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A 3,800 word test translation?
Thread poster: Richard Bartholomew

Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:56
Member (2007)
German to English
Nov 29, 2007

An agency sent me a 3,800 word test translation this afternoon. The text is technically quite challenging (and interesting). The agency has a contact person, phone number, web site, and VAT number. The agency's name does not appear on the Blue Board.

The contact person asked me

o whether I understood the document's content, and
o how long it would take me to translate the document.

I replied that I understood the basics of the text, but that I would need some time to research special terminology. So I estimated 800 words per day on average. I told the contact person that I would send him a translation of the first 250 words so that he could judge the quality for himself. If he liked the quality and the time frame, I suggested he send me a PO for the rest. Then I referred him to my rates.

Should I have done anything differently?


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Iván Madrigal  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:56
English to Spanish
No Nov 29, 2007

One thing is a test translation and something else very different is a "do this translation for free claiming that if we like your style we will give you loads of work in the 'future'".

250 words as a test translation is reasonable.
You need the rest of the file translated and you like my style? -> Show me your silver.

800 words per day is a bit low, I will push a bit further though.


I


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Sara Mullin  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:56
Member (2007)
English to French
+ ...
I think you did the right thing Nov 29, 2007

I've never heard of such a long "test translation" before- I've had paying jobs for less than what he's asking you to do for free. I think you've done the right thing by only sending him 250 words and asking for a PO if he wants the rest. A 3,800 word "test" seems extremely unreasonable!

[Edited at 2007-11-29 21:59]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:56
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
I guess that does not mean total output in a day? Nov 29, 2007

800 words per day is a bit low, I will push a bit further though.


I [/quote]

I think 800 words per day for one client is a sensible way to set a deadline, given that there are also usually translations to be done for other clients on those days as well.


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Alana Quintyne  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:56
French to English
+ ...
Good strategy Nov 29, 2007

Richard Bartholomew wrote:

An agency sent me a 3,800 word test translation this afternoon. The text is technically quite challenging (and interesting). The agency has a contact person, phone number, web site, and VAT number. The agency's name does not appear on the Blue Board.

The contact person asked me

o whether I understood the document's content, and
o how long it would take me to translate the document.

I replied that I understood the basics of the text, but that I would need some time to research special terminology. So I estimated 800 words per day on average. I told the contact person that I would send him a translation of the first 250 words so that he could judge the quality for himself. If he liked the quality and the time frame, I suggested he send me a PO for the rest. Then I referred him to my rates.

Should I have done anything differently?


I really think you handled this quite well. I don't even think I would have sent them the 250 words. The contact person probably has a few cards short of a full deck if he/she thought you'd do a 3800 word test translation.


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Mark Nathan  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:56
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
Fed up with test translations Nov 29, 2007

I recently did a 426 word test translation on the basis of a promise of regular work for a year, from a company that had a good Blue board rating. I never heard from them again.

When I tried to post a comment on the Blueboard it was refused because apparently comments cannot be accepted on the basis of test translations.

In future I think I willl provide references and refer anyone who asks for a test translation to my proz profile.

The bottom line is that, for the time being, I already have more than enough work.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 17:56
English to Russian
+ ...
Drop them Nov 30, 2007

A 3800-word test is hysterical.

On the other hand, for a serious agency 800 words a day and your confession that you are not really familiar with the subject would be a no-no. A week for a 3800 job sounds pretty slow unless it's that rare occasion of a luxurious deadline, but in such cases good agencies prefer to go to their oldtimers for 2 reasons - one would be to give regulars a sort of an extra appreciation bonus, at least timewise, and the other - to sleep tight knowing that the quality is guaranteed. Should they accept your terms, you'll likely be looking into a new and unhappy relationship with a non-payer, with or without PO.

Anyone who offers a 3800 test for free smells fishy and there is no reason to expect that the second step will be better than the first one.

[Edited at 2007-11-30 01:44]


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Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 17:56
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
May be they were drunk Nov 30, 2007

Indeed, it would be long enough a test containing 5% of those 3800 words, this is: 190 words.

My astonishment levels are very high after reading this! Oh my...


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 05:56
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Test translation of 3800 words Nov 30, 2007

1. I did some test jobs of about 4000 words in 2 days: The agencies paid me fully for the test.
2. I did so many free and short test translations. The agencies rarely replied to my tests.
3. Some agencies repled with bad comments to my tests. I sent them back with
"a. I accept your comments. You may hate my translation styles but I have a growing list of global clients. It means I am very successful in translation jobs. Your requirements can be exceptional and I cannot offer.
b. My education backgrounds and translation experience are very high [they are facts], your comments are likely to come from a novice agency staff/proofreader. Please hire some translators else for your job.
c. [For very low price software, IT related test/job] Please find translators who are familiar with your translation styles: You did not give me requirements prior to the test."
4. I translated about 200 words for very long test source texts. I leave remaing parts intact.
Translation tests are good learning materials for translation business. I prefer to do if I have time.
Regards,
Soonthon L.


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Haiyang Ai  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:56
English to Chinese
+ ...
NO Nov 30, 2007

3, 800 word is too long. Test translation usually consists of several hundred words, not thousands. Another thing about test translation is that the client usually do NOT have a real project on hand. It's just a standard practice for recruiting new freelancers. Chances are that you'll NOT get translation/proofreading jobs anytime soon. So be careful.

You can provide your samples to your clients, if that's an option.

Kind regards,
Haiyang


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:56
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Perfect Nov 30, 2007

IMO you gave the perfect response. It will be interesting to see what they reply.

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Jim Tucker  Identity Verified
United States
Hungarian to English
+ ...
Recommend asking for EUR 1000 test payment Nov 30, 2007

...just to see if all the channels are working, and that you are satisfied with the quality of Euros they send. Furthermore, you might want to ask for test payments in various other currencies as well, merely to ensure that they can handle a variety of assignments.

Explain to them that this is standard procedure in the field.


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:56
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Paid or unpaid? Nov 30, 2007

Richard Bartholomew wrote:
An agency sent me a 3,800 word test translation this afternoon. The text is technically quite challenging (and interesting). The agency has a contact person, phone number, web site, and VAT number. The agency's name does not appear on the Blue Board.


Hi Richard,

First off, a question for clarification: Are you talking about an unpaid test here? If so, you applied the right strategy in my opinion. Any unpaid test exceeding 200-250 words is plain unreasonable.

My 2c worth,
Steffen

P.S. Feel free to contact me privately via my profile - I might be able to provide some more information about the agency. (As you probably know, outsourcers may not be specifically discussed in the forums.)


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Martin Wenzel
Germany
Local time: 00:56
English to German
+ ...
No more test translations... Nov 30, 2007

I have been in the trade for nearly 25 years now. All the tests I ever did, I never received any feedback on...so they must have been either pretty bad (so the agency was too embarrassed to tell me about it), or they just sold it, thus increasing their bank account and stealing my time.

Does a doctor EVER undertake a free check up or a plumber run a test pipe???

I don't know who came up with these tests in the first place. I understand that agencies don't want to take the risk of not being paid by their final customer, but I really do take the same risk by providing free test translations...

Is there anything free in life these days? If I am offered something for free I always ask where is the snag?

The way test translations should be done: Either we need to charge for them or skip every second sentence to make sure they can't sell it.


Martin


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maryblack  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:56
Member (2013)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Love it, Jim! Absolutely, tit for tat! Nov 30, 2007

Jim Tucker wrote:

...just to see if all the channels are working, and that you are satisfied with the quality of Euros they send. Furthermore, you might want to ask for test payments in various other currencies as well, merely to ensure that they can handle a variety of assignments.

Explain to them that this is standard procedure in the field.


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