This is a follow-up to my previous article about not tampering with 100% matches. In this post, I provide examples of situations where the changes to the existing translations resulted in problems.
With any change to TMs, clients may suspect that it makes translations inconsistent or incorrect. Here is an example where our translator made a preferential change to the translation, but did not make the same change to a very similar segment (the only difference was in a tag):
German: Beträgt die Formbandgeschwindigkeit mehr als 30 mm/s, wird die Vorpresse wieder automatisch geschlossen.
Existing Russian translation: Если скорость формовочной ленты больше чем 30 мм/с, то предварительный пресс снова закрывается автоматически.
Corrected translation: При скорости формовочной ленты более 30 мм/с предварительный пресс снова автоматически закрывается.
Similar segment unchanged:
Beträgt die Formbandgeschwindigkeit mehr als 30mm/s, wird die Vorpresse wieder automatisch geschlossen.
Если скорость формовочной ленты больше чем 30мм/с, то предварительный пресс снова закрывается автоматически.
Making this inconsistent change that was unnecessary to begin with led to wasted time for both the client and us, triggering a chain of emails with questions and answers. Although this was a minor issue that did not have any impact on meaning, it did not enhance our reputation.
Preferential edits impacting existing translations
Here is an example:
English: Retain this manual for future reference.
Existing Russian translation: Сохраняйте это руководство для справок в будущем.
Corrected translation: Сохраните это руководство для обращения к нему в будущем.
Although I like the corrected translation more, I am not sure it was necessary. It caused our client to contact us for clarification. The client was surprised to see that we had changed the translation that had been already used successfully in a few previous manuals. The only explanation we could give was stylistic. And when you mention style, clients may understandably suspect a preferential edit—a valid reason to get irritated when it comes to translations already used for other products.
Tampering with approved translations
Sometimes, as a translator or an editor, you may come across existing translations that are seemingly too far from the original. This may mean that the previous translation was done or heavily edited by someone on the client’s side who knew the subject matter so well that she was comfortable completely rewriting the source with her own words instead of using the accurate translation typical of professional translators. In this case, it is not a good idea to assume the translations are wrong. Here is an example:
Existing Russian translation: Стрип
Corrected translation: Тест-полоска
This was an English to Russian translation in the field of laboratory diagnostics. We were compelled to change the translation, only because the word “стрип” does not exist in the Russian language. It turned out that “стрип” was the client’s own translation, which they wanted to keep. Even though the translation did not look right to us based on linguistic considerations, it made perfect sense to the client—and this is what matters in the end.
100% and other matches warrant changes much less frequently than most translators change them. This is especially true for purely stylistic changes that add little value, but can be irritating. It is best to limit changes to corrections of indisputable errors and inconsistencies with the new translations.
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