Inappropriate test translation - advice needed
Thread poster: Faustine Roux

Faustine Roux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:35
English to French
Apr 14, 2013


I need some advice regarding a test translation.

A potential client asked me to choose among a few subjects for a test translation. I chose Arts and Literature, as it is what I studied at university. Unfortunately, the client sent me a literary text, but I really don’t feel qualified for that and I am afraid I’ll fail it. I was expected something about arts or about literature, but not literature per se !

Now, I don’t know whether I should tell the client that I am not qualified for this test and ask for another one (a technical one). Would that sound as if I was asking for an easier test ?

Note that this is not a debate about the legitimacy of test translations.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

PS: Apology if this thread is in the wrong topic.


United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Yes, you should tell them. Apr 14, 2013

But don't ask for a technical translation, which means things like engineering. I assume that's not what you want.


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:35
Chinese to English
If it's a reasonable client... Apr 15, 2013

They're not expecting you to produce a literary masterpiece in a test translation. They've chopped 200 words out of a book, and they know perfectly well that you won't capture all the nuance of the full novel/story/whatever. Just turn in a competent translation, and they'll appreciate it. If they don't, then perhaps they're not the kind of client you want to be working with anyway.

On the other hand, it is also completely reasonable to say, I'm not a literary translator, can I have a test which reflects the kind of work I actually do.


564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:35
Danish to English
+ ...
Just explain the misunderstanding Apr 15, 2013

My advice would definitely be NOT to attempt a literary translation if this is not at all the area you wish you to work in. It is so very different to translating ABOUT literature and arts, and the agency will understand that. If I were you, I would go back to them and explain exactly what you said here, that by 'arts and literature', you meant 'about' those two subjects. I never quite understand why they are grouped together as one topic, anyway. Translating Shakespeare is utterly and completely different to translating a text about the paintings by Picasso.


Faustine Roux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:35
English to French
... Apr 15, 2013

Case solved: the client gave me a new test! Phew!

Thank you all for your advice.


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Inappropriate test translation - advice needed

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