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Comments on the ProZ.com Professional Guidelines
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:56
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Oct 21, 2008

G'day everyone

I have my doubts about certain points on the ProZ.com Professional Guidelines that members are expected to endorse. The Guidelines have been discussed in the past, although perhaps not as often as I would have hoped for.

Background:

The first mention of the Professional Guidelines (and what they are) in Wayback Machine is from 19 November 2002. The first mention of it on the forums is by Henry himself in 2003. At that stage there was no disussing it, although Henry mentioned that it was drawn up by staff and moderators. The first real discussion of it occurred in April 2008, at which time the line about glossaries were removed from it following some protests. The April 2008 text is word for word, comma for comma the same as the November 2002 text. The next discussion of it was later in 2008 during a thread about something slightly different.

Interestingly, four of the six translators who had objected to parts of the Guidelines that were not scrapped in April 2008, had endorsed it less than two months later (you can see the date of endorsement by mousing over the cell).

My specific points:

1. represent their credentials, capabilities and experiences honestly

Yes.

2. answer, courteously, inquiries related to services, fees and available equipment

No. Even if we assume that this means translators will be courteous only if they answer, it is a wholly unenforceable item.

Different cultures regard different levels of cordiality acceptable or unacceptable. Also, many translators and/or clients communicate in a language that is not their own. Also, during e-mail communication, misunderstandings about the emotional side of the communication occur frequently. What may have been intended as friendly by the one party may be construed as rude by the other, or vice versa.

Besides, I do not think friendliness is a business attribute. Honesty, yes. Affableness, no. Some people are just rude by nature. Your temperament does not make you professional or unprofessional. Your actions do. I myself try to be friendly and formal at first, then friendly and informal if the client seems informal. I suspect the author of the guidelines had honesty in mind, not friendliness.

So, suggested change:
answer enquiries related to services, fees and available equipment honestly


3. accept only assignments that they have the knowledge, resources and time to do well

Yes.

4. disclose, prior to accepting any assignment, any biases that may have relevance

No.

I will keep disclosing relevant biases even after the assignment had started. But this item of the Guidelines put me in the position where I may honestly disclose something in mid-project and the client use the item against me, because I did not disclose it before the project started. There is also the small issue of what is relevant, and whose opinion about it matters.

So, suggested change:
disclose timeously any biases that they regard as relevant


5. agree, before work starts, what is to be delivered, as well as how, when, and who will bear any delivery cost
6. agree, before work starts, on payment amount, timing and currency, and who will bear any payment cost

Yes, but in theory only.

In practice the amount of contact and communication between translator and client is often so brief that many things are assumed, not specifically mentioned. There is a class of translator that negotiates for many days before accepting a job, but I'm not in that class... most of my clients are 8-12 hours ahead of me or behind me and they need work done fairly urgently. So in my professional relationships, a lot goes without saying, and there is a lot of trust. But yes, generally, professionals do most of those things.

7. treat all sensitive information as confidential, and take steps to protect that confidentiality

Yes.

Although, I must add that sensitive information is synonymous to confidentiality, so what this item really says is "treat sensitive information as sensitive" or "treat confidential information as confidential", which is kinda silly.

So, suggested change:
are sensitive to the confidential nature of client-translator relationships and take steps to maintain confidentiality


8. take any and all steps necessary to ensure consistent delivery of work of a high professional standard

Yes (though I'm not sure what is the difference between any and all).

So, suggested change (if only to trim fluff):

take steps to ensure consitent delivery of work of a high professional standard

9. accept responsibility for the quality of work they deliver, even when that work has been subcontracted

Yes.

But some people confuse the words "responsibility" and "liability", so I think it is necessary to clarify which is meant, and ensure that all translators meant that one.

10. do not attempt to change, after work has begun, agreed-upon terms (except by mutual consultation)

No.

In the first place, the terms of an agreement are always renegotiable. It may actually be more professional to do it, in cases where something happens that changes the situation so drastically that renegotiation is preferable to breach, however unintended or non-negligient.

Secondly, consultation is always mutual. Well, isn't it? I suspect the author here meant "not attempt to change unilaterally" and confused it with "by mutual consent", although the first necessarily includes the second.

So, suggested change:
do not make unilateral changes to the agreed-upon terms


11. do everything possible to meet agreed-upon terms, even when unforeseen problems are encountered

No.

If unforeseen problems occur owing to negligence by the translator, then the translator is at fault and has a duty to correct the situation. But if such problems occur because the translator and client had assumed too much, or beacuse of acts of the deity, or similar, the translator should do only everything that is reasonable -- not everything that is possible - to correct the situation.

If your child suddenly falls very ill, will you say "client comes first"? If the client delivers the text on Friday evening instead of Wednesday afternoon as you both expected, will you leave your family and friends in the lurch, saying piously "client comes first"? Will you truly do everything possible, or only everythng reasonable?

So, suggested change (I'm still not quite happy with it, but I can't put my finger on it):
do everything reasonable to meet agreed-upon terms, even when unforeseen problems are encountered


12. do not directly contact end clients, or subcontractors, without permission

No.

This item more than any of the others make the Guidelines specifically relevant to translators who have agencies and translation bureaus as clients, and not all translators with a variety of client types.

I think not contacting end-clients is something that should be specifically written in the agreement between the translator and client. If the job is of the type where one would normally have such contact, and there is no agreement to the contrary, a professional person will indeed contact them.

I suspect this item relates more specifically to client poaching, and not specifically to not having contact or communication, so it is ill-worded. I can't think of a nice way to word it, but...

How about this suggested change:
respect the nature of the relationship with the client and with the client's end-client, if any


13. attempt to resolve disputes directly among parties involved

Yes.

14. strive to continually improve their own skills

Yes.

15. do not unjustly criticize other professionals or their work

Yes.

Although I fail to see what this item is doing here. It is bad to unjustly criticise anyway.

16. capitalize on opportunities to further the industry as a whole

No.

I do not think anyone is under any obligation to take any steps to further the industry. This item is very academic, in my opinion. If an opportunity presents itself to further the cause of translation, am I truly obligated to pursue it, even if I'm not in the mood or if that is not my personality? Some people are just natural advocates.

The opposite may be true, however, namely that professionals should take steps not to discredit the industry unjustly. The key word being "unjustly". Some of us may do work that we do not believe in, or do work that we do not believe is valueable (even though someone is willing to pay for it). But such translators can be just as professional.

This item is one that you might find in the code of ethics for a translators' association, because members of an association are expected to further and promote their industry. But it is not something that can be expected of all translators.

17. do not engage in conduct or communication unbecoming of a professional

No.

This item is too vague, in my opinion. A professional is someone who does something for money, so what conduct or communication could possibly be universally unbecoming of such a person? And what does it matter what I do in my spare time?

Does this mean I'm not allowed to swear or take the deity's name in vein? The problem with this item is that is presupposes a type of universal morality that all colleagues would have, and different people have different ideas about ideal morals. Does it mean that I will not promote war, strife or hatred? Does it mean I will get drunk only in private? What does conduct and communication unbecoming of a professional really mean?

Or is this just a catch-all item to cover any "professional related" stuff that isn't covered elsewhere?

Your comments?


[Edited at 2008-10-21 12:53]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:56
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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TOPIC STARTER
One extra comment Oct 21, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:
12. do not directly contact end clients, or subcontractors, without permission

This item more than any of the others make the Guidelines specifically relevant to translators who have agencies and translation bureaus as clients, and not all translators with a variety of client types.


I suspect another reason why agencies prefer that we do not contact (or have contact with) end-clients and/or subcontractors is because of confidentiality. A translator may suspect who the client or the subcontractors are, but if he has to guess, he may guess incorrectly, leading to a breach of confidentiality.

But if my client is a divisional head at a publisher, I would not hesitate to contact his line manager or his direct subordinates or his functional equivalent in another department of the same company, because that is the nature of the client and that is the nature of the job. I would be tight-lipped to the point of being anal if the client was an agency or a translation bureau (to the point of not even disclosing to the PM's colleague that he is my PM, unless I have his permission), but as you can see, it depends on the type of client and on the situation.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:56
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English to Spanish
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Reading guidelines as law? Oct 21, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:
If your child suddenly falls very ill, will you say "client comes first"? If the client delivers the text on Friday evening instead of Wednesday afternoon as you both expected, will you leave your family and friends in the lurch, saying piously "client comes first"? Will you truly do everything possible, or only everythng reasonable?


Honestly Samuel, to me it looks like you are reading these Guidelines as laws. They are not laws. All of them should be interpreted according to reason and reasonable expectations. Nobody will consider you a bad professional if you are forced to break a guideline because of force majeure, ethical or legal reasons, or situations you cannot control.

Nobody will think you are a bad professional if you don't ask about your customer's good health and the local weather every morning and go straight to the point. But I think it is unprofessional not to say "Hello" (or hi, or greetings, or good morning... just some introduction) at the beginning of an email and "Regards" (or bye-bye, or cheers, or see-ya, or whatever you prefer) at the end.

I am sure no customer will complain if your child gets ill and there's no option but to delay a delivery. No customer will expect you to take care of the translation instead of your child. It's simply reasonable. BUT if the job is very important and can't wait a couple of days, your customer might expect you to agree with him/her that the job is reassigned, either by you to someone you trust or by the customer. It's simply reasonable.

I am convinced nobody will treat the Guidelines as law as ─in my opinion─ you are treating them today.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:56
Italian to English
Some comments Oct 21, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:

2. answer, courteously, inquiries related to services, fees and available equipment

No. Even if we assume that this means translators will be courteous only if they answer, it is a wholly unenforceable item.

Different cultures regard different levels of cordiality acceptable or unacceptable. Also, many translators and/or clients communicate in a language that is not their own. Also, during e-mail communication, misunderstandings about the emotional side of the communication occur frequently. What may have been intended as friendly by the one party may be construed as rude by the other, or vice versa.

Besides, I do not think friendliness is a business attribute.



I take your point about culture-dependent differences but courtesy is very much a business asset. There are ways and ways of telling prospective clients that their expectations about rates may not be appropriate



4. disclose, prior to accepting any assignment, any biases that may have relevance

No.



I don't think this is so bad. In real life, you can simply refuse any job whose content you might find unpleasant and it's always a good idea to declare any possible conflict of interest in advance.

But yes, something like "promptly" is better than "prior to accepting..."



5. agree, before work starts, what is to be delivered, as well as how, when, and who will bear any delivery cost
6. agree, before work starts, on payment amount, timing and currency, and who will bear any payment cost

Yes, but in theory only.



In practice, too.

It's always better to get the client to agree to conditions before you start the job. This doesn't have to be complicated. On receipt of a job, even from a regular customer, it's a good idea - before you start work - to send an email with the length, cost and deadline, and ask the client to reply confirming or refusing the conditions. It takes very little time and ensures everyone knows what's going on.



7. treat all sensitive information as confidential, and take steps to protect that confidentiality

Yes.

Although, I must add that sensitive information is synonymous to confidentiality,



Sensitive information isn't always confidential and confidential information isn't always sensitive.



8. take any and all steps necessary to ensure consistent delivery of work of a high professional standard

Yes (though I'm not sure what is the difference between any and all).



It's legalese and not very elegant but it's OK.



9. accept responsibility for the quality of work they deliver, even when that work has been subcontracted

Yes.

But some people confuse the words "responsibility" and "liability",



Well, they are synonyms in standard English I agree that might be a good idea to define what is meant by the term in this context, though.



10. do not attempt to change, after work has begun, agreed-upon terms (except by mutual consultation)

No.

In the first place, the terms of an agreement are always renegotiable.

So, suggested change:
do not make unilateral changes to the agreed-upon terms




I had understood "mutual consultation" to mean "renegotiation": i.e., both parties should agree to any changes. I don't honestly see any need for change.



11. do everything possible to meet agreed-upon terms, even when unforeseen problems are encountered

No.

If unforeseen problems occur owing to negligence by the translator, then the translator is at fault and has a duty to correct the situation. But if such problems occur because the translator and client had assumed too much, or beacuse of acts of the deity, or similar, the translator should do only everything that is reasonable -- not everything that is possible - to correct the situation.



Like many of the other terms in any code of practice, "possible" and"reasonable" would have to be defined on a case by case basis, preferably by a board of arbiters.



12. do not directly contact end clients, or subcontractors, without permission

No.

This item more than any of the others make the Guidelines specifically relevant to translators who have agencies and translation bureaus as clients, and not all translators with a variety of client types.

I think not contacting end-clients is something that should be specifically written in the agreement between the translator and client. If the job is of the type where one would normally have such contact, and there is no agreement to the contrary, a professional person will indeed contact them.



I have very little to do with agencies so if I stopped contacting end clients, I wouldn't get very much work! In the circumstances implied by item 12, a professional would, I hope, discuss the matter first with the agency, or get the agency to make the contact.



16. capitalize on opportunities to further the industry as a whole

No.

I do not think anyone is under any obligation to take any steps to further the industry.



I don't understand this either. It seems to be saying that translators should make (personal?) capital from opportunities to promote "the industry" (which one?).



17. do not engage in conduct or communication unbecoming of a professional

No.

Or is this just a catch-all item to cover any "professional related" stuff that isn't covered elsewhere?



If the item is to have any meaning, it would require some sort of board of arbiters to decided on a case by case basis.

Thanks for taking the time to get this discussion going, Samuel!

Giles

[Edited at 2008-10-21 14:13]


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:56
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Capitalizing on opportunities Oct 21, 2008


16. capitalize on opportunities to further the industry as a whole


Maybe you are taking this from a global perspective, from a perspective of all translators as a group. My reading is completely different. Let me translate it to plain English:

"Use the opportunities available in your normal activity to promote the good name, improvement and technological advancement of the industry as a whole".


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:56
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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TOPIC STARTER
Response to Tomas Oct 21, 2008

Tomás Cano Binder wrote:
Honestly Samuel, to me it looks like you are reading these Guidelines as laws. They are not laws. All of them should be interpreted according to reason and reasonable expectations.


I agree, they are not laws, but their wording is important still, because poor wording will lead to diverse interpretations. Or, those who do not agree with them as-is will simply endorse them with the unspoken comment that they reserve the right to re-interpret them as the situation dictates (or as the situation is favourable). Then what good are they, as guidelines?

I am convinced nobody will treat the Guidelines as law as ─in my opinion─ you are treating them today.


To my mind, one cannot endorse it if you're simply agreeing with the gist of it. If the gist was important, why not just have gist? Why be so specific in the Guidelines, if gist is all that matters?


[Edited at 2008-10-21 15:20]


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:56
Italian to English
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Courtesy and reasonableness Oct 21, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:

answer, courteously, inquiries related to services, fees and available equipment

No. Even if we assume that this means translators will be courteous only if they answer, it is a wholly unenforceable item.

Different cultures regard different levels of cordiality acceptable or unacceptable. Also, many translators and/or clients communicate in a language that is not their own. Also, during e-mail communication, misunderstandings about the emotional side of the communication occur frequently. What may have been intended as friendly by the one party may be construed as rude by the other, or vice versa.

Besides, I do not think friendliness is a business attribute. Honesty, yes. Affableness, no. Some people are just rude by nature. Your temperament does not make you professional or unprofessional. Your actions do. I myself try to be friendly and formal at first, then friendly and informal if the client seems informal. I suspect the author of the guidelines had honesty in mind, not friendliness.



Courtesy isn't synonymous with friendliness, Samuel - it means polite, no more no less. The author may have meant honesty rather than courtesy but I certainly don't have a problem with putting my name to something saying I should answer enquiries courteously - I hope I always do. (And honestly too, of course!) I see your point that people communicating in their second or third languages may offend unintentionally (actually I did today in my first language on these fora!) but we should (IMO) all try to avoid doing so.


11. do everything possible to meet agreed-upon terms, even when unforeseen problems are encountered

No.

If unforeseen problems occur owing to negligence by the translator, then the translator is at fault and has a duty to correct the situation. But if such problems occur because the translator and client had assumed too much, or beacuse of acts of the deity, or similar, the translator should do only everything that is reasonable -- not everything that is possible - to correct the situation.

If your child suddenly falls very ill, will you say "client comes first"? If the client delivers the text on Friday evening instead of Wednesday afternoon as you both expected, will you leave your family and friends in the lurch, saying piously "client comes first"? Will you truly do everything possible, or only everythng reasonable?

So, suggested change (I'm still not quite happy with it, but I can't put my finger on it):
do everything reasonable to meet agreed-upon terms, even when unforeseen problems are encountered


Well, in your second example the client has failed to stick to his side of the bargain, so you have no obligation to stick to the agreed deadline. But in principle yes - both your objection and your suggestion sound perfectly reasonable to me.

No particular comments to make on your other points.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:56
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English to Afrikaans
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Response to Giles Oct 21, 2008

Giles Watson wrote:
I take your point about culture-dependent differences but courtesy is very much a business asset.


Courtesy is certainly an asset, but is it truly compulsory?

Sensitive information isn't always confidential and confidential information isn't always sensitive.


I don't disagree with you, but can you give some examples?


But some people confuse the words "responsibility" and "liability"...

Well, they are synonyms in standard English


English is not my native language, and although I know these terms are often used loosely interchangeably, I do believe the distinction is important in business, and if ProZ.com had meant liability, they should have written it so.

16. capitalize on opportunities to further the industry as a whole

I don't understand this either. It seems to be saying that translators should make (personal?) capital from opportunities to promote "the industry" (which one?).


No, I had interpreted the word "capitalise" to have a figurative meaning in the Guidelines, in other words, "take advantage of" or "pro-actively use". I doubt if the literal meaning was intended.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:56
French to English
Renegotiation Oct 21, 2008

Giles Watson wrote:

Samuel Murray wrote:

10. do not attempt to change, after work has begun, agreed-upon terms (except by mutual consultation)

No.

In the first place, the terms of an agreement are always renegotiable.

So, suggested change:
do not make unilateral changes to the agreed-upon terms


I had understood "mutual consultation" to mean "renegotiation": i.e., both parties should agree to any changes. I don't honestly see any need for change.

Interesting - unilateral was the word I thought needed to go in there.

This is the one that leapt out at me. The professional translator will make no attempt to change the terms after work has begun, other than by mutual consultation sounds to me as though it's OK for the client/agency to make an attempt to change the terms, but not the translator.
If the translator will "not attempt to change", that means the translator cannot instigate any such discussion.
Which is patently unworkable.

I believe the intention was probably to block unilateral imposition of changes, as Samuel suggests.


As for the dreadfully clumsy clause about courtesy, I agree courtesy is not friendliness. Perhaps "provide a courteous answer/response to queries..." would fix the clumsy aspect?
If we're not sure about what constitutes courtesy cross-culturally, perhaps "the translator will endevour not to cause offence when responding..."

And don't even get me started on enforceability - I've got some work to do


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
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Comments to Marie-Hélène Oct 21, 2008

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:
Courtesy isn't synonymous with friendliness, Samuel - it means polite, no more no less.


Perhaps the word "friendliness" means more to some than to others. Perhaps to you, being friendly includes being polite but also being familiar, whereas courtesy includes politeness but being formal. In English we have terms like "common courtesy", which has nothing to do with politeness per se but with being honest and forthcoming.

Either way, politeness is an act of subservience (even if in most cultures it is generally not shameful to display it).

For a translator, what defines him is the way he honours agreements and the actual product he delivers, not the expression on his face when he negotiates or when he delivers the product. Certainly, we want colleagues to be polite, but is it compulsory -- is it an integral part of the definition "professional person"?

Well, in your second example the client has failed to stick to his side of the bargain, so you have no obligation to stick to the agreed deadline.


Only if the client's part was written down


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
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Response to Charlie Oct 21, 2008

Charlie Bavington wrote:
As for the dreadfully clumsy clause about courtesy, I agree courtesy is not friendliness. Perhaps "provide a courteous answer/response to queries..." would fix the clumsy aspect? ... If we're not sure about what constitutes courtesy cross-culturally, perhaps "the translator will endevour not to cause offence when responding..."


As you may notice from my response to Marie-Hélène, I do not believe that attempting to not cause offence is necessarily the mark of a professional. Certainly, a professional will not go out of his way to cause offence, but why should he go out of his way not to cause offense? Personally I would not like to work with someone who is insensitive and rude, but objectively I find nothing in the attributes of rudeness and insensitivity that precludes professionalism.

And don't even get me started on enforceability - I've got some work to do


I agree. Saying that such and such clause is invalid because it may be somewhat difficult to enforce it, is not really useful. The Guidelines act as a code of ethics -- if a translator says he endorses it, then we generally take his word for it... unless he says or does something that makes us wonder about him.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:56
Spanish to English
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technological advancement? Oct 21, 2008

Tomás Cano Binder wrote:

Maybe you are taking this from a global perspective, from a perspective of all translators as a group. My reading is completely different. Let me translate it to plain English:

"Use the opportunities available in your normal activity to promote the good name, improvement and technological advancement of the industry as a whole".


I'm not a Luddite, but I don't see why technology should be specifically mentioned (after all, there is some evidence, for example, that CAT tools negatively affect translation quality).

I would also prefer the word "profession" rather than "industry".

So why not simply " to promote the good name and advancement of the profession as a whole"?

[Edited at 2008-10-21 15:27]


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Watch that language Oct 21, 2008

I think we should check the books if we're going to split hairs...
Samuel Murray wrote:
Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:
Courtesy isn't synonymous with friendliness, Samuel - it means polite, no more no less.

In English we have terms like "common courtesy", which has nothing to do with politeness per se but with being honest and forthcoming.

Merriam Webster:
Courtesy: 1a: courteous behavior b : a courteous act or expression
Courteous: 1: marked by polished manners, gallantry, or ceremonial usage of a court
2: marked by respect for and consideration of others
synonyms see CIVIL
Yourdictionary.com:
Common: 5b. basic; simple; rudimentary common courtesy
But some people confuse the words "responsibility" and "liability" ... I know these terms are often used loosely interchangeably, I do believe the distinction is important in business

Merriam-Webster:
Liability: 1a : the quality or state of being liable
Liable: 1a: obligated according to law or equity : RESPONSIBLE
Responsible: 1a: liable to be called on to answer b(1): liable to be called to account as the primary cause, motive, or agent *a committee responsible for the job*(2): being the cause or explanation *mechanical defects were responsible for the accident* c: liable to legal review or in case of fault to penalties
---------------------
Either way, politeness is an act of subservience (even if in most cultures it is generally not shameful to display it).

Merriam-Webster:
Politeness: 1a: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of advanced culture b: marked by refined cultural interests and pursuits especially in arts and belles lettres
2 a: showing or characterized by correct social usage b: marked by an appearance of consideration, tact, deference, or courtesy
Subservience: 1: a subservient or subordinate place or function
2: obsequious servility
Subservient: 1: useful in an inferior capacity : SUBORDINATE
2: serving to promote some end
3: obsequiously submissive : TRUCKLING
synonyms SUBSERVIENT, SERVILE, SLAVISH, OBSEQUIOUS mean showing or characterized by extreme compliance or abject obedience. SUBSERVIENT implies the cringing manner of one very conscious of a subordinate position
--------------------
Online Etymology Dictionary:
courteous
1275, from O.Fr. curteis "having courtly bearing or manners," from curt "court" + -eis, from L. -ensis. In feudal society, also denoting a man of good education (hence the name Curtis). Medieval courts were associated with good behavior and also beauty; e.g. Ger. hübsch "beautiful," from M.H.G. hübesch "beautiful," orig. "courteous, well-bred," from O.Franconian hofesch, from hof "court."
polite
1263, from L. politus "refined, elegant," lit. "polished," pp. of polire "to polish, to make smooth." Used literally at first in Eng.; sense of "elegant, cultured" is first recorded 1501, that of "behaving courteously" is 1762.
----------------------
For a translator, what defines him is the way he honours agreements and the actual product he delivers, not the expression on his face when he negotiates or when he delivers the product. Certainly, we want colleagues to be polite, but is it compulsory -- is it an integral part of the definition "professional person"?

Merriam-Webster:
Professional: 1a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession b: engaged in one of the learned professions c (1): characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2): exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace


[Edited at 2008-10-21 15:50]


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 22:56
Spanish to English
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Wrap it up, please. Oct 21, 2008

My main concerns regarding the content of the proz.com guidelines are set out in Samuel's other thread http://www.proz.com/topic/118391 , where he (wisely, in my view...) declined to get involved in the nitty-gritty being raised here and concentrated on his proposal to allow members to endorse the guidelines selectively.

My main concern in this thread, concerned with the basics of good communication (which, let's not forget, is the very essence of the work we do as translators/interpreters) is that the guidelines are presented as a bald list of attributes. There is no 'wrapper' text, explaining the raison d'être of the guidelines or their intended function in the translator/client relationship. Readers of these guidelines are not informed/reminded that as 'mere' guidelines they are subordinate to the terms and conditions, or other contractual obligations, entered into by the parties.

Now you may retort: "But that goes without saying!"

Yes, of course - it's blindingly obvious. But some things are so obvious that it's worth repeating them.

That applies here, I suggest, because there is a risk that some clients will be more influenced by what they see in the 'easy-to-read' guidelines than by what they read in the translator's standard T&C (always assuming they read the T&C at all...).

So, leaving others to haggle over the wording of the guidelines themselves, I will limit myself to outlining a brief 'wrapper' text, something like the following:

****************
Proz.com Professional Guidelines

The Proz.com Professional Guidelines were established in [date] to give Proz.com members a means of (whatever the purpose is, from a member's perspective). For members' clients, a language professional's endorsement of these Guidelines is an indication of (whatever the perceived benefits are from an end-user's perspective...).

To date, over xxxx members have endorsed these Guidelines.

[insert guidelines here]

It should be borne in mind that the present Guidelines do not form a part of any contract entered into between a language professional and his/her client, and are not legally binding in any way.
****************

MediaMatrix


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:56
French to English
Courtesy Oct 21, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:

In English we have terms like "common courtesy", which has nothing to do with politeness per se but with being honest and forthcoming.


I'm about to be honest and forthcoming, and not terribly polite.

Your statement above is a load of bollocks.

I would go so far as to say that under some circumstances, common courtesy is actually the exact opposite. For example, if you have just eaten a foul meal at the home of your future spouse, cooked by your future mother-in-law, and she asks you if you liked it, common common courtesy is to lie, or obfuscate ("I've never eaten that before"). It is not common courtesy to tell her you fear you may vomit on the way home, even if that is the honest answer, and is admirably forthcoming.

Either way, politeness is an act of subservience

Maybe in your culture, matey boy, but not in mine.

Again, I think we just need to look at the intention behind this stuff.
You may claim
objectively I find nothing in the attributes of rudeness and insensitivity that precludes professionalism
but there are many people who would find plenty to object to if they made an enquiry about availability and were told "**** off, I don't work for 4c a word."


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