Test pieces in translator's online portfolio? Ethics, anyone?
Thread poster: Natalia Nosenko

Natalia Nosenko
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:44
English to Russian
+ ...
Oct 16, 2014

[not sure if this is the right board to post this to]

The other day... I was researching some terms from a test piece I was doing and, to my surprise, in the first 3 results that came up in Google search was this exact piece - translated - and - presented as a work sample in somebody's portfolio.

I ignored it at that moment, as I didn't like that translation at all, but upon consideration... how should I react to it?

Should I notify the company that ,most likely, still uses this same piece to test the newbies?

(Can't help but wonder if they have posted it discreetly to filter out the cheaters who are tempted to copy-paste this piece even though it may be flawed.)

There's another side to it...

I remember a couple of occasions when my test piece was rejected.

I still believe that the editors' judgement were strongly biased and unfair. (hold on, this is not a complaint about a failed translation test). The thing is that among these 'failed' tests were some trans-creation pieces I would definitely be willing to demonstrate to my potential clients to give them an idea of my narration style. (I am actually quite proud of themicon_smile.gif, silly me).

If you are going to compare this to translating literary prose, I have my counter-arguments.
It is a bit like translating literary prose, but not quite. ‘My’ pieces were not enough ‘literary’ to produce dozens of distinctly different versions, not like the pieces we see in the contests here. There were some terminology traps, related to a specific field or brand, and, had I been the editor, I would like the candidates to be able to figure them out).
Back to my question - Would it be appropriate to include these passages in my portfolio? Should I ask the editor's permission first? (Though I can hardly imagine that anyone would answer my email since to them I am just a 'yet another annoying candidate who failed that test' ) ...

It never occurred to me to include a (failed!) test piece in my online portfolio.
Should I stop minding this so-called ethics and just go with it?

[Edited at 2014-10-16 22:00 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-10-16 22:01 GMT]


The Misha
Local time: 03:44
Russian to English
+ ...
This is indeed a good question. Oct 16, 2014

I once found myself in a similar situation with an actual job, which turned out to be a back translation of a part of a certain US government's regulatory document that was previously translated into Ukrainian. While doing research online, I found the original document in English and immediately informed the client of it, giving them a link to the source. They pulled the plug on the project right away and thanked me profusely. Naturally, they paid me for what I had managed to complete prior to that moment. On another similar occasion, I found a marketing text for a dental office that I was translating already translated - badly - in a journal or some other online source. Once again, I told the client immediately, also commenting on my find's apparently inferior quality. They took a look, thanked me and asked me to continue. Sometimes the weirdest things happen.

I guess what I am trying to say is that now that you found this thing and you know, you need to tell them, and then the ball is in their court. If they are a decent company, this will only turn out to be a feather in your cap with them. If need be, they can always send you a different piece to translate. If, on the other hand, what you are to them is "yet another annoying candidate who failed that test," then maybe you'd do yourself a favor by finding this out early and not pursuing a potentially dehumanizing relationship further.

Whatever you decide, good luck to you.


Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:44
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Similar thread from before Oct 17, 2014



Natalia Nosenko
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:44
English to Russian
+ ...
Bottom line: Oct 17, 2014

Katalin, thank you for referring me to that thread.

Bottom line:
- I am not posting *my* test piece on the web (however, I decided that it would be OK to send it by email to a specific potential client - not the one that gave me the test),
- it would be appropriate to notify the agency of an identical test piece discovered online.


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

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

Test pieces in translator's online portfolio? Ethics, anyone?

Advanced search

Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »
Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »

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