sample translation - out of bounds?
Thread poster: Marcus Cermann

Marcus Cermann
Local time: 17:40
English to German
+ ...
Mar 1, 2003

Dear everyone,

sample translations seems to be an ongoing subject, but as I have never had a case like this before, I would like to have your opinion on this: I was applying for a job with a word count of 3000 words, they offered me the job, but asked me to translate a sample of, now watch this: 700 words. I am the least inclined to suspect anyone of unprofessional behaviour, but do you think this is really a fair offer?

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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:40
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
In my experience... Mar 1, 2003

I have never had anyone asking me to translate a 700-word sample translation. Usually unpaid sample translations have up to 250 words. If they pay you for this 700-word sample translation, then of course there wouldn\'t be any reasons to complain. But I do not think this is the case..., and I do not think this is a fair offer either. Maybe you should kindly ask them to either pay for the test or reduce the size of the text.

Good luck and best wishes.


Monika Coulson

[ This Message was edited by:on2003-03-01 23:46]

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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:40
German to English
+ ...
In the words of Bob Dole: Just don't do it.... Mar 1, 2003

Hi Marcus. I think a free sample translation of 700 words, basically 1/4 of the contract, is *way* out of bounds, and I\'m fairly sure most other Proz pros would back me up here.

If you´re truly interested in the agency/contractor, and have checked the blue boards (definitely worth the browniz for a non-member), I personally would translate say the first 200 words, and then give an explanation why you chose not to do the rest. I mean, there are limits; by doing this, you indicate your interest/competence but show that you won\'t allow yourself to be taken advantage of.

This topic has been dealt with previously at length in the forums; see for instance

Feel free to email me personally if I can help you more specifically...

Best regards,



Michele Johnson Language Consulting

Michele L. Johnson, Dip. Trans. (IOL), B.S. ChE

Marktstrasse 55

99084 Erfurt


Tel: +49 361 262 3812

Mobile: +49 170 557 1044


[ This Message was edited by:on2003-03-03 11:28]

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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:40
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
:) Mar 2, 2003

We had an experience with one company, who for 70 page job asked to do 5 page sample translation- pages 1 to 5. We did it, but never got the job. Much later we heard from another company about the same job- they did pages 10 to 15 and from another one that they,too did some pages

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Denis HAY  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:40
English to French
Food for thought... Mar 3, 2003

I would like to add my two cents on this everlasting paid/unpaid tests.

A couple of years ago, I was responsible of freelancer recruitment for a localization company. Because our focus was on quality, we needed people to be able to do correctly their job, and knowing that BEFORE any job was ever given to them was essential.

Therefore, I created a test, and a quite long one as that (5 pages, around 1000 words). This test was a combination of several kind of translations we regularly had, and had a few voluntarily inserted traps/tricky terminology. BUT, everything in it could be easily found using just a little patience, experience and a good Web browser.

Every single freelancer who wanted to work for us had to translate this test. No exception. If they didn\'t want to translate it, they weren\'t included in our database. Given the amount of service offers we received regularly, we could\'nt afford to pay this test.

Each translated test was carefully examined (and our reviewer\'s time was money) and lead to a pass or fail. The translator was informed of the result of this test. This was our way of ensuring quality. Each translator after that was regularly given work, given our outsourcing needs.

Long tests are not always from \"fly by night\" agencies who want to abuse translators. A good way to see if the agency is serious about this is by creating another email from a free provider for example, edit your CV/Résumé to change a few things and ask for a test under an alternate identity. If you receive the same test, chances are good that the agency is serious about this test. If this test is just a \"part of the actual job fed to unaware freelancers\", then you should get a different test.

Hope this helped.

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