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Poll: Have you ever refused a translation assignment on moral grounds?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 17:54
SITE STAFF
Oct 15, 2005

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever refused a translation assignment on moral grounds?".

This poll was originally submitted by Zsanett Pandur

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 21:54
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I won't do people's school assignments. Oct 16, 2005

I'm often asked to do students' English homework, or to translate huge chunks of college textbooks from English to Spanish. Rarely is the person aware of translators' rates or willing to pay them, but even if the case were otherwise, I would not accept.

Also, I once translated a novella that contained an explicit sex scene, and a letter with the sort of vocabulary that I'm not comfortable with. I try to avoid those situations, but once I've accepted a job, I do it.

And what about you, Zsanett (original poster)?

[Edited at 2005-10-16 04:55]


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Yes Oct 16, 2005

I was once asked to take a test from a charitable organization to do pro bono work, and the test consisted of bashing another highly respectable NGO. I refused.

I was also asked to localize a survey of cancer patients, which included finding the patients themselves through doctors and patient organizations. I refused.

I generally don't answer homework questions on ProZ. although my son is constantly yelling out "What does this mean, what does that mean?" in 3 languages. And then he has the chutzpah to ask me to bake the brownies.

Best wishes
Linda


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Selçuk Budak  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:54
English to Turkish
+ ...
More differentiated choices Oct 16, 2005

I think we need more differentiated choices for this poll, since a "no" answer does not necessarily mean that the translator in question would not refuse an assignment on moral grounds if the situation arises. It simply may mean that thus far s/he has not been in a position to decline or accept such an assignment.

The poll should include a "would / would not" option to differentiate the "no" answers.


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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 21:54
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Question on ProZ, yes; entire homework text, no. Oct 16, 2005

Linda wrote:

I generally don't answer homework questions on ProZ.
Best wishes
Linda


I don't mind the homework questions on ProZ, as long as it's a term or phrase, or two, not the whole text in segments. (I don't see much of that any more, with the new limits on questions.)I don't mind the student having access to the same online help that professional translators do. And I don't have any problem with your son asking questions, in any number of languages! After all, I honed my early Spanish skills writing to my boyfriend (now husband) and then asking a bilingual friend to help me fill in the gaps. But as a daughter, wife, mother, and mother-in-law of schoolteachers, I won't do the whole text. Not only is it dishonest, but also: How will they learn?

And I fully agree with Selcuk: The poll needed an option of "would you?".


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:54
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I would... Oct 19, 2005

I would refuse to translate texts I am not comfortable with, or with a lot of offensive language, but I have seldom been asked to take them on.

I have refused two jobs on 'sort of' moral grounds. Both times they involved 'alternative' health advice and remedies. I felt they were simply too unscientific and actually misleading -
generally more superstitious than logical. I would not feel happy passing on what I feel is misinformation, or exploiting people who are sick and desperate. I said I did not have time for one - which was true - and mentioned my price, which scared the client off!

The next time I simply said sorry and told the client that this was not the sort of field I work in. (There was a lot of astrology involved.)

I have actually translated several large texts about health food, where the writers and clients seriously believed in what they were saying and gave their reasons. I did not always agree, but I translated the texts loyally - and the clients were all satisfied. One actually came back with another assignment...

I don't have any worries about that kind of thing - I am not here to judge others. Occasionally I even modify my own views after doing the research for a translation! So I try to keep an open mind. But if I feel uncomfortable about what other people are doing, I don't translate texts that encourage them or others to carry on. I would not make a good job of it anyway, so clients like that have to find a more like-minded translator!


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Sam Berner  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 11:54
Member (2003)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Felt really yuk! Oct 28, 2005

Call me a prude, but I refused to do business cards for a local high-class.. errr.. well, place where people sell themselves for pleasure.. whatever.

All my feminist upbringing went into full gear and the client was extremely lucky I didn't let my German Shepherd out.

Would not do homework assignments either. Help with resources and explain a bit, yes. But do the full Monty, no.


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Zsanett Rozendaal-Pandur  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 02:54
Dutch to Hungarian
+ ...
Happened to me - which is why I asked :) Nov 8, 2005

JaneTranslates wrote:
And what about you, Zsanett (original poster)?

[Edited at 2005-10-16 04:55]


Hi Jane,

silly, I didn't realize there'd be a discussion following my poll, I accidentally spotted it just now.

I asked the question because I had a recent experience when I rejected an assignment. It involved a hand-written letter and some threats, which apparently were not intended as threats as such, but there was a whole story behind it. I am very much against all sorts of threats and psychological warfare, and as I wasn't in the position to judge what's true, I decided to drop it. I think that's about the line for me: when it becomes personal. I've translated some pretty stupid things, but with official texts I figure the reader will have a choice to make their own decision.

Thanks for sharing, everyone!


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