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Refusing to translate some words in the middle of a project.
Thread poster: Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha

Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 06:55
Member (2012)
English to Indonesian
May 4, 2014

Dear colleagues,

I was assigned to translate keywords for ad purpose which are grouped into 100+ categories. I didn't look at the categories in detail when I accepted the job and now halfway into the project I noticed there are two categories that are illegal in my country and against my religion. I'm thinking of explaining to the client that I cannot translate these words but I believe that will create a hassle of finding another translator. What would you do if you were in my position? Thank you.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:55
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Advise.. May 4, 2014

Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha wrote:

Dear colleagues,

I was assigned to translate keywords for ad purpose which are grouped into 100+ categories. I didn't look at the categories in detail when I accepted the job and now halfway into the project I noticed there are two categories that are illegal in my country and against my religion. I'm thinking of explaining to the client that I cannot translate these words but I believe that will create a hassle of finding another translator. What would you do if you were in my position? Thank you.


If those words and categories are illegal in your country, and would be considered offensive, I would suggest you advise your client. I'm sure your client wouldn't want to do anything in your country that would have a negative effect on sales of their product.


 

564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:55
Danish to English
+ ...
Agree with Tom May 4, 2014

Very sound advice...

 

Meta Arkadia
Local time: 06:55
English to Indonesian
+ ...
I wonder... May 4, 2014

I happen to live in Indonesia, and I wonder what the "illegal categories" are. If they are illegal in this country, I'm sure they are illegal in many - if not all - countries.

Religion is a personal thing, and if Pak Aditya thinks his religion forbids him to translate certain words, he shouldn't translate them. On the other hand, Indonesia is not a country with one religion - Panca Sila rules - so he may involuntarily cause problems that the client couldn't possibly have anticipated.

I think he should return the job, with an explanation, and without an invoice.

Salam,

Pak Han (who doesn't translate to nor from Bahasa Indonesia)

[Edited at 2014-05-04 14:36 GMT]


 

ulziid
Mongolia
Local time: 07:55
English to Mongolian
+ ...
Agree May 4, 2014

Agree totally agree with you

 

Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 06:55
Member (2012)
English to Indonesian
TOPIC STARTER
Hi, Pak Han May 4, 2014

Meta Arkadia wrote:

I happen to live in Indonesia, and I wonder what the "illegal categories" are. If they are illegal in this country, I'm sure they are illegal in many - if not all - countries.

Religion is a personal thing, and if Pak Aditya thinks his religion forbids him to translate certain words, he shouldn't translate them. On the other hand, Indonesia is not a country with one religion - Panca Sila rules - so he may involuntarily cause problems that the client couldn't possibly have anticipated.

I think he should return the job, with an explanation, and without an invoice.

Salam,

Pak Han (who doesn't translate to nor from Bahasa Indonesia)

[Edited at 2014-05-04 14:36 GMT]


The categories are pornography (with all the dirty words you can imagine) and gambling. I don't think returning the job is an option since it's only two categories out of 115 or so and I've already spent 20 hours on thisicon_smile.gif

Edit: the client stated that I can ignore categories that are not relevant to my countries. Not that these two categories are irrelevant, but at least ignoring categories is possible. Anyways, I will contact the client and see how it goes.

[Edited at 2014-05-04 15:41 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-05-04 15:42 GMT]


 

Meta Arkadia
Local time: 06:55
English to Indonesian
+ ...
No surprise May 4, 2014

Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha wrote:
The categories are pornography (with all the dirty words you can imagine) and gambling.


That's what I thought. Both categories will be forbidden by law - at least to some extend - in most/all countries. In don't think the end-client will be happy if the entries of those categories are not translated, especially not if they are aware of the actual situation in Indonesia.

I don't think returning the job is an option since it's only two categories out of 115 or so and I've already spent 20 hours on thisicon_smile.gif


I'd say that that's your bad luck. You accepted the job.

Edit: the client stated that I can ignore categories that are not relevant to my countries. Not that these two categories are irrelevant, but at least ignoring categories is possible. Anyways, I will contact the client and see how it goes.


Lucky you!

Semoga sukses,

Pak Han


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:55
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Can you ask a less sensitive colleague to translate those words? May 4, 2014

Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha wrote:
there are two categories that are illegal in my country and against my religion. I'm thinking of explaining to the client that I cannot translate these words

Pornography and gambling are to a greater or lesser extent illegal in many/all countries but surely the words themselves aren't illegal, are they? It's a little difficult to imagine how they could be, if they're just keywords. Content, in the form of written text, may be illegal but surely not the words in isolation. I would imagine most would be in the most complete dictionaries.

I would advise you to discuss the matter with the client, and perhaps suggest to him/her that you should find a colleague to deal with words you aren't happy with. But you would need to take overall responsibility for the job you've accepted.


 

Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 06:55
Member (2012)
English to Indonesian
TOPIC STARTER
Religion May 4, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha wrote:
there are two categories that are illegal in my country and against my religion. I'm thinking of explaining to the client that I cannot translate these words

Pornography and gambling are to a greater or lesser extent illegal in many/all countries but surely the words themselves aren't illegal, are they? It's a little difficult to imagine how they could be, if they're just keywords. Content, in the form of written text, may be illegal but surely not the words in isolation. I would imagine most would be in the most complete dictionaries.

I would advise you to discuss the matter with the client, and perhaps suggest to him/her that you should find a colleague to deal with words you aren't happy with. But you would need to take overall responsibility for the job you've accepted.


Actually it wouldn't matter if it's legal. My greatest concern is how it would be religiously and morally wrong for me to translate those words. They're for ad targeting so I'd be partly responsible for delivering porn and gambling to people. I'll probably offer discount for the trouble this might cause.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:55
Russian to English
+ ...
No, don't translate them if you don't like them. May 4, 2014

Just tell the client that this kind of stuff is against your worldview, and you were not notified about some graphic content of the translation beforehand. Just translate everything else and bill him only for the part translated. Let him find some other translator to translate those two specific parts, if he or she wishes to. Don't get involved in finding anybody else for him. If he does not want to pay you-- put him on the Blue Board or sue him.

 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:55
Hebrew to English
Professionalism RIP May 5, 2014

LilianBNekipelo wrote:

Just tell the client that this kind of stuff is against your worldview, and you were not notified about some graphic content of the translation beforehand. Just translate everything else and bill him only for the part translated. Let him find some other translator to translate those two specific parts, if he or she wishes to. Don't get involved in finding anybody else for him. If he does not want to pay you-- put him on the Blue Board or sue him.


Why so recalcitrant when it is the translator reneging on an agreement? (i.e. the least you could do is refer the client to a less-sensitive colleague or point them in the right direction [and I'm not sure the translator has a leg to stand on legally-speaking to start getting all litigious).

Not that I agree with shirking the responsibility here.
Clients should not be penalized because they don't agree with your "worldview".

I agree with Sheila here:
"But you would need to take overall responsibility for the job you've accepted."

[Edited at 2014-05-05 06:09 GMT]


 

Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 23:55
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Argument doesn't work May 5, 2014

LilianBNekipelo wrote:
Just tell the client that this kind of stuff is against your worldview, and you were not notified about some graphic content of the translation beforehand.

Unless I'm reading Aditya's posts wrong, he was given the chance to review the files before accepting them. It's not the client's fault that he failed to spot the objectionable content. I wouldn't translate anything that bothered me, but I wouldn't insist on being paid full price after welching on a job either. If the boot was on the other foot (client refusing to honor an agreement) we'd all be crying foul long and loud.

[Edited at 2014-05-05 08:05 GMT]


 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:55
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
You decide May 5, 2014

This is a very personal thing and some people will be willing to do almost anything for money while others will not.

Personally I have also refused a porno job, not because it was porno, but because the message at the end of one story was that a violent control freak can get away with raping his girlfriend and her daughter because the women think that's the way thing's go.

I'd already translated about half a day's worth of erotica fiction when I got to this story and even though the tale was fiction, I decided I didn't want to have anything to do with putting such an immoral message across to any more readers than those who'd already read it in the source language.

So I contacted the client and said how I felt and they understood. I said I wasn't going to deliver any of the text I'd translated and I didn't want to get paid for it, dirty money imo.

Basically I do not want to be part of anything I consider to be immoral.

For me just leaving out a part or finding another person to do something you consider wrong isn't really an option, it's like saying "I don't agree with gun running, but will sell you the fuel for the plane to fly down to Liberia with a load of AK47s."

You're either part of a bad thing or you're not.


 

Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 06:55
Member (2012)
English to Indonesian
TOPIC STARTER
Cool May 5, 2014

Jo, that's incredible. You really took the words out of my mouth.

Kuochoe, you're correct, the client is not at fault for not notifying me regarding the sensitive content since they gave me the chance to review the list.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:55
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some thoughts May 5, 2014

Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha wrote:
I didn't look at the categories in detail when I accepted the job and now halfway into the project I noticed there are two categories that are illegal in my country and against my religion.


Well, if it is against your religion, then you have no choice: you have to refuse. Otherwise you're not really practising your religion. However, the fact that you must refuse on the grounds of your religion does not absolve you from your responsibility (and liability) towards the client. What you must do is to renegotiate (e.g. reduced payment for incomplete delivery), and if the client refuses, then you have no choice but to submit to the penalties for non-delivery. Sacrifice is, after all, what religion is all about.

And if it is against your country's laws, well then you have no choice either: you have to refuse. But: you have better grounds to come away scott-free if you break this to the client with tact, because the client has to acknowledge that it is not simply a personal preference that prevents you from completing the job as originally agreed, but a law.

This brings us to a more theoretical question: whose responsibility is it to check whether a task is compatable with the service provider's country's laws, religion or personal preferences -- the client's or the translator's? I think that the client is partly responsible, because the client knows best what is contained in the task, whereas the translator has to agree to do the job based on a sample or quick overview of the material. Some topics are universally dodgy (pornography, gambling, etc) and if the client's material contains this, the client has a responsibility to point this out to the translator. On the other hand, the client's can't be expected to be aware of all the cultural and legal aspects of the country of the translator. Furthermore, if the translator does not specifically state that he has certain preferences (religious, moral, etc), then the translator can't blame the client for not being aware of this.

Remember, the fact that you are a Muslim in name or by birth does not mean that you are a practising Muslim, and even if you're a practising Muslim, that does not mean that you are a sacrificing Muslim. So even if the client knew or suspected that you were a Muslim, that would not mean that he would know what your moral preferences are.


 
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