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Let\'s talk about sample translations!
Thread poster: Kevin Yang

Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:42
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Mar 22, 2002

Dear fellow translators,



I just saw Frank Hesse\'s message at ProZ.com\'s message board in regarding to a Hong Kong agency made him to provide a \"sample translation\" well over 200 words. He went ahead did it, and they came back to him and asked him to polish the translation. Does this sound familiar to you?



Last year a Taiwan-based company found me in one of the translation websites and invited me to provide translation service to his company. I told him I would be glad to work with him. Then he told me that I had to do a sample translation. I thought over a little bit and said OK. Guess what, when I received the MS Word file from him, I could not believe my eyes. This file he emailed me for the sample translation was a file of 8 pages, in which there were subjects such as medical, computer, contract and other subjects, each subject was well over 300 words. I found it was very rude, so I replied by an email in English in one sentence: \"Get Lost!\" I hope he did not understand it as the file he emailed me was lost in the Internet.



There was another company in Beijing, sent me an email, saying they were a German-China jiont-advanture compamy in the field of aviation supplies, and had a business brochure, looking for a translator to translate it into English. I replied and told them I would be happy to help. The reply from them was that I had to translate their company\'s mission (about 50 words in Chinese) into English as a sample translation first. I worked on it very seriously, and also invited two of my best American proofreaders to polish my translation. The smaple translation was delievered by email one day later, but I never heard from them again. A month later, I sent them another email as a follow-up to check kindly the status of the project. There was no responce whatsoever from them. I start to wonder, do I have a \"SUCKER\" written big and shining on my head? I am very irritated by these free-riders. I might feel better if I was told it would be a \"hit-and-run\" deal.



Let\'s talk about sample translations! The sample translations mentioned above are all free-of-charge translation service. At this point, let\'s try not to mention the company names when we talk about this issue. Let\'s just talk about such practice. I\'d love to hear personal experiences of translators and translation agencies, rather than hearsays. My intention is to figure out a consented solution that all the translator can use when we come into such situation. ProZ.com limits the sample translation under 50 words. I think that\'s reasonable.



Please share with us your experiences in this situation, or successful stories!



Kevin











[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-22 22:07 ]

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-22 22:13 ]

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-22 22:41 ]

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-22 22:42 ]

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-25 21:49 ]


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 09:42
German to English
+ ...
The proof of the pudding is in the eating Mar 22, 2002

This topic has come up several times here and elsewhere, and each time there is a clear majority absolutely deadset against tests and samples.



This is how the argument goes: if an agency, in particular, wants to recruit a new translator, they should give him/her a short translation assignment (paid, of course) - this would not be a test, but an actual assignment. This could be a \"minimum job\" (e.g., less than 250 words for a lump sum of, say, US$30.00).



This way, no one loses: the translator does not have to work for free, and if he/she really does not work out, the agency will have spent only a relatively small amount of money. They could still use the translation, send it on to one of their proofreaders and voil.



This, I believe, is the only way to minimize the risk for both sides. If the agency refuses to accept such an offer, you will, at least, know that they are unprofessional and unreliable (and that you would not have wanted to work for them anyway).



I look forward to reading more on this.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-22 23:32 ]


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Zonum
Spain
Local time: 15:42
Spanish to Catalan
+ ...
The idea looks good to me but... Mar 23, 2002

...if a company tests, say, 30 translators in five different language combinations, which is quite usual, the relatively small amount of money would turn into $30 x 30 x 5 = $4,500.



I am not justifying the agencies, though. Just giving a point.


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 09:42
German to English
+ ...
Good point Mar 23, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-03-23 00:11, Zonum wrote:

...if a company tests, say, 30 translators in five different language combinations, which is quite usual, the relatively small amount of money would turn into $30 x 30 x 5 = $4,500.



I am not justifying the agencies, though. Just giving a point.





You are making a good point.



The agency receives several applications and CVs. These \"untested resources\" are put on the \"backburner\" in the meantime. Now, when a small minimum job comes in, it can be passed on to one of those on the \"waiting list\" - for the rest, see my original post.



But even under your scenario, this would work. Remember: we are not talking about \"tests\" that are not intended for any client whatsoever. These are minimum jobs - actual jobs - that will have to be returned to a client. So, even if it costs the agency $4,500, it will get the money back from its clients (and more).



The mistake that many agencies make is, in my opinion, that they leave applicants on that backburner way too long, but when a big project in several languages comes in, the project managers go into panic mode because they realize that they have been sitting on these resources and that they have never bothered to find out more about these translators\' abilities and skills.



And I am not making this up: to this day, I receive e-mails from agencies that I contacted as far back as 1997, and this is just ridiculous.



The way I see it, an agency that, all panic-stricken, advertises a big job looking for 5, 10 or more translators out of the blue is one that has been squandering its resources. I am quite sure that they have those translators on file somewhere, but they have never been contacted, etc. This is why, among other reasons, I usually don\'t bid on such job offers.

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Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:42
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Keep the conversation going, I love it! Mar 23, 2002

Thank you, Zonum and Werner! Your discussion is wonderful. I am very new to ProZ.com, only over 2 month, and the Chinese Forum was opened to the public only two weeks ago. So anything you talk about here can be news to us.



I think \"Sample translation\" only means a standard text which is assigned to a translator to translate in his or her language as a test for the purpose of evaluating the translator\'s quality in translation. I do not know when it turned into the reality that it becomes a lengthy text and usually meant free of service? I told a few clients who wanted me to do a sample translation that I only do PAID sample translation. They heard it and seemed shocked by it, and ran away.



Let me challenge Werner further here. By Werner\'s point, it seems to be more cost effective if the client use a pending project as the sample translation, therefore the cost they have to obsorb in sample translation is what they budgeted for the translation anyway. But, I know many translation agencies do not have the right linguist in-house to evaluate the sample translation, therefore it has to outsource it for eveluation. This can be a cost all together. Also, as a translator, how do you know it could not happen that the agency gives each translator a different section of the translation job, when all the \"sample translation\" texts are turned in, the enitre translation job is completed, too?



Kevin

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-23 02:21 ]

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-23 02:24 ]


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Libin PhD  Identity Verified
Chinese to English
+ ...
Sample test should be paid. Mar 23, 2002

I think sample test should be paid. The agency wants to assure good quality. That is commendable. However, quality comes in a price, not free.



Nowadays, I pretty much quit on all agencies that request sample test. I refer them to my web site for the samples that I have done in the past. For direct cilent with good prospect of volume work, I will do the test if it is no more than 300 words.


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Pee Eff
Germany
Local time: 15:42
English to German
+ ...
free sample translations are unprofessional Mar 23, 2002

Hello everybody!

Although I\'m quite new to ProZ and am not yet a \"complete\" translator, I have some experience with sample translations.

I did a short test translation (I think it was less than one page) once, the agency answered almost immediately that they were very pleased with it and ever since I have been working with them on a regular basis. So here it ended up well and, looking back, the test translation didn\'t give me the feeling of having been cheated on.

However, a year later or something I did a test translation for another agency, based in Spain. They wanted a sample translation of around 250 words, but in every field and language combination you work in! So I ended up doing three or four of the many sample texts that were exposed on their website. Something I would definitely not repeat today... They never told me about what they thought about the test translations, just started calling me one fine day and gave me some texts to translate - rush jobs of course. But that was fine with me until one day a received a real letter from them sent by snail-mail . In this letter they sent me the correction of one of my recent translations with a lot of remarks to it. The correction was basically about things, specific expressions, that their client wanted to have in these texts but that I didn\'t know about. So I answered them very politely that I appreciated some kind of feedback on my translations but that they should have told me if they wanted some terms to be translated using specific terms in the target language... Never got any reaction to that... Instead, the same story repeated two or three times until I got fed up and got rid of them - they were very bad and late payers anyway

But to get back to the topic: I think we should not need to do sample translations. Our business must be the only business in the world where people can go and test a professional\'s work for free! Or has it ever been heard that if you need your car fixed you look up a few garages, go there and say to the mechanic \"well, please do a little sample repair, say, change the V-belt for free. If I\'m satisfied with your work then I might give you the whole job and you can change the entire motor.\" Or if you need a new doctor and don\'t quite know which one to choose. Do you go to some doctor\'s and ask him to cure your cold first and for free before you might consider go back to him with something more serious? Ridiculous, isn\'t it? If you need a professional\'s services you just have to find some and trust his abilities. And this is actually the reason why every true professional\'s abilities already have been tested by the organisation that awarded him his title: In order to give people in need of his services a common reference point that allows them to see that this person is able to accomplish certain tasks and is trained in his/her field(s).

No proper professional in any other profession would accept to give a test of his work for free, so why should we? Afterall it\'s a BUSINESS and people have to make a living out of it, so any work for free could be considered a waste of time and, finally, time is money... (just to keep it very clear, I am not referring to some free translations for charitable organisations here.)

So actually a client giving out sample translations he won\'t pay for can be considered VERY unprofessional.

At least this is my opinion now, and I, that I\'m still at the very beginning of my life as a professional translator, will do everything possible to avoid free sample translations. I know it won\'t work always, but I think it\'s necessary for me in order to protect myself and also for people who are not translators in order to get a clue that translation is a business and not basically a hobby you do in your free time!

Especially after having seen here in ProZ many examples of how people looking for work are cheated sometimes...



Well, this post has become much longer than I intended...

Have a nice day and weekend everybody!

Patrick


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Silvina Beatriz Codina  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 10:42
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
The sample issue should not be that messy Mar 23, 2002

I\'ve got two of my best clients after I sent them free samples, so I can hardly be dead against the practice of sending samples. These clients I\'m talking about are decent people and a delight to work with, but unfortunately not all clients are like that: I think that some agencies are making a mess of the practice of sending samples, either by being dishonest (sending a whole translation job as \"samples\" to different translators; in my opinion any job done this way would be a mess, but it seems it is done... ) or by not taking the trouble to send a simple message acknowledging they\'ve got the sample and their opinion about it. As Kevin said, there are too many agencies you send samples to and then they dissappear into thin air, never to be heard of again, and leaving you to speculate about what they really wanted.



I suppose samples might be paid in the way Werner says, by giving translators small jobs to be used as \"paid samples\" but, then, (and I\'ll play Devil\'s Advocate here) maybe there are not enough small jobs to test all applying translators, or maybe these small jobs, if they are available, they are also urgent (as it is often the case), and the agency may feel they cannot trust them to a translator they don\'t really know, and who may deliver past the deadline or produce an unusable translation. And of course, what zonum says about this practice being too expensive if there are many translators and language combinations to test is perfectly true.



I wish I had an easy answer to this issue. As. I\'ve said, this has worked to me, but it is too true that by sending samples we are left \"trusting in the kindness of strangers,\" or in the honesty or goodwill of agencies, anyway...

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-23 14:49 ]


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 09:42
German to English
+ ...
Facing up to Kevin's "challenge" ;-) Mar 23, 2002

Kevin,



Let\'s say, agency ABC has a project in the works that requires, say, 5 translators. So, the client will be sent an invoice for all the costs incurred as part of this project.



Most agencies don\'t have inhouse proofreaders, linguists, etc.; they outsource these services on a regular basis. For this particular project, ABC would have had to line up a few proofreaders and editors anyway, so \"throwing a few bones\" to new, untested, translators won\'t make any difference to ABC in terms of the cost. In other words, these proofreaders, instead of proofreading the translations of regular subcontractors of ABC, would have to proofread the work handed in by these \"new kids on the block\".



You see, my point is that every agency has to proofread and edit the translations it receives from its subcontractors anyway; so it really makes no difference to them.

________________



When a whole document is broken up, and free \"tests\" are distributed to a whole group of translators ....



This is one of the biggest problems right now with \"free tests\". There have been numerous cases (even right here on ProZ) where an outsourcer thought he/she was really smart by breaking up a whole document and sending the individual parts to different translators as \"free tests\", in the hope of obtaining a translation of the whole document for free.



As a result of this problem, it is now up to the professional agencies out there to address this issue: they have to find a way to convince us that they are not up to some dirty tricks when they contact us with requests for free samples and tests.



For a long time, I have been calling for more regulations for our profession, but the first target of regulation should be the agencies. There are too many fly-by-night operations popping up these days, and so I believe that the agency segment of our market should be hit hard with stringent rules and regulations (e.g., rules on who would be allowed to set up and run a translation agency; setting up a \"licensing system\" - i.e., obtaining a permit before starting an agency; establishing a clear and binding code of conduct for agencies dealing with recruitment, quality issues, etc.; ...).


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 09:42
German to English
+ ...
That is a good idea Mar 23, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-03-23 08:22, libin2000 wrote:

I think sample test should be paid. The agency wants to assure good quality. That is commendable. However, quality comes in a price, not free.



Nowadays, I pretty much quit on all agencies that request sample test. I refer them to my web site for the samples that I have done in the past. For direct cilent with good prospect of volume work, I will do the test if it is no more than 300 words.





I agree with you: direct clients may be able to squeeze a free and short test (no more than 250 words) out of me, but not agencies. Agencies have the necessary resources (pool of translators, editors, proofreaders) to avoid any problems with the finished product before they send it out to their client; direct clients do not, and that\'s why we can\'t expect them to shoulder the risk of paying for a test. But agencies are different: they have the resources, as I said, and they have the money (= their client\'s money) to pay for this.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-23 16:39 ]

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Ursula Peter-Czichi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:42
German to English
+ ...
Mar 23, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-03-23 08:22, libin2000 wrote:

.....

Nowadays, I pretty much quit on all agencies that request sample test. I refer them to my web site for the samples that I have done in the past. For direct cilent with good prospect of volume work, I will do the test if it is no more than 300 words.





At this point, this is my own solution. I am currently working on samples for my websites. These will replace free sample translations, except for very small samples for direct clients (commercial).



A builder will not erect a sample house to show his expertise, he will point to other houses that he has built.



To the cost of sample translations on the part of agencies: Those guys are in business, aren\'t they? They have overhead for office space, equipment, supplies and, what a concept (!) translators. Agencies need to manage their resources. If they are good at it, they\'ll survive.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-23 18:13 ]

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Raymond Chu
Taiwan
Local time: 21:42
English to Chinese
+ ...
"Ready-made" Samples Mar 24, 2002

This may be of some help to you guys. Over the past years, I\'ve built up a number of files of personal \"ready-made\" samples of translations, each consisting of a 300 to 500-word paragraph taken from one of the documents I have done and giving both the source texts and my translation. The range of samples on my files covers the major subject areas with which I am most familiar.

Every time when I am asked by an agency or a potential direct client to submit samples or to do \"custom-made\" sample translations, I would select from my files \"ready-made\" samples in the suitable topic and send such samples by email for evaluation. If the agency or potential client refuses to consider my own samples and insist that I do

free sample translations of the texts supplied by him, I know that he may not be serious and is likely trying to get free services. He simply will never hear from me again. CAVEAT VENDITOR (Seller to beware)! As seller of translation services, we have to protect our interest as well as the clients want to, don\'t we?



Some last words of warning, though. The sample paragraphs must be taken from the documents you have honestly translated by yourself for your clients, and you have to be sure that the sample texts do not reveal any confidentialy information of your clients.


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Egmont
Spain
Local time: 15:42
Afrikaans to Spanish
+ ...
Sample translations - Be careful! Mar 25, 2002

I have receive some 24 sample translations (!) some months ago from SDL International.


[addsig]


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Golden View  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:42
Member (2002)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Re: Sample translations - be careful Jul 18, 2002

Our company is in China, we have been in translation business since 1996.

We received sample translation from SDL too, English into Chinese, very extensive fields, 10+ pages, each 200-300 words.

We did 5 or 6 of the tests but was told we were not qualified after 1 month, I could not believe this: neither of our translated 6 tests was qualified, I have to assume that SDL\'s reviewer is an agency who does not want us to be their competitor, their translation business might be shifted to us from SDL if he comments the real truth.



So we do not accept to take SDL\'s translation tests anymore since then.



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Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:42
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Be sure to post SDL in the Blue Board! Jul 20, 2002

Hello, Albertov and Golden View!



Thank you for your information! That is absolutely outrageous. It is a shame such company is still in business and can pull such scam on our hardworking translators. Please do me and other translators a favor and post this company along with your comments in the Blue Board.



Say hello for me to Mi Jia (Amy) at Golden View!



Kevin


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