When working at companies on projects that were supposed to be translated (not by me), I find there are a number of phenomena that sabotage quality:
1. Outsourcing and management of the translation project are often not handled by someone who would best understand how to deal with such a project. More often, they are handled by someone who wants to increase his fabulosity by managing something "international". In the US, this person is usually monolingual and has no understanding of quality or cultural issues.
2. Once the project goes into another language, it enters an alternative universe where everyone in the company abandons their usual quality standards. While they may require people with serious credentials to create a text in their own language, and run it past two or three crack editors and proofreaders, no such quality procedures are followed with translations.
3. The people managing and outsourcing the project do not care if the translation is accurate, as long as the translation agency has agreed to assume liability for all errors and omissions.
I saw No. 3 firsthand a few times at major advertising agencies. When working on a car catalog translated into Spanish, I noticed that it was shot full of claims that the car came with 4-wheel drive. This was a mistake, because it only came with front-wheel drive. I approached the account manager on this, since it can cause quite a lawsuit in the US, and he calmly said, "The translation house agreed to be liable for anything like that." I asked, "But do you really want the catalog to go out with false information?" He didn't seem concerned. (Luckily, in this case, I was allowed to deal directly with the translator.)
Sometimes also, for ego reasons, the account manager won't give the proofreaders or editors access to the translator or even to a project manager at the translation agency. Once I had a brochure for a very large worldwide chemical company that was to be passed out at trade shows. The back of the brochure showed a list of the company's dealer-partners in various countries, and the list had obviously been dictated to a semi-literate native speaker of English, who merely wrote down the German and French names the way they would be spelled if they sounded like that in English. The names of the companies were hopelessly garbled, and it would have been impossible to contact many of them. I had to go to the senior VP of the ad agency, because the account executive furiously refused to give me access to anyone who might have the correct list.
On Jun 16, 2013, at 5:18 AM, Jirka Bolech wrote:
> Hi Jamie,
> I guess some agencies can't resist the ultra cheap offers some job exchange websites are teeming with. It's not difficult to figure out what kind of people such "translators" are and how they operate. The pricing pressure at the cost of quality, however, starts with the client. I have translated numerous documents from sloppy English for large, globally renowed manufacturers. Quality and professionalism are rare animals. Low prices rule...
> Jirka Bolech
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