In this post, I would like to point out several recurring issues I have noticed with regard to a review I recently received for Job 74874742.
At the outset, I would like to emphasize that I have great respect for Gengo's Language Specialists and have certainly learned a lot about the art of translation from the feedback I have received over the years. I am not writing this in order to target the competence or integrity of a specific reviewer, but rather to raise some questions regarding the standards and expectations that Gengo as a company sets for its translators, and how these expectations are communicated to the Language Specialists when they are onboarded and trained.
I hope that the following feedback will be helpful in further improving Gengo's review process. I would also appreciate it very much if other translators could share their own experiences on the matter.
First and foremost, I would like to point out that oftentimes, the only justification that the reviewer cites for marking a given translation as an error is vague and subjective.
I understand that while this is an issue that has repeatedly been brought up in these forums in the past, Gengo has said and done very little to address it, and so it may seem a bit like I am flogging a dead horse.
Nevertheless, I would like to unpack a little bit more precisely why this practice is damaging in being both unfair and unhelpful, with the hopes that my feedback will work towards encouraging Gengo to finally implement the necessary improvements in its review system.
For example, in the review in question, the reviewer issued a "Medium" semantic error for translating the word "nation" as 国家 instead of 国. The (sole) reason he/she/they has given for this is that 国家 is "大げさ", or literally, "grandiose" or "a bit much" (http://www.romajidesu.com/dictionary/meaning-of-%E5%A4%A7%E3%81%92%E3%81%95.html).
In another place, the reviewer marked the translation of "ancient" as 古色蒼然たる, rather than the reviewer's favored 旧式の, as a "Low" semantic error. The only reason cited is that "そこまでは言っていません" or "that is going too far".
Now I realize that translation is often more an art than a science and that sometimes in such matters it is necessary to defer to the judgment of an experienced translator. However, I have at least two issues with vaguely worded justifications of this kind:
For one thing, such kinds of comments are unfair, in that they are difficult to validate and contest on objective grounds. I hope that Gengo does not disagree that as much as possible, reviewers should give objective grounds for why a given translation is an error, by pointing out concretely why it either distorts the original meaning or is ungrammatical, in line with the criteria outlined in: https://support.gengo.com/hc/en-us/articles/115002394227-Job-Reviews-GoCheck-Error-Types.
For another, such comments are vague and therefore unhelpful. Gengo claims that one of the objectives of the review process is to "provide constructive feedback to the translators that helps them grow and improve" (as it is stated in the above article). But since each person will have different ideas of what counts as "grandiose", or "a bit much", for instance, it is difficult for us translators to figure out how exactly to apply this sort of feedback in our future work at Gengo.
I should point out that Gengo states that it expects Language Specialists to "be objective and fair in their reviews" (https://support.gengo.com/hc/en-us/articles/231441587-What-is-a-Language-Specialist-and-how-does-Gengo-manage-the-LS-team). It would appear to me for the reasons stated above that feedback of this sort is neither.
Second, I have noticed multiple instances where the reviewer in question does not seem to be behaving in accordance with the criteria Gengo provides to us translators.
For instance, in the example above, the reviewer has marked my translation of "nation" as 国家 as a "Medium" error. However, the Support Article defines a Medium error as "A noticeable error, including misrepresentation of the source or a clearly ungrammatical rendering of the target". It is not clear to me exactly why (even if we grant for the sake of argument that the choice of 国家 is somehow overly "grandiose" in the context) the mere fact that my original rendering is "grandiose" puts it on a par in terms of seriousness with other errors that have a clear impact on the accuracy and/or usability of a translation, such as "misrepresentation of the source" or "clearly ungrammatical rendering[s] of the target".
In fact, I would submit that, if this is indeed an error, then it is a good example of a "Low" semantic error, which Gengo defines as one that "does not significantly change the meaning of the translation".
As another example, the reviewer has marked a minor error concerning the same word that occurs several times as "Medium", writing that 頻出しますのでmediumとさせていただきます。 (= I have marked it as medium because it occurs "frequently").
Now, for one thing, the Support Article cited earlier does not say that multiple instances of the same error will count towards increasing the severity of that error, so I do not see what grounds the reviewer is relying on in making this judgment.
For another, this appears to be clearly contrary to the expectations that Gengo has communicated to us translators in the past: https://support.gengo.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/360014633413-Multiple-counting-for-the-same-error.
Third, and perhaps most worryingly from my perspective, I would like to point out the reviewer's application of the criteria is inconsistent, even within the same review.
For instance, in the above examples, the reviewer has marked my "grandiose" translation of "nation" as a "Medium" error, while my translation of "ancient", which is supposedly "going too far", was marked as a "Low" error. However, it is unclear to me just what the difference is supposed to be between a "grandiose" translation and a translation that is "going too far", and more importantly, why this difference would suffice to objectively justify the drastically different judgments of severity between the two cases.
Moreover, it is unclear to me how the reviewer's fluctuating judgments here relate to the criteria Gengo has outlined for us translators in https://support.gengo.com/hc/en-us/articles/115002394227-Job-Reviews-GoCheck-Error-Types.
It should be clear by now that the second and third points both circle back to the first. If the reviewer had been required to offer more clear and objective reasons, providing accessible supporting evidence and explicitly referencing the criteria set out by Gengo, for why a given error falls under a given type or category of severity, then this kind of seemingly arbitrary application of the criteria would be less likely to occur.
Indeed, since the Gengo Quality Control Team requires us translators to provide "detailed" evidence and "accessible references" in submitting the re-review request, I would respectfully ask that Gengo do us the bare human courtesy of applying the same standard to the reviewers themselves