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Volume of test translations
Thread poster: xxxEric Hahn
xxxEric Hahn  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:20
French to German
+ ...
Mar 9, 2009

A NY outsoucer contacted me and asked for a test translation. I said : Why not ?
Now, they want me to translate 3 pages. Is this usual practice in the USA ?



[Edited at 2009-03-09 13:48 GMT]


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xxxEric Hahn  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:20
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yahoo! A test for free Mar 9, 2009

Hello,
There is an English>German Translation Test about software
localization. The candidates should have the related software
localization experience and are able to use Trados.

If you are interested in this project, please send your lowest
rate and CV to me. Thanks!

Please note that the test is free. But the project will start at
once when the test passes.

Looking forward hearing from you.

Regards!

Rose ...

(A chinese agency)

[Edited at 2009-03-09 13:56 GMT]


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
*Smiles* Mar 9, 2009

Eric Hahn wrote: "Please note that the test is free. But the project will start at once when the test passes."
(A chinese agency)


Haha, cute! I hope the test does well!


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Veronica Svanström
Romania
Local time: 00:20
German to Romanian
+ ...
Way over the limit Mar 9, 2009

Hello, Eric!

This is way over the limit, from my point of view.
The usual volume for test translations is around 250-300 words, but no more.
So, my opinion is to decline.
I also had this kind of experience with a chinese agency; the wordcount for the test was even bigger than yours and i declined. What bothered me the most in their behaviour was their idea that i should accept a low fee/word because i live in Romania.
Good luck!

Best,
Veronica


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:20
French to German
+ ...
About 250-300 words (= 1 "page") Mar 9, 2009

Maria Veronica Svanström wrote:

Hello, Eric!

This is way over the limit, from my point of view.
The usual volume for test translations is around 250-300 words, but no more.
So, my opinion is to decline.

No matter where the agency is located, 250-300 words (= 1 "page") as you said is a limit. An agency once wanted me to do FR and DE to EN, in addition to EN>DE and EN>FR. Funny sorts!

@ Eric: I am not aware of any kind of "standard volumes" for test translations when these are required by US agencies (the ones I know have limited their tests to the volume stated by Maria Veronica)...

Laurent K.

[Edited at 2009-03-09 14:40 GMT]


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:20
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
There are exceptions Mar 9, 2009

Although 200-250 words is pretty much the accepted limit, there are exceptions.
The first that comes to mind is book translations, where the publisher often asks for an entire chapter as a sample.
Another example would be large contracts that involve different types of texts. Once I was asked to do a longer test (about 450 words, consisting of 3 different type of sample texts) and first, I was reluctant to do it. But when I saw the actual test, I realized they were not trying to get a free translation (none of the pieces were useful by themselves) but they were trying to see how the translator handles various challenges in the texts. I agreed to do it, and it turned into a long-term relationship with a direct client.

There are plenty of reasons to be cautious, though. As it was discussed several times on the forum, there are people out there trying to get free translations.

I myself was once sucked into a situation where I realized too late that I was taken for a ride: a private person contacted me about a book translation, and she asked for a chapter for free, as a test. After submitting the translation, she turned silent. Upon inquiring, she said the translation had "grammer (sic!!!) errors" - when I asked her to point them out for the sake of my native editor, I got no reply, except that she decided not to get the book translated, but rather write a book from scratch. So, I realized that she probably gave one chapter for each translator as a test, just to know the content of the book, and then she would write a book by herself (or hire somebody to write it). It was about an educational method that she used after learning it from the original master, and there was no written information about it in English.

So, one needs to weigh all these parameters when deciding whether a free test is worth doing.


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Concur Mar 9, 2009

I've done a small handful of tests for US agencies, and they have always been within the limits mentioned here (otherwise I wouldn't have done them).

Good luck!


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xxxEric Hahn  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:20
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
OK Mar 9, 2009

Thank you for your feedback. In fact, it's just for patent writings.

So, I think the best thing to do is not to react


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Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:20
English to German
You are right Mar 9, 2009

Hi,

Yes, I think you are right in ignoring them. I've also done test translations now and then and their length usually was about a half page to one page (mostly in the technical area).

Personally, I would also be careful with agencies from China - I made some experiences...

Annett


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:20
Portuguese to English
+ ...
A whole chapter???? Mar 9, 2009

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

Although 200-250 words is pretty much the accepted limit, there are exceptions.
The first that comes to mind is book translations, where the publisher often asks for an entire chapter as a sample.


I have translated several books and plan to do more. I have never and would never, ever agree to translating a whole chapter! Of course, the length of chapters varies, but to me ANY chapter is too much. A page or two is more than enough to see if the person can do a good translation of a book or not.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:20
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Yes, chapter length and the volume of the book matters Mar 9, 2009

Amy Duncan wrote:

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

Although 200-250 words is pretty much the accepted limit, there are exceptions.
The first that comes to mind is book translations, where the publisher often asks for an entire chapter as a sample.


I have translated several books and plan to do more. I have never and would never, ever agree to translating a whole chapter! Of course, the length of chapters varies, but to me ANY chapter is too much. A page or two is more than enough to see if the person can do a good translation of a book or not.


Amy, you are right, the length of the chapter and the volume of the entire book does matter. That's why a chapter of several pages (even 20, OMG!!! ) is not necessarily too much if the deal is let's say about 4 volumes of a textbook series, for example on a scientific topic, and each book is 5-600 pages, and the client is a very respectable, well known publisher, in a direct relationship (no agency involved).

So, what I am saying is that everything is relative, and there are exceptions to the "max. 250 words" rule of thumb.
We can all decide for ourselves what is acceptable in any given circumstances.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:20
French to German
+ ...
Red alert case Mar 9, 2009

Eric Hahn wrote:

Thank you for your feedback. In fact, it's just for patent writings.

So, I think the best thing to do is not to react


Patents? That would be a "red alert" case for me!

BTW, I had to do some test translations for a NY outsourcer, so we may be talking about the same one - *grins*. The volume they asked me for was within the limits stated above, though.

Laurent K.

[Edited at 2009-03-09 18:26 GMT]


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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 17:20
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Section of a chapter Mar 9, 2009

Amy Duncan wrote:

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

Although 200-250 words is pretty much the accepted limit, there are exceptions.
The first that comes to mind is book translations, where the publisher often asks for an entire chapter as a sample.


I have translated several books and plan to do more. I have never and would never, ever agree to translating a whole chapter! Of course, the length of chapters varies, but to me ANY chapter is too much. A page or two is more than enough to see if the person can do a good translation of a book or not.


A lot depends on WHO is asking me for a test. I've done only one test translation for a client, ever, and it was a section of a chapter--some 4 or 5 pages, as I recall. I was a translation student at the time, and the professor who had recommended me to the client encouraged me to do the test, confident that I would pass. The client was an editor at a highly reputable university press, and the text was a scholarly work.

Yes, it was a lengthy test, and represented a major investment of time and effort. However:
1) I was a student, with no professional reputation.
2) The client was a reputable one who would be highly unlikely to have any interest in cheating translators and obtaining a free translation.
3) The section gave them an opportunity to see how I handled specific translation problems, how I handled the research involved in such a work (including footnotes), and whether I could produce a coherent body of text, with its internal "introduction" and "conclusion." (I find intros and conclusions to be the hardest part of most texts!)
4) I felt sure I could pass the test, so the work would not go to waste.
5) It gave me terrific experience that would have been valuable even if I hadn't gotten the job--though perhaps I would not have felt that way at the time!

I got the job, the book was published, and I have worked steadily since then, gaining new clients by word-of-mouth (to jump in on the current Quick Poll).

Only once since then have I been asked to do a translation test, by a different university client. I started the test, but quickly received an email from the client telling me to forget the test; I was hired. He had just noticed that he had on his shelf a copy of the book described above; he checked it out and decided that no further test was needed.

Of course, I would never have done such a test if I had simply gotten an email from an unknown agency with empty promises of "potential" for "steady work" in some unspecified future. My point is, the "standard" volume for a test should surely be determined by a variety of factors. Consider the source, the value, the risk, and decide whether it's worth your while.

Added later: I see that while I was writing, Katalin addressed (more succinctly!) much of what I was trying to say. Sorry for the repetition.

[Edited at 2009-03-09 17:32 GMT]


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Oleksandr Kupriyanchuk  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 00:20
Russian to English
+ ...
Clients give you either tests OR jobs; DO charge 'em for "over limit" tests Mar 9, 2009

1. Be serious: usually clients give you either tests OR jobs.


2. A test translation (200+ words long) is only possible for a reasonable fee.

Colleagues, I strongly recommend to charge for those “way over the limit” tests, up to 2/3 of your standard rate


[Edited at 2009-03-09 20:12 GMT]


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Oh yeah Mar 10, 2009

Hi people.

It reminds me of something happened a bit earlier:
‘You must do 5 pages for a test translation first’

And then ‘Oh, you see, our translator found a few discrepancies. No-no, you cannot see it right now, but could you do another 5 pages test more thoroughly?’
‘Really glad to hear from you; Ok, there were some minor mismatches and style issues but that’s OK. Shall we do some 5 pages of on-topic translation, right?’

IF one divides a project in 5 pages of ‘free test translation’ mini-projects then he could have a decent works completed.
Rather many newbie translators put feet in its trap.

I also have received such offers and if my question about portfolio was failed to hear then I did a counter-offer asking about a ‘test payment’.
Some were indignant, some have a strong sense of humor and others really did pay

Just remember:
An employer has a budget, but the value of your service goes down quickly as soon as it is performed. So, choose wisely and be ready either to negotiate as civilized people or to walk away for a better opportunity.

Anyway, cheers.

[Редактировалось 2009-03-10 09:33 GMT]


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