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New client requests short account of problems encountered in test translation: what do you think
Thread poster: Jason Willis-Lee

Jason Willis-Lee  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 27, 2006

Hi,

I´ve been asked to do a test translation for a new (agency) client and have been asked to outline, in not more than 500 words, the problems I encountered in the test translation and how I resolved them.

Since this is the first time I have received such a request, I´m not quite sure how to respond. I don't mind saying this has put me off a little, I'd appreciate some advice on how to tackle my response. i.e. whether to comply with it or not. I´d be quite interested in working for them but not sure what they are looking for here (?).

Thanks in advance,
Jason.


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 11:22
German to English
This makes sense, if you think about it Nov 27, 2006

My impression is that the client is asking you to identify potential problems encountered in the translation, such as defective grammar, "false friends" and other issues. It doesn't necessarily mean that *you* specifically might have problems.

My feeling, at least, is that it's an intelligent approach to a test translation, although 500 words is a little much. If I were to structure a test translation, I'd also ask which standard references might be useful in translating such a text.

On the other hand, it is a little unusual to be asked about potential translation problems.


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 11:22
English to Spanish
Same here Nov 27, 2006

Hi Jason,

The first outsourcer I ever worked with is the local office of a well-known international agency. They gave me 2 short texts and asked me to summarize the main difficulties I found and explain how I solved them. I'm thinking it might be the same company.

The only thing I remember (it was a long time ago) was that I pointed out: "I wasn't told who the target audience is and the text mentions the summer period, which would mean different months for the US hispanic population and Chile".

I'm sorry I can't be of more help

(Good luck!)

Andrea


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:22
German to English
+ ...
I agree with Kevin Nov 27, 2006

You could read it as "what issues would need to have been resolved with the customer had this been an actual job?".

Marc


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
a great opportunity:-) Nov 27, 2006

Jason Willis-Lee wrote:

Hi,

I´ve been asked to do a test translation for a new (agency) client and have been asked to outline, in not more than 500 words, the problems I encountered in the test translation and how I resolved them.

Since this is the first time I have received such a request, I´m not quite sure how to respond. I don't mind saying this has put me off a little, I'd appreciate some advice on how to tackle my response. i.e. whether to comply with it or not. I´d be quite interested in working for them but not sure what they are looking for here (?).

Thanks in advance,
Jason.



What they want to see is how you process the text. It's a great opportunity becuase you can justify your solutions to all the difficulties you encountered. Your arguments in favour of your choices - if solid - will be taken into account, and in the end, it's not going to be just the product assessed out of hand, but also the process that will count.

Annotation was formerly a feature of the General (compulsory) Paper in the IOL Diploma. For some reason, they dispensed with this requirement.

I would say it's a good sign of a client to be interested in seeing how you think:-)


Here's an example of an annotation I made recently:

Source:
La aplicación del XXXX deberá realizarse con la máxima pulcritud, evitando en lo posible cualquier contacto con el tubo (por ejemplo: párpado, dedos, etc.)

Target:
The XXXX should be applied in conditions of maximum cleanliness and all contact between the tube opening and fingers, eyelids, etc. should be avoided.

Annotation:
I changed ‘tube’ to ‘tube opening’, as it’s not logical to expect patients to hold, open, close and squeeze the tube without touching it!

Here's another example:

Source:
En caso de ingestión accidental acudir al médico o llamar al Servicio de Información Toxicológica, Teléfono (91) 5620420 indicando el producto y la cantidad ingerida.

Target:
In the event of accidental intake, consult your doctor or call the Toxicological Information Service (telephone in Spain: (91) 5620420). You will need to indicate the name of the product and the amount consumed.

Annotation:
I adapted this on the basis that this info sheet would be included in medicinal product packages for English speakers in Spain. However, the client would ultimately have to decide how this information should be presented.

[Edited at 2006-11-27 23:15]


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:22
German to English
+ ...
Don't worry Nov 27, 2006

I think you should understand it as "potential pitfalls" - not just for you, but for any translator.

Lia has illustrated this very well.

These guys sound like professionals, who would possibly, indeed probably, be worthwhile working with.

I know some who make requests like that and pay crap rates and others who make requests like that and pay better rates.

When you sort this minor issue, suck it and see. They might be great to work with. If not, remember that it is also your right as a freelancer to fire them.

Good luck,
Chris


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 22:22
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Just take it Nov 28, 2006

Hi Jason,
Just take the test. The agency wants to measure the extent of your competence as a potential editor/translator by providing you with a translated document containing possible errors and asking you to correct them to produce a good translation.

This is the time to prove your competence. Don't worry.

[Edited at 2006-11-28 07:52]


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Michaela Sommer  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:22
Member
English to German
Don't take the test Nov 28, 2006

Hi Jason,

I wouldn't take this test to be honest. From your profile I've noticed that you are a member of the Institute of Linguists. The IoL advises its members not to take translation tests for potential clients, because you have already proven your competence as a professional linguist by having been accepted as a member (of the IoL in this case, but I'm sure the same applies to other professional organisations for linguists).

I think it's acceptable for an agency/client to check if your particular style fits in with what they want, but to ask you to prove your ability by commenting on 'the pitfalls of translation' is taking things to far in my opinion. Let them see a sample translation of yours, or refer to the ones you may have published in your profile, so they can see your style of writing. Anything else is pushing it, or would you ask a plumber to do a little 'test plumbing' for you and afterwards comment on possible problems the job might have had, before you employ him?

Best wishes,

Michaela


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:22
German to English
+ ...
paid test: probably, unpaid test: forget it Nov 28, 2006

You *are* getting paid for this, right? Not to open up the paid/unpaid test debate again, but if the agency was serious enough to pay me for the test, I would be inclined in this case to comply with a short outline (more like 100-200 words) at no cost.

If they're not paying you AND they expect you to include a 500-word essay? I would invest my time elsewhere.


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Michaela Sommer  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:22
Member
English to German
Agree with Michele Nov 28, 2006

Michele Johnson wrote:

If they're not paying you AND they expect you to include a 500-word essay? I would invest my time elsewhere.


If you are getting paid, this is an entirely different matter, but it didn't sound as if you are...


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Jason Willis-Lee  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank Nov 28, 2006

Hi, thanks for all these comments, just to clarify, this is an unpaid test of approximately 700 source words.

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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
700 words is too long, but.... Dec 28, 2006

Jason Willis-Lee wrote:

Hi, thanks for all these comments, just to clarify, this is an unpaid test of approximately 700 source words.



...although I would be very interested in doing a test of this kind (my gut instinct would be the same as Textlicks'). What I would do is say it's too long and ask them to either reduce it by half or give me an open deadline.


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