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Found my target-text on the web
Thread poster: Charlotte Blank
Charlotte Blank  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:51
Czech to German
+ ...
Jul 4, 2004

Hi all,

I'm just translating a Czech text for a translation agency about an international company to German - nothing special so far - but now I discovered that this very text (well, mostly the same) is on that company's website, in German!
Of course it is no problem to copy-paste it into my translation, do some minor changes and write the invoice with the normal rates. But somehow I feel reluctant doing so - or am I too "polite"? Did anyone of you have this problem as well and how did you react? Did you tell the client about it?

Thanks in advance for all input!


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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:51
German to English
+ ...
Inform the customer Jul 4, 2004

I've been in a similar situation. What I have done is tell the customer. In some cases the existing translation is poor so the customer is consciously seeking a new one. In other cases the customer is a large conglomerate where the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing.

In the worst case scenario, you are no longer required to do the job (although you should be paid for anything you have done so far). But the goodwill generated by saving the customer will virtually guarantee you will be offered more work in the future.



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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:51
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
Ditto Jul 4, 2004

I totally agree with Mary. Tell your customer and ask how to proceed. The amount you'd earn on the job can't possibly be worth the negative image you would give yourself if the customer should ever find out that you copied it from the Internet!

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Geneviève von Levetzow  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:51
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
Ditto... Jul 4, 2004

I've been in a similar situation - the text was entirely the same. I informed the agency and charged nothing:)


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 15:51
German to English
Charge for an hour Jul 4, 2004

You saved the client some money, but they owe you for your research. Unless it took longer, I might suggest you charge for an hour of your time.

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Selçuk Budak  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:51
English to Turkish
+ ...
Inform the customer if you intend to use it "as it is" Jul 5, 2004

I have encountered more than once with similar situations. And informed my customer (a translation agency) in all cases, and gained more trust while being paid at regular rates.

The best practice to follow is to use the text as it is if the original document is (or was) in your target language.

For example, in one case I had to translate a document on a certain law applicable in Turkey which was, in fact, a back-translation. I found the text of the original Law, copied and pasted it into the relevant sections, and informed my customer.

In another case, I was to translate an interview with a well known scientist on genetics originally published in Times. From Turkish to English!!!

Since the original interview was held in English, the best thing was to find the original text. I searched the internet, found the archived document, paid a couple of dollars for the issue, and copied and pasted the whole thing. Again informing my customer of the case and explaining my rationale for purchasing the original document.


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Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:51
Russian to English
+ ...
that happens a lot Jul 5, 2004

I've had several similar cases where a client sends me the same text for translation several times with just minor changes. I don't even have to look for the text, since I've got it right in their file on my computer!

I charge by the hour if there is a lot of cutting and pasting to do, but otherwise I just charge the whole thing again per word. After bringing the issue to people's attention several times I realized that large companies (and even not-so-large ones) are just "too busy" to care. But you should always tell the customer at least the first time and find out how they want you to handle it.

But I agree with one of the previous posters that you should be careful - maybe the translation you found is one they want to get rid of!

[Edited at 2004-07-05 11:26]

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