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Testing bricklayers, plumbers and translators
Thread poster: Milos Prudek

Milos Prudek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 04:50
English to Czech
+ ...
Mar 12, 2009

You ask a bricklayer to build a small wall for you free of charge. If you like the wall, you will enter the bricklayer into your database and maybe you will have a job for him some time.

You ask a plumber to install one tap for you free of charge. If you like the tap, you will enter the plumber into your database and maybe you will have a job for him some time.

I cannot imagine a bricklayer or plumber who would accept this deal. Yet translators are asked to do this...

Has anyone tried this argument with the onslaught of "free translation to enlist into our database" that many translators receive every week?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Get the analogy right Mar 12, 2009

Milos Prudek wrote:
I cannot imagine a bricklayer or plumber who would accept this deal. Yet translators are asked to do this...


* The translator can do the test in the comfort of his own home.
* The translator can do the test whenever he wants.
* The translator should not spend more than 15 minutes on the test.
* The translator does not need to prepare for the test, and when he's done with it, he is done (doesn't even need to wash his hands).

Tests is about making sure the service provider is good or not. How would you choose a bricklayer or plumber? The plumber I'd probably select based on price alone. The bricklayer I'd likely select based on a wall that I've seen that he's build before, even though I'm not an expert at walls.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:50
French to English
Looking at it the wrong way Mar 12, 2009

Translators are tested because it is a service that lends itself very well to the concept of testing.

I am sure that if there were a straightforward way to test other service providers, such as plumbers, car repair workshops, lawyers, accountants and all the other jobs that translators are compared with on here week in, week out, we would all do it.
Instead we have to rely on reputation, word of mouth, etc.

So we are tested because we are easy to test, and that's all there is to it.


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:50
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
15 minutes? Mar 12, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:
* The translator should not spend more than 15 minutes on the test.


Hi Samuel,
I don't think many translators would agree with this statement.
Attila


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Rodna Ruskovska  Identity Verified
Macedonia (FYROM)
Local time: 04:50
Member
Macedonian to English
+ ...
Translation sample Mar 12, 2009

Why wouldn't a translation sample be sufficient?

Why does it have to be a 'test'?

What's the difference ...?

Each translator can have samples prepared for every language combination in the majority of fields that they work in ...


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Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 21:50
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I agree with Samual Mar 12, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:

* The translator can do the test in the comfort of his own home.
* The translator can do the test whenever he wants.
* The translator should not spend more than 15 minutes on the test.
* The translator does not need to prepare for the test, and when he's done with it, he is done (doesn't even need to wash his hands).


In my opinion, it is pointless to make this type of comparison with other activities. Completing tests is a common practice nowadays in our profession. Translators invest some time completing tests. Tere are many other professionals who invest as well time in, for instance, job interviews; that is basically a test for them. I don't think that any of these applicants would ever say to a potential employer, "Translators complete translations tests in the comfort of their own home, why don't you send me an interviewer home?


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Milos Prudek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 04:50
English to Czech
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Improve my analogy Mar 12, 2009


* The translator can do the test in the comfort of his own home.

Unlike plumber or bricklayer. True. Yet the "work for free" must still be done instead of paid work, fun or lovemaking. Despite sample translations available, despite references available.


* The translator can do the test whenever he wants.

Many free test requests come with a deadline.


* The translator should not spend more than 15 minutes on the test.

Most free test translations requests I get are 400-600 words. 15 minutes for a 500-word translation is a hard call.


* The translator does not need to prepare for the test, and when he's done with it, he is done (doesn't even need to wash his hands).

Yet the "work for free" must still be done instead of paid work, fun or lovemaking. Despite sample translations available, despite references available.

No analogy is perfect. My original question was "Did you ever use this argument?" I assume your answer is "No, because it is a flawed analogy."

Help me fix my analogy. Is there any other profession where asking for free tests and disregarding proven track record is acceptable?


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:50
English to French
+ ...
Soon enough... Mar 12, 2009

Milos Prudek wrote:
You ask a bricklayer to build a small wall for you free of charge.
You ask a plumber to install one tap for you free of charge.

Soon enough, you get an entire brand new house built - free of charge!

Thanks, but no thanks! I am old enough not to want to play with little buddies in the sand...


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 04:50
English to Croatian
+ ...
I reject FREE test translations, categorically Mar 12, 2009

I don't do free test translations anymore. That is, I don't reply to such emails that " we all get each week".

I will gladly provide the client with samples of my previous translation work, signed with my name, and with references given by my ex supervisors who are professional referees. That will suffice. However, if they want to test me, they will have to pay for it, because it's my work, time and expertise. And I refuse to give them away for free.

I agree with Milos. I would also like to test a cook, a baker, a plumber, etc, before paying them for their services. But I can't do it. Therefore, no one will do that to me, either.

Also, if they want to test me for free, I also want to test them back. How can they prove they are a serious agency, with a serious budget, that will provide me with a large- volume work that they are promising with each free test translation proposition ? Is there a test for that ?


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 22:50
German to English
Plumbers, electricians, lawyers, etc. Mar 12, 2009

In many countries, the trades and credentialed professions (physicians, lawyers, architects, etc.) require the practitioners to complete a specified course of training (apprenticeship, law school, medical school, etc.) and to pass a certification exam prior to practicing the trade or profession. It can be assumed that the licensed tradesman or professional has at some point exhibited the skills and knowledge required for a license. In addition, many countries and localities require that work performed meet a certain standard, such as building codes or in the case of the medical profession, a specified "standard of care."

On the other hand, anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can call himself/herself a translator whether the requisite skills are possessed or not.

A buyer of translation is entitled to use any selection process he/she desires. This may be in the form of setting prices, requiring a test, references or a sample. It's up the the translator whether or not to meet such selection criteria. It's a matter of being willing to meet a customer's specifications. The translator as a free agent can choose to meet these specifications or not, depending on whether he/she wants to work for that particular client.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 04:50
English to Croatian
+ ...
TAs Mar 12, 2009

Kevin Fulton wrote:



On the other hand, anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can call himself/herself a translator whether the requisite skills are possessed or not.



Right, I'd also add that anyone with the Internet access can call themselves a translation agency. How can we " test" them?

Your parallel with licenses is totally ungrounded, because TAs also insist on testing verified translators, with credential and licenses ( with evidence and copies of credentials ).


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:50
Italian to English
Reputation and (paid) tests Mar 12, 2009

Charlie Bavington wrote:

Translators are tested because it is a service that lends itself very well to the concept of testing.

I am sure that if there were a straightforward way to test other service providers, such as plumbers, car repair workshops, lawyers, accountants and all the other jobs that translators are compared with on here week in, week out, we would all do it.
Instead we have to rely on reputation, word of mouth, etc.



Plumbers are a problem, I agree, but when I was looking for an Italian accountant in the early 1990s, I asked a business professional I respect to recommend one. The firm he indicated turned out to be excellent and has been doing my accounts ever since.

I chose my car mechanic partly because his workshop is just across the street but mainly because when I gave him a test in the form of a first small job, he did it satisfactorily and didn't try to gouge me.

These two routes - reputation and paid tests - are how my own new clients find me.

I refuse unpaid tests in case the prospect thinks I have nothing better to do with my work time

But if other people want to do them...

Giles


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not a big deal Mar 12, 2009

Kevin Fulton wrote:

On the other hand, anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can call himself/herself a translator whether the requisite skills are possessed or not.

A buyer of translation is entitled to use any selection process he/she desires.


My thoughts exactly. Any Tom, Dick, Harry or Jane can say they're a translator. This is an almost completely unregulated profession and tests are just a way for customers to get an idea of what they can expect.

If you don't want to do a test when asked, simply forget about it and find something else to do.


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 04:50
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Tender bids? Mar 12, 2009

I'll just rephrase the argument I have used before: some contractors have it much worse... They have to prepare tender bids, spend considerable amount of time and money on the documentation, then pay (the horror!) for the privilege of bidding, in the hope of getting a good contract... If they lose, it's all for nothing.

Therefore, if doing a small test for free from time to time can get me a good job (and it often does...), I don't mind at all!


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:50
English to French
+ ...
Paid test refunded on first paid job Mar 12, 2009

What I do with clients who really want to put me to the test is to offer them a test, paid at my regular rate, and offer to deduct it off my first invoide to them on a genuine job. The result is usually either of two extremes: I either never hear from them again, or they agree, pay for the test and refuse to have me deduct it off my invoice.

This method is excellent for not wasting precious time, both for translator and client, but also to figure out who is serious and who is not.


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