Monday, November 21, 2011

Have You Hugged Your Angry Translator Today?


Translations are not fun nor easy tasks. That goes doubly for anything official, scientific, or topic specific that even the well educated Brazilian specialist does not want to deal with.

When you order a translation the actual job you are paying for is for us to translate your words into functional words in English. I will tell you this though, regardless of what you are paying it just sometimes is kind of impossible.

As most foreigners living in another country could tell you, not everything translates. That sometimes includes the style in which people from other countries write.

Is it our fault if you sound like an ass in English? And do you really have to be upset if our language lacks the grammatically correct amount of verys that you so desperate want? I may be a translator but I'm no magician. I can not always make that ridiculously sentimental Portuguese sentence as sappy in English. English just isn't as, let me say this nicely, floral as Portuguese.

And before you get all pissed off because I had an autocorrect mistake, look at what I did do well. That paragraph that was a six line comma splice nightmare in hell was translated into 4 or  5 beautiful sentences. Do I get credit for that? Noooooo.

So before you sit and bitch out your translator because you knew you meant fastest when you wrote it in Portuguese, remember that we know how fastest is supposed to be used.

Secondly, if we do make an error be kind. We are not machines. We are merely the foreigners you hired to guarantee that you don't get a Google translated paper. As with any humans, we can even make errors in revision. Of course they will never compare to the errors of Google Translate. Way to go there Google!

Therefore I remind you, don't forget to hug your angry translator. We do better work that way. 

16 comments:

  1. I worked as a translator for almost a year - your post brought back some painful memories :)

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  2. Hang in there, Rachel! I cannot for the life of me translate anything (yet) but I totally get how difficult it can be. Sending you a virtual hug (how lame, I know, but bear with me) since clearly you need one right now!

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  3. uuughhhhhhh barf don't get me started

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  4. I find that things flow better and produce superior results when I thoroughly research the person I am hiring, regardless of the task. I ask to see their previous work and really go out of my way to personally check up on it if possible ( like when I hire an engineer for example, I visit the work and speak to his/her previous customers). This way I feel confident enough to grant that person quite a bit of freedom in getting the task done. I think this even more beneficial when it comes to translations since it could be that my version is too formal, or too informal, for the target audience and the translator is well placed to fix that. So research and choose well, then trust the person.

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  5. I charge extra when I have to edit before I translate. :) There is a serious lack of training regarding the use of commas in Brazilian Portuguese! Welcome to the club of the frustrated freelancers!

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  6. Hahaha funny you mention the google translator, I use it for everything XD

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  7. ahhhhh! omg! I translate mostly legal stuff and almost every document has different "language", it's like there is not a standard or it's not enforced. This week I gave back work of a court document and told them I couldn't handle the way this person writes. ohhhh they were mad. But really not as mad as me trying to translate a document that had denounicar every three words.

    But man, why are they chewing you out? asses. There are just some things better said in just Portuguese or just English.

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  8. OMG YES - Brazilians seem to looove the "six line comma splice nightmare in hell"!

    Translators also have to be mind-readers; we often have to translate the thought behind the words rather than the words themselves.

    A client once complained about my translation of "Farinha pouco, meu pirao primeiro." - Well, if I translated that literally, it'd be "Little flour, my porridge first" - so I changed it to some equivalent English expression that captured the sentiment behind it - "Looking out for number one." Apparently my version wasn't "poetic enough."

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  9. It was the way it was handled. The email was very knitty picky you know. And I did make some random little typos. Like there were two a's at one point. I should have caught that. Then again, he asked me to rush a 16 page dense paper that will be turned into a book. What do you expect when you ask for it in 3 days. Still my fault though, should have said no. That and it was sent from the editor who was obviously going to edit it per his job. I'm not the editor, I'm the translator.

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  10. Brasilicana, I was intrigued by your "farinha pouce, meu pirao primiero" dilema, and on first round with the hub, he thought that your "looking out for number one" didn't fit. But...after speaking on this subject for 10 minutes or more, for sure you were right...it's "I'm gonna save my own ass, and if it works out, I'll let you know to save your own"...that is what I got from it at least!

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  11. and forgive my mistakes, with hub and child hovering, hard to check one's words or thoughts clearly, too much interference! Farinha pouco, dilemma!...and so on. type-o queen.

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  12. Brazilians DO LOVE their commas! hahaha!

    I did a business translation recently and the secondary client bitched that it was horrible. Not true - I wonder who was making that judgement and for what secret purpose.

    My worst nightmare was a business contract - I had to bring in reinforcements!

    But the money is good...

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  13. Oh, yeah! translation money is GOOD!

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  15. Three days is considered a rushed deadline, you can and should charge higher prices.

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  16. What annoys me is that it was a rush and they still have it, almost 2 weeks later. They waited until the last minute again and are pushing me to review it quickly... again! I won't. They will get it back when I am done.

    And yes, the money is good! Why do you think I am bitching here and yet am totally taking care of it. I want future work :)

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