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I am sharing the following incident with Gengo’s community to garner support for inducing substantial changes in the re-review process. This process has become a burden, impacting not only translators, but also Gengo’s ability to maintain the basic quality standards that ultimately enhance the services we provide and expand our customer base.

It all started with Job #75XXXXXX, where the client did not add the proper punctuation in the source text.

[Omitted Photo]

  •  Since it is grammatically incorrect for any sentence to end without a punctuation mark, I have added a proper punctuation mark that suits the imperative tone used in promotional material.
  • The LS marked this as an error and stated that “Punctuation doesn’t match the Source” (regardless of the unnecessary capitalization in their comment)

[Omitted Photo]

  • I submitted a re-review request supported by the following:

In a study entitled “Punctuation Marks Make a Difference in Translation: Practical Examples” [1] Professor Mogahed M. from Mansoura University states: “... the translator does not need to imitate the source text in translation, but he/she has to observe the norms and context of the target text. Accordingly, punctuation marks differ from one language to another.” This undoubtedly explains the obvious; punctuation devices in translation do not have to follow the source text.

  • The LS not only disregarded my reference, without even bothering to provide a refutation, but they removed their comment and kept the error and the deduction.

[Omitted Photo]

  • When I contacted the Quality team in a dispute, the LS kept the error and insisted on their opinion stating:

[Omitted Photo]

THE FUNNY PART: FAST FORWARD 2 YEARS

  • Since the LS’ statement is clear “to comply and follow the punctuation marks of the source string and replicate them in the target strings.”, they made a rule to be followed. Thus, in Job #90XXXXXX, I have adhered to their instructions, despite how wrong they are, to avoid unnecessary deductions.
  • They penalized me for adhering to the source text’s punctuation.
  • When I submitted a complaint to Gengo’s Quality Team, the LS refused to admit any wrongdoing. Instead, they copied MY OWN WORDS in my initial rereview as their response and added their share of justifications!!

 [Omitted Photo]

Why am I sending this now? The reason is simple: Because nothing changed since then. As Lord Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Granting absolute power to LS' over the last say is undoubtedly a source bias, to say it lightly. The LS, for the most part, arbitrarily assigns errors, with one-word comments or none at all. On the other hand, I bear the responsibility of proving them wrong, as they do not have the slightest obligation to provide a single source supporting their often subjective reviews even when disputed depending on reliable sources.

My Questions to Gengo’s Community:
- For Gengo’s translators and LS’ alike of all served language pairs, 
1- I would appreciate hearing your opinions on how “the translator should comply and follow the punctuation marks of the source string and replicate them in the target strings.”
2- Do you think it is ethically, let alone professionally, acceptable to change published comments after evaluation? 
3- What are your thoughts on changes to be made for the reviewing process to serve its designed purpose?


Note on Adhering to Community Guidelines:
All LS’, translators, and Gengo employees, along with any customer-identifiable translation segments, have been anonymized.

[1] Mogahed, M. M. (2012). Punctuation Marks Make a Difference in Translation: Practical Examples. ERIC Project, Institute of Education Sciences.

12 comments

  • 6
    Avatar
    Yasemin

    Hi,

    It seems a bit arbitrary indeed. For one of my language pairs, I have seen the lack of a punctuation mark marked as an error once (even though it was the same as in the source, and it was in the context of informal customer comments that seemed to intentionally omit the punctuation mark), so it did not make much sense to me, but I guess it looked like too much of an effort to ask for a re-review. :)

  • -3
    Avatar
    gunnarbu

    Obviously a professional disagreement between you and you LS, and an example of inconsistency by the LS, but I fail to see why this should warrant substantial changes in the re-review process itself. This is a very specific issue that has little or nothing to do with the process itself. In my mind the process is good. In such a case that you refer to above, I think the whole problem could have been avoided if you had made a comment like e.g. "I have assumed that there should have been a punctuation mark after xxxx. Hope that is OK. Please advise if the punctuation mark was intentionally omitted." 

  • 9
    Avatar
    KevanSF

    Let me preface by saying you've done an excellent job of presenting your case. You're clearly a thoughtful, careful, and skilled translator. I can understand why you'd be peeved—I too am rankled by inconsistency when it comes to "rules."

    For my language pair, there's a client whose non-English source text appears to be transcriptions of oral responses, generally brief strings of text, ranging from a single sentence (or sentence fragment) to a run-on sentence/paragraph. Often this original source text does not include terminal punctuation. (Something along the lines of "I thought it was boring "  — This is a generic example I've invented for illustrative purposes, not a direct quotation or translation of any client material.)

    My understanding is that my English translations must be grammatical (even if the source material is not), and this includes proper punctuation. Therefore, if a text string (a "job") ends in a comma or no punctuation at all (which is quite common with this client), I always add proper and logical punctuation (including commas, semi-colons, and periods when appropriate according to standard US English grammar and punctuation). Sometimes I've even had to resort to parentheses to set off clauses to enhance clarity and readability to the translation (which was lacking in the source).

    To date, I've never received any negative feedback for adding punctuation that isn't present in the source text.

    (Also, your point about inconsistency of use of punctuation between languages is pertinent as well. For instance, in my source language, the colon is used more frequently and for more uses than it is in standard English.)

    Of course, my language pair is different from yours, and obviously the LS team is different at well. And there certainly does seem to be an annoying element of inconsistency as far as this punctuation issue among the various LS.

    I hope you receive some satisfactory response from your LS team and some clarification about the punctuation policy.

    Best wishes.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Edited by KevanSF
  • 3
    Avatar
    Abdek

    @Rica Tero Could you please explain why my post was edited and the screenshot of the Language Specialist copying my own words verbatim removed? The screenshot doesn't contain any information that identifies an employee, translator, customer, or Language Specialist.

    @Yasemin @KevanSF "Let's eat grandma." vs "Let's eat, grandma." Proper punctuation, even in informal context, can be a matter of life or death, literally. Thanks, Kevan, for your compliments.

    @gunnarbu I encourage you to read my whole post under "Why am I sending this now?".

    The question is: Was the LS held accountable for their mistakes? If a process is incapable of pointing out unprofessional practices such as arbitrary error tagging, changing one's comments after being proven wrong, and blatant reviewing inconsistencies, it certainly needs to be overhauled. It is a process that allowed a Language Specialist to copy my own words, which they disregarded earlier, to defend their decision.

     

  • 2
    Avatar
    Yasemin

    Hi Abdek,

    I was talking about leaving out a period at the end of the sentence. Literally not a matter of anything, least of all life and death. :)

  • 1
    Avatar
    Abdek

    @Yasemin It was just a wordplay "eating grandma, life or death". Didn't mean to criticize you. <3

  • 1
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    Yasemin

    Hey Abdek,

    No need to explain the wordplay, really. :) And no worries, just wanted to clarify it wasn't a grandma situation, and yet got marked (somewhat arbitrarily) as an error. It happens.

  • 3
    Avatar
    Rica Tero

    Hi @Abdek!

    Sorry for the late response to this one, and informing you late on the edit of your post. I edited the post to hide the job ID, as we typically avoid sharing such details. I'm grateful you took into consideration the forum guidelines. 

    I've shared this with the Quality team as I'm hoping to give you better insight. I will share it here.

    Thanks for everyone who particpated in this thread. Your comments and experiences are valuable for our community. 

  • 4
    Avatar
    Abdek

    @Rica Tero Thanks for re-uploading the screenshot. The specific jobs mentioned here were not the primary focus of this post, to be honest, as they have been "investigated" before. The main aim is to highlight the following two points I underscored in the post itself and in an earlier reply.

    1- Why am I sending this now? The reason is simple: Because nothing changed since then. As Lord Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Granting absolute power to LS' over the last say is undoubtedly a source bias, to say it lightly. The LS, for the most part, arbitrarily assigns errors, with one-word comments or none at all. On the other hand, I bear the responsibility of proving them wrong, as they do not have the slightest obligation to provide a single source supporting their often subjective reviews even when disputed depending on reliable sources.

    2- The question is: Was the LS held accountable for their mistakes? If a process is incapable of pointing out unprofessional practices such as arbitrary error tagging, changing one's comments after being proven wrong, and blatant reviewing inconsistencies, it certainly needs to be overhauled. It is a process that allowed a Language Specialist to copy my own words, which they disregarded earlier, to defend their decision.

    Edited by Abdek
  • 1
    Avatar
    Rica Tero

    Hi Abdek!

    I removed the photos after speaking with the legal team as it is indeed mentioned in the forum guidelines without mentioning any specifics.

    I understand that this is not the purpose of your post and that you are using it to justify your concerns on the forum. However, we must clarify this matter ourselves and do not provide any direct information to the Forum in accordance with its regulations. The forum is not a place to share sensitive information.

    If you would like the quality team to handle this matter directly, please provide us with the details. This applies to everyone. I hope we can share any concerns we have with the forum while keeping the guidelines in mind.

    Regarding punctuation compliance: it's a nuanced topic. It will definitely be different in languages, as well as the context of the source text. If ever you know your argument about an error is correct, and is back up by evidence, kindly follow through the next step of re-review process. If there is significant delay on the process you can message me so we can communicate with the team on the situation.

    From a management standpoint, our priority lies in conducting thorough and accurate reviews initially. Implementing re-evaluation of quality assurance results isn't standard practice within our process. This is because it not only introduces potential confusion regarding scoring but also consumes considerable time for all involved parties: translators, internal teams, and language specialists.

    However, occasional errors or misunderstandings may arise, or questions regarding error markings may surface with supporting evidence. In such cases, it is both ethically and professionally imperative that we revise reviews. This may involve the removal of error annotations or providing clarification on identified errors. Additionally, it's not uncommon for translation agencies to facilitate back-and-forth communication between translators and reviewers to ensure accurate assessments.

    In regards to changes in the re-review process, there were some modifications on it, and we are taking note of all the suggestions from our partners. We hope everyone can understand that there are some things to take into consideration in order for all the parties involved in the process to coexist.

    Your insights and experience on this matter are very appreciated on this matter.

  • 10
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    Abdek

    Thanks, Rica for the update.

    • I have carefully read the forum guidelines beforehand and was extremely cautious about what I shared. I obfuscated any information that might identify LS’, translators, and Gengo employees. None of the shared screens contains proprietary material. Also, the single segment shared of a translation is “Try it now!”, which is a general sentence, can apply to literally anything. As for the correspondence with Gengo’s Quality Team, it is purely technical and does not contain any sensitive information away from the blurred items. I would appreciate it if you point out where the sensitive information is to obfuscate instead of butchering my post this way.
    • I did approach the Quality team and they, unfortunately, have sided with the LS. They neither held the LS accountable for making up ambiguous rules about punctuation nor for removing their comment and using my own words to defend their view. Their conclusion, almost a year ago, (on 07/20/2023) was:

    A year later, the Arabic Style Guide is the same and the LS still tags random errors that I bear the burden of proving them wrong.

    • If your “[...] priority lies in conducting thorough and accurate reviews initially.” Why would you allow a LS to arbitrarily and ambiguously tag errors with a one-word comment or none at all? (a totally blurred screen is below)
    • These are not “occasional errors.” It is a consistent behavior, refer to the screen above for a few instances, as long as there are no consequences for LS’ actions.
    • Don’t you think that if a process stresses translators and confuses internal teams even after modifications, as per your words, it certainly needs an open and healthy discourse to see how to optimize it?
  • 6
    Avatar
    Ko

    Hi Rica,

    From a management standpoint, our priority lies in conducting thorough and accurate reviews initially. Implementing re-evaluation of quality assurance results isn't standard practice within our process. 

    I get what you are saying, but, if so, then isn't it all the more important that clear and concrete guidelines are provided in advance and consistently followed by the reviewers, translators, and Quality Control Team? If I understand correctly, the fact that the guidelines as they currently stand are vague and inconsistently applied was the main point of Abdek's complaint in the first place.

    As I see it, what we have is essentially an either/or situation: either (1) provide detailed and consistent guidelines to the translators in advance so as to preempt any concerns that the translator may raise with the intial review, or (2) leave the guidelines purposefully vague and allow the details to be sorted out by the back-and-forth between translator and reviewer through the re-revision process, on a case-by-case basis.

    At the moment, it seems Gengo's system combines the weaknesses of both approaches: vague and inconsistently applied guidelines with limited avenue for the translator to raise concerns regarding the results of the intial review.

    Edited by Ko
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