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Off topic: Free Translations for People I Don't Know
Thread poster: Juliana Brown

Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 13:01
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 27, 2007

I am always happy (well, almost always) to do a small translation for friends or family, if it is a matter of a short doc. or even a school transcript. What burns me up is when I am working, and all of a sudden an e-mail pops up asking me something inane like "I met this backpacker from Israel and I want to send him a note saying 'You're so cool, I'm glad we got to hang out'; can you translate this for me into Hebrew?"

I do not know these people, but they must be young enough to assume that the description "freelance" means I enjoy working for free!

I am generally scared to even answer because I don't want to traumatize them with my roaringly brutal response. Does anyonw else get these?


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Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:01
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
karma Apr 27, 2007

I don't mind doing little translations like that, but only if they really are little. I suspect that sometimes those little freebies are more important in the big picture than lots of the stuff I get paid to translate. But all things in moderation...


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
I do:-) Apr 27, 2007

Juliana Starkman wrote:

I am always happy (well, almost always) to do a small translation for friends or family, if it is a matter of a short doc. or even a school transcript. What burns me up is when I am working, and all of a sudden an e-mail pops up asking me something inane like "I met this backpacker from Israel and I want to send him a note saying 'You're so cool, I'm glad we got to hang out'; can you translate this for me into Hebrew?"

I do not know these people, but they must be young enough to assume that the description "freelance" means I enjoy working for free!

I am generally scared to even answer because I don't want to traumatize them with my roaringly brutal response. Does anyonw else get these?


I have one friend who asks me to do things small and sometimes largeish. Once I was so busy I paid someone else to do his job...I didn't tell him, as I didn't want him to feel bad. But it never seems to occur to him I might actually have other committments.

Rather than a problem of our profession, it's a problem of being freelance and others who are not freelance don't really understand what it means to be freelance. You are never "absent" the way people with "real" jobs are, especially if you work at home. You are around at times other people are at work. You work hard when you work becuase there's always that fear that next week you may not have work.

So yes, I know exactly what you mean:-( I do the jobs, but I'm not exactly gushingly friendly when I return the job. All in all though, I'd rather do them than make a fuss.


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Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 13:01
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Maybe a proposal of marriage Apr 28, 2007

I think I would feel the same if it was proposal of love or marriage, or even something amusing, but generally they seem to be....nonsense. I agree though; if it was something that I felt would lead to people really understanding each other and learning from one another, I would not feel my time was being wasted...

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 20:01
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
I refer them to Kudoz Apr 28, 2007

and remark, that my minimal charge is 15 Euro. Sure they'll realise that there is no free lunch (kudoz being the exception).
Cheers
Heinrich


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 12:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
If it's too much for KudoZ... Apr 28, 2007

...for example a whole sentence, or even a whole letter or a homework assignment, they could be referred to the forums at Wordreference, where people freely help each other in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Arabic, Hebrew, Catalan, Latin, Slavic languages, Japanese and Greek.

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:01
English to French
+ ...
Liberal professions Apr 28, 2007

As with other liberal professions (attorney, barrister, doctor, priest, etc.), people like to be friends with us because we are "useful contacts". It doesn't go much farther... I don't get worked up about it, but I say no most of the time. I will never favor volunteer work to paid work (unless it will save lives, the environment, make a child happy or some such cause compatible with my views and asprations) and will never, ever sacrifice a contract because someone wants to get their theory on flying saucers translated so they can post it on their website. However, what makes me mad is people who ask me to translate commercial material free. Sorry, but if you use my translation for profit, I will also translate for profit - what makes you think I will sacifice MY time to earn YOU money? If it's for a worthy cause, I'll do it provided I have time for it and will not have to refuse other work for it.

As for people who think we are always available because we work at home, yeah, I do sometimes get worked up about it. The other day, my sister called me about twelve times to ask me questions on a video game. Every time, she would start by "Sorry to bother you, but...". At the one dozenth call, I told her "If you really were sorry to bother me, you would have stopped calling after the first call, when I told you I was busy working, unlike others who play video games." My fix to this is having a second phone number on the same line that rings differently, and when I work, I only answer the "work" number. When the other phone rings, I let them leave a message. However, members of my family (my sister, for instance) have found a way around this, which by the way I find extremely rude of them. They don't ever leave a message, so I never know if a call is important (after all, we care about our families) and therefore have to pick them up (and they usually just want to discuss their recipes, what name they should choose for their kids or Virginia Tech). My mom also blocks her number after not getting an answer past the 6th call or so, which is also very rude (what? you're going to force me to take your call?) AND an insult to my intelligence. I never, ever answer blocked calls, so there, that's easily fixed.

Having that second phone number does help me a lot, though, mainly to filter calls from friends and acquaintances as well as doctor's appointments, telemarketing, surveys, etc.


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 20:01
Turkish to English
+ ...
I don't think it's a big problem Apr 28, 2007

I don't have any problem in principle with translating 2-3 short, simple sentences for a private individual for free. This doesn't feel like work at all - not when compared to, say, the hundred or so pages of excrutiating petitions from banks' solicitors objecting to a bankruptcy suit that I am working on right now.
I think it can be good commercial practice, too. In quite a few cases I have later received paid work from the same sources. Several years ago a businessman rang me up and wanted to know the meaning of a few words, and I was happy to assist him. He was quite insistent that he should pay me something for this service, but I assured him that the amount of work involved was too negligible to charge for. Later, I received several short (and paid) translations from this same businessman.
Sometimes, if a private individual sends me a longer personal message, I will give them the translation as a free introductory sample of my work, and inform them of my normal charges. Again, from time to time, I have subsequently received paid work from the same sources.
There is indeed no such thing as a free lunch. Many businesses make introductory free offers from time to time, and they serve a purpose.


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Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 13:01
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
fate... Apr 28, 2007

is surely knocking on my hard drive...As I posted this I got a mail from a young woman who needs a quick love note translated. Since all of your postings made me feel a little ashamed of my previous reactions (brought on no doubt by too much Turkish coffee, and being woken every night by my 4 year old to answer philosophical questions), I said yes....

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 18:01
Dutch to English
+ ...
I had to smile wryly reading this ... Apr 28, 2007

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

As with other liberal professions (attorney, barrister, doctor, priest, etc.), people like to be friends with us because we are "useful contacts".


... yes, imagine what I go through in this department - i.e. being a lawyer & translator.

Bottom line, if the request is from a friend and I have time, I help free of charge (whether a matter of law or translation - e.g. yesterday afternoon I went and did a free sight-translation at the local notary for a friend who was finalising a property transaction, we had a quick cup of coffee and a chat afterwards).

Fine, but there are limits and I have had to sometimes admit to myself that people who I considered friends were actually just abusing the situation.

If it's someone trying to befriend for that reason, the answer is a firm no from the outset.

And if it's a stranger (other than somebody connected with a very good cause), they can take a flying leap. I've hardly got five minutes to myself as it is.

[Edited at 2007-04-28 18:05]


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:01
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
It depends on what it is Apr 28, 2007

I always do the translations for our local human rights organisation for free, even though some of them are very long.


I do smaller (no more than two pages) translations for friends for ice cream. I know that I am crazy, but you can poison me with ice cream. It is a perfectly okay renumeration.

One friend kept adding parts to his translation so that it ended up being 8 pages and he felt so bad that he supplied me with ice cream for a couple of months. I was soo happy, but my waistline protested forcefully.

But I agree what has been said before. If they get paid for it or profit from it in some way, I want to see dough too.

Lucinda


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Claudia Luque Bedregal  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
I do it, too for family and friends Apr 28, 2007

Hi,
I've never got an email from an unknown person asking for a free translation like Juliana says, not even a short one (do you get them through your Proz profile or do you have a website?... just curious ), but I'm sometimes asked to do short translations for family and friends and most of them assumed that because they are family and friends these translations should be free of charge.
Well, I normally don't charge anything, since most of the time they are short translations and I have time to do them (if I'm working on a project, then that's a different story, they know they should wait then). Some of them -not many though- insist that I should get paid for the work I'm doing for them, but I just say "no, you're my family and it's ok" or "no, you're my friend and that's fine", but in the end some of them are kindly enough to give me something at the end of the job, like a box of chocolates or something like that.
Of course, they have been short translations all the time, a few paragraphs, a page tops. But when they have asked for longer translations, then we have agreed on a lower rate (they know they should pay me since this is the way I earn my living) and a flexible date to deliver the work, then everybody is happy

And like Viktoria has said before, if it's for a good cause I'd do a translation for free no problem, provided of course I have the time for it. I'm always willing to help, but you have to organize your work, and then see if you have time for some additional free work

However, if someone will get profits from your work, then I think the right and fair thing to do is that you also get some profits out of it. So that's why so important to get things clear from the start

Good luck with that love letter Juliana!

Enjoy your weekend!
Claudia


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:01
English to German
+ ...
If you do not want to do it, do not do it Apr 28, 2007

My friends and family respect a no for what it is. Sometimes they ask and if it is not too much and I have the time, it is fine. If not, it is okay, too. A friendship that is ruined by a no was no friendship and family who cannot cope with a no are badly educated with regard to respecting me.

If an unknown person asks and I feel like doing it, I do it, and if I do not feel like doing it, I simply say no or just delete the message. There is absolutely no reason to feel bad about it or obliged to them. They asked and you give an answer and that's it.
And: Thanks for the link to the Wordreference forum, so now I can even tell them, where they can get help for free.

Don't let your day be ruined because of some unsolicited e-mail. Just handle it and go on.


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Are they friends or strangers? Apr 28, 2007

Juliana,
It's not clear to me if these people who are asking a translation "favor" are friends or strangers. If it's the latter, I'd say no -- even to a love note.

In fact, the more I think about it, the idea of translating a love letter cracks me up. These people are in love, yet they don't have a clue what the person thinks!? Let them BOTH take the energy they are feeling and put it to learning the other language! If this is going to work out, sooner or later, that will be a necessary step!

As to people who think you aren't working, grrr! When I have plumbers or gardeners around, I even make a show of how hard I'm working--like dictating into Dragon Naturally Speaking in a very loud voice.

Recently, a dog groomer was trying to sell me a supplement for the pooches, and I reluctantly took a sample; a few days later, she called me three times, on my home phone and cell. As others reported, the first two times, she didn't leave a message. So, the third time, feeling tricked, I picked up. All she wanted to know was whether I'd tried her product! (It was a Monday, the day SHE doesn't work.) She lost a customer. But of course, you can't do that to a sister or mother!
Patricia


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Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 13:01
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No, they're complete strangers... Apr 28, 2007

who ask for my help, and always to translate into Hebrew. I haven't had any requests for Spanish yet, maybe because it's easier for people to find someone they actually know who can do a word or two of incorrect Spanish. Hebrew is another kettle of fish though...
Of course, if it was a matter of family or friends I would be happy to do it, unless it was deadline time. I've done a couple of kids' stories for people gratis, for example. That, I don't mind.
I have NO idea how these people find me. I guess through proz., since I don't have web page yet (no time so far to sit down and do it).
I sent off my love note. While I don't expect to get ice cream out of it (though I woldn't say no!), a thank you would be good!
Patricia and Viktoria, I could start a whole other string about phone calls that go unanswered...my mother believes I purposely don't pick up.


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