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Translation offers without subject
Thread poster: Monia Di Martino

Monia Di Martino
Italy
Local time: 11:17
Italian to English
+ ...
Jul 2, 2008

I always receive translation offers from the same agency without ever specifying the subject of the translation required. I wonder and I ask you if this is professional or right .
I mean: every time I need to ask for the subject before accepting the job, because if the field is not mine of specialization or I'm familiar with, I couldn't be reliable and I like to be honest (which in my opinion means professional in work).
I feel a little embarassed in asking every time about the subject but.....shouldn't they feel embarassed? Is it possible to accept a job whatever it is or is it just me to have a problem with this?
Thanks to whom wants to help me understand.

[Edited at 2008-07-02 09:10]


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Andrzej Mierzejewski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 11:17
Polish to English
+ ...
Ask them 'once for ever' to specify the subject... Jul 2, 2008

... and explain to them - politely and comprehensively - why you must know details before you agree. Then, I would disregard any offer from them that would not meet my requirements.
It's them who should feel embarassed, and not you, because they seem unprofessional.

I never accept any offer without knowing the subject. In case the agency employee is not able to tell me on the phone what's the text about (which happens from time to time as I work with technical texts), I ask them to send me the complete original or a fragment at least. Then, I read and decide whether I can or can not.

Regards

AM


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Monia Di Martino
Italy
Local time: 11:17
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Re: Andrej Jul 2, 2008

Thank you Andrej......you comfort me. I agree with you.
I already explained to them that I need to know the subject in order to be more reliable and they also asked me, at the beginning, what were my specialization fields!
If they keep on asking me of translating in other fields, disregarding my specialties, I decided, as you also suggested, to quit them.

[Edited at 2008-07-02 11:31]


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:17
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Attach the document Jul 2, 2008

What would be even more helpful is if they would attach the document, so that you can take a look at it and give a time/cost estimate etc. right away, instead of writing endless e-mails back and forth.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Forse non ne capiscono niente! Jul 2, 2008

(Maybe they don't understand it at all!)

I put the title in Italian on purpose for those who don't understand it.

Sometimes the agency doesn't understand what the document is about.

Case 1 - An end client
They called me if I was government certified. Yes, but for English only.
So they sent me three commercial agreements by messenger. One in English, all right. But the two others were in French!

Case 2 - Agency in the UK
I can't remember where they posted it, but they were desperate with a three-page scanned PDF from a handwritten document in non-Latin chars. Having already checked and ruled out maybe a dozen Far-Eastern languages, they had no clue on what to try next.
I told them to send it for me to have a look (though I can't sort out Japanese from Korean). It was puzzling all right, but one char struck me, and I figured it out: it was handwritten Hebrew... but whoever scanned it did it upside down, and to add insult to injury, mirrored the image.
It's worth mentioning that I can barely read printed Hebrew, and don't understand any of it. The letter that gave me the clue was the "shin", which looks like a round, three-prong fork pointing up, and without a handle. Mirroring had no effect on it, and the fork pointing down was still a fork.


So sometimes - especially if the document is technical about some less-traveled path of human knowledge - they just don't know what it's about. And yet they might be too shy to ask you to ask you for advice. It might mean breaking a NDA.

Regarding knowledge, with my Brazilian Portuguese I can understand fairly well written Catalan, Basque, and Rheto-Romance. But I'd never be able to tell you which of them it is from a piece of text.


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Monia Di Martino
Italy
Local time: 11:17
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Re: José Jul 2, 2008

Sorry José but I couldn't help but laughing about upside down and mirrored Hebrew. The person who scanned the document probably couldn't even manage the scanner
Anyway, I agree with your point of agencies not understanding the language and consequently the topic, but apart from saying that this also happened to me with the project manager's mother tongue documents, it would be easy, as Tina also suggested, to attach the document and that's it.


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- Carolina  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:17
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree! Jul 2, 2008

Tina Vonhof wrote:

What would be even more helpful is if they would attach the document, so that you can take a look at it and give a time/cost estimate etc. right away, instead of writing endless e-mails back and forth.


I couldn't agree more with you, Tina!
Regards,
Asimenia


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 17:17
Partial member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Agency's ignorance Jul 3, 2008

Tina Vonhof wrote:

What would be even more helpful is if they would attach the document, so that you can take a look at it and give a time/cost estimate etc. right away, instead of writing endless e-mails back and forth.


I also agree: Some agencies do not understand the language, discipline of document etc.

Cheers,
Soonthon L.


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Partial member (2003)
Spanish to English
This still happens to me all the time Jul 3, 2008

Even though I usually work with the same people again and again, who speak Spanish, they still seem to have problems identifying what documents are about, especially if they are technical. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to see the document before accepting, as I am often not at home when they call with the offer (actually this is usually why they are calling, since I haven't answered their email. I take some time off in the middle of the afternoon to pick my daughter up from school and do something with her), so I have to ask them detailed questions before accepting or declining (if a decision can't wait until I get back). Obviously, if you can't trust the PM to give you a good description, accepting a job like this could backfire. There are still agencies who seem to think that word count is more important than subject matter. "It's only 1,000 words, shouldn't take you long" is really not a very helfpful comment if it turns out to be something I know nothing about.

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