By Adriana Adarve – Owner of Adarve Translations & Donnamarie Leemann – Head of Marketing at Adarve Translations
I am sure I could give a more elegant title to this piece but in fact the incident that I wish to discuss has actually left a bit of a yuck on the taste buds of the Adarve Translations Team and I wish to reflect upon that bitter taste. It was like going into a known restaurant where one could count on having an excellent meal and being served a very inferior, inedible, dish instead.
Adarve Translations has many contributors and collaborators. We—by that I mean Adriana herself—interviews each candidate and verifies his or her credentials. It should be noted that credentials are not standardized, they can vary from country to country and from language to language. We do our best. Sometimes our best is not good enough and we very much regret it on the rare occasions when a problem occurs.
We recently had a contretemps with a collaborator. Our contract was for a live, real-time (not a computer-generated) translation. Adarve Translations requires its collaborators and contributors to commit to a non-disclosure agreement so as to protect proprietary and other confidential information.
What can we say? We vetted this yahoo as best we could, we thought he was reliable and would respect the non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements he had committed to. Nevertheless, he used a plugin on his translation software that directly connects onto an internet site to conduct translations, thereby compromising the confidentiality of the information in the translation.
Fortunately, that particular translation did not contain any sensitive information, and we quickly became aware of the faulty actions of our collaborator. The interests of our client were not compromised.
We have now learned that a lot of translators think that “if the translator is an independent contractor and his agreement with the client is for a contract of work, not a contract of service, then the client has no specific right to know whether the translator had used machine translation (regardless of whether the client had made known any wishes about it).”
At Adarve Translations we are definitely against this way of thinking and acting. The client does have the right to their confidentiality and to requesting, not only that their translation be done in an honest way, but mainly that their confidential information be protected at all costs. Sending the client’s information through a machine translation plugin is an absolute breach of the client’s confidentiality, and any translator who thinks that this is not the case, or wants to ignore it, should definitely take him/herself out of this important field of work.
Would that Sony Pictures Entertainment had acted as swiftly and as surely as Adarve Translations did.
As stated by several of the big Computer Aided Translation (CAT) Tools in the market now, when using a Machine Translation (MT) plugin with CAT Tool, “The Translator is warned before using MT that source information will be sent to the MT provider (essential requirement to get the translation of course),” and “Both things… using MT and retaining information in the CAT Tool are made known to the translator so s/he has no excuse for not knowing this before using it.”
To add insult to injury, this collaborator tried to dun Adarve Translations because we refused to pay him, not also for his breach of contract, but also for incorrect and unacceptable work done on the internet instead of his having performed his work (the work for which we commissioned him) on the basis of his correct linguistic understanding and his ability to correctly change words and context from one language into words and context in another language using only his brain and not an internet crutch.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am not a multi-linguist. My expertise is in the English language, though I was long ago certified as a French-English bi-lingual by the University of Neuchâtel and can get by—primitively—in German and Italian.
A few days ago I was speaking with Adriana on the phone. She got another call on another line and spoke rapid-fire Spanish. A few minutes later our conversation was interrupted by another call. In elegant French she told that caller that she would return the call shortly. Adriana’s German is not as good as her English, Spanish or French, but she could have also fielded a call in German.
Adriana loves and is proud of her mastery of language. I am proud of her, too. It upsets us when one of our contributors or collaborators falls down on the job—or doesn’t understand the job we are trying to do.
Accurate translation is not an exercise in computer programming. One day, perhaps, that will be possible, but it is not a real-world possibility in December, 2014.
At this point, I must criticize my dear friend and colleague Adriana. She is very up-to-date. She is very computer savvy in a way that I am not. I admit to being a hold-over from the past, a real dinosaur: I have worked with computers since 1975, but haven’t progressed all that much since that time.
Even so, I cannot be easily led astray. This yahoo—who tried to dun us, defraud us, who abrogated his professional contract with us by irresponsibly releasing confidential proprietary information on the internet, who in effect tried to blackmail us by threatening to denounce our little bureau to our professional association, is in the end little deserving of much serious consideration. Adriana was wary of this yahoo and at first she tried to accommodate him based on the innocence he had pleaded. Me, I was just mad and wanted to shoot him down in any way I could.
In his own defense, the Yahoo submitted statements: “…my MemoQ settings always fills (sic) my target cells with pretranslation which is a feature that I have turned on years ago but it only acts as a guide.” He goes on to state, “I also use built-in termbases, on line term databases and Termium.”
Well, now. Such computer-based jargon and translations are surely the future of interlingual communication. But here and now we must continue to rely upon those people who can accurately translate between languages without the as-yet maturity of internet translating programs.
We rely upon those as-yet faulty internet programs at our peril. One day…one day…but that day is not yet come.
We at Adarve Translations regret that we accepted as a collaborator a person who did not respect the confidentiality agreements he signed on to. We regret that this collaborator was not intelligent enough to understand that it was not acceptable for him to move his translation onto the internet instead of keeping it close and confidential in accordance with our standard business practices.
But we are proud that we caught this substandard collaborator out before he could do any damage to our clients or to our Bureau, and that we immediately terminated our professional relationship with him, with not even the benefit of a recommendation letter for his future work with any other translation bureau.
To repeat here: computer translating programs have a lot of promise for the future. They are not adequate for translation needs today. The jerk who inspired this piece has been informed that he will be charged with international fraud if he doesn’t back off. We are confident that we will win out if it comes to judicial adjudication.
I don’t like chocolate very much but what the heck: to nullify the bad taste—that bit of yuck—that this very disappointing collaborator has left with us here at Adarve Translations, I think I’ll go have a piece of artisanal Swiss chocolate just to clear my pallet.
All the best,
Donnamarie Leemann, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, & Adriana Adarve, Asheville, NC
About the Authors: Adriana Adarve is the owner of Adarve Translations and is fluent in three languages (English, Spanish & French), as well as pluri-cultural, multi-cultural, plurilingual and multilingual. Donnamarie Leemann is an artist and writer who has for many years contributed to the BBC and to many other public forums, and who collaborates at present with Adarve Translations as Head of Marketing.