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6 Pages test translation
Thread poster: Ritu Bhanot

Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:49
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
Jan 23, 2007

Hi Everyone,

Guess we've discussed this so many times that all of us are really bored but...

I was asked to quote for translating a book and I did. There was also a mention of sample and I specified that I have no problem doing a test/ sample of 100 - 150 words.

Guess what... this person sends me a sample of 6 pages to be done as test translation.

It's a 100 page book... so if he sends 6 pages to 15 - 20 people... it's all done for free!!!

Nice try. Right?

I told him I won't do it i.e. I'll do 150 words for free but if he wants me to do 6 pages he has to pay my normal fees... but may be there are others who will do it without thinking twice.

He says, he doesn't know how the industry works and it's the first time he's getting it done etc.

Anyways, it sounds so funny that...

So I have a 100 page book and I want a six page sample to be done? Any takers?

It's an excellent project.


Ritu Bhanot

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Nadia-Anastasia Fahmi  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:49
English to Greek
+ ...
Wicked... Jan 23, 2007

Be happy that you were asked to do only 6 pages.

I've received worst requests... such as a 25 page sample...


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:49
Turkish to English
+ ...
Books are a bit different Jan 23, 2007

I think it is normal to provide fairly long samples when it comes to book translation. Last year I was contacted by an author with a view to translating his 337-page book and we agreed that I would first translate the introduction (11 pages) as a sample before he decided whether to commit himself. In this case, it was already clear that the author was seriously considering working with me so I was prepared to translate these eleven pages as a sample. When I then got the go-ahead, I had the advantage of already being eleven pages into the book. I think you have to weigh the probability of winning the contract against the effort involved in preparing the sample and decide if it is worthwhile. Perhaps where a large number of translators are being considered, it would be fairer to conduct the selection procedure in two stages: first ask everyone to provide a sample translation of about one page, then ask those who do best at stage one to provide a longer sample. Consider things form the point of view of the author or publisher: publishing and marketing a translated version of a book is a very serious step and they need to be sure they are working with a translator who is up to the task.

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German to Romanian
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Hard decision Jan 23, 2007

Dear Rithu, 6 pages are not much for a (literature) book. Even when reading a book you need more than 6 pages to make an idea of the book.
I don't want to tell lies here, but I have read/heard somewhere (don't remember where) that editors use to ask for such tests (a few pages).
It is to see the literar style too, which can not be seen in only a few words. But I understand he is the author and not the editor.
I know people are usually affraid of tests, considering them as work for free.
Your thoughts could be true, but also could be wrong.
It is about to decide to lose hundreds of Euro, for a few Euro.
I know, it is not for sure, that you would get the job anyway, but also know that freelance is risky.
I don't know what to say.
I usually support the idea of sample testing for translation jobs, as being the only real way to check a translator, his profesionality.
Question: will the client also edit the book, or is it for private use?
An idea would be to talk open with the client about the purpose of the translation. He may not be informed about this field at all.
If he/she intends to publish the book, you may consider to involve an editor in your negociations and inform yourself too about many aspects of literar/book translation.
It is hard to decide and you have to but in balance all arguments.

Good luck!

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Silvia Silberstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
clients could as well pay tests Jan 23, 2007

I think that after selecting a few candidates, client should pay the translators he considers more qualified if he wants another test, and a 6 pages one! It is not going to add much to what he is prepared to pay for the full job anyway.

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Iffat Chowdhury  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:49
Member (2009)
English to Bengali
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Native speaker with translation experience should not be asked for test translation Jan 23, 2007

Just yesterday, an anonymous person sent me a letter via proz saying that s/he had a large project in my working pair (English to Bengali) and asked me to do a sample work of 1350 words so that they can be sure of my quality of translation.

In reply, I politely asked the person to give me first his/her identity, address, phone number, website, proz record etc and said that I am even ready to do some works.

To my surprise, the still anonymous person in rather long letter said s/he never used proz before and so they have no record in proz and as they are new in translation profession, they even do not have website.

I wonder how come an anonymous person asks for sample translation of 1350 words, which in my opinion should not be more than 300 words and so I just stopped replying to the mail.

I also think a native speaker with proven sufficient translation experience should not be asked for test translation even 300 words, whether it is a book or any other kind translation if the translator can show his/her similar previous work.

A freelancer particularly who works for foreign countries has always some kind of risk but that does not mean that you jump into river without considering the consequences. Everyone must try to minimise the risk and not to be the victim of fraudulent people.



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Local time: 04:49
English to Urdu
+ ...
Quite right Jan 23, 2007

I agree to Iffat and the points raised by Ritu in her initial mail.

There are quite a number of agencies around, who exploit the job seeking translators, especially the newbies by getting their work done on the pretext of testing. I, too, received a warning mail from a fellow translator a couple of months ago that I should be aware of such and such agency who was in the habit of doing so and was sending tests those days.

This, in my opinion, is absolutely against the professioanl ethics and makes us, the translators to be more careful. In fact, Iffat is quite right in saying that a translator having a proven experience record of quality translation should NOT be tested. All the vital information about him/her can be obtained from his/her profile posted at Proz or similar sites and, if required, can be verified, too.


[Edited at 2007-01-23 13:29]

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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:49
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Tricky question Jan 23, 2007

Dear Ritu,

Even though I know that the sample translations for books are longer, I would suggest to him to translate it for a lower - not too much lower - fee than your normal rate. Then you still make something and not waste your time.

The reason I am saying this is that he is new at it - meaning that he doesn't have a track record yet. What if this was just to test the waters or worse. Then you have spent useless time on it.

At the time I was asked to translate a management book, the author asked me to handle the first three chapters, but paid for them in advance. The understanding was that this amount would be subjected from the total fee if I was selected by the publishing house to complete the translation.

I was selected and we proceeded from there.

You might also want to suggest the above to him. Then you don't lose.

Good luck!

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Cristina Popescu  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:49
English to Romanian
+ ...
It's not necessarily a scam Jan 23, 2007

Dear Ritu,
In my opinion, a six-pages test doesn't mean it's a scam, taking into account the fact that it's a book we're talking about. Translating books is quite different from other types of translations and five pages is about the average size of a test.

Iffat Chowdhury wrote:

I also think a native speaker with proven sufficient translation experience should not be asked for test translation.

I disagree with this, since publishing houses usually want to see how you're doing on the precise topic of the book. I've been working for quite a while for the biggest publishing house in Romania and their practice is that you have a test every time you change subjects, even if it's not a dramatic change and despite the fact that you have lots of experience.
If we're talking about a literary test, it's even more tricky. You can be a great translator for some books and a lousy one for others that don't really suit you.
Now, if you have additional reasons to think they're not being honest, perhaps you should trust your instincts. Whenever I did those tests, I always knew exactly who I was dealing with and the tests were not given to anyone else unless I failed. It was not a matter of choosing the best translator but one of making sure the translator they had already chosen based on applications did not turn out to be a failure.

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