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Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
Poll: Have you ever rejected an assignment on ethical grounds?
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 06:13
SITE STAFF
Dec 23, 2011

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever rejected an assignment on ethical grounds?".

This poll was originally submitted by Roser Bosch Casademont. View the poll results »



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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:13
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
To turn it another way around . . . Dec 23, 2011

I prefer to work on projects about work that I admire or believe in because I feel I am making a contribution. If something came along that grossed me out, ethically speaking, I would probably turn it down not on moral grounds but because I wouldn't want to waste my time when I could be doing something more constructive.

That said, I don't think translators should judge the content of what they do. Years ago, when I was teaching translation, I gave my students an excerpt from an inflammatory speech by Fidel Castro. Some of them tried to water it down, changing his intent. I explained to them afterward that this had been exercise in capturing an author's meaning even if you didn't believe in what he was saying. As professionals, we should keep a certain distance and not let our personal beliefs intrude on our task.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:13
Member (2011)
Hebrew to English
Totally agree with Muriel Dec 23, 2011

My gross-out threshold is quite high, so I'm guessing there isn't much I'd turn down, and naturally it would depend on context, who was asking for the translation and why.


Some of them tried to water it down, changing his intent. I explained to them afterward that this had been exercise in capturing an author's meaning even if you didn't believe in what he was saying. As professionals, we should keep a certain distance and not let our personal beliefs intrude on our task.


Translators putting their own spin on things causes umpteen problems, you hear about things like this all the time.

Professional detachment is a necessity.

Oh, and Merry Christmas! (even though I'm agnostic).


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neilmac
Spain
Local time: 15:13
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't shoot the messenger Dec 23, 2011


Ty Kendall wrote:

My gross-out threshold is quite high, so I'm guessing there isn't much I'd turn down, and naturally it would depend on context, who was asking for the translation and why.


Mine too, and I find it hard to imagine something so anathema to me that I would refuse to translate it if all my usual requirements in terms of format, rates, payment, deadline etc were met. After all, I didn't produce the original text, and see myself as only a cypher when translating it, a part of the process, if you will.

Sometimes it is hard to remain objectIVE (mea culpa) or circumspect though, and I do get angry very quickly about some things (such as taking a consensus for granted, 4 legs good etc) that but am usually able to put my feelings aside and finish the job.

[Edited at 2011-12-23 17:41 GMT]


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Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:13
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
I would not want to be a tool... Dec 23, 2011

... in the machinations of some evil villain to take over the world through death and destruction. But this not a James Bond movie so I can't see it happening.

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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 15:13
English to French
+ ...
I would... Dec 23, 2011

... .. turn down present day incitement to racial, religious, ethnic, and sexual or any other kind of hatred, if requested by people who favour any type of discrimination and intend to indoctrinate or brainwash others.
I do accept the same in a historical context though (past speeches and other broadcasts) or requested by people who are monitoring discrimination and extremisms of all kind.
In other words, I will not help make things easy/easier for those inciting to hatred but will readily help to keep an eye on such behaviour.


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 15:13
German to English
+ ...
I have turned down Dec 23, 2011

material for a well known right wing austrian politician. I would also turn down anything that was in conflict with my own political and atheistic views.

I think the translator can and should judge the character of the stuff they translate - but I wouldn't go so far as to produce a distorted translation. Having said that though, a few years back a local inflammatory-patriotic rag (Austrian) decided to try and help schwarzenegger's campaign for governor of wherever and asked me to phone voters there to push his case, and I was tempted to take the job on and remind the voters about various nasty things that had come out of Austria (Hitler, Waldheim etc.). But I didn't!

[Edited at 2011-12-23 10:39 GMT]


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Teresa Borges
Belgium
Local time: 15:13
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes Dec 23, 2011

As a professional translator, I try to leave my causes, my biases, my likes and dislikes and my morality at a good distance from my translation desk, but for me it is a question of comfort level — if you are not comfortable working on a project, you are certainly not going to be able to turn out your best work. If something feels wrong to me, I am willing to walk away from the money.

Deciding which projects are ethical to take on, though, can be very subjective. I would refuse jobs, and I have in the past, on gambling, obscene or pornographic material, military weapons, racism…


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Heiko Petry  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:13
Member (2009)
English to German
I did ... Dec 23, 2011

... and would do it again. Last year I rejected a translation job (about creationism) that was totally against my atheistic view.
I´m a freelancer and not an employee. It´s my own choice to take or reject a job.


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tradugrace  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:13
Member (2007)
English to Italian
+ ...
I definitely agree. Merry XMAS Dec 23, 2011


Interlangue wrote:

... .. turn down present day incitement to racial, religious, ethnic, and sexual or any other kind of hatred, if requested by people who favour any type of discrimination and intend to indoctrinate or brainwash others.
I do accept the same in a historical context though (past speeches and other broadcasts) or requested by people who are monitoring discrimination and extremisms of all kind.
In other words, I will not help make things easy/easier for those inciting to hatred but will readily help to keep an eye on such behaviour.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 22:13
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
I would relish the opportunity to Dec 23, 2011

I translate mainly technical stuff so unfortunately jobs that infringe on my "sensibility threshold" just do not come my way.
Maybe if I did political or religious stuff or medical/biotech related content (clinical studies on lab animals, etc.), there'd be a higher possibility of running head on into so-called "unethical" work.

As translators, don't we all consciously or subconsciously steer well away from the kind of work we'd hate to do, anyway?

Speaking of which, I have ceased business relationships with unethical and unpricipled translation agencies. But then that's another story

Happy translating

and

Merry Xmas!


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:13
Flemish to English
+ ...
No Dec 23, 2011

I'd would double the rate and would love to translate for the "erotic sector". For those with German in their combination, would you mind translating the "Beate Ushe Ag's Catalog"?

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Milena Nikolić  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:13
Serbian to English
+ ...
me neither Dec 23, 2011


Simon Bruni wrote:

... in the machinations of some evil villain to take over the world through death and destruction. But this not a James Bond movie so I can't see it happening.


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:13
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Yes and no Dec 23, 2011

Since I already turn down quite a bit of work, I have to say that some of these choices are made based on what I really don't want to translate (like big pharma). But I never make an issue out of it with the PM.

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writeaway  Identity Verified

Partial member
French to English
+ ...
Yes Dec 23, 2011

I find it completely unethical to accept work in fields I don't know and from/into languages I don't master. So on that basis, yes, I have turned down work.
Living in a tiny country riddled with extremist views, on a few occasions I found myself confronted with an 'extremist' comment that someone thought they could interject into an otherwise perfectly normal document. Without really changing what was said, I managed to 'soften' it or 'neutralise' it so it would not end up shocking an international readership. If I were to receive an extremist document/article to translate (for those who wrote it), I would definitely turn it down.


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Poll: Have you ever rejected an assignment on ethical grounds?






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