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Translation tests
Thread poster: Lisa McCarthy

Lisa McCarthy  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:06
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 14, 2010

Hi all,

Last week or so I received an email from a translation agency in China (listed on Proz) introducing themselves and asking if I would be interested in working for them. They asked for samples of my work and asked me to do a translation test 'urgently' and to have it back by that evening. The text they attached was quite short but I refused to do it on the grounds that some companies get translators to do so-called 'tests' which are actually genuine translations that the agency gets you to do for free. I also pointed out to them that if they looked at my Proz profile they would find samples of my work.

I just wonder if anybody has had a similar experience and how you approach translation tests in general. Do you do them, within what time period, maximum length of test, etc.

Thanks,
Lisa


 

Ahmad Hafeez  Identity Verified
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 15:06
Member (2009)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Not serious Apr 14, 2010

Hi Lisa,

I think if they are serious in adding you to thier database of freelance translators they will not insist in finalizing translation test within the same day.

I mean they should ask you if you are available or not, then ask you when should you deliver us this test.

What they could say if you told them that you have another !!!!!!!!

Regards

Ahmad.

[Edited at 2010-04-14 08:25 GMT]


 

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:06
English to Japanese
+ ...
Never Apr 14, 2010

LisaMac wrote:

Hi all,

Last week or so I received an email from a translation agency in China (listed on Proz) introducing themselves and asking if I would be interested in working for them. They asked for samples of my work and asked me to do a translation test 'urgently' and to have it back by that evening. The text they attached was quite short but I refused to do it on the grounds that some companies get translators to do so-called 'tests' which are actually genuine translations that the agency gets you to do for free. I also pointed out to them that if they looked at my Proz profile they would find samples of my work.

I just wonder if anybody has had a similar experience and how you approach translation tests in general. Do you do them, within what time period, maximum length of test, etc.

Thanks,
Lisa


I've wrote this on several related forums here on Proz, but test translations are a waste of time. Like you pointed out above, if you have a profile here at Proz with submitted sample translations, the outsourcers could refer to them on your profile and decide for themselves to work with you or not. What irritates me most is that they ask you for a free sample and 99.9% out of 100%, they never come back or hear from them again. Try going to a burger shop you've never been to before, and ask them if they offer you a free sample burger telling them that if the burger is good, you're thinking of ordering 100 burgers at once. The only free burger you could get is at the soup kitchen.


 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:06
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
well, some do Apr 14, 2010

I've had loads of similar requests, and some agencies actually have timed translation tests - you must send them back within 2 or 3 hours - I guess this is to keep you from getting external help, or finding a copy of the test on the web.
Most agencies do come back with results.
However for Chinese, Indian and other far away countries it would be wise to see if they can afford your rates first - even before sending in a CV...
Usually that can save a huge amount of time and investment for both parties.

I never take times tests, I'm often too busy with other things anyway, and I do not believe speed is more important than quality.


happy job funting
Ed


 

Vitals  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 14:06
Member (2008)
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Paid test translations + Misused test translations Apr 14, 2010

Hi,

I have recently come to find out that a serious client will always be willing even to pay for your test translation. Got an offer recently and they needed a quick test translation, I said I wouldn't do it because of some circumstances, then they offered to pay for it and I finally agreed. At least it was not a waste of time.

I also think that some companies which are not serious use test translations to translate texts free of charge.. They will give you the first 300 words, then they will give me the next ones and at the end of the day (with 10 translators involved) they get the full text and tell us all that we do not match their requirements.

Best regards,
VS


 

Volodymyr Kukharenko
Ukraine
Local time: 14:06
Member (2009)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
I would do the test, but chances are few Apr 14, 2010

If the company requires a test, it means that the translator is going to participate in the competition, and only 1 of them may be chosen, even if there are sevelal excellent translations. So the chances to get a job are few, but still not zero, so I would take the risk if I have nothing else to do. All the job I received were after performing translation tests. But in many cases the test did not result in any job, but I guess this is because the client preferred someone else who did the same test.

Also, if I were a translation agency, I would not start the cooperation with translator without seeing what he/she can do. How do I know that the samples provided are genuine and were not "edited and polished up" by someone else before they were posted? How I can be sure that the references are not the translator's friends? How can I be sure that the referenced persons evaluated the quality properly (I've seen the cases when the customers were "satisfied" with poor translations before)?

And I have grounds for the above statements. I have checked over 4000 English=>Russian and English=>Ukrainian translation tests, and less then 10% of them were of satisfactory quality, while only 5% could be called good or excellent. So 19 out of 20 translators are underperforming in terms of quality (at least this is the case with my language pairs). But still over 70% of applicants reported that they had years of experience, and I believe that was true.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:06
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Not always a negative experience Apr 14, 2010

LisaMac wrote:
I just wonder if anybody has had a similar experience and how you approach translation tests in general. Do you do them, within what time period, maximum length of test, etc.


I have done several tests (at least 3) that have been urgent and short and followed immediately by the project. They were just wanting to make sure I had the ability to do a good job on THEIR files, regardless of my samples. Let's face it, in these days of fraud and dishonest practices, they could have been written by anyone.

Mind you, I make sure it's on the basis of "if it's OK, you get the work" - and I always have. It's normally an extract from the project file, so I suppose I should insist on being paid for it, but I only accept it if it's very short (100w for a translation, 300w for a proofreading job are what I consider reasonable). In fact, especially with a proofreading job, it gives me a better idea of how long the job will take.

I'm much happier with these specific texts, even if they are quite urgent, than the agencies who say, please do this test sometime and then maybe ...


 

George Hopkins
Local time: 13:06
Swedish to English
No free lunch Apr 14, 2010

This topic has been ventilated earlier on Proz. Suggest to the party asking for a test translation that it sends a piece for translation at an agreed price per word and you translate part of it at your discretion and return it for approval or rejection. If the party accepts then you complete the translation and send an invoice. If your 'test translation' is rejected, then ggodbye and no hard feelings.

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:06
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
"Adding to database" = Never real work behind Apr 14, 2010

If a prospect comes to me saying that they need a translator for a project, I discuss it with them. I would not want to be added to anybody's database unless A) there was real work at stake, and B) an adequate agreement is reached beforehand on rates and payment conditions. Only in this case would I do a translation test for the prospect.

I agree that tests are a valid part of our business. It is the best way we can prove our abilities, and I am happy to do tests as long as interesting work lies ahead.

[Edited at 2010-04-14 14:42 GMT]


 

Mette Melchior  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:06
English to Danish
+ ...
Tests can also lead to fruitful collaboration Apr 14, 2010

I just wanted to add that, personally, I have had some good experiences with investing a bit of time in completing test translations.

Several of my best clients asked me to complete a sample when they first approached me, and normally I don't mind doing this for free if it is of max. 300 words and can be completed at a time convenient for me, i.e. within a weeks time or so. I just let them know that I always give priority to paid work in such cases and that I kindly request them to pay for the test as if it was a normal project if they need it back asap. Some then choose to pay and others don't.

Of course you sometimes just end up in a database after completing a test, but once in a while it can actually also be the gateway to a new client who keeps coming back.

I understand why some are tired of being asked for these tests and plain refuse to do them, and I would also say that you should only accept to complete such tests if the agency seems serious and you have the feeling it could actually lead to some work (not just the usual "we need more people in our database" enquiries).

[Edited at 2010-04-14 15:19 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:06
French to German
+ ...
Business risks Apr 14, 2010

Vladimir Kukharenko wrote:
Also, if I were a translation agency, I would not start the cooperation with translator without seeing what he/she can do. How do I know that the samples provided are genuine and were not "edited and polished up" by someone else before they were posted? How I can be sure that the references are not the translator's friends? How can I be sure that the referenced persons evaluated the quality properly (I've seen the cases when the customers were "satisfied" with poor translations before)?


Hi Vladimir,
this is what I would call "business risks". Furthermore, I would not think of assigning a critical and/or voluminous project to an unknown translator. Start with small jobs, I say, build up confidence and then see where you can go from here. Impostors will have their cover blown in the end.

[Edited at 2010-04-14 16:42 GMT]


 

Paola Maria Agrati
Italy
Local time: 13:06
Member (2007)
English to Italian
+ ...
Bad and good experiences Apr 14, 2010

Hi, I've had many experiences in translation tests. Sometimes I've been paid, though most of the times not. But what I hate most is when I get no response, even at the mail I send with the translation attached! This means no respect for my work, and I feel used and cheated.

I think that we should have the opportunity to insert this kind of information in the Blue Board, so other colleagues don't loose their time, what do you think?



[Modificato alle 2010-04-14 19:18 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:06
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Please keep the Blueboard clean! Apr 15, 2010

Paola Agrati wrote:
I think that we should have the opportunity to insert this kind of information in the Blue Board, so other colleagues don't loose their time, what do you think?

The Blueboard is not about bad manners or lack of respect before a business relationship. Please keep the Blueboard safe from subjective comments about people you haven't worked with. That would be completely useless information in my opinion.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:06
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Going the extra mile with clients Apr 15, 2010

LisaMac wrote:
They asked for samples of my work and asked me to do a translation test 'urgently' and to have it back by that evening.


The PM is harried and you can make a favourable impression by making his life a little easier. Instead of telling the PM to go fish for your samples on some web site, why not give him the direct URLs of your samples, or better yet, go copy the samples yourself and send it to them in an MS Word file? You can then use the opportunity to draw his attention to your ProZ.com profile page. If your response is courteous, helpful and professional, he might not need to the test to be able to tell that you're a real translator.

By the way, if the test is short, I would do it. You've got nothing to lose, don't you?


 

Carol Gullidge  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:06
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Large free translations Apr 15, 2010

Generally, I tend to accept test translations only if they are a reasonable length (c. 250 wds) and if they can be done in my own time. So I was shocked last night to receive a 1200-word test translation to be done "for free" - with the option of course of refusing to do it at all. The agent explained that they had had to negotiate the size with the end client, as the original one had been twice the size!
This leaves me in a dilemma, as

(a) this project seems an opportunity not to be missed,

but
(b) I was once involved in a scam wherein the outsourcer had at least 12 pages of a novel (to my knowledge - and quite probably more!) each translated for free by different translators! I was eventually offered the job of translating the final chapters, but realised that it would be impossible, given the already existing inconsistency in style in a translation that had been undertaken by translators of several different nationalities!
This experience has made me very wary of test translations in general, especially long ones, but, there again, some have also led to great projects.

Bearing in mind the "novel" experience above, I wonder if anyone else has recently been asked to do a large sample translation "for free".

[Edited at 2010-04-15 11:03 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-04-15 11:04 GMT]


 
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