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Poll: Would you accept projects outside your areas of specialization?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 15:20
SITE STAFF
Mar 30, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Would you accept projects outside your areas of specialization?".

This poll was originally submitted by María Teresa Jones Acebal

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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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Prefer keeping customers satisfied Mar 30, 2007

I’d accept a translation out of my area of specialization if it were a general type translation that didn’t require a great deal of specialized knowledge and vocabulary.
In fact, I’ve been doing all sorts of translations for years and clients seem quite happy and keep calling back.
The flip side of the coin is that I learned my lesson the hard way. I took on a fairly technical translation awhile back that was outside my area and the client seemed pretty unhappy with the results, gulp! Although things did work out in the end, I’d be fairly reticent to do anything so unfamiliar and technical again. I prefer keeping customers satisfied.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:20
Flemish to English
+ ...
No problem whatsoever... Mar 30, 2007

but I would work together with a specialist.

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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 00:20
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Read it first Mar 30, 2007

Other/it depends - not quite sure what this comes under...
First let the client know it´s not your speciality, giving them the immediate opportunity to withdraw the request for the translation. Then say that you will have to have time to view the translation in order to be able to say that you can accept it. Then READ THE ENTIRE translation. Not just the first page. Not just the odd few pages either. ALL OF IT. And no, I did not say skim or scan, I said READ. Then decide if you think you can take it on.

Hands up all of those who have taken on a translation and later (and too late) discovered that they don´t really feel they are competent to translate it.

Hands up all of those who will in the future be doing exactly the same thing.

As the saying goes (in Spanish originally I believe) "Man is the only creature capable of tripping twice over the same stone".

[Edited at 2007-03-30 16:41]



A bit surprised not to see any hands up![Edited at 2007-03-30 17:59]

[Edited at 2007-03-30 18:00]


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María Teresa Jones Acebal  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
I agree Mar 30, 2007

Hi!

I agree with what you say about accepting jobs when the text is more general than technical. But, it can be dangerous
Luckily, I have never had any bad experience from accepting jobs outside my specialty area, because I'd rather not accept them in the first place.

Thank you for your comments!

cheers!


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Ma. Fernanda Blesa  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 19:20
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It depends (but no) Mar 30, 2007

As a general rule I don't accept any jobs that I feel I won't be able to do my best with, but I might accept one depending on the customer and always making it very explicit that this is not my area of specialization and that I'm accepting the job because they need it so much (or whatever reason there might be for them insisting on me doing it).

It's pure logic after all, if you're not familiar with a subject you'll need more time to get the job done, which means you won't be able to accept some other, easier translation (for your set of skills) that you'd be able to do faster. Or a longer translation within your field of expertise, ultimately meaning more money in your bank account


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Annette Heinrich  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:20
English to German
+ ...
It depends Mar 30, 2007

I usually listen to my gut feelings when I get a text which is not about a topic I'm really familiar with. In some cases, I feel nevertheless able to translate the text (if it is not too technical, as mentioned already by some of you). But more often than not I honestly tell the customer that I'm not the right person for the job.

But: where to draw the line between inside or outside my areas of specialization? For example, is a text about a finance software inside (because I'm an IT specialist) or outside (because I'm not specialized in finances)?

It also happened to me lately that I refused a project because the topic seemed too unfamiliar, but when the customer offered to provide memories and glossaries and I could ask them any questions, I agreed to do the job. It was a success for both sides, because I delivered a good translation and broadened my knowledge in an area which was related to my areas of specialization and could result in further work.

Nice weekend to all of you!


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:20
Member
English to French
No Mar 30, 2007

I wouldn't touch finance or legal or contracts or menus or XVth c. embroidery.
It is not the fear that I will deliver something substandard (I may do though), but the abyssal amount of time I will spend checking and cross-checking terminology in areas I am not familiar with, on texts that I will most likely find utterly boring.
Other people find machinery user manuals, software or plant start-up procedures about as interesting as a conversation with jellyfish, but I do find them more interesting than any of the above fields.

In a nutshell, if I am not efficient, I don't do, and if it bores me, I don't do. On top of that, the outcome may be disputable and I don't need this kind of headache.

Have a good weekend,
Philippe


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:20
Italian to English
+ ...
Other Mar 30, 2007

I try not to, after having had a similar experience to John. BUT occasionally I do it to help out my best client when they have a super-urgent job, but even then only if it's not too technical. Law (except contracts) and finance of any kind are out of the question in all circumstances.

[Edited at 2007-03-30 18:21]


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:20
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I usually like the challenge - But voted "It depends" Mar 30, 2007

In a way I am lucky because most work we get from our customers is rather technical and about areas we are (or have become) familiar with.

But every now and then we have to face the challenge of working in a new area. I usually like the idea of exploring a new world and learn. I have become addicted to this vertigo of seeing that, the more I learn about more areas along time, the less I know in proportion of all the knowledge developed by mankind.

Of course if something was requested that was clearly outside our usual areas (I am thinking about things like arts and crafts, costumes, literature, history, etc.), we would feel inclined to let is go to more experienced people.


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rousselures  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:20
English to French
It depends! Mar 30, 2007

I've had to do a few translations that were out of my comfort zone because my clients couldn't find anyone else. The worst I got stuck with, was doing the transcript and translation of a video about crossbow hunting... I know nothing about hunting. or crossbows for that matter, but they're good clients (and friends) and it helped them out of a tight spot. I also learned a lot!
I would never accept anything legal or highly technical without a very very good reason and an expert to guide me. A glossary wouldn't be enough for me to feel confident.
So, it all depends on the subject matter, the complexity of the text, the time frame, the documentation provided and who the clients are...


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:20
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It depends Mar 31, 2007

I've never been able to argue against "we trust you".

(At times, it comes with an NDA.)


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Assimina Vavoula
Greece
Local time: 01:20
Member (2005)
French to Greek
+ ...
It depends, too.. Mar 31, 2007

As a general rule I don't accept any jobs that I feel I won't be able to do my best with, but I might accept one depending on the customer and always making it very explicit that this is not my area of specialization.

However, many agencies when they send me translation tests they are asking me deal with documents like this....


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:20
Flemish to English
+ ...
"I" vs."we". Mar 31, 2007

I wonder if nobody ever works together with specialists in areas they are not specialised in? Let the specialist be the terminology supplier (against payment)?

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:20
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Yes, it depends ... Mar 31, 2007

Marie-Helene Hayles wrote:

I try not to, after having had a similar experience to John. BUT occasionally I do it to help out my best client when they have a super-urgent job, but even then only if it's not too technical. Law (except contracts) and finance of any kind are out of the question in all circumstances.

[Edited at 2007-03-30 18:21]


I agree with Marie-Hélène and other colleagues,
It depends. I do it to help out a good client when the job is ultra-urgent, but point out clearly that it's not my field. For example, I was recently persuaded to translate the specifications for a gas turbine with the help of a glossary and frequent cries for help to the client, but I found it pretty arduous. I'd NEVER take on anything medical or chemical - too many pitfalls, too much responsibility in the case of errors.
Normally I do finance and law, but I'd LOVE to tackle jobs about history or costume if they came my way, because I'm interested in those subjects even if they're not my special field, and I'd like to learn more - but NOT about gas turbines!
Regards,
Jenny.


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