yet after the job is done, it suddenly appears they require some other* variant or style and there are some "rules" or "recommendations", which weren't mentioned anywhere before, yet the agency uses it for pressing and reopening negotiations to low the price even lower.


Perhaps, it has little to do with a PEMT trend and it's not so
... See more
So far,

1) the translator gets a test or a job--without any specific preferences;

2) yet after the job is done, it suddenly appears they require some other* variant or style and there are some "rules" or "recommendations", which weren't mentioned anywhere before, yet the agency uses it for pressing and reopening negotiations to low the price even lower.


Perhaps, it has little to do with a PEMT trend and it's not so popular ploy to force the rates go down. May she was unlucky to meet just a few "skillful" managers. However, I was unpleasantly surprised that a PM from a European agency could stoop to such a rude reply, answering to the reasonable inquiry about specifications.
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