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translation tests again
Thread poster: biankonera

biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 03:36
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
Sep 26, 2006

This is more like a reflection from my side on this eternal topic - translation tests.

This very morning I open my mailbox to find yet another one of those in there. After reading the not so long content of a very standard cover mail, I took a look at the test itself. And thats when the question time began..

My first reaction was to send them a reply asking if they did actually read anything thats written in my CV??? I suppose it doesnt matter to them that NONE of the 5 topics regard the fields I specialize in. But what surprised me the most was the length of that test - 4 size A4 pages...

I mean - come on, why do people expect a professional to waste time doing this kind of work for free? Ive done my share of test translations, yes, but none of those had 1041 words!

Usually I dont pay attention to these things but this time it really got to me.:( so I had to share it with somebody.

Enjoy your day everyone!


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Milica Bezdan
Local time: 02:36
English to Serbian
+ ...
agree... Sep 26, 2006

The same happened to me recently,
I've done a translation test (the whole chapter, mind you)
for a publisher and I still haven't heard the results...
And I don't expect to hear from them ever again...
I suppose the translation wasn't good enough,
although it was checked by my friend who works at the university teaching translation into Serbian.
Anyway, I have tried...
Regards,
Milica


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Agnieszka Zmuda  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 02:36
Member (2005)
English to Polish
@ Milica Sep 26, 2006

Well, Milica, I would venture a supposition that your translation might well have been good enough for the publisher to include it (done for free!) in the book, together with other chapters translated by other translators who thought they were doing a "trial" translation. AFAIK, that's what unfair publishers often do in order to have the book translated for free. You might have a look at the shelves in your nearest bookshop in a few months. I'm sorry I sound far from comforting...

Best regards,
Agnieszka


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Agnieszka Zmuda  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 02:36
Member (2005)
English to Polish
@ bramasole Sep 26, 2006

Hi, bramasole, this happened to me as well, so you are not alone Last year I was approached by an agency which after a 'thorough' examination of my CV, profile, etc... sent me three TECHNICAL test translations (two Eng>Pl, one Fr>Pl). The length of those tests put together might have been more or less the same as yours.
When I protested and indicated that technical translations are something I avoid now and will probably always avoid, they replied "oh, sorry, we'll send test translations compatible with your areas of expertise within the next few days" and... never contacted me again. I was angry, of course, but then I thought that perhaps I wouldn't feel comfortable working for an agency where people do not read carefully the documents they receive and do not keep their promise.

Regards,
Agnieszka

[Edited at 2006-09-26 09:08]

[Edited at 2006-09-26 10:08]


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 10:36
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
It's all a game... Sep 26, 2006

We recently had an agency contact us for a test of around 850 Chinese characters. We refused saying it was against our policy to do test translations for free and then they came back and asked us for a quote to translate the passage.

They were obviously so desperate to land this one client that they were prepared to pay for the test but tried to get a freebie first.

There are countless agencies out there and you've just got to remember that they need us alot more than we need them:)

Best wishes,
Mark


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Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:36
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Yep Sep 26, 2006

As CC says, the solution is to do paid tests and not freebies

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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 03:36
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
a game and a reality of life Sep 26, 2006

Mark, you are absolutely right about them needing us more than we need them - an agency is nothing without translators

Agnieszka, that was exactly my case with this test translation - they send me stuff I will never ever do even if they paid me outrageous money. For example, one of those samples was for some medical equipment and I aint touching that in million years

In fact Im considering telling them I wont do it for free as I dont have time for that. I wonder why I could even bet on what will their reaction be about my demand of payment

However, talking of money - currently Im working on one tv project which pays ridiculously small - even tiny - rates, but the subject is such a delightful one.. still they asked no tests from me...

Keep smiling

Stella


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Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: Requested by user.

biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 03:36
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
true words Sep 26, 2006

laura_ms wrote:

It sometimes works, I did a very smal translation test for an agency and I worked for them for years, afterwards, but I wouldn't do any trial translation anymore, now.
It's too risky, I mean, it can only take a few hours but time is money, isnt't it?

My present policy is: they can send a first very small paid translation, if they are happy with my job they will keep on working with me.


Cheers,

laura




Laura, I absolutely agree. To give a very small first paid job would be the best solution for all parties involved. But then again some people like to get work done by others for free.

Stella


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Barbara Cochran, MFA  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Translations Tests Into The Trash, Almost Always Sep 27, 2006

Hello, Everyone,

Just last week, a new agency contacted me about doing a legal translation. When I read that they were requesting a sample first, I thought to myself and felt, "What a drag!" I wrote back and said I am too busy to do samples. The contact wrote back immediately and told me to proceed with the translation. So don't give in! It looks like there is more work to come from this agency.

A few years ago when I was working my way back into the field of translation, I did a sample for a project because of my interest and expertise in the subject matter. I was lucky-I was selected for the assignment and have received several assignments from this agency since.

But I still don't recommend doing samples because of the large number of unscrupulous agencies out there. I now tell everyone I'm too busy to take the time to do tests or samples. It seems that agencies which have high professional standards for themselves will want to give work to translators who are in demand, anyway.


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 21:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jigsaw puzzle translation ... and a breach of confidentiality Sep 27, 2006

I suspect that a test I did recently was one of these 'jigsaw' jobs where the agency was just fitting together pieces of text sent out as tests to a dozen different translators.

Interestingly, in this case, I immediately recognised the source of the material, since there are only 3 or 4 companies worldwide that generate such texts and only one that originates everything in French. These annual market reports are sold for around Eur 5,000 per copy. This is premier league stuff!

After the agency rep. informed me that I'd passed the test, and began asking how much I would charge for the whole job (around 45,000 words) everything went cold. The rep. went 'on holiday' in mid negotiation. I wrote to his deputy asking whether or not it would be worthwhile reserving time for this job, as the deadline was beginning to look unworkable. He was uncommittal - 'the boss will be back in 3 weeks - he'll deal with it'. I waited three weeks.

Four weeks... Still no follow-up.

I wrote to the rep. again pointing out that he had sent me, as attachments to his very first e-mail to me, a total stranger, not only 120 pages of this year's report (including the 3-page test) but also the entire report from 2005. And that my main line of business is not translation but ... precisely what that end-client does: global media research. Modesty prevents me from suggesting we are 'competitors' (they have 100 staff, I have ... well, just me), but it was quite inappropriate for the agency to send me this valuable unsollicited material - especially as they stated that they had already consulted my personal web-site where the conflict of interests should have struck them full-face.

It rapidly became clear that I wasn't going to get the job because he informed me that they had already agreed Eur 0.10/word with the client and were offering me a mere Eur 0.07, (tops ), whereas I usually charge at least 3 times that for this kind of work.

So, having nothing to loose I explained the conflict of interests that he had ignored and told the agency rep. that, regardless of who ended up doing the translation, one of us would have to inform the end client of the flagrant breach of confidentiality.

The rep. replied saying he would not be taking the matter further.

True to my word, I wrote to the end client and explained the situation.

The upshot is that I would now be interested in hearing (privately if you prefer) from anyone who was invited to do a French to English test translation, on or around 4th August 2006, where the text was the profile of a TV broadcasting organization or something similar.

MediaMatrix

[Edited at 2006-09-27 20:05]


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Gert Hirschfeld  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:36
English to German
+ ...
The test cuts both ways Feb 16, 2007

Well, the way I see it:
Any communication between you and an agency or client, for that matter, contains invaluable information you should examine carefully.

If they send you a test that is not relevant or write an email full of spelling errors or seem to muddle up your name, they clearly show in what way they work.

Maybe they are too scatty to remember what you've written to them and might, very likely, be too confused to remember paying you.

Also when it comes to assessing the quality of your work, they might not be able to do it and jump to conclusions. Or worse, give to someone who is not good enough to do the proofreading.

The same applies to tests. If they don't appreciate that translators haven't got the time to do lengthy samples for free, they don't understand the industry they are dealing with.

In a nutshell, consider what you've seen and make up your mind if it's a client worth working for or not. Pick the best and the ones you like the sound of.


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the Train  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:36
English to Arabic
+ ...
I agree Mar 17, 2007

It seems that the word sample is now encouraging some agencies to make their tests/samples -whatever they call them these days- several pages long.

I remeber the good old days of 'please send us samples of your work'.


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Tatiana Neamţu
Romania
Local time: 03:36
English to Romanian
+ ...
Test ... Mar 17, 2007

I have by now translated so many tests that I even forgot their count ... And from my experience: serious agencies, with whom I have a very solid and lasting collaboration never gave any tests at all. They sent work and kept coming back. The thing I hate most about test translations is not do them. It's that I never receive an answer. Whether positive or not. I simply refuse to believe that they are all of deficient quality because I never accept a test which is not within my specialization. I sometimes don't even get a confirmation that they received it. Is it serious and common practice?
I've decided to do no more test translations, unless paid for them. Then, I will know for sure if it is serious stuff or just "sending a test to another of the endless applicants".


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patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 19:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
test not passed Mar 31, 2007

I recently did translation and editing tests for a potential job...I contacted the agency to ask whether I was among those selected for the project and received a very curt reply that I had not passed the test. I requested feedback but haven't heard anything since.
This is really hard to swallow......I expected either no reply at all or to be told I had not been selected....but this is really stinging the old ego!
I have no doubts about my ability as a translator, nevertheless, a little peer support would go a long way right now.


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