What pisses you off? ... when you're a translator? ... when you're a customer?

Less than 1 minute, my friend!

More than 10 years ago, when I was still working for an international Language Service Provider, I conducted an interview with our customers and our suppliers (translators). I just found an old PPT listing the results for our management at the time.

The question was simple: What pisses you off working with translators? What pisses you off working for customers?

Striking results:

I guess not that much has changed since… (I hope my English has improved since).


Gert Van Assche

About Gert Van Assche

At Datamundi we're paying a fair price to linguists and translators evaluating (label/score/tag) human translations and machine translations for large scale NLP research projects.

5 thoughts on “What pisses you off? ... when you're a translator? ... when you're a customer?

  1. Even 10 years later many things are still pretty accurate as it seems. Not sure if we should be alarmed, what do you think, Gert?

    As someone who was on both ends (being a translator and hiring translators) I recognize many of the irritating things. I’m luckier than some clients, though, because my experience as a translator helps me quite a lot when I need to hire translators for my own projects.

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    1. Both sides still get upset by the bad behavior of the other side. What struck me is that “disrespect” from the other, is something we all get pissed about, whatever role we play.

      Treat the others like you want to be treated yourself, is something I learned as a kid, and it turns out to be a super important “habit”. That simple lesson helps me every day to treat people fairly, customers, colleagues and suppliers.

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      1. “Treat the others like you want to be treated yourself” – it’s kinda obvious, isn’t it. Too bad sometimes people tend to forget this simple rule. For me the most important things are: speed, politeness and being accommodating. These simple things make a huge difference and work both ways. 🙂

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  2. I needed a new mouse for my laptop. Wireless or wired? A tough question. All mice looked alike to me. My husband, a great shopping hater, told me to choose those that fit both hands as I’m left-handed. OK, at least one criterion to help me. I selected an attractive wired mouse that “runs anywhere without a pad even on furry textiles”. It looked great to me but my husband was not that happy. He said it would loosen the laptop’s USB port, which was a weak spot in every PC. Why didn’t the seller (or manufacturer) warn me? I tried a dozen wireless mice in the store and not a single package explained this issue to me. My brain failed to connect USB ports and using mice. Some words of warning would help me to make the best decision and sellers to market their products. Something like “Wireless mouse will keep your USB ports last forever”:))

    Our clients are no different than me buying a mouse. They need our attention and training because we are professionals and they are not (in our field). Sometimes they feel helpless and need our help to make the best decision. Not that we do not care; we focus on the assignment and assume that clients know the same things that we do.

    One of my best clients, a very intelligent British lawyer, asked me about CATs. I tried to explain in few words. He said, do you really need them? It’s fine if you use human translation.

    Thank you, Gert, your poll is very relevant and insightful. I’m working on my website and will use the results to adjust my content. Specifically, No. 6 about a translator being not an expert in the domain. It rings a lot of bells with me.

    I wish I could be helpful the same way to you and Dmitry some day.

    1. “Not that we do not care; we focus on the assignment and assume that clients know the same things that we do.” – ah, yes, that happens quite often, I think. Sometimes clients actually do know what they need and working with them is very straightforward, but some clients will need some extra hand-holding and we need to be there for them. This should be part of our service package each and every time, I think. That’s why, I believe it is important to ask questions before just jumping on the project head first. Clients appreciate it when we’re thorough in our work. It builds trust and gives them a sense of security.

      Just my 2 cents. 🙂

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