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Translation of "Emperor Qianlong" - Is this a scam?
Thread poster: Denyce Seow

Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 03:26
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
Jul 7, 2006

Today, I received two enquiries regarding the translation of a Chinese novel called "Emperor Qianlong". One of the enquiries was from a Spanish agency which contacted me through Proz, and the other enquiry was from my old client in France. I replied and told them this might be a scam.

The first time I received an enquiry on this job was about a year ago. It was from a UK agency. They wanted a test translation, but I was rushing for another project and could not work on the test translation immediately. By the time I got back to them, they had talked to another translator about giving him the job and wanted me to be the proofreader. In fact, I know this translator. It seems that he did start the project but gave up soon after that because it was eating up too much of his time.

Subsequently, I received a few more enquiries on the same project. An old client even offered to pay me for the test translation! I also saw two postings on Proz for this job. If I remember correctly, they were made on the same day!

I just do not have a good feeling about this. I am sharing it here so that you can take more caution when someone contacts you for the job.

[Edited at 2006-07-07 12:18]


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Last Hermit
Local time: 03:26
Chinese to English
+ ...
Monday morning quarterbacking... Jul 7, 2006

Weeks ago, I got a request from an old client of mine for translation of a test piece. There were 3 in total. I was assigned one, another two were to be done by other translators. My client told me that if anyone of us was able to pass the test, it would help them to win a bid for a large amount of work - to the tune of  1,500,000 Chinese characters it later turned out!
It was a literary piece. I knew that I am not cut out for any literary translation - far from being able to produce any satisfactory works. But since it came from my trustworthy client, I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a try. So my partner and I tried with half-confidence. My partner had more worries than I - what happened if the end client refused to pay us on the grounds of less-than-satisfactory quality? Literary translation is most demanding. And we are not native speakers to boot...I brought all this to the attention of my client when delivering the job:
Would you let me know some background about this outsourcer/client? I particularly wanted to know if they read or write excellent English. Because, as you know, translation of novels (literature) is most demanding; it requires the acme of English writing skills, aside from understanding and translation skills. So what happens if they are not satisfied with the quality of our translations in the middle of the process, and refuse to pay us in the end? This could happen, not surprisingly. Honestly, as a non-native, I am not cut out for any literary translation from Chinese into English. This means if I have to do any literary project, I'll have to have my translations edited by a NATIVE English editor.
Last but not least, is it possible for them to make a down payment for this huge project?
Surprisingly, though, my client came back to me saying that the client had positive comments about the 3 Test Translations they provided. At this point, I felt this was something very fishy. How come all of us passed the test but was not given any more details? My client also had the same question in mind: we have not had a lot of feedback on the translations at all...Later on, one or two job postings were published on Proz.com. This added more to the alert, enough to raise the alarm. But I somehow forgot all about this. Now It's nice that you've alerted people to this alleged con trick. To further support this reasoning, I'd like to post my test translation as follows: ( but I believe that none of you has got the same test piece - because their job is to be done by casting their net far and wide.)
====================================
The summer of the 44th year of Kangxi rein was unbearably sweltering. After the 6th of the lunar June, the whole Anhui province had seen bright sky for more than ten days, with the sky hot like a frying pan and the ground like the sizzling bacons in it. It’s past eleven in the morning. But you could sweat like a pig even resting under a large shady tree or lying against the door with bare chest, not to mention going out. Outside the west gate of Tongcheng County was a small creek, by which stood an awning of reed mat under drooping willow trees. This is a place in the vicinity of the main road and the county capital. Beyond the awning to the north of the creek, there was a large sand field growing large patch of watermelons. Wayfarers, street hawkers, porters, and bums from the capital all stopped at the awning, bare-chested, to escape from the ferocious heat, eating watermelons and telling tales. Some lay on a smooth slab, using their straw hat as a pillow. Their pigtails are done up, their arms and legs are spread out. They’re snoring like thunder and sweating buckets.
“Winter is better!” said a porky middle-aged man, waving his fan with one hand and feeding himself watermelon with the other. “In cold winter days, I can put on more clothes or start a fire and curl up under a quilt. But there’s no escape, nowhere to hide from this bloody heat. I really wish I could skin myself to feel cooler!” Beside the porky man was a dark bony man, who evidently hadn’t had his hair cut for two months and therefore had long and messy hair. He chew on the watermelon rind and chuckled, “Wangsi, what you’ve said is nothing but bullshitting. For your friend, Jia Gui, winter is the last thing I want to see. With weather hot like this, everyone goes bare-chested, rich or poor. Who the hell can tell if you’re rich or poor? You either have fair skin or dark skin, or you are fatter, I am thinner. On a snowy winter day, if you live in a shabby and holey thatched cottage that can’t keep the wind out, and your tattered quilt can’t cover up your whole body, that’s “no escape, nowhere to hide”. An old man beside laughed, “You said it! Rich and poor are not the same, after all.”
 






weiwei wrote:

Today, I received two enquiries regarding the translation of a Chinese novel called "Emperor Qianlong". One of the enquiries was from a Spanish agency which contacted me through Proz, and the other enquiry was from my old client in France. I replied and told them this might be a scam.

The first time I received an enquiry on this job was about a year ago. It was from a UK agency. They wanted a test translation, but I was rushing for another project and could not work on the test translation immediately. By the time I got back to them, they had talked to another translator about giving him the job and wanted me to be the proofreader. In fact, I know this translator. It seems that he did start the project but gave up soon after that because it was eating up too much of his time.

Subsequently, I received a few more enquiries on the same project. An old client even offered to pay me for the test translation! I also saw two postings on Proz for this job. If I remember correctly, they were made on the same day!

I just do not have a good feeling about this. I am sharing it here so that you can take more caution when someone contacts you for the job.

[Edited at 2006-07-07 12:18]


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David Shen  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:26
English to Chinese
+ ...
I got "Emperor Kangxi" Jul 7, 2006

Hi weiwei,

I got a similiar one 2 month ago, saying that it is a long novel enough to keep me busy for at least one year! And I never heard from them again after the test translation was sent. The source file came in the form of a scanned page, I mean in jpg format, not even typed text. I want to join weiwei in warning other fellow translators not to fall into this kind of trap and waste your valuable time.

Just think what kind of Chinese writer has the funds to have his or her novel translated into English and which publisher in the world would want to publish these writings for what reader groups! I understand that the newly-rich Chinese folks are looking towards cars or Western style houses, and no body is going to be reading Qing Dynasty stories in English, even though TV programs are full of this kind of stuff, just to get away from reality.

Weiwei, the only difference between the one you got and the one I got was age, I am older so I got "Emperor Kangxi" instead of Qianlong! Smiles:
laughter1:

How did they know?

weiwei wrote:
Today, I received two enquiries regarding the translation of a Chinese novel called "Emperor Qianlong". ... I replied and told them this might be a scam.


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Chinoise  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:26
English to Chinese
+ ...
By comparing the two pics... Jul 7, 2006

haha--that's just my wild guess...

David Shen wrote:

Hi weiwei,

Weiwei, the only difference between the one you got and the one I got was age, I am older so I got "Emperor Kangxi" instead of Qianlong! Smiles:
laughter1:

How did they know?


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Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 03:26
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Joyce Jul 7, 2006

Chinoise wrote:

by comparing the two pictures



I wonder what they would get Joyce (http://www.proz.com/pro/88430) to translate... Mao Zedong?

[Edited at 2006-07-07 20:02]


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Beth Dennison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:26
Chinese to English
+ ...
Me too! Jul 7, 2006

I got sent the same test translation as Last Hermit from two agencies, one which I had done work for before (a German agency)and another I had not worked with before (an Italian agency). The German agency decided that the client "was not serious" and withdrew their bid.

I was also contacted quite some time ago about "Emperor Qianlong" by three or four different agencies.

I don't normally touch literary translations, and am now certainly vary wary of any potential projects involving the translation of historical novels!

(Chinoise: I guess they couldn't see my pic, so decided to send me both )


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Chinoise  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:26
English to Chinese
+ ...
I was away from my desk... Jul 7, 2006

Weiwei and Beth,

I really cannot help laughing upon reading your posts.
Logically speaking, there could be another possibility:They couldn't see my pic, therefore they decided to send me nothing...

weiwei wrote:

Chinoise wrote:

by comparing the two pictures



I wonder what they would get Joyce (http://www.proz.com/pro/88430) to translate... Mao Zedong?


Beth Dennison wrote:

(Chinoise: I guess they couldn't see my pic, so decided to send me both )


[Edited at 2006-07-08 02:38]


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:26
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I got a Kangxi one Jul 7, 2006

About 2 months ago, I got a request from an Indian company. The PM is a lady PHD, Dr something. She requested me to do a 500 word test taken from the intro of that novel series.

This Dr Something did reply by saying that my test was excellent and that they would assign me the project pretty soon.

Thereafter, this Dr. something disappeared.

[Edited at 2006-07-07 22:13]


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:26
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
One possibility Jul 7, 2006

This is my guess:

Some Chinese translators wanted to take revenge on some translation agencies that have been mean to them by faking up this project.

There is never such a project and these translators posted a fake project somewhere for the translation companies to compete.

They are laughing behind the scene while observing these agancies wasting time in competing for the project.





[Edited at 2006-07-07 22:20]


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pkchan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:26
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
皇帝的新衣? Jul 8, 2006

即使是試譯\試穿,是否要有合約\合同呢?不能是無償勞動。如叫不同的人,試譯不同的部份,加起來,很快便會成書\成衣了。因此,同業間通風報信是很重要的。

[Edited at 2006-07-08 00:38]


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redred  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 03:26
English to Chinese
+ ...
Notice Jul 8, 2006

jyuan_us wrote:

This is my guess:

Some Chinese translators wanted to take revenge on some translation agencies that have been mean to them by faking up this project.

There is never such a project and these translators posted a fake project somewhere for the translation companies to compete.

They are laughing behind the scene while observing these agancies wasting time in competing for the project.



居心叵测,世间险恶,人家正在偷着乐。
这个伎俩有点像New Concept English里的一篇文章:


           Who's who

It has never been explained why university students seem to enjoy practical jokes more than anyone else. Students specialize in a particular type of practical joke: the hoax. Inviting the fire-brigade to put out a non-existent fire is a crude form of deception which no self-respecting student would ever indulge in, Students often create amusing situations which are funny to everyone except the victims.

When a student recently saw two workmen using a pneumatic drill outside his university, he immediately telephoned the police and informed them that two students dressed up as workmen were tearing up the road with a pneumatic drill. As soon as he had hung up, he went over to the workmen and told them that if a policeman ordered them to go away, they were not to take him seriously. He added that a student had dressed up as a policeman and was playing all sorts of silly jokes on people. Both the police and the workmen were grateful to the student for this piece of advance information.

The student hid in an archway nearby where he could watch and hear everything that went on. Sure enough, a policeman arrived on the scene and politely asked the workmen to go away. When he received a very rude reply from one of the workmen, he threatened to remove them by force. The workmen told him to do as he pleased and the policeman telephoned for help. Shortly afterwards, four more policemen arrived and remonstrated with the workmen. As the men refused to stop working, the police attempted to seize the pneumatic drill. The workmen struggled fiercely and one of them lost his temper. He threatened to call the police. At this, the police pointed out ironically that this would hardly be necessary as the men were already under arrest. Pretending to speak seriously, one of the workmen asked if he might make a telephone call before being taken to the station. Permission was granted and a policeman accompanied him to a call-box. Only when he saw that the man was actually telephoning the police did he realize that they had all been the victims of a hoax.


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 03:26
English to Chinese
+ ...
At the emperor's Jul 8, 2006

pkchan wrote:

即使是試譯\試穿,是否要有合約\合同呢?不能是無償勞動。如叫不同的人,試譯不同的部份,加起來,很快便會成書\成衣了。因此,同業間通風報信是很重要的。


商業翻譯要求試譯,只要字數不超過兩百字,是正常的,大體上可以接受。書籍的試譯要求也是正常的,但規矩是要由出版公司出面,不是由翻譯公司代理。

至於把書拆成幾個部分,讓不同的翻譯者做試譯稿,然後拼湊成書,這種做法不可能成功。因為每個人的文風不同,要統一文風成書,會累死出版社的編輯。因此,我不認為釋放這個項目的機構有那樣的意圖。

如果有任何機構透過翻譯公司徵求書籍翻譯者,而也真的有多個翻譯公司尋求恰當的譯者,那個機構應該是具有足夠份量的機構,不會是微不足道的個人,否則不會有那些翻譯公司相信。這個項目有可能是真的。只是該機構很可能不明白翻譯行業的規矩,誤以為翻譯者對這樣的項目會有興趣。

翻譯者對這種項目不會感到興趣,最主要的原因是由於條件不清楚。翻譯公司在條件不清楚的情況下,發布求才的信息,這是不可理解的。怎麼看,整個項目的發布在業界都不是正常的做法。我倒挺好奇,何方神聖能教翻譯公司以這種方式到處求才?


[Edited at 2006-07-08 12:44]


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ysun  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:26
English to Chinese
+ ...
此谓“姜太公钓鱼,愿者上钩”也! Jul 8, 2006

weiwei,

Thank you for alerting the peers!


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pkchan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:26
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
同意無統一文風不成書 Jul 8, 2006

Wenjer Leuschel wrote:

[
至於把書拆成幾個部分,讓不同的翻譯者做試譯稿,然後拼湊成書,這種做法不可能成功。因為每個人的文風不同,要統一文風成書,會累死出版社的編輯。因此,我不認為釋放這個項目的機構有那樣的意圖。



說利用不同人試譯的成果,拼雜成書,在這裡,只是說說笑而已。不過,也同意這項目可能是有幾分真實的,是不是編輯及出版商要求過高,連這壇譯林大內高手,亦棄而不用,實是他們的損失,也是讀者的不幸。《毛﹕不為人知的故事》中譯本還未有面世,因為作者本身懂中文,所以看別人的翻譯,就會有可能不太容易滿意了。

[Edited at 2006-07-08 14:36]


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xxxchance
French to Chinese
+ ...
這本書﹐好像是張女士自譯 Jul 8, 2006

我聽過部份觀點﹐不盡同意。可惜的是很難找到當時的知情人查證了﹐因為這些事例﹐要擺到當時的歷史環境裡才能看得清。

pkchan wrote:

《毛﹕不為人知識的故事》中譯本還未有面世,因為作者本身懂中文,所以看別人的翻譯,就會有可能不太容易滿意了。


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