alexpgp: (Default)
I was just translating a sentence that has the general (near-literal) form:
The areas where this applies are: a, b, c, d, and others.
(where I've substituted things like "atomic energy" with letters). While getting rid of that pesky colon is pretty straightforward, the sentence scans strangely, almost as if the writer was too lazy to complete the list.

Then it occurred to me that a smoother rendering might be:
The areas where this applies include a, b, c, and d.
Much better!

It turned out the item that arrived yesterday is sorta urgent (as in, the client wants it back today), so here I am, at the face of the salt mine, but not so rushed as to miss a subtle improvement such as this.

alexpgp: (Visa)
It is a matter of dealing with piles. And not piles of anything; just "piles."

As in "long things that are embedded in the ground to support buildings and such." And in particular, one kind of pile, but I get ahead of myself...

As I have come to understand it, a буронабивная свая is:
  • an in-situ pile (according to Multitran, which also gives bored pile and drilled pile as alternatives),
  • a bored pile, according to the title of a paper I'm using as a reference,
  • a situ-cast pile, according to another paper title,
  • a bored situ-cast pile, according to yet another paper title,
  • a pile cast in a hole predrilled in soil, according to yet another paper title (which is more a description of what happens than of what this blessed animal is called.
Moi, I tend to like bored situ-cast pile, as it tends to capture the essence of the thing (drill a hole, pour cement in it).

Strangely, however, as the other variations appear in the titles of papers being cited in this article I'm translating, I am pretty much forced to use said renderings.

No biggie. With any luck, I shall finish this journal today and take a load off my mind.

alexpgp: (Default)
The object of today's hunt is: ОЭС.

The context has to do with hydroelectric generating plants. There are references to ОЭС Центра, ОЭС Средней Волги, ОЭС Юга и ОЭС Урала.

The expansion of the abbreviation is Объединенная энергетическая система. A straightforward translation might be United Power System.

My first "hit" online for the abbreviation gives me "Bulk Electricity System." This is not exactly impossible, but the "surprise" factor is a bit too high. After a little more poking, I find "United" might be "Unified," and "System" might be "Grid."

I proceed to transliterate some of the facility names and then compose a compound Google query as follows:
Yug Volga Tsenter Ural "(united|unified|interconnected) power (system|grid)"
I get a lot of variations on a theme, but my original gut feeling—United Power System—occurs quite frequently.

alexpgp: (Visa)

How shall I translate thee? Let me count the ways...

Just kidding.

I ran across the following in the Hays translation (2002) of Meditations, by Aurelius:

VI.6. The best revenge is not to be like that.
And since I have two other translations handy, I could not resist a comparison. First, from the venerable translation by George Long (1862):
VI.6. The best way of avenging thyself is not be become like the wrong-doer.
And finally, from the translation by the Hicks brothers (2002), published under the title The Emperor's Handbook:
VI.6. The best revenge is not to do as they do.
As my knowledge of Greek barely extends to asking for another glass of ouzo, I will certainly not presume to suggest which of these three is the "better" translation, as all three state the same basic idea.

My gut tells me that the Long translation, stodgy as it is, tries the hardest to follow the thought patterns embedded in the original Greek, come hell or high water. Consider the following, from that translation:
VI.8. The ruling principle is that which rouses and turns itself, and while it makes itself such as it is and such as it wills to be, it also makes everything which happens appear to itself to be such as it wills.
I don't know about you, citizen, but it took me a couple of passes through this text to conclude that it sounds like some kind of riddle you'd expect in a tale of sword and sorcery. Compare that to the same "meditation" in, say, the Hays translation:
VI.8. The mind is that which is roused and directed by itself. In makes of itself what it chooses. It makes what it chooses of its own experience.
I will refrain from saying this is "better," but it sure as blazes is more comprehensible, at least to this citizen of the twenty-first century.


alexpgp: (St. Jerome w/ computer)
Ever since college, when it became clear to me that actually doing the homework was an important step toward getting an A or a B in a course like fluid mechanics, I've developed an informal set of tactics to turn stuff I'd rather not do into a game.

I do this now with some translations, and it generally stands me in good stead. One technique that I use is to track my progress through a document. The diagram below shows the number of words I had left to translate in a document against local time.

The gap between 10:40 am and 11:20 am occurred as I tried to deal with a small hurricane of tags in my segmented text.

To explain, Word files can contain tons of hidden information in text (this most often occurs when the file was created from a PDF). Since it's hidden, nobody generally gives a rat's tail about its existence. But when such a file is opened by a translation memory program such as memoQ, the result is pretty ugly:

All of those little gray doohickies represent some kind of instruction in the file text, along the lines of a change in font, or font size, or something along those lines. Translation memory programs that use such doohickies (the technical term for which is "tags") pretty much require them to appear in the translation (else the translated text runs a high risk of not looking right), and you'll pardon me if I don't bore you with the million and one ways satisfying this requirement can go wrong when there are this many tags in a segment.

How does one get rid of tags? Well, there are a number of methods out there, and none that I've found are perfect. The one I like the best is a set of Word macros marketed by a fellow named Dave Turner under the name CodeZapper (a copy of which was bought and paid for by yours truly some while ago). After running the basic tag-zapping macro, the text in the above illustration turned into this:

You'll notice there are a lot fewer tags in the cleaned up text, and while I could probably use this text as is, there were some other segments in the text that still retained a liberal quantity of tags. So I ran the heavy-duty zapping macro and got this:

Now, this is what I'm talking about!

The end result was mostly free of tags, and was a pleasure to translate.

P.S. For those impatient to know what kind of fascinatin' stuff it is I translate, here's the English translation:
The unit has a two-cylinder, four-stroke Briggs & Stratton engine, rated at 18 hp. The average fuel consumption (using unleaded gasoline) is 5.5 liters/hr.

alexpgp: (St Jerome a)
As a marvelous example of how not to do things ("Fire! Aim! Ready!"), I finally visited the Payment Practices web site to look up an outfit out of Chicago—it would be Chicago (go figure)—that does business as Cosmopolitan Translation Bureau, for whom I did a couple of small jobs a while back, the invoices for which remain unpaid.

Had I done that before undertaking work for them, I would never have agreed to do it, as Cosmopolitan apparently has quite a long history of non-payment. I've sent them a reminder, just for the heck of it, but I won't be terribly surprised to hear nothing back.

The good news is that the adverse financial impact due to this faux pas of mine is not so large as to make me cringe.

File this also in the Lessons-Learned Dept....
alexpgp: (St Jerome a)
One of the figures in the document I was working on today had a figure that underwent some kind of warp, resulting in the conversion of CP 1251 (single-byte Cyrillic) characters into CP 1252 (single-byte "Latin 1") characters.

I was now faced with the prospect of undoing the conversion, taking something like, um,
ñèñòåìíûé àíàëèç ðèñêà
and rendering it as something readable, i.e.
системный анализ риска
Fortunately, I not only covered this particular issue in my presentation titled Navigating the Cyrillic "Swamp" made at the 2002 ATA Conference in Atlanta (has it really been almost ten years?), but I also kept track of the associated PowerPoint presentation, which helped me "decode" the gibberish in the figure back into Russian.

Going after a little of that wow! factor, y'dig?

No turn left unstoned! :^)

alexpgp: (St Jerome a)
Every once in a while, your friendly, neighborhood translator is gobsmacked by an abbreviation that shows up in a document seemingly out of nowhere and, naturally, demands attention.

Take, for example, the Russian abbreviation "САР" (—please!) in a document I'm working on. To my credit, I realize there's a better than even chance that the last two letters stand for анализ риска (risk analysis), but without knowing what the first letter expands to, I may as well just transliterate the abbreviation (SAR) and move on, as it were.

That is, except for one sturdy little straw that's available for the grasping, involving a search using wildcards. Consider the following string:
In Microsoft Word's variant of wildcard code, this means "one or more occurrences of any lower-case letter between 'а' and 'я'." If one tacks the character 'с' to the front, like this:
followed by a space, performing a search will find every instance of a word of at least two letters whose first letter is 'с'. Continuing with this logic,
с[а-я]@ а[а-я]@ р[а-я]@
will find three consecutive words, of two or more letters each, that begin with 'с', 'а', and 'р', respectively (I use lower case because Russian is generally pretty sparing when it comes to capitalizing words).

I hit paydirt with the second successful "find":
системный анализ риска
or "system risk analysis."

There are times this technique will not work, but it's almost always worth a try when you're up against it.

alexpgp: (St. Jerome w/ computer)
The document I am working on has presented me with an abbreviation, but no expansion of same. This is not a particularly unusual situation for a translator to be in, and if push comes to shove, I would simply transliterate the abbreviation (with, perhaps, a translator's footnote).

That said, I would, of course, first take some time to go see what the Internet might offer as an expansion for the abbreviation. Except that in this case, the abbreviation in question is "ПРИ," which happens to also be a fairly common Russian word. (It would be a bit like trying to find the expansion for the abbreviation "FOR" in English text, as in: "The officers surrendered their sidearms before entering the FOR.")

In other words, the challenge is to find the meaning of a string of letters without directly using that string of letters.

Still, any first try will nevertheless involve using the abbreviation, together with relevant terms (in my case, these would the Russian equivalents of "destructive" and "nondestructive," referring to forms of material testing).

No joy.

At this point, context becomes all-important. The text here calls for "conducting" the ПРИ.

Based on previous experience with such texts, the last letter, И, very likely refers to the Russian equivalent of "investigation" (исследование) or—more likely—"testing" or "tests" (испытание).

Since the tests are being conducted on materials after they have been exposed over time to conditions that would tend to adversely change their physical properties, and since strength is an important physical property (and starts with the letter П), I attempt the following Google search
"прочностн * испытания"
(The first part of the search string is the root of the adjectival form of "strength," the asterisk is to let Google know that some unspecified string goes here, and the last word is, well, the last word.)

The response gives me what I am probably looking for:
прочностные и ресурсные испытания
Which is a term I've run across previously, in a related context, meaning "strength and fatigue testing" (which, by the way, fits the immediate context perfectly).

Still, because the text provides no expansion, a translator's note will be in order.

alexpgp: (St Jerome a)
I may have gotten turned around somewhere on the details, but a very long time ago, my mother introduced me to ghee, which I understand to be clarified butter with all of the water boiled out of it, leaving behind a golden liquid that I love to cook with.

Ghee tends to be a pretty pricey item in most health food stores (a 16 oz jar runs for about $10 in Durango, and it's about $12, if memory serves, at the recently opened market here in Pagosa), but if you don't mind standing over a stove for about 20 minutes, you can make about that much for the price of a pound of butter (and the energy it takes to melt it and boil out the water).

The basic procedure consists in melting the butter over moderate heat and then watching it—listening to it, actually—until it stops bubbling. The cessation of bubbling means the water in the mixture has boiled away, at which point I turn off the heat and let the process continue for a minute or two. If you cooked the butter over medium heat, you do not risk burning the product by finishing it off this way.

Typically, all of the solids will have migrated to the bottom of the pot, but I use a small piece of cheesecloth to filter out the few remaning solids that refused to sink. First, however, I pour the liquefied ghee into a quart Pyrex measuring cup and prepare the ghee container (a wide-mouthed screw-top jar) by running hot water over the outside surface. Then I pour the ghee through the cheesecloth into the jar, screw on the cap, and let it sit for a little while before putting it in the fridge.

The wide-top of the jar helps in digging out the product for use in cooking, and the ghee itself gives a nice taste to the food you prepare with it.

* * *
One of the things that perennially drive me nuts about Russian is the language's seeming insistence on using formulations of the form:
Питер больше чем в два раза меньше чем Москва

[St. Petersburg] is more than two times smaller than Moscow
The engineer in me protests. It's the word "times" that does me in, I think. The word screams "multiplication" at me, but multiplying anything by a number greater than one doesn't result in a number that's smaller than what you started with.

A few moments of reflection make clear what is intended. Something that is "two times smaller" is "half the size"; "three times smaller" is "one-third the size." In a recent translation, however, I ran across something that was "1.5 times smaller," which—using the pattern of inverting the number, i.e., 2 becomes 1/2, etc.—is the same as 1/1.5, or "two thirds the size."

The example above contains an additional nuance: it says one city is "more than two times smaller," implying (for the sake of argument) "more than two and less than three," and ultimately, if you run the thought process to the end, you arrive at the following:
[St. Petersburg] is less than half the size of Moscow.
I will admit to a certain amount of laziness in the past, in going along with the "x times smaller" wording in English. In the future, unless I risk adding some kind of ambiguity into my translation, I think I will pursue the more native style of English expression.

alexpgp: (Default)
The Wordfast translation memory package lives inside a Word template, so essentially the only thing running when you use the product is Word. This lends a lot of inertia to the idea of processing a document linearly, from the beginning all the way to the end.

That's not much of a problem, except that more often than not, the structure of a document results in better progress in some places (and worse in others), depending on what's under your cursor.

For example, tables of numbers really require very little effort to translate (generally, there are column headings and—in my practice—a need to change the decimal delimiter from a comma to a period). Otherwise, pretranslated segments require—ceteris paribus—a modest effort as compared to new text.

I mentioned the other day how the (inadvertently found) ability to address only pretranslated segments is a plus. Edit them, and then when you import a "clean" file (one with no pretranslated segments), the edited segments are filled in by the software.

I noted yesterday how sorting from shortest to longest string allowed me to determine that more than half of the segments generated by memoQ from the clean document are short items (e.g., numbers, section numbers, equation numbers, short mathematical expressions, etc.). That gave me a modicum of peace of mind, but did not address my principal concern at this point in the project, i.e., making sure I make enough progress early on in the project to assure on-time delivery.

You see, given the nature of the beast, progress can't be measured in terms of translating x segments per day, because of the way they're mixed up. As an extreme example, if I decide to address 700 segments per day and run into a section where there's a table with 700 numbers in it, that's not a day's work. The issue is never as clear cut, but I digress...

The solution to my problem is to sort the segments in the other direction, from longest to shortest, and then start translating from the top of the list. This should result in some difficult days up front, where I'm only translating new text, but it will apply my efforts to best effect.

And now, to work!

alexpgp: (Default)
If lettering on a graphic in a PowerPoint slide is not legible when in full-screen display mode, then it doesn't matter that such text can be made legible by copying the graphic, zooming in by 400%, applying a contrast filter, and then running the result through an OCR program that uses DARPA neural network algorithms.

It's illegible.

Just sayin'.

alexpgp: (Default)
I was not able to find any good translation for "система оперативно-разыскных мероприятий," and one suspects there really isn't one, at least not outside the boundaries of close-to-literal translation.

The words "разыскных мероприятий" refer to "investigative activities" or "investigative functions." Easy enough.

"Оперативный" (and its variants) is an often-encountered word that, in my mind, has a meaning that exhibits aspects of "in a brisk, workmanlike manner," "without undue delay," and "in the course of usual operations." The cognate "operational" is often forced into service here, simply because no other good alternative comes to mind and time is short. I've also seen "real time" (as in "the committee deals with new issues in real time"), but don't like it.

There are also times when the word need not be translated at all (similar to the collocation "технологический процесс," where the first word can often be ignored, leaving the cognate "process" in the engineering sense, e.g., "Has anyone seen the process flow sheet?"). This characteristic, it occurs to me, is a mark in favor of "operational," simply because in many contexts, it's not a word that conveys a whole lot of meaning.

But, as it turns out, the phrase "оперативно-разыскные мероприятия" does appear in Multitran, as "investigative work," but I don't like it for the term at hand.

Interestingly, what the system does is a far cry from its rather innocuous name. Here's an excerpt desbribing the system's operation, from the site:
Аппаратура СОРМ устанавливается на АТС и у провайдеров интернет-услуг, а пульт дистанционного управления располагается в подразделениях ФСБ. Система СОРМ позволяет контролировать исходящие и входящие вызовы абонентов, по команде из пункта управления осуществлять разъединение установленного соединения, конспиративно подключаться к любым абонентским линиям, в том числе находящимся в состоянии соединения, а также осуществлять необходимую запись, перехватывать и читать электронную почту. В принципе СОРМ даёт возможность не только читать электронную почту, но и производить съём любой входящей Система оперативно-разыскных мероприятийи исходящей информации российских пользователей при их работе в Интернете.

SORM equipment is installed at automatic telephone exchanges and Internet service providers, while the remote control panel is located at FSB subdivisions. The SORM system allows monitoring of a subscriber's incoming and outgoing calls, allows established connections to be broken by a command from the control center, enables covert connection to any subscriber lines (including those in the connected state), as well as performing necessary recording, interception, and reading of electronic mail. In principle, SORM provides an ability not only to read electronic mail, but also to read any information entering the Система оперативно-разыскных мероприятий when Russian users employ the Internet. (my translation)
For the purposes of my immediate assignment, I think I shall use the very nondescript "System of Operational Investigative Aids," and keep moving!



UPDATE: One of the things I've noticed occurring in the course of a translation is how the recurrence of a term in various contexts will affect the way I decide to render a term. It is, in fact, one of the reasons I detest submitting work in pieces, because invariably, shortly after sending in a chunk of work, I'll find something that needs improvement (if not outright correction, although that's rarer).

After seeing "оперативно-разыскные мероприятия" a couple of more times in the text I'm working with, I am of the opinion that my first impression was right (ignore "operational") and that I should understand the "мероприятия" to refer to activities, as opposed to the thing used in those activities.

So, as of noon, it's "System for Investigative Activities."
alexpgp: (Visa)
An unsolicited email crossed my router today, for a huge into-Russian job. I don't work into Russian, but the rate offered intrigued me. I knew it was low, but could not determine how low by inspection, because "X per page" made no immediate sense to me.

Most payments I deal with involve word count. I started in this business doing translations based on a source word count that was, of necessity, based on the kind of technology that was used to calculate column-inches of text back when Linotype represented the apex of publishing technology (i.e., a ruler and a pencil). The advent of computers made it easy to count words, and since determining source word count from paper documents was so cumbersome and prone to error, counting the number of words in a target language file became the standard way of charging for the work.

In other countries, work is paid on the basis of lines or pages of standard "size." Today's into-Russian project specified a payment of "120 to 130 rubles per standard page," where a standard page is defined to be 1800 characters, including spaces.

After finishing the work I had received early this morning, I rummaged through my archives to find some representative group of assignments and recorded the word count and character count so conveniently provided by Microsoft Word. (By the way, throughout this post, what I refer to as "character count" should be interpreted as including spaces.)

Excel helped create the following x-y scatter chart using my data.

There's nothing really unexpected in the linear nature of the line on the graph, and the result supports the idea—one that goes back to the early days of telegraphy—that a "word" in English consists of five letters plus a space, or 6 characters in all (although technically, the number is more like 6.3 according to the data of my informal analysis).

Today's exchange rate between rubles and dollars (obtained by entering the search string "exchange rub usd" into Google) is just about 30, so the maximum offered rate is
130/30 = $4.33
to be paid for
1800/6.3 = 286 words,
which allows us to determine a target word rate of
$4.33/286 = $0.0152,
or basically a penny-and-a-half a word.

Not my cup of tea.

I'll just file away that 6.3 chars/word figure. It may come in handy some day.

alexpgp: (St. Jerome w/ computer)
The only thing worse than coming across a Russian word that, according to Google, does not exist outside of my document is a word that is used some number of times, but never on a page that might provide an English equivalent. In the first case, I'm simply well and truly Sierra-Oscar-Lima; in the latter, I need to actually do some work.

So it was yesterday with the word "заневолевание," a term applied to springs. From the context, it was clear the term referred to some operation performed on springs.

My first promising lead was a Russian patent involving a device to perform this operation on springs, but it led nowhere. Then, I was fortunate enough to run across a Russian site that explained what happens during the process. My partial translation:
The process of fabricating heavy-duty springs should end with a production test or "заволеванием," which consists in compressing compression springs until the coils touch each other [...]. During "заневолевании," springs are subjected to loads that exceed the elastic limit, which causes the springs to plastically deform, creating residual stresses that are opposite in sign to the working stress. This allows the spring working load to be increased during operation.
I then did the following Google search:
spring load complete compression "plastic deformation" "residual stress"
which led me presently to a "Google Books" page in a tome titled Space Vehicle Mechanisms: Elements of Successful Design, wherein I found the following:
Helical compression springs are frequently coiled such that when they are compressed to a solid the first time, significant plastic deformation and set occurs. The resulting residual stress pattern will be opposite to subsequent applied stresses and further set during use will be minimized. Often, this "set-out" procedure is conducted at elevated temperature [...].
I'd have felt better if the Web provided some corroborating use of this kind, but nothing appears on the first couple of Google pages. In the end, this result seems a lot more solid than most, so I'll run with it.

alexpgp: (St Jerome a)
The job's not finished yet, but a couple of items have been driven home over the course of reviewing very nearly 200,000 words of translation.

First, watch out for the overuse of the word "also," especially in constructions along the lines of "and also" (e.g., "The company will try to sustain performance and also to introduce new technologies.)

There is a hazard as well in the premature (and, in my opinion, superfluous) appearance of "also," as in the sentence
Other countries attempting to accelerate biofuel production have also encountered problems similar to those experienced in the United States.
I find it's a little jarring to be hit with that "also" like that, its placement reminds me of the instruction "turn left where the barn used to be" given to the lost motorist in the old joke about the city-slicker and the New England farmer. The sentence reads perfectly well without the word:
Other countries attempting to accelerate biofuel production have encountered problems similar to those experienced in the United States.
In short, I've found that a significant percentage of "also" occurrences can be deleted without harming the text. Maybe it's a peccadillo of this particular translation, but still...

Second, it's almost always possible to get rid of fluff like "We should note that..." For example,
Looking back at history, we should mention that on October 8, 1975, at a scientific session de­voted to [a branch of scientific research, an eminent person gave a speech about energy.]
At the very least, the "we should mention that" can be dropped to read
Looking back at history, on October 8, 1975, at a scientific session de­voted to [a branch of scientific research, an eminent person gave a speech about energy.]
And frankly, I think the sentence survives very well - and the overall text reads smoother - in the following form:
On October 8, 1975, at a scientific session de­voted to [a branch of scientific research, an eminent person gave a speech about energy.]
I really should get back to work, even if my heart isn't really in it. I can hear Galina packing upstairs.

alexpgp: (St Jerome a)
Oh, Saint Jerome preserve us!

Please do take care to make sure you translate напряженность поля радиопомех as
radio-noise field intensity
and not
radio-noise fiend intensity
Your spell checker won't save you if that happens, y'know.

Just sayin'...
alexpgp: (St Jerome a)
The assignment I got upset about on Friday went and got me upset again tonight, as I was finishing it, but thank goodness the work is done. This post just may be catharsis.

I feel as if advantage has been taken of me a second time, and the question foremost in my mind is: Should I say nothing and just refuse future work from this project manager, or should I make an issue of it?

You see, when I invoiced a recent job with this project manager, I was suddenly told that certain jobs - including the one I had completed - were paid on a source word count basis, and that I should resubmit my invoice.

I won't dispute that, had I undercharged the client and been told to amend my invoice, you never would have seen this post. As it turns out, however, the source rate yields a smaller payday because Russian word count is, generally speaking, between 15% and 25% smaller than the English word count for a given slug of Russian text. When I mentioned that I had not received any such notification, the issue was quickly resolved in my favor, though I was asked to keep this policy in mind for future jobs.

Anyway, the job that arrived Friday arrived with a flawed source count (the source document is a PDF, which raises its own questions), and obviously, the count was low. But that's not what annoys me the most. What really irks me is that most of the assignment involved contract language, which tends to weigh in toward the high end of the expansion scale.

Will you tolerate a short digression? Here's an example:
Russian source:
Таможенный брокер обязуется способствовать в рамках законодательства Российской Федераций сокращению сроков таможенного оформления декларируемого товара Заказчика.

English translation, sort of:
The-(Customs Broker) obligates-self to-facilitate, within the-framework of-(Russian Federation) law, reduced-time-for customs clearance for-the-Customer's declared goods.
The hyphens cause the English words to roughly "chunk" to the corresponding Russian words (which doesn't always work, by the way, but my digression digresses...). The difference in word count between the source and target is -1 (the English is actually one word shorter, but again, I wander further afield...).

Getting rid of the hyphens and changing the wording slightly obtains my translation:
The Customs Broker agrees to facilitate reduced customs clearance time for the Customer's declared goods within the framework of Russian Federation law.
That's 22 words instead of 16, a nearly 40% expansion in this case. And this happens a lot in contracts.

So between the undercount and the expansion factor the end result is that I've put in a lot of effort, gotten the job done, and again feel as if I've been taken for a ride.

And in the course of tapping out this post, I've decided I'm just going to send in the job with no comment, along with my invoice, and just not accept any more work from this project manager. Life is just too short, and I should have probably put out this fire back on Friday.

Lesson learned.


P.S. BTW, here's Google's translation of the same source text:
Customs Broker undertakes to contribute to the law of Russia shorten the duration of the declared customs clearance of goods of the Customer.
The competition has a way to go, thank goodness.
alexpgp: (St. Jerome w/ computer)
Clients increasingly use translation memory to save money, by having translators "edit" segments from previous work done by others that resembles segments in the current job. Translators don't get paid as much for "editing" as they do for translation.

Why do I put "editing" in quotes? Well, back when I worked in-house for one of my clients, we basically took the criterion used by the American Translators Association, which the organization uses as the yardstick for "entry level proficiency," and adapted it to our situation. For example, if an editor found more than one major error per 250 words of text, it was considered cause for concern; finding two such errors within what amounts to one page of text was considered evidence of incompetent work.

With that in mind, consider that segments to be "edited" generally contain at least one major error per sentence, or - if we charitably assume an average of 25 words per sentence - about ten major errors per page. Some maintain that such work is no longer editing, but retranslation.

I do, but I just work here.

Whatever it is called, editing a client's pretranslated segments may have another, potentially deleterious outcome waiting in the wings if quality control at the client company is lacking. At best, this effect is an annoyance; at worst, it can adversely impact the overall quality of submitted work.

As an example, the document I'm translating/editing right now has "acquisition parameters" as a 100% match for "технические условия," strongly suggesting that my client is comfortable with that rendering. The problem is that "acquisition parameters" provides nothing near the meaning of "specification," which is the fairly standard rendering of the Russian source term.

Heck, even the literal and very nearly completely useless "technical conditions" is not as glaring an error as "acquisition parameters."

The bottom line is this: Seeing this kind of stuff awakens a little voice in that lazy, shirking, goldbricking part of the mind that all of us seem to have, urging us to not exert ourselves any further, because what we're already doing is better than what the client is apparently used to getting.

Listening to that voice is a sure-fire route to what motivational speaker Zig Ziglar calls "stinkin' thinkin'."

I've resisted the voice and not let it affect my attitude, but the awareness of that temptation is an annoyance. Fortunately, there are only 400 words or so left, so it won't be an annoyance for long.

alexpgp: (Default)
During our morning coffee, Mike brought up a deal that he had become involved with, involving a customer that wanted some pretty expensive flooring to be shipped to Sweden (talk about sending coals to Newcastle!).

The more he described the deal, the "itchier" I got, until finally I couldn't take it any more and Googled some of the salient points of the transaction, which revealed that the whole thing is... a scam.

In other news, I just sent an email response to a client who now says work originally assigned for noon Friday is due tomorrow morning (at the end client's insistence).

Heck, about half of today is gone, y'know?

So, basically, I withdrew from the assignment. Part of my email reads:
The deadline and range of materials to be handled (30 MB of reference documents, a 12K word source file, a file with "pretranslated segments," a second file with more translated segments) will not allow me, in my opinion, to provide a quality product in the time available.
Seeing as how I've been in a dry spell the past couple of weeks, the conventional wisdom would say "take any and all work," and I did actually make a concession in this job with regard to the percentage of "pretranslated" segments therein (I try to keep them to no more than 10% of the job).

However, if there's one thing chess has taught me, it has been to carefully consider the unconventional, which in this case translates into potentially losing a job if I feel uncomfortable doing it, no matter how much my wallet doth protest.

The client has called (which I sort of expected). Back to work.


UPDATE (10:41 am): The job has been canceled. In the end, I think this is for the best.


alexpgp: (Default)

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