Frustrated by translation changes
Thread poster: olaus_c

olaus_c
South Korea
Local time: 06:50
Korean to English
+ ...
Feb 26

I've been working for an electronic novel publisher (features novels translated from my native language to English, and sold per chapter) for several months. The good part is that it's regular work (which is rare to come by for a freelancer) and it pays the bills. The downside is the proofreader who makes changes that sometimes results in overtly literal, sometimes amateurish translation.

The proofreader is a company employee and probably a native English speaker. (This is just jud
... See more
I've been working for an electronic novel publisher (features novels translated from my native language to English, and sold per chapter) for several months. The good part is that it's regular work (which is rare to come by for a freelancer) and it pays the bills. The downside is the proofreader who makes changes that sometimes results in overtly literal, sometimes amateurish translation.

The proofreader is a company employee and probably a native English speaker. (This is just judging from how companies in my country often hire them as English teachers or proofreaders, and her physical features which I only saw briefly at the publisher, and the fact that my country is one of those ethnically boring and homogeneous nations where "foreigners" tend to stand out.) She never contacts me directly, but communicates indirectly through the freelancer contact agent in the company, either because it's company protocol or she has trouble write emails in my native language. (although I don't mind English emails) The agent also functions as an editor so she reviews my translations and generally approves of them, but sometimes she would tell me that certain noticeable changes were made because the proofreader said so. For example, lyrics of a song in the text which I meticulously worked on to deliver both meaning and rhythm was changed to literal, stiff sentences because the proofreader said readers can't understand poetry. (Yes, it is a YA novel, but really?) Another time she removed Rhotacism from a character whose dialogue the author intentionally wrote with speech impediments, also because "readers would be confused."

I tried arguing my case articulately and rationally through the agent, (since I don't know the proofreader's contact) but in the end the proofreader always gets the final say. I know nothing about her credentials, but apparently she is quite respected in the company and I'm only a freelancing translator. Still, I have worked as a translator for almost 8 years and YA novels or not, I respect the works I'm translating and believe they deserve better.

Perhaps swallow my pride and let go. After all, I don't even get credited for my work. Which brings me to the other downside of this publisher: they don't credit the translators. The thing is, it's pretty standard in this industry. Print books and complete editions of ebooks give translators credit, but electronic novels sold per chapter doesn't. The reason given is that translators change constantly (the pay is regular but somewhat low, and I suspect some of them had issues with the proofreader as well) so crediting per chapter is a hassle for the publishers, and partly because some translators are embarrassed to be associated with electronic novels for young adults. The best I can hope for is convince the publisher to credit their translators, which the agent said is being considered, but I won't give it too much hope.

I desperately need the job as my family's going through hard times, and I can't find any other jobs which also allows me to work from home and also pays regularly. I just wanted to know if you have similar experiences, and if so, how you dealt with it.



[Edited at 2019-02-26 15:43 GMT]
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Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 22:20
Japanese to English
Occasionally Feb 26

Conclusion first: If you desperately need the job, suck it up and don't complain. Your name isn't attached to the translation so you have no fear of it being tracked back to you.

That said, I have faced a similar situation before and:
1) Sometimes the native speaker is right. Seriously. Without concrete examples provided, we only have your word for it that the proofreader is ruining your work and that the finished product is poor.
2) When the agency gives me the chance
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Conclusion first: If you desperately need the job, suck it up and don't complain. Your name isn't attached to the translation so you have no fear of it being tracked back to you.

That said, I have faced a similar situation before and:
1) Sometimes the native speaker is right. Seriously. Without concrete examples provided, we only have your word for it that the proofreader is ruining your work and that the finished product is poor.
2) When the agency gives me the chance to respond to proofreader comments, I respond where necessary, suggest changes or compromises if needed and then I let it go. I tend to be more stubborn about actual mistranslations, but if it's alternative wording, have at it.

Also you didn't ask, but... you might want to start looking for new agencies and jobs if this makes you that unhappy.
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olaus_c
Katarina Peters
Claudia Leão
Kang Seok Lee
Dan Lucas
Sandra& Kenneth
Tom in London
 

olaus_c
South Korea
Local time: 06:50
Korean to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Gotta let go Feb 26

Thanks, Kuochoe. I can’t offer concrete examples since it can be a breach of contract, but it’s more of an alternative translation issue. I suppose you’re right that I should just suck it up and let it go. Looking back, I realized that part of my frustration comes from the fact that this publisher’s method regarding translation changes is something I’ve never experienced before.

Previously it was either of these two:

1. Publisher never showed proofread/edited
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Thanks, Kuochoe. I can’t offer concrete examples since it can be a breach of contract, but it’s more of an alternative translation issue. I suppose you’re right that I should just suck it up and let it go. Looking back, I realized that part of my frustration comes from the fact that this publisher’s method regarding translation changes is something I’ve never experienced before.

Previously it was either of these two:

1. Publisher never showed proofread/edited version—if there were any changes, I knew about them only after it’s published.

2. Publisher sent me proofread/edited version for final approval


The current publisher tells me what changes will be made but not necessarily to seek opinion, so I guess that’s why I felt frustration and loss of control. I should learn to shrug it off.
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Kang Seok Lee
South Korea
Local time: 07:20
Member (2018)
English to Korean
+ ...
Please don't mind too much for proofreader Feb 27

I am 100% agree with Mr.Kuochoe.
Surprisingly enough, there are many linguists who can't, (won't, maybe) understand what is proofreading and what is a translation. Like everybody agrees, it is just checking translated draft with an eye of objective view of a new linguist. Nothing more nothing less.
But very frequently, they make all new translation without any reasonable telling of why.
I think the agency should know how to make coordination between them.
Like the case o
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I am 100% agree with Mr.Kuochoe.
Surprisingly enough, there are many linguists who can't, (won't, maybe) understand what is proofreading and what is a translation. Like everybody agrees, it is just checking translated draft with an eye of objective view of a new linguist. Nothing more nothing less.
But very frequently, they make all new translation without any reasonable telling of why.
I think the agency should know how to make coordination between them.
Like the case of Mr.Kuochoe, I make comments only when the agency asks me. If no, I just let it go.
There is no reason to be involved nor make an endless game.
I would say; please diligently tap new agencies while working with your current outsourcer.
Himneseyo!!! ^^
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Kelly S
Li-Hsiang Hsu
Khadijam
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:20
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Don't worry about it Feb 27

olaus_c wrote:

....I just wanted to know if you have similar experiences, and if so, how you dealt with it.



Personally I don't care. I don't care who messes with my translations after I have delivered them, so long as I have done my best work and got paid for it.


Li-Hsiang Hsu
IrinaN
Khadijam
David Lin
 


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