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Test translation: yes or no?
Thread poster: Elke Fehling

Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:56
English to German
+ ...
Dec 15, 2003

Do you accept test translations? Do some of you - as a rule - never/always accept test translations?

I just received an inquiry from a translation agency asking me to perform "a little" translation test of approx. 900 words. To me, this is unreasonable, but what do you think?

Elke


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Gayle Wallimann  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:56
Member (2001)
French to English
+ ...
Did you search the forums? Dec 15, 2003

Hi Elke,
Have you searched the forums for this topic? Just put in a search and you will come up with numerous posts concerning the subject, too many for me to link you to.
I think that it is reasonable to be asked to submit a test in some circumstances, but not just out of the blue, and not such a large quantity of words! I submit tests for agencies with whom I work on a regular basis and then the tests are forwarded to the client to choose which translator's style fits the job best.
Anyway, take a look at all of the posts in the forums, there is lots to read!
Gayle


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 23:56
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
What I usually tell these clients is... Dec 15, 2003

Would you ask a taxi driver who's 20 years behind the wheel for a 'test ride'? Or, sometimes, what about a 'test payment' - this, if the test looks suspiciously like a not-so-small job split into test bits.

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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:26
English to Tamil
+ ...
This is my standard reply Dec 15, 2003

I gave this reply only once to the agency that has been giving me work regularly:
"You know my capability and are satisfied with my work. I need not prove anything to you. If you want to have a new client, whose work you want to get done through me and that client wants a test translation, do offer him free work but better pay me my price, as this is a sort of business investment for you and you need to spend the money. If afterwards the client gives you the job, in which the test piece is also included, I am agreeable to deduct the price paid for the test piece from my total bill for the simple reason that I have already been paid for that piece."
This agency has agreed and has always paid me for the test pieces too and needless to say, I have carried out the deductions whenever applicable and both of us are happy with this arrangemnt.
As for a new agency, I put a limit of just 200 words for free test translation and that too for the first time only.
Hope this helps.
Regards,
N.Raghavan

[Edited at 2004-01-04 15:17]


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Agnieszka Hayward
Poland
Local time: 22:56
German to Polish
+ ...
Yep. Why don't we test pilots before paying the air ticket...? Dec 16, 2003

Hello everyone.
Oleg and Narasimhan - you have put my thoughts on paper (well, monitor) better than I would ever have done.

Special thanks to Oleg - yes, you made me grin, but you also reassured me. I'm not the only one who swims against the current of odd agency behaviour. Great.

As it's my birthday today, I allow myself at this point to wish everyone a lovely Christmas, great holidays, and a fantastic New Year's Eve followed by 365 (or is it 366 this time...?) days of good health, happiness, love (LOVE!!!), good jobs and may The Great Smile of Joy be a frequent guest on your faces.

All the best, everyone!
-Agnieszka-


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Stephanie Mitchel  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:56
French to English
It depends on your needs, not just the client's. Dec 16, 2003

This is also about your needs, so you can help to decide the terms, really. If you can get the prospective client to pay for the test, more power to you, but I've yet to see it happen. So if you've got plenty of work or so much work that you can't bother with an unpaid test, tell the client as much and offer to send them a sample translation in the relevant field instead. If you're not busy or busy enough, tell them that you will translate up to X number of words at no charge. I usually say 100. They should be able to tell whether someone's a qualified translator in 100 words. If your various offers to meet them halfway are refused, they are either out to get work from you for free, or not qualified to be making such evaluations. Good luck to you.

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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:26
English to Tamil
+ ...
Many happy returns of the day Dec 16, 2003

tygru wrote:

Hello everyone.
Oleg and Narasimhan - you have put my thoughts on paper (well, monitor) better than I would ever have done.

Special thanks to Oleg - yes, you made me grin, but you also reassured me. I'm not the only one who swims against the current of odd agency behaviour. Great.

As it's my birthday today, I allow myself at this point to wish everyone a lovely Christmas, great holidays, and a fantastic New Year's Eve followed by 365 (or is it 366 this time...?) days of good health, happiness, love (LOVE!!!), good jobs and may The Great Smile of Joy be a frequent guest on your faces.

All the best, everyone!
-Agnieszka-

First thing first. Happy birthday, Agnieska. Agni in Sanskrit refers to the God of Fire. Burn away the adversities and shine in your career! And Merry Christmas!
Regards,
N.Raghavan


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ntext  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:56
German to English
+ ...
Within reason Dec 16, 2003

I do accept short test translations if the client seems promising. Why not? The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the proof of the translator is in the translation. Frankly, any agency that doesn't just ask me "What's your rate?" (without any indication as to what kind of job this might concern) gets a star in my book.

That said, 200 to 300 words should be plenty to evaluate a translator's basic ability. (I must add though that I did submit a 500 word test once ... and it proved to be a smart investment because the company became a major client of mine.)

I agree that 900 words is pushing it. The agency shouldn't need such a long test — and if they require it to impress a client, they should pay you for it. (Then again, if you're really bored ...)


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 22:56
French to English
Two kinds of tests: Job-specific and general "recruitment" Dec 16, 2003

Hi everybody.
Overall, I agree with the previous postings and don't really like the idea of tests.

Having said that, all situations are not the same and should not be treated as such.

For agencies that request general tests to vet new freelancers, I accept within the standard 300 word limit and will do these for free if the agency agrees to provide detailed feedback whether their conclusions are positive or not. Most agencies do not agree to this, and I do not do the tests. For the ones that have agreed, it has led to long-term good working relations.

For current customers (agencies) who need to submit samples to a specific customer for a specific job so that the customer can validate the translator, I do the tests, but on a paid basis, for the reasons stated previously (part of the cost of doing business for the agency, not for me!!).

And, yes, 900 words is too long. I once did 1,000 words, but it was for a 300,000 word job, which I ended up doing, so it was well worth it!!

Best regards,
Sara


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 22:56
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Be careful about sending sample translations Dec 16, 2003

Stephanie Mitchel wrote:

... tell the client ... and offer to send them a sample translation in the relevant field instead.
... Good luck to you.


If you happen to have a sample translation in the relevant field that is not confidential!

I NEVER send work I have done for a client to anybody else. I know some of it goes straight out on the Net or somewhere even more visible as soon as I've finished with it, but that is the client's decision, not mine.

And some of the work I do might be quite sensitive for one reason or another. Whether it is personal documents or industrial secrets, I keep it to myself.

I have done tests of max. 200-300 words as style samples, which are relevant, but IMHO anyone wanting more than that should pay.

I still have to say no to jobs when I'm too busy, so any work you lose should not bother you for long if you're good at your job!

Best of luck!


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Steven Sidore  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:56
Member (2003)
German to English
A bit of oversimplification going on... Dec 16, 2003

I'll get to my own policy in a minute, but my problem with the indignant airline pilot and taxi driver analogies is that they aren't analagious situations. You are putting stock in the airline that they will hire competent pilots; you are putting stock in the police that they will yank the hack license of a taxi driver who drivers unsafely. From a company's point of view, hiring an untested freelancer is a big risk, since there's no authority there to give approval. I've used to be a managing editor at a publishing house, I've been on the other side too. We certainly asked illustrators for samples of their work...

That said, if an agency is arranging the work, a test sample seems justified only to distinguish between possible translators within the agency. If you can get them to pay for it (I've not been so lucky, but I don't work with agencies much), all the more power to you.

Practically speaking, I will do tests for promising clients of up to 200 words PER DISCIPLINE, so long as the client doesn't appear to be trying to get something translated through test chunks. I did once do an intense 2 page test that kept me up late, but it paid off with a long-term contract for €18,000 annually. I've also refused to do tests. Depends on how much you need the work, I suppose.

Nur mein Senf dazu.


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Marina Zinno  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:56
French to Italian
+ ...
TESTS Dec 16, 2003

I've done some tests but I really analyse the situation generating the request:
First: agency is reliable?
If yes and they want to test me the first time in order to add me to their list of translator is not so interesting but if they want to test me in order to evaluate my capabilities in that specific subject or even if their client wants to have a range of different translation stiles.
Anyway, Once I have been asked to do a 800 words test and I just said that for so many words they had to pay me (even a small sum!) otherwise I asked to reduce the amount of words and they obviously choose to submit a 450 words test.

This is my experience!


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Renate Sondermann
Local time: 22:56
English to German
+ ...
Happy Birthday, Annieszka! Dec 16, 2003

tygru wrote:

Hello everyone.
Oleg and Narasimhan - you have put my thoughts on paper (well, monitor) better than I would ever have done.

Special thanks to Oleg - yes, you made me grin, but you also reassured me. I'm not the only one who swims against the current of odd agency behaviour. Great.

As it's my birthday today, I allow myself at this point to wish everyone a lovely Christmas, great holidays, and a fantastic New Year's Eve followed by 365 (or is it 366 this time...?) days of good health, happiness, love (LOVE!!!), good jobs and may The Great Smile of Joy be a frequent guest on your faces.

All the best, everyone!
-Agnieszka-


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Stephanie Mitchel  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:56
French to English
I should have clarified Dec 16, 2003

CRAndersen wrote:
If you happen to have a sample translation in the relevant field that is not confidential!

I NEVER send work I have done for a client to anybody else. I know some of it goes straight out on the Net or somewhere even more visible as soon as I've finished with it, but that is the client's decision, not mine.

And some of the work I do might be quite sensitive for one reason or another. Whether it is personal documents or industrial secrets, I keep it to myself.


That's a good point. By "sample" translation, I mean a translation that is not subject to a confidentiality agreement, and has already appeared in print somewhere (such as a news article) or has had all identifying information removed.


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TTilch  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:56
English to German
+ ...
No, I don't accept test translations Dec 18, 2003

Hi Elke,

Elke Fehling wrote:
>Do you accept test translations? Do some of >you - as a rule - never/always accept test >translations?
No, I dont. This is not a sample only worth a few cents which you can easily hand over. Every test translations takes quite some time (which you don\'t get paid for). Other businesses wouldn\'t do that either (ever heard of a programmer who delivers the first part of the program for free? - I haven\'t). Try to suggest to the client to give you a first small trial order and if they are satiesfied (what you are sure of, of course) that they are welcome to place a big order with you afterwards. You can argue that every test translation is a unique piece of work which you cannot (and will not) use for any other client due to reasons of confidentiality. Apart from that you can explain that small and big translations are done with the same care.

>little\" translation test of approx. 900 words. Elke

That\'s far too much. You will need about half a day for completing it, especially if you do it with special care!

Best regards,

Tanja


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