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Would you translate a porn web-site?
Thread poster: Borana Moisiu
Borana Moisiu
Albania
Local time: 17:02
English to Albanian
+ ...
Oct 9, 2003

First of all, I would like to thank the ProZ.com community where I have found so many answers of my questions and also lots of nice friends. I am sorry if this question has been asked before, but I would like to know a general opinion by the professional translators.
Several weeks ago I received a translation offer for a porn site. The price was not that bad, but I just felt like vomiting when I saw the language used. I did not bother replying to the offer. The next day the same individual sent me a note that he had found another translator, so he did not need my reply any more. I was surprised to find that they found so quickly another translator who would do this kind of job! What is your personal experience, if any? Thank you for all your input.
Respectfully,
Borana Moisiu


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:02
English to German
+ ...
I would prefer not to Oct 9, 2003

Hi Borana,
I have never received such a request (probably because we're known for our focus on finance...), and thankfully I wouldn't depend on it. Given a choice, I would rather stick with financial material, of course.

That said, I don't have a problem in principle. Occasionally there's a job posting for adult material - as long as the posting itself is clear about the nature of the job (yet kept neutral in terms of language), we generally leave the decision whether or not to do this kind of work to each individual translator. What's offensive to one person might well be acceptable for another - and that holds true for other types of text. Where I would draw the line is illegal content, such as child pornography.

Best regards, Ralf


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Steffen Pollex  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:02
English to German
+ ...
Why not? Oct 9, 2003

It's as well a business as any other.

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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:02
English to Polish
+ ...
Business like any other... (not?!) Oct 9, 2003

If you look at this recent thread:

http://www.proz.com/topic/14798

you will see how the discussion evolved from armaments to pornography.

In our post-modernist world, it comes down to your own conscience and code of ethics. If you don't feel comfortable doing a job for whatever reason, don't take it (but always be nice - I would simply reply "no thank you"). You never know - the customer may come back with a charity site to translate. Fat chance, I know, but still...

If you know something's illegal just drop it - it's not worth losing sleep over.

On the lighter side, a porn translation is a "lost job" - I mean, how are you going to make it part of your references?


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invguy  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 18:02
English to Bulgarian
With Ralf Oct 9, 2003

Ralf Lemster wrote:

That said, I don't have a problem in principle.

(snipped)

What's offensive to one person might well be acceptable for another - and that holds true for other types of text. Where I would draw the line is illegal content, such as child pornography.



Ditto.


A few more thoughts in support of Ralf:

1) What we generally call 'pornography' actually has a very wide range: from entertainment material with strong sexual connotations to plain abuse of both written and unwritten norms and standards. Therefore it's impossible to put all of it under a common denominator.

2) We have to admit that a large part of the entertainment industry bears relevance to sex. From a business point of view, this is exactly what it is - an industry; one which has its necessities of the services provided by other industries. One of these 'other industries' is translation.

3) A freelancer (or, more generally, a self-employed person - in any field, not only in translation) has the advantage of being able to select the assignments he/she takes. Of course, we pay the price for this advantage: each one of us has to handle a full-fledged business, without a boss to take care of all the unrelated stuff and secure a comfy regular cheque; therefore, I think we are perfectly entitled to exercise the abovementioned right of choice. That is, each one of us CAN AFFORD to select jobs according to his/her own standards, beliefs, and convictions, period - there's nothing wrong with that, and we're perfectly free NOT to comply with anyone else's opinion on the subject (plus, do not owe an explanation to anyone).

4) In view of 3), I don't think it is reasonable to look for 'standards' in the approach of the translators' community to the matter. Such standards just cannot exist - and, IMVHO, their existence would be unnecessary. Better leave things at max personal flexibility (MHO).

5) Given that translation is an intellectual profession, and that, on the whole, intellectuals tend to share higher moral and ethical values, I would dare presume that most translators would decline to translate openly offensive sex-related sources. However, there surely are enough translators (or simply bilingual persons) who would take such a job with no remorse.


I'd say, do as you feel like doing - and it would be the right thing. It's a matter of personal choice, not of mandatory compliance.


Besides, too much scrutinizing might come out confusing


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JoGunn
Local time: 15:02
English to Icelandic
+ ...
Yes/No/Maybe Oct 9, 2003

It depends on the content. If it was something that went against my principles (offensive language, nasties, illegal content, etc.), I would politely decline. That goes for any other kind of translation as well: I would never accept a job translating racist content either.
On the other hand, there is a lot of porn out there that is relatively inoffensive, and I might be tempted to accept such a translation job.


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LOQUAX
Poland
Local time: 17:02
Welsh to Polish
+ ...
I would not! Oct 9, 2003

We had some similar inquiries in the past, but I always decided to refuse. In fact pornography is a part of a criminal world. It is not as well a business as any other! Sorry. Please do not do it!

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Egmont
Spain
Local time: 17:02
Afrikaans to Spanish
+ ...
NOT AT ALL! Oct 9, 2003

LOQUAX wrote:

We had some similar inquiries in the past, but I always decided to refuse. In fact pornography is a part of a criminal world. It is not as well a business as any other! Sorry. Please do not do it!
I agree with you!


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Juan Bernal  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 10:02
English to Spanish
Why not Oct 9, 2003

I have never received a translation like that in my whole life, but I think when the time comes and I have the chance of learning from that world, I might do it. After all, language translation is a continous learning right?

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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:02
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
In short: no Oct 9, 2003

I was recently offered such a job by an agency I do regular work for and refused without even looking at the site to be translated. But the offer already contained a "we'll understand if you don't want to do this sort of thing". I was also offered a very well paying, ongoing job by a personal friend nearly a year ago now, who wanted me to translate porn comics. And I refused that too. But I refuse lots of things that I just don't feel like doing for one reason or another. And porn is just one of the many. If someone else wants to do it, then that's fine by me. So it's up to the individual really. Do whatever you feel happy doing.

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lien
Netherlands
Local time: 17:02
English to French
+ ...
Wait a minute, here or Another bunch of censors Oct 9, 2003

[quote]invguy wrote:

That is, each one of us CAN AFFORD to select jobs [b]according to his/her own standards, beliefs, and convictions, period - there's nothing wrong with that, and we're perfectly free NOT to comply with anyone else's opinion on the subject (plus, do not owe an explanation to anyone).[\b]

quote]

If you do not like it, do not come near but do not stop other to do what they want.

Last week there were [b]37 bids on Proz[\b]
for translating a pornosite. It speaks for itself.

It is a huge business, you have no idea.

Lien


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Katarzyna Chmiel  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 17:02
Member
English to Polish
+ ...
A question of life's priorities. Oct 9, 2003

[quote]invguy wrote:

3) A freelancer (or, more generally, a self-employed person - in any field, not only in translation) has the advantage of being able to select the assignments he/she takes.

I have just refused simmilar offer last week. I was asked to do such a job by a webmaster I used to work for before. I said no. Many translators like using expressions like "build bridges, not walls", "create better world", "connect people". IMO, porno business works just against such attitude.
Sure it might be an interesting udertaking in view of language issues and bring some new linguistic experience, but what to think when you search Google for educational sites and encounter porno sites (the authors declate this is an "adult stuff")among the hits?
I think the aethical issues are as importnant as the legal ones.
An I simply do not want to work in porno business!
I explained my point of view to the client and he said, he understood it and assured me my refusal wouldn't affect our future co-operation (we'll see

All the best,
Kasia


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 12:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
Definitely yes / A very personal opinion on a sensitive issue Oct 9, 2003

Religion is part of life, sex is part of life, poetry is part of life and so is pornography. Why deny a part of life? Some writers (D.H.Lawrence, Miller, Anaïs Nin, to name a few) wrote things that ...wow! One may be very relaxed translating poetic stuff and all of the sudden: surprise! Should those parts be left untranslated? Which is the limit between erotism and pornography?

Of course I undertand (needless to say I respect) that many people would not accept to translate such material. I would, unless:
1) children were involved
2) there were other factors I can´t think of right now, which would go against my personal beliefs.

Au


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Anthony Green  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:02
Italian to English
Depends who your CV is for! Oct 9, 2003

As the person who started off the armaments thread, when someone asks me for my CV, I always think "which one?" as I like to push my (ahem, blushing) various talents for the prospective client I am aiming at.

If the web proliferation of porn sites and the downturn of the general economy continue, I suppose every translator could end up having their own "over-18 CV", if they work enough on translations like that. God forbid, we could even end up with a protected area on ProZ...

BTW, I don't have such a CV myself, though I wouldn't have any qualms about translating what I feel is "acceptable", though if you are supposed to know your subject matter inside out before translating it, I'm not quite sure how I would prove my credentials

(Acceptable is very difficult to define, of course, but it has something to do with lack of psychological or physical violence, which is probably where I feel pornography begins)

PAS wrote:
On the lighter side, a porn translation is a "lost job" - I mean, how are you going to make it part of your references?


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giogi
Local time: 16:02
I never Oct 9, 2003

accepted such kinds of job...but this is just my personal opinion.
Pornography is not illegal, you know, and from an ethical point of view, how many times we translate texts neither educational nor edifying, say videogames,advertising......?!?
Of course I'm not talking about children pornography.


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