Business: Sample translations
Thread poster: Sarah Lowndes
Sarah Lowndes  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 30, 2007

When does a sample translation begin to look suspiciously like you are actually doing the job gratis? How many words would be considered a sample?

[Edited at 2007-11-30 07:40]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:26
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
350 words Nov 30, 2007

qmc wrote:

When does a sample translation begin to look suspiciously like you are actually doing the job gratis? How many words would be considered a sample?

[Edited at 2007-11-30 07:40]


The general consensus at Proz seems to be that sample translations (I presume you mean unpaid tests) should not be more than 350 words. Most Prozians also say (as I do) that test translations rarely lead to actual work. In my own experience, only two have led to actual work, one agency having now become a regular client, but usually the tests drop into a bottomless void and one hears no more.
Regards,
Jenny.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 11:26
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
Couldn't have put it better myself Nov 30, 2007

Jenny Forbes wrote:
The general consensus at Proz seems to be that sample translations (I presume you mean unpaid tests) should not be more than 350 words.


And if they're asking for more than 500, that should be a dead giveaway. Also look for other hints, such as:

- Is the test a fragment of something or a whole document ? (i.e., can it be sold as is after you translate it?)

- Is it on the Internet? Has it been translated into your target language yet? (i.e. that -might- be a hint that your "test" is actually going to be sold as a translation)

- Is this an agency/individual who can be traced? Or did you just get this information from GeorgeStevenson@yahoo.com in broken English, JuanGarcia@gmail.com in broken Spanish, DietrichKiske@hotmail.com in broken German, etc.?

And always do the following before accepting a test translation:

- Before even accepting a test translation, make sure that the agency is willing to pay your rates in the event that you pass their test. I learned this the hard way. The story goes something like this:

Agency: Dear translator, we would be interested in learning more about you, can you send us some info?

Translator: Sure thing. Here's my long e-mail, my CV, etc. And my rates are such and such (clearly stated in order to avoid any misunderstandings).

Agency: Oh, wow, that looks great! Will you accept a short, unpaid test translation (300 words or so)?

Translator: Sure, no problem. (Sends translation a day or two later.)

Agency: (A week later.) We looked at your translation and it's great! We would be extremely interested in using your services at (50% of your rate) per word.

Translator: Sorry, I can't accept anything less than my standard rates. (Inside (fuming): thanks for making me waste 15 mins-1/2 an hour of my precious time. If you had just told me that you were offering that rate, none of this would have been necessary in the first place.)

Or the following slight variation:

Agency: (A week later.) We looked at your translation and it's great! Can you tell us what your rates are?

Translator: Of course! My rates are .....

- Agency never replies again -

Since then, I have received a bunch of similar "will you do a test translation for us?" messages, and only one of the senders was actually mature enough to let me know that my rates were too high for them before trying to coax me into doing the translation (this, of course, after I told them that I would be willing to do it, but that I first had to make sure that they could afford my rates - which are not stratospheric by any means).

-Also check their method of payment, payment terms, the country in which they're located, etc. The more info you have, the easier it will be to make a decision.

-Finally, and like Jenny mentions, I am also under the distinct impression that most test translations lead nowhere, although two of them did lead to regular (and very good) clients and I was assigned a book translation due to a third one.

PLEASE NOTE that this applies mainly to agencies and translation professionals. Individuals and "real" companies that are interested in your services might just be clueless when it comes to test translations, and a polite message explaining that the standard practice is to do sample translations of up to xxx words should do the trick.

[Edited at 2007-11-30 09:10]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:26
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
You actually are. Nov 30, 2007

qmc wrote:

When does a sample translation begin to look suspiciously like you are actually doing the job gratis? How many words would be considered a sample?

[Edited at 2007-11-30 07:40]

When you do a sample translation, you are actually providing text for free. This represents an investment in time that you could be using for something else. However, it is going to someone who has expressed interest in your services.
You can do the arithmetic and determine how much you would charge to do this text as a paid job (ignore minimum charges). Is this more than you're willing to pay for an ad targeted to someone who has expressed interest in your services? If they ask for a 50,000 word sample translation, that's probably more than you're willing to pay for an ad, so you should turn it down (unless you feel the amount associated with 50,000 words is worth the advertising).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 11:26
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
Sort of Dec 1, 2007

Paul Merriam wrote:
This represents an investment in time that you could be using for something else. However, it is going to someone who has expressed interest in your services.


I am under the impression that what qmc was really asking was something along the lines of "How do I know that a 'sample' translation is really a sample translation? That is, how do I know that I'm not just doing a job for free and that I'll never get contacted again, except for maybe another 'sample' translation?"

Also, there is an actual difference between translating a 5,000-word manual about, oh, I don't know, destemmers or something like that for free as a "sample" translation and translating a 300-word fragment of, let's say, test reports for a video game that is way too short to be used for commercial purposes. If there was a way to make sure that the 5,000-word manual would actually lead to good, regular work, then fine. But we don't, so what we worry about is anything that raises a red flag instead. The 5,000-word manual definitely qualifies.

It's possible that I was reading too much between the lines here, but I somehow doubt it.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Boris Sigalov
Local time: 21:26
English to Russian
200 words Dec 1, 2007

200 words for one topic, 500 all together for a test if it consists of several topics. I never do more if I do at all...

Direct link Reply with quote
 
Andrew Higgs  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:26
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Legal claim through test translation Dec 10, 2007

Hi everyone, here's a new one for you.

Some time ago I was asked to complete a paid test translation for an agency for whom I have worked for many years. I have done many projects for them, most were okay although their rates were - and are - low and payment was always late, but I put that down to a lack of efficiency rather than wilful late payment. Annoying all the same, and unnecessary.

Anyway, the test was highly technical (truck repair manuals) and I pointed this out along with the fact that it was not my main language pair (it was Swedish rather than Norwegian to English) but I gave it my best shot, which is what I told the agency. Time passed and every now and again I asked for a progress report. Finally I heard that the end client was not satisfied with my translation, which was probably as well because evidently I would have struggled with more of the same. The agency contact was very rude in telling me this but I let it go and sent an invoice. I heard nothing more and the due date passed. This is not, as I said, unusual.

Then when the invoice was around 2-3 weeks overdue I asked what was happening (politely) to be told that "there were so many errors I'm surprised you want payment". I wasn't too bothered at this point as the amount was not high, but I would have appreciated being told this before this point and questioned why a paid test was now unpaid.

To make an already long story a little shorter the agency contact became extremely rude, criticized my previous work (although I had never heard any complaints before and he continued to use my services) and said that he would take legal action to reclaim money from me because they did not get the contract for which I provided a test. He since claims that he has a team of translators for this work so why he didn't send their tests I do not know.

This, in my mind, is a ridiculous case and he does not know what he is talking about legally here.

Are we now financially liable for test translations? If so who wants to do them now? I have no written agreement with him, no PO or anything. Surely the point of the test was to ensure that he had the necessary resources for the project, and it turned out that he didn't. Is that MY fault? This is an outrageous idea and I am interested in what everyone else thinks about this.

He is also extremely upset about me posting a comment about his attitude, low rates and delays in payments on the Blue Board, but I am not going to be threatened, bullied and pushed around by arrogant agencies.

What is happening to some people in this industry?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:26
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
I'd add one more thing Dec 11, 2007

Marcelo Silveyra wrote:

Jenny Forbes wrote:
The general consensus at Proz seems to be that sample translations (I presume you mean unpaid tests) should not be more than 350 words.


And if they're asking for more than 500, that should be a dead giveaway. Also look for other hints, such as:

- Is the test a fragment of something or a whole document ? (i.e., can it be sold as is after you translate it?)

- Is it on the Internet? Has it been translated into your target language yet? (i.e. that -might- be a hint that your "test" is actually going to be sold as a translation)

- Is this an agency/individual who can be traced? Or did you just get this information from GeorgeStevenson@yahoo.com in broken English, JuanGarcia@gmail.com in broken Spanish, DietrichKiske@hotmail.com in broken German, etc.?

And always do the following before accepting a test translation:

- Before even accepting a test translation, make sure that the agency is willing to pay your rates in the event that you pass their test. I learned this the hard way. The story goes something like this:

Agency: Dear translator, we would be interested in learning more about you, can you send us some info?

Translator: Sure thing. Here's my long e-mail, my CV, etc. And my rates are such and such (clearly stated in order to avoid any misunderstandings).

Agency: Oh, wow, that looks great! Will you accept a short, unpaid test translation (300 words or so)?

Translator: Sure, no problem. (Sends translation a day or two later.)

Agency: (A week later.) We looked at your translation and it's great! We would be extremely interested in using your services at (50% of your rate) per word.

Translator: Sorry, I can't accept anything less than my standard rates. (Inside (fuming): thanks for making me waste 15 mins-1/2 an hour of my precious time. If you had just told me that you were offering that rate, none of this would have been necessary in the first place.)

Or the following slight variation:

Agency: (A week later.) We looked at your translation and it's great! Can you tell us what your rates are?

Translator: Of course! My rates are .....

- Agency never replies again -

Since then, I have received a bunch of similar "will you do a test translation for us?" messages, and only one of the senders was actually mature enough to let me know that my rates were too high for them before trying to coax me into doing the translation (this, of course, after I told them that I would be willing to do it, but that I first had to make sure that they could afford my rates - which are not stratospheric by any means).

-Also check their method of payment, payment terms, the country in which they're located, etc. The more info you have, the easier it will be to make a decision.

-Finally, and like Jenny mentions, I am also under the distinct impression that most test translations lead nowhere, although two of them did lead to regular (and very good) clients and I was assigned a book translation due to a third one.

PLEASE NOTE that this applies mainly to agencies and translation professionals. Individuals and "real" companies that are interested in your services might just be clueless when it comes to test translations, and a polite message explaining that the standard practice is to do sample translations of up to xxx words should do the trick.

[Edited at 2007-11-30 09:10]



I'd add one more point. If a "test translation" has a tight deadline (I am not speaking about a certain "set date" for a test translation), say "We need 800 words test to be done for tomorrow", it is a red alert already that the test will end with nothing...At the best, you will get an answer (if you are insisting) that "Sorry, we find it not acceptable because our proofreader found about 20 grammar mistakes." When you ask to indicate at least 2-3 grammar mistakes (just for your own personal curiosity), it will come out (again, at the very best) that it is a "policy of our company and we cannot disclose such information"...These things really can make mad (a translator making a dozen of GRAMMAR mistakes per one page in a TEST translation!! Seems we all went to school

I'd suggest a simple thing - "give me a small real job, say, 1000-1500 words, I do it for my usual rates (PO is a MUST), you see if you like it, and then we decide if we go for bigger projects".

One real-life story. An agency (it is listed on proz and they really have a good BB rating) did a very smart thing. They got ~ 60 pages (a manual), split it between 12-15 people as "free tests" (just chapter by chapter) making 4-5 pages for each (well, "with a possibility of a VERY BIG ongoing project if your test is OK"), then, of course, none of the tests "passed". I did not even have any doubts about my positive test results as I knew the area very well. And our language community is really small - it turned out that my colleague did the following chapters, later on one more colleague turned oout who did the same test for the same agency, but she did another chapter, and so on. We made the agency pay for those "tests" that were an actual job (and yes, these tests had a rather tough deadline) by telling that we will make this "test translation issue" known public. The reaction and good willingness to end the issue was seamingless from the side of the agency with many appologies

All in all, my advice - do not waste your time for those free tests.









[Edited at 2007-12-11 00:47]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:26
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
ask them for a proof Dec 11, 2007

andyhiggs wrote:

Hi everyone, here's a new one for you.

Some time ago I was asked to complete a paid test translation for an agency for whom I have worked for many years. I have done many projects for them, most were okay although their rates were - and are - low and payment was always late, but I put that down to a lack of efficiency rather than wilful late payment. Annoying all the same, and unnecessary.

Anyway, the test was highly technical (truck repair manuals) and I pointed this out along with the fact that it was not my main language pair (it was Swedish rather than Norwegian to English) but I gave it my best shot, which is what I told the agency. Time passed and every now and again I asked for a progress report. Finally I heard that the end client was not satisfied with my translation, which was probably as well because evidently I would have struggled with more of the same. The agency contact was very rude in telling me this but I let it go and sent an invoice. I heard nothing more and the due date passed. This is not, as I said, unusual.

Then when the invoice was around 2-3 weeks overdue I asked what was happening (politely) to be told that "there were so many errors I'm surprised you want payment". I wasn't too bothered at this point as the amount was not high, but I would have appreciated being told this before this point and questioned why a paid test was now unpaid.

To make an already long story a little shorter the agency contact became extremely rude, criticized my previous work (although I had never heard any complaints before and he continued to use my services) and said that he would take legal action to reclaim money from me because they did not get the contract for which I provided a test. He since claims that he has a team of translators for this work so why he didn't send their tests I do not know.

This, in my mind, is a ridiculous case and he does not know what he is talking about legally here.

Are we now financially liable for test translations? If so who wants to do them now? I have no written agreement with him, no PO or anything. Surely the point of the test was to ensure that he had the necessary resources for the project, and it turned out that he didn't. Is that MY fault? This is an outrageous idea and I am interested in what everyone else thinks about this.

He is also extremely upset about me posting a comment about his attitude, low rates and delays in payments on the Blue Board, but I am not going to be threatened, bullied and pushed around by arrogant agencies.

What is happening to some people in this industry?


Well, I understand how ridiculous is your situation. But I believe this is simply a counter-move - you have asked for money for a test translation that did not pass, and then they made their own move by bullying you a little bit (like "your test was trash - do not ask us money for that - and vice versa, if you ask us for money again, we will claim our damages - fear us").

I'd make it like that - "OK, if you say there were problems with quality, please provide at least some general substantiation and explanation of the most critical mistakes - what, where and why specifically". Then we can discuss about quality. Period. I am almost sure they won't provide. If they still do now calm down and involve into irrelevant philosophies, remind that any claims for quality (real problems or supposed problems) shall be sent BEFORE the due payment date, not AFTER the due payment date. And even if they send some substantiation and you cannot settle the dispute, offer them the text to be evaluated by some independent party. If they fake problems about quality, they will never want to do it. Many "aces" in your hands. One more logical thing - if they are satisfied (and for years) with your other projects, HOW COME that your test was unsatisfactory? Where is elementary logics? Ask them this question too

And, finally, it is a very good chance for you to raise your rates for them. They were underpaying, they were always late with payment - now it is their time to pay for their rude behaviour. If they do not agree on your new rates, again - one door closes, another opens - time to find a better client. And if they claim for damages (non received income just because their client did not like the test text for some abstract reasons), they can claim for anything. How can a test translation be used as a real translation if it is a TEST translation, and if it was used as a real translation, how can it be a test translation? They will never manage to prove anything nor claim from you anyting - the only thing they can make is not to pay for the test. At the very best. Ask them if they can manage to prove and substantiate the damages Same absurd would be to threaten them with legal actions asking for a compensation for the moral damage and damage to your health for their rude behaviour

Give them a punch back. Do not step aside I know how it feels.













[Edited at 2007-12-11 00:44]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Andrew Higgs  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:26
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Latest update in this "case" Dec 11, 2007

Hi again, thanks for the feedback. The agency contact won't let it lie!

Check this and his attitude to Proz.com and our right to post:

"Your hard luck story on ProZ is the worst sort of half truth. Again, you just love to be the victim Andy, don't you.

I'll spell my position out in another way, so perhaps you'll understand finally where I am coming from: I could propose to write on a very public forum that 'Andrew Pierre Higgs is an out and out liar. Avoid him at all costs.'

This is perfectly true"..."However what is so obnoxious about this posting and yours is that it is designed purely to damage a reputation, and it really has nothing to do with telling the truth.

This is why I take excpetion to your posting and this is why I am not inclined to treat you leniently when it comes to damages.

I could also make one of my own to all European agencies warning them that ProZ is being used by you to hold agencies to ransom over money.
The deal is you make a mistake, they pay or or else you post a load of out of context half truths about them with the sole intention of stopping others from working for them"

Unbelievable...


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Andrew Higgs  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:26
Norwegian to English
+ ...
It goes on, and on, and on... Dec 11, 2007

And yet more pleasantries:

"Good editing! You really are a liar aren't you Andy, as said, the worst
sort, the one who deals in half truths, for example, what made you leave
out the bit down below I wonder"

because I left out the name of an uninvolved third party (quite clearly you can see that something is missing)

In case anyone thinks I am the one hiding something here is the full text with the company name left out:

"...This is perfectly true, regrettably we all lie once in a while, e.g your claim about xxx. However what..."

Since I do not understand what claim I made about this company and the fact they are not involved in this I left it out.

Perhaps the time has come to include the full details of this agency treating me this way?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:26
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
do not get involved into "philosophies" - as for a substantiation of their claim Dec 12, 2007

Andrew Higgs wrote:

Hi again, thanks for the feedback. The agency contact won't let it lie!

Check this and his attitude to Proz.com and our right to post:

"Your hard luck story on ProZ is the worst sort of half truth. Again, you just love to be the victim Andy, don't you.

I'll spell my position out in another way, so perhaps you'll understand finally where I am coming from: I could propose to write on a very public forum that 'Andrew Pierre Higgs is an out and out liar. Avoid him at all costs.'

This is perfectly true"..."However what is so obnoxious about this posting and yours is that it is designed purely to damage a reputation, and it really has nothing to do with telling the truth.

This is why I take excpetion to your posting and this is why I am not inclined to treat you leniently when it comes to damages.

I could also make one of my own to all European agencies warning them that ProZ is being used by you to hold agencies to ransom over money.
The deal is you make a mistake, they pay or or else you post a load of out of context half truths about them with the sole intention of stopping others from working for them"

Unbelievable...



Whatever is the situation (does not matter now who is "half-right" or "half-wrong") - HAVE THEY SENT YOU A SUBSTANTIATION FOR THEIR QUALITY CLAIMS? All in all, there can only be 3 possibilities:
1) you really made a lot of mistakes and the client is right
2) you made just some (a couple of small/disputable/supposed mistakes)
3) you have not made any mistakes


Option 1) - all is clear - many mistakes, an unhappy client (and a client lost by that translation agency meaning a lot of financial loss), they spot and explain a little bit some obvious things and end of story. You really lose your payment. But HAVE YOU agreed to compensate their "client loss incomes" before doing that job? Does it tell about it in their PO?


Option 2) - disputable things - . Say, the client was really picky, found one typo in 5 pages, and said "well, we cannot accept it", or, your translation was correct, but the client thought some things should be put otherwise (the client is partially right) and you cannot find a compromise - ask an independent party (Translators Association or smth) to evaluate you work. What the client or the agency thinks - let it be JUST their OWN "personal opinion".

Option 3) - they have to prove you have made mistakes IN ANY CASE if this issue went that far. NO OTHER DISCUSSIONS OR PHILOSOPHIES - THEY PROVE WHAT THEY MAINTAIN OR THEY DON'T. AND THEY CAN REFUSE TO PAY FOR THE JOB -ONLY- WHEN THEY PROVE THEY HAVE AT LEAST SOME REASON FOR THAT. PERIOD.

In my opinion, these people are a little bit sick (judging from your quotes). It would be a good idea to copy-paste their emails with those quotes, attach your translation text and send it to an Association of Translators. If you get a positive evaluation regarding your job - forward it to them and ask for an interest for an overdue payment. AND DO MAKE THE NAME OF THE AGENCY KNOWN. If they think their reputation costs a dozen of euros, let it be their own problem. Post an independent evaluation and their "best quotes" like "Your hard luck story on ProZ.com is the worst sort of half truth. Again, you just love to be the victim Andy, don't you." - let other people know about them

P.S. A "tighter version" - they should have provided the claims BEFORE the due payment date. After the due payment date - nothing can be disputable. Simply forget about them and their payment for those couple of hundred words and post a "1" on Proz BB.












[Edited at 2007-12-12 00:59]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Ahmad Suhaili
Local time: 02:26
English to Malay
+ ...
Another telltale Dec 12, 2007

An agency which I had sent my resume a while ago (without receiving any reply) contacted me out of the blue for a "test" translation. I said no problem, just send it over.

The 200+ words "test" was sent quickly by return email with these instructions :-

1- Use Trados and return clean, uncleaned & TM.
2- Return within 2 days

The text itself is part of a commercial website and they didn't even bother to change the names to "ABC Company" or whatever.

I've read the old forums post and never came across anyone mentioning agencies requiring the TM from translation tests, correct?


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Business: Sample translations

Advanced search







PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »
Across v6.3
Translation Toolkit and Sales Potential under One Roof

Apart from features that enable you to translate more efficiently, the new Across Translator Edition v6.3 comprises your crossMarket membership. The new online network for Across users assists you in exploring new sales potential and generating revenue.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search