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NEVER ask the client
Autor de la hebra: Daniel Frisano

Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Alemania
Local time: 16:00
Miembro 2007
neerlandés a alemán
+ ...


Posted via
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Of course... Apr 3

... there are jobs where you better don't ask any questions. Just do the job and don't ask why. That would be better for all parties involved, i.e. for you, your client and the police, who has less work then. I think, some of you understand what I mean, don't you?

Christel Zipfel
P.L.F.Persio
Mervyn Henderson
Angie Garbarino
 

Sadek_A  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:00
inglés a árabe
+ ...
..... Apr 3

1. Asking clients questions to clear a confusion or solve a mystery is not the culprit behind industry's current situation. True, some providers ask 'unwise' questions easily answerable by the internet, dictionaries, etc.; but, that's usually a wrong HR choice committed by client themselves.
2. Not asking clients questions could fire back at innocents, translators and/or clients.

Say there is a company's foreign driver with a truck carrying barrels of some sort, some mishap oc
... See more
1. Asking clients questions to clear a confusion or solve a mystery is not the culprit behind industry's current situation. True, some providers ask 'unwise' questions easily answerable by the internet, dictionaries, etc.; but, that's usually a wrong HR choice committed by client themselves.
2. Not asking clients questions could fire back at innocents, translators and/or clients.

Say there is a company's foreign driver with a truck carrying barrels of some sort, some mishap occurs and barrels spill contents on the road. Both carriage and road are compromised, and the whole matter is under investigation by police and company. In his statement, driver says "the barrels could have been left not well-secured".

Now:
- For a translator unwilling to ask questions: the barrels are inside the truck, and the truck is with the driver, and hence it's the driver that "could have left [them] not well-secured".
- For a translator willing to ask questions: there are a number of possibilities that can't be settled through guessing. There could have been a driver's assistant responsible for the securing, or a whole loading team at the original plant/warehouse, or the truck went through several destinations where unsecuring and resecuring might have taken place.

If, for some reason or another, "could have been left" can't be conveyed into target language exactly as is without the need to indicate a person, then guessing will be a dangerous game.

In the case of the first translator, a likely-innoncent driver might be fined, terminated and/or tried for negligence or worse. The translator himself/herself, if exposed, might suffer similar consequences, and the excuse of "I wanted to show client I was able to handle it all on my own" won't stand.

It's because of such probable misinfo that I have once, on this forum, opposed those who advocated rearranging, combining and summarizing sentences and paragraphs of the source text.

Similar need for clarification is found in several other jobs. A doctor asks about medical history, eating and drinking habits, etc. A paramedic asks about medications, allergies, etc. If they don't, client would be the first to face consequences.
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Liviu-Lee Roth
P.L.F.Persio
Marina Taffetani
 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:00
alemán a inglés
+ ...
I would not consult a doctor with that attitude, or any other professional Apr 4

The question is of course, WHAT do you ask your client. And what you should know. Any professional who puts on an air of omniscience is a risky person to entrust anything to, because nobody is omniscient, nobody knows everything, and part of the answers lie in what that professional should ask. I ask my clients things all the time. I also have their respect. I also quote a decent fee for my services, which I quote, and my clients do not impose. It is all part of the same thing. At the same... See more
The question is of course, WHAT do you ask your client. And what you should know. Any professional who puts on an air of omniscience is a risky person to entrust anything to, because nobody is omniscient, nobody knows everything, and part of the answers lie in what that professional should ask. I ask my clients things all the time. I also have their respect. I also quote a decent fee for my services, which I quote, and my clients do not impose. It is all part of the same thing. At the same time I am competent in my profession, and know what things don't need to be asked. I admit to not having the whole thread, so perhaps that part got clarified along the way.Collapse


Kevin Fulton
Philip Lees
Josephine Cassar
P.L.F.Persio
Teresa Borges
Thomas T. Frost
Rachel Waddington
 

Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Grecia
Local time: 17:00
Miembro 2008
griego a inglés
Error checking Apr 4

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

The question is of course, WHAT do you ask your client. And what you should know.


What do you do if you think there is an error in the source text, especially one that might easily be due to a dictation error or (nowadays) autocorrect. For example, should that word really be "separation" or "suppuration"?

I doubt any competent translator, even Daniel, would just go ahead and translate the source text "as is", without checking back with the client.


P.L.F.Persio
Mervyn Henderson
Matthias Brombach
Thomas T. Frost
Rachel Waddington
Baran Keki
expressisverbis
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 16:00
español a inglés
+ ...
This just in: Apr 4

Carabinieri were called to a supermarket at an undisclosed location in the Italian region of Liguria yesterday when a customer objected vociferously to what he called "endless, unnecessary questions" regarding his purchases.

A tearful Clara Pugliani, 22, cashier, said: "Mamma mia, it was terrible. All I did was ask if he wanted a plastic bag, and he said nothing at all, just stood there frowning with his lips pursed, drumming his fingers on the counter. Then I asked him if he had a
... See more
Carabinieri were called to a supermarket at an undisclosed location in the Italian region of Liguria yesterday when a customer objected vociferously to what he called "endless, unnecessary questions" regarding his purchases.

A tearful Clara Pugliani, 22, cashier, said: "Mamma mia, it was terrible. All I did was ask if he wanted a plastic bag, and he said nothing at all, just stood there frowning with his lips pursed, drumming his fingers on the counter. Then I asked him if he had a ticket for the car park, and I could see a vein starting to pulsate on his forehead, he was breathing heavily and snorting through his nose, and then it all came out: “Why is everybody asking a customer all these questions? What is it with the bloody questions?" he shouted, and began to thump my till.”

What Clara did not know then was that there had already been trouble in the aisles earlier. Shelf-stacker Giancarlo Passini, 25, had been filling up his section when the man appeared. Giancarlo claimed he merely said “Hello, how are you?”, whereupon the customer sniffed loudly, and asked him where the pasta section was. Giancarlo told him it was two aisles down. “Provided,” he added, “you want normal pasta. Do you want whole-grain pasta? Because that’s in the health section down at the back, you see.”

According to Giancarlo, the man snarled nastily and said “I’ll ask the questions, sonny. I’m the customer. Customers never have to answer questions.”

Later, in the beverages aisle, Laura Zazarro, 23, noticed the same man putting a Peroni sixpack in his cart, and said “Oh, do you want to take another one, sir? Because the second sixpack is half-price, you see.”

“He just looked through me,” said a shaken Laura, “put another sixpack in the cart, and yelled “Any more questions, love? I don’t have all day to mess around here, you know. Tell you what, I’ll give you my e-mail and you can ask me all the questions you like. But for the moment, I’d just like to get on with my shopping. If you don’t mind, that is.”


[Edited at 2021-04-04 10:10 GMT]

[Edited at 2021-04-04 16:21 GMT]
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Thomas T. Frost
Chris S
P.L.F.Persio
Angie Garbarino
Philip Lees
Rachel Waddington
Michael Wetzel
 

IrinaN
Estados Unidos
Local time: 09:00
inglés a ruso
+ ...
Never say never Apr 4

It's written beautifully and soooo smoothly. Too bad this is not how it works... Haven't you encountered cases like that?

Daniel, are you aware that you absolutely can not guess or change a single character in a legal document?

Even with the most obvious conclusion, the most obvious typo resulting in creation of another word etc., and Mighty Babylon's help I would require my clients to make sure that I see the correction done by them.

There are questions th
... See more
It's written beautifully and soooo smoothly. Too bad this is not how it works... Haven't you encountered cases like that?

Daniel, are you aware that you absolutely can not guess or change a single character in a legal document?

Even with the most obvious conclusion, the most obvious typo resulting in creation of another word etc., and Mighty Babylon's help I would require my clients to make sure that I see the correction done by them.

There are questions that have nothing to do with translation of a specific term.

I think I've shown this example before:

*** Earthquakes, flood, fire, hurricanes, government regulations and other natural disasters ***

Would you still avoid any contact with the lawyer on that? I didn't, mentioned that I agree with the notion wholeheartedly but wanted to make sure whether they do or do not wish to re-phrase. Got a hearty laugh, a praise and A REQUEST to contact him directly in case of anything I may consider "unclear or strange", no matter how small it may be on the surface.

I just don't like any sweeping statements and generalizations. Other than that, I can't beat Kay-Viktor's post.

The part of your rant that relates to dozens of dumb questions and annoying the clients... I think it's a fair price the clients pay for hiring by one criterion only - the cheapest. Let that inept bunch of clients be annoyed to nausea, insomnia and 24/7 splitting headache. Amen!
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Ines R, PhD
P.L.F.Persio
expressisverbis
Mervyn Henderson
Maciek Drobka
Marina Taffetani
Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:00
alemán a inglés
+ ...
Philip Apr 6

Philip Lees wrote:

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

The question is of course, WHAT do you ask your client. And what you should know.


What do you do if you think there is an error in the source text, especially one that might easily be due to a dictation error or (nowadays) autocorrect. For example, should that word really be "separation" or "suppuration"?

I doubt any competent translator, even Daniel, would just go ahead and translate the source text "as is", without checking back with the client.

I was not able to ascertain why you were asking the question. It would appear that you agree with me, per this question. But since you only quoted my first sentence I'm note sure.


 

Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Grecia
Local time: 17:00
Miembro 2008
griego a inglés
Agree Apr 6

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

Philip Lees wrote:

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

The question is of course, WHAT do you ask your client. And what you should know.


What do you do if you think there is an error in the source text, especially one that might easily be due to a dictation error or (nowadays) autocorrect. For example, should that word really be "separation" or "suppuration"?

I doubt any competent translator, even Daniel, would just go ahead and translate the source text "as is", without checking back with the client.

I was not able to ascertain why you were asking the question. It would appear that you agree with me, per this question. But since you only quoted my first sentence I'm note sure.


Yes, I did register agreement with your previous post. Mine was intended as an example of the kind of question you were talking about. Sorry if that wasn't clear.


 

Gerard Barry
Alemania
Local time: 16:00
alemán a inglés
Interesting question Apr 6

This is an interesting question. Personally, I think translators are too reticent about asking questions. They don't want to admit when they don't know something. But let's face it: the translator's lack of knowledge is not the only problem here. Sometimes source texts are so badly written it's nothing short of a guessing game trying to figure out what the hell the author is trying to say. I'm often tempted to ask the client to make an attempt to write more clearly and to avoid ambiguities in th... See more
This is an interesting question. Personally, I think translators are too reticent about asking questions. They don't want to admit when they don't know something. But let's face it: the translator's lack of knowledge is not the only problem here. Sometimes source texts are so badly written it's nothing short of a guessing game trying to figure out what the hell the author is trying to say. I'm often tempted to ask the client to make an attempt to write more clearly and to avoid ambiguities in their texts. But as an in-house translator, I can't really do that.Collapse


Rachel Waddington
P.L.F.Persio
Robert Forstag
Teresa Borges
Mervyn Henderson
 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italia
Local time: 16:00
italiano a inglés
Tribal Apr 6

I once had a translation where the author - an artist - wrote "Sono tribale tra le mie cose" (for those who don't speak Italian, that would literally translate as "I am tribal among my things". That's not how I translated it at the time - I've erased the experience from memory).

Now to me, "tribal" brings to mind a tribe, being surrounded by lots of things. But to be sure, I checked with the client. What did he mean by "tribal" in this particular context?

The answer? <
... See more
I once had a translation where the author - an artist - wrote "Sono tribale tra le mie cose" (for those who don't speak Italian, that would literally translate as "I am tribal among my things". That's not how I translated it at the time - I've erased the experience from memory).

Now to me, "tribal" brings to mind a tribe, being surrounded by lots of things. But to be sure, I checked with the client. What did he mean by "tribal" in this particular context?

The answer?

"Isolated".
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P.L.F.Persio
Teresa Borges
Mervyn Henderson
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
sueco a inglés
+ ...
Never ANSWER the client either Apr 6

Darn it, I missed the whole storm in an espresso cup.

I’d like to take this one step further and insist that translators NEVER answer questions either.

Time and time again, I get asked the same stupid questions.

When can you do this for? DON’T answer. They’ll get it when it’s ready.

Why did you translate cat as dog? ABSOLUTE RADIO SILENCE. Never admit fault. Especially legal translators.

Why aren’t you answering my questi
... See more
Darn it, I missed the whole storm in an espresso cup.

I’d like to take this one step further and insist that translators NEVER answer questions either.

Time and time again, I get asked the same stupid questions.

When can you do this for? DON’T answer. They’ll get it when it’s ready.

Why did you translate cat as dog? ABSOLUTE RADIO SILENCE. Never admit fault. Especially legal translators.

Why aren’t you answering my questions? DO NOT feed the troll. Block them.

Persist and eventually they’ll stop asking. Result.
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Matthias Brombach
Thomas T. Frost
Teresa Borges
P.L.F.Persio
Ines R, PhD
expressisverbis
Mervyn Henderson
 

Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Alemania
Local time: 16:00
Miembro 2007
neerlandés a alemán
+ ...
And finally ... Apr 6

Chris S wrote:
No, nay, never!

... when they refuse to pay you and when you have sent them your final warning, together with wagging your finger towards them, then STOP ALL COMMUNICATION WITH THEM (as I was told elsewhere in one of these threads).

[Bearbeitet am 2021-04-06 11:51 GMT]


Thomas T. Frost
P.L.F.Persio
Chris S
expressisverbis
Mervyn Henderson
Philip Lees
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
sueco a inglés
+ ...
How the story ends Apr 6

So my client accidentally sends me his shopping list rather than the file he wanted me to translate (true story).

Because I am not inept, I ask no questions and translate the shopping list.

He asks me why I translated his shopping list.

I refuse to answer and send him the bill.

He doesn’t pay so I send a final reminder and never contact him again.

Luckily he’s the singer in a popular Irish band, so I put the job down as pro Bono.


Mervyn Henderson
expressisverbis
Teresa Borges
Christel Zipfel
P.L.F.Persio
Marina Taffetani
Thomas T. Frost
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 16:00
español a inglés
+ ...
Lucky ... Apr 6

... he didn't out you as someone prepared to translate shopping lists for money, while children all over the world have no shopping lists at all, let alone shopping lists to translate.

Hold it, Bono, I can feel a lyric coming on here ... "... and they still haven't found what we're shopping for". Maybe not ... er, how about "where the shops have no name"? ... er, "shopping bloody shopping"?


Chris S
P.L.F.Persio
Baran Keki
 

Veronica Montserrat
Francia
Local time: 16:00
Miembro 2020
inglés a francés
+ ...
. Apr 6

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 ...


So when you go to the dentist, you just open your mouth and expect the dentist to guess where it hurts? Or when you welcome a plumber in your house, you let him wander through your place to find the issue?
Communication is a basic in most jobs. So, why not in ours?
There are decisions that are purely linguistical, yes. And that's the job of the translator. But sometimes, in order to make a decision, we need more context and I do not see a problem in asking the client or pointing out a possible ambiguity or mistake in the source file (that happens a lot).


Rachel Waddington
Fiona Grace Peterson
Ines R, PhD
Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
Liviu-Lee Roth
Philip Lees
P.L.F.Persio
 
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