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What type of translation work have you refused on moral grounds?
Thread poster: Tom in London

polskiexpert
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:21
Member (2010)
Polish to English
+ ...
no for Jun 7, 2011

adult content (document from a very professional company btw)

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Ruth Braine  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:21
Arabic to English
Extremist Islamist articles Jun 7, 2011

As Jenny says, sometimes you may be asked to translate controversial material for a good cause. I have translated a number of articles by hard-line Islamist extremists with intolerably violent and sexist views. However, I was being asked to translate them by a think-tank organisation which believes in promoting dialogue and which claims you need to know the views promoted by such extremists in order to argue with them, a point of view I can completely agree with. I would not have translated such articles for the extremist groups themselves.

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apk12  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:21
English to German
+ ...
Military, adult, gaming Jun 7, 2011

adult and gaming also for the pure reason that I prefer when my work is not boring me to death

and I have to admit this here is a charming way and interesting phrasing to explain further reasons:

Theo Bernards wrote:

...but truth be told I don't even feel comfortable watching meat shows and I think the pictures and films are so descriptive that any attempt to put them into words would only belittle the antics performed in such films. Besides, it is not a spectator's sport.


and I absolutely second this here:

Theo Bernards wrote:

Last but not least: agencies demanding (perhaps should I say: commanding) the use of a certain, very costly, CAT-tool. I really do refuse to entertain them on moral grounds: I don't tell them how to get their clients, and they don't tell me which expenses I must incur for the job they want me to do.


Exactly. I also prefer to act morally with regards to that question.

Amen.

(Double-Amen with a choir: And they don't tell me how to process my deliverable. I am faster without CAT, period. I won't rush into their office and tell them to communicate - when searching for their next clients - with smoke signals from now on "because it's cheaper". So yes, with all due respect for fuzzy moral discrepancies: I prefer to decide myself how to process my translation.)

.

Extremist right-wing/racist material definitely also would lead to a no in case it could be used for their benefit... but I was not confronted with such material yet. In my language pair I couldn't immediately imagine such a possibility, same if I would (would!) translate into English: let's take the German NPD for example: they are regularly providing hilarious material for laughter, their "politicians" being not even able to master their own language. Need for translations? - So, fortunately, this was so far not a question yet, this sort of people prefers to stay in their extremely narrow circles.




[Edited at 2011-06-08 08:21 GMT]


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Ali M. Alsaqqa  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:21
English to Arabic
Smoking Jun 7, 2011

I have refused a potentially large project about the manufacturing of cigarettes.

As I reject smoking, I refused the job.


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Martin Stranak  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 14:21
Member (2009)
English to Czech
+ ...
Religious texts of any kind, instructions on exploiting the social welfare system in UK... Jun 7, 2011

I have a very strong feeling that this "social benefit tourism" to the UK has grown into a massive problem and would never help anyone to gain access to the public purse by translating any guidelines or instructions in that manner.

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Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 07:21
English to Spanish
Self-injury or self-mutilation Jun 7, 2011

This topic makes me sick!

Unfortunately, I had to turn down a good paying client, but I couldn't stand anymore the subject.

Just remembering makes me feel ill.



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Portec Traducciones Técnicas al Portugués
Chile
Local time: 08:21
English to Portuguese
+ ...
So far... none... Jun 7, 2011

Well, I have never refused a translation job because nobody has ever asked me to translate anything immoral. But I wouldn´t translate anything regarding to physical or psychological suffering.

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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:21
Member (2005)
English to Japanese
+ ...
@Tom Jun 8, 2011

Tom in London wrote:

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:

I fully agree with Jenny. Someone has to do them, and like she wrote above, one cannot deny the demands on these subjects and are important to some entities where they cannot turn blind eyes as if nothing horrible is happening in this world.


I agree. For example: unless we fully understand how a nuclear power generating station works we cannot understand the extent of the (continuing) disaster at Fukushima.

Similarly, unless someone translates the documentation relating to the construction of the Nazi extermination camps, we cannot understand the extent to which they required a whole industrial and procurement infrastructure involving thousands of people.

Therefore distasteful as it may be, someone needs to translate the technical documentation.

However, there must be other situations in which it is absolutely clear to the translator that they must refuse to do a translation. Those are the situations I'm interested in hearing about.

[Edited at 2011-06-07 09:21 GMT]


Well, if I didn't make it clear, just for the record, I have never refused any type of translation work on moral grounds so far. But, if I were to refuse one, I would not touch anything which would make me an accessory to crime like I wrote in my earlier post.


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
Immoral work from local council Jun 8, 2011

I recently refused a job from a local council here in Spain. The immoral aspect of the job was the fact that they could not tell me with any precision when they would be able to pay my invoice.

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Yumico Tanaka  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 22:21
Member (2008)
English to Japanese
+ ...
I just posted a new topic "a responsibility as a translator of games" Jun 10, 2011

Hi Tim,

I declined to do a scantillation job because it abuses the copyright of Japanese manga authors. I know there are still a lot of translators doing the job from viewing Kudoz questions.
I am currently translating a game instructions and I realized there is a problem. Please see my post as above.
I haven't rejected it, but trying to use a proper term for the word "kill" because the abuse of the word will be apparently brain-washing the readers' mind. I explained the difference of the term between English and Japanese. I think a translator can do a lot more better job in making the world better by being responsible in their jobs.

Yumico Tanaka


Tom in London wrote:

I recently refused a potentially lucrative job translating documents relating to the manufacture of military systems.

I would also refuse to translate anything to do with prisons.

I also recently refused to translate an Italian political article because I found it intolerant and racist.

What kind of document have you actually refused to translate?

[Edited at 2011-06-06 17:16 GMT]


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apk12  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:21
English to German
+ ...
Indeed. Jun 11, 2011

John Rawlins wrote:

I recently refused a job from a local council here in Spain. The immoral aspect of the job was the fact that they could not tell me with any precision when they would be able to pay my invoice.


that is indeed a quite moral reason, I second such a decision absolutely.


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Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:21
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Some Jun 11, 2011

It hasn't happened to me yet, but I think I would refuse work on:

a) visual pornographic texts
b) any texts on paedophilia
c) racist or homophobic texts
d) texts in favour of terrorism
e) instructions on bomb manufacture


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Daniel Erlich  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:21
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Part of a job interview intended to evaluate English skills Jun 11, 2011

I've never been offered any of the "hot topics" you guys mention above, but I was once given two documents, one was a resumé (to translate) and the other (which was a client-made translation to be proofread) contained questions in English and answers in very broken English regarding the person's previous relationships with supervisors, subordinates, how they thought a company should be structured... it was a sort of text-based job interview.

I started proofreading the second document first. Halfway through, as the questions became more and more complex (and I realised they were also meant to test the applicant's English skills), answers started appearing in Portuguese, and shortly after that the applicant stopped providing answers altogether. In Portuguese she had written, I swear to god, "I don't understand the question... Fill in whatever you like here."

I was shocked!! This person's resume claimed she had "excellent" English and she was trying to not only get me to cover up her lie, but also make up answers entirely!!!! I called the translation agency who had sent me the jobs and their response was that I should ignore their client's "request" and simply do the translation/proofreading job. I refused outright to send them anything at all. I assume someone else wound up doing this job, and probably got paid well due to it being a rush job... Soon afterward this unscrupulous agency stopped paying me and I had to fight to get my money, but I don't care. Good riddance.

What bothers me the most about the entire thing was that the applicant's previous jobs were all in Ecological Management, i.e., environmental stuff. This is probably the kind of person who finds ways to circumvent environmental laws. Makes me sick.


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apk12  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:21
English to German
+ ...
Understand, but... Jun 11, 2011

Daniel Erlich wrote:

...answers started appearing in Portuguese, and shortly after that the applicant stopped providing answers altogether. In Portuguese she had written, I swear to god, "I don't understand the question... Fill in whatever you like here."

...


Well the nature of a text is actually best visible to the translator, so I absolutely understand your decision but from pure reading I would also understand a translator who would have simply translated the Portugese answers, marked as translation of a different source language at that point, and who would have simply translated the "I don't understand the question, fill in whatever you like". - But in case of a translation order. Sure, this case described here was somewhat different.

---

(Btw OT: is really no one of you ever missing an outsourcer screening beta? asking out of just pure curiosity...)



[Edited at 2011-06-11 20:29 GMT]


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Daniel Erlich  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:21
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
By that point, I was furious. Jun 12, 2011

apk12 wrote:
I would also understand a translator who would have simply translated the Portugese answers, marked as translation of a different source language at that point, and who would have simply translated the "I don't understand the question, fill in whatever you like".]

True. But at that point I was so disgusted with the text's author that I refused to have any hand in helping her get what she wanted. And someone else would have invariably just made stuff up in English to help her – and in the end, I would have played a part in helping her lie her way into a job interview.


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