Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Too Many Words, Too Short a Deadline - a solution?

This was proposed by Oxford Translation Ltd in "Content for Reprint" (we are talking about 600 pages of a technical report needed in 48 hrs):

"If the translator cannot produce the best possible full translation within the time available, then an "optimal" solution should be agreed upon. Such translations could fall into one of the following categories: - "a translation that provides what is needed for the stated purpose" - "as good as possible in view of the customer's requirements" (...) Due to the obvious time limitations, a summary could be proposed as an alternative. This could have the additional advantage in that key bullet points raised for discussion in the international meeting would be more easily accessible in a summary. Of course, production of the summary would itself involve the translator reading all 600 pages of the report and that alone could probably take more than the two days available. So from a practical point of view, it might be that the person who is asking for the translation could provide a summary in his or her own language - after all that one person is most likely the one person who is fully aware of the salient points in the report (...) One of the ways in which an experienced translator can produce a long translation in a short space of time is by dictating the translation into a digital recorder and then emailing the translation to one or more typists who in turn type out the translation and send it back to the originating translator for correction before delivery to the customer. Using this technique, a translator can produce upwards of 10,000 words per day. Almost everyone can speak faster than they can type. [Sure, but can the typist type as fast as you talk? And do you "sight translate" at the same speed as you talk to your friends about the latest fishing trip??]...A similar technique uses one of the computer speech recognition programs, which have seen a great deal of improvement over the last few years. Using one of these systems, the translator can dictate the translation into a small microphone while at the same time his or her computer types the translation directly onto the computer screen. When completed, it can then be corrected, proof-read and sent to the customer. Of course a translation agency is always pleased to accept a long translation (as long as the deadline for completing the translation leaves enough time for the translation itself and proof-reading, etc.). [Unreal. My Dragon Speaks Badly was ditched after producing French text when I was talking in English to it. I don't speak French, and I don't have a French accent! As for proof-reading 600 pages, that needs a bit more than just 48 hrs, right?]If the original text is a technical document, translation memory systems can be used and this ensures that repeated expressions are translated automatically by the memory system. The reader is then reassured by repetition of the same phrase for the same action and vocabulary is standardized by the system, avoiding any ambiguity to the reader. The same word is always used for the same object. Lower costs can result from this, which can be passed on to the translation agency's customer. [Provided, of course, you are already in possession of such a TM and glossaries].

No further comments. I am a craftsman. I do not encourage clients to believe in myths. It would make much more sense to actually educate the client as to the need to include possible language needs into the business process from the very start.

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