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Poll: A colleague you get on well with asks for a short translation, would you bill them?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Nov 19, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "A colleague you get on well with asks for a short translation, would you bill them?".

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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:07
Member
French to English
+ ...
Yes, but Nov 19, 2007

I suppose it all depends on what is meant by "short".

A truly short translation (a few words or sentences, for example), might be "given" to a colleague (or perhaps "traded", knowing that the favour could be returned when needed).

I don't think that any colleague I respect would expect me to work for free, no strings attached. If so, they would not be a respected colleague for long...

Cheers,
Jocelyne


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:07
Italian to English
+ ...
Depends on how short you mean! Nov 19, 2007

In general, yes I would, but if it's only a 2-liner then I almost certainly wouldn't.

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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Another "It depends" Nov 19, 2007

I would consider anything up to about 1 page as short. If it were a one-off thing or veeeeery occasional, I wouldn't bill them, but I definitely would expect my back to be scratched in return at some point. (I mean that figuatively of course.)

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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:07
English to Polish
No, but... Nov 19, 2007

It depends how "short" of course, but if more than a few sentences, than I treat it as a favour for a favour - this person would owe me a favour (eg. I translated a short text for my friend, she will create a simple website for me).


Anni


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Cristina Heraud-van Tol  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 06:07
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Of course not!!!! Nov 19, 2007

I don't know about other countries, but here the custom is that you never charge colleagues, even if you don't know them much. My father is a doctor and therefore we can go to any of his doctor friends (dermatologists, neurologists, etc.) and be assisted for free. My father as a gynecologist, will too, assist their wives for free. The most they ask for, sometimes, is a symbolic price when special equipment or material is being used.

I have made several translations for friends, especially CVs and never charged them a cent, this includes colleagues. I never expect anything back; if you love your profession and your friends, you don't do this to get a gift back. I was really astonished once, when a friend of my sister whom we know for years and who is an official translator, charged me for my birth certificate I needed officially translated. It was the first time ever!! She then offered me some work I could help her with at a rate of US$2.50 per page. I rejected immediately. Only then you know who your friends really are...

[Edited at 2007-11-19 15:29]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:07
English to Spanish
+ ...
No Nov 19, 2007

My colleagues are very good to me. When they ask for help it is not abusive and they often pass along jobs. If it is job, of course I charge, with the understanding that the price is actually paid by the ultimate consumer.

If it is just a bit of help with something there is no charge.


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Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 06:07
German to English
Depends Nov 19, 2007

I put "other", as it would depend on how long it take me to do, and whether it was for the colleague personally (like their CV, for example), or for a paying client of theirs. Obviously I wouldn't charge for something that was only a few lines, as that would only take a few minutes of my time. If it was going to take several hours, though, and it needed to be done during business hours, I would either have to charge or work on it in my free time, in which case I would expect them to do the same for me at some point.

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:07
Dutch to English
+ ...
Once bitten, twice shy ... Nov 19, 2007

I had a very unfortunate experience last year with a colleague, who fancies himself/herself as a legal translator of sorts.

Actually, he/she isn't half bad as far as a standard employment contract or tenancy agreement is concerned - I've seen far, far worse - but panics and starts flapping whenever anything remotely involving company law, maritime law, etc comes up.

Law is definitely not his/her real forté, as he/she is really far more competent in other areas. Areas I wouldn't dare touch with a barge pole. Pity people don't know their limits sometimes.

Anyhow, it was my own fault, I should have nipped it in the bud from the outset, but this person continuously asked me questions via Skype - starting with individual terms and later posting entire chunks of text. Had I kept track of and billed my actual time spent, it would have run into a very hefty bill.

The whole thing became very intrusive and since bringing things to an abrupt end, I've been very wary of anyone asking for similar "favours".


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:07
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
I am very surprised at the question Nov 19, 2007

I regularly outsource work to colleagues who come into the category of "friends". The question almost implies that friends are not people with whom one does business. For me, that is not true.

However, I assume the question concerns only short, personal translations. I would certainly do my friends a favour without charging, since commercially I earn as much as I need to earn.

Astrid

[Edited at 2007-11-19 22:14]


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Stephanie Mitchel  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:07
French to English
The difference Nov 19, 2007

between a colleague and a friend is the question. I've gladly translated birth certificates and more for friends, and lots of things for my husband... but the question is too brief to be answered. What is 'short,' and who is the 'colleague'? On principle, with no more information than that, I would say no. (Unless they feel like babysitting for me sometime, of course!)

Not a misanthrope... just paid my dues already.


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Evija Rimšāne  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 14:07
Member
English to Latvian
Sure! Nov 20, 2007

Why not? They will get paid after all, so why would I do the particular job for free? (Given that we are talking about jobs/assignments)

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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 06:07
French to Spanish
+ ...
No. Nov 20, 2007

Happens time to time... one, two pages... no problem.
Their are friends, or good colleagues... tomorrow, maybe, they won't charge me!


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Elisabete Cunha  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:07
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Another "it depends" Nov 20, 2007

If it's for a fellow translator and provided it's not a pro bono translation, I would charge, because he/she will also be paid for it, so why should I be working for free?

For friends who are not translators and sometimes ask for help, it really depends on the length. If it's a small text, of course I would do it. If it's a long text, I would only do it if that person is really special to me, like a husband or close family.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 06:07
English to Russian
+ ...
N/A Nov 20, 2007

Since the word "colleague" is in use, then N/A it is because we are talking jobs here. "How short" may be an important part too. A sentence or two when h/s is stuck and desperate or simply brain-dead for the moment - then yes, I'll help and no, I won't bill - that would be disgusting:-).

Other than that I don't expect any professionals to come up with such request and I myself would never do such a thing.

"A colleage" would either be asking on behalf of someone else who is not necessarily poorer than myself, or would get paid. These requests normally come from people, directly or indirectly, who think that our job is too easy or not a job at all.

As a minimum, I would be interested to learn what is this noble cause all about. Help to relatives and loved ones seems to be beside the point here. I might be willing to find a good translator by reference and pay for the translation outside of my pair to help my friend in the days of bad need but I can't imagine "a colleage" looking for a free ride in such a way.

[Edited at 2007-11-20 05:18]


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