Translating outside working fields
Thread poster: Jenny Nilsson

Jenny Nilsson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 22:34
English to Swedish
Aug 2, 2015

I have been offered a project in the industrial field. The project manager knows it is not a specialty of mine and don't seem to care. I wouldn't mind translating it, I am only a little nervous about accuracy when it comes to a subject like this where safety is crucial.

Is it ethical to take this job even though the manager has given the go ahead?

I should mention I am happy to get a job at all. English-Swedish seems to be very saturated.


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Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:34
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
It's your job to decide Aug 2, 2015

Are you confident that you can do a good job? It's your responsibility to make this decision, even if the project manager doesn't seem to care (he/she will care if you make a mess of it!)

If you know in your heart that this is outside your expertise you have to say no to it. Not knowing what your fields are, and how far outside them this is, it's hard to give you any better advice than that.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 22:34
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Most clients respect you for telling them a job is outside your field Aug 2, 2015

It depends a lot on what type of job it is, and only you can decide whether it is really beyond your scope, or whether with some research you could probably do it anyway.

While it is a very good exercise to extend your limits gradually, you are right to be cautious, and there will be trouble if you are really out of your depth.

My experience of Swedish clients is that they respect you for knowing your limitations, and will come back with something more in your field if you are honest with them. But once you make a serious mistake, they may also remember that and will avoid you. It is definitely better to err on the side of caution in a saturated market like that.

I know, because I am very picky about Swedish and turn down anything I am not confident about myself. It pays - clients are satisfied with whatever I do take on, and remember me if they have anything to be translated from Danish, which is my main source language.

Best of luck!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:34
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Pay a proofreader? Aug 2, 2015

That would be the safe way to go. But the extra time you'll need for term searches plus the proofreader's fee may put it outside your client's budget and/or be unprofitable for you.

BTW, I think that one negative aspect of a job is enough. In other words, if you do go outside your comfort zone, make sure that the rate is good, you have plenty of time, the client has a good track record, there aren't complicated formatting issues...

[Edited at 2015-08-02 13:21 GMT]


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Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 21:34
Japanese to English
Ask for a sample Aug 2, 2015

How about asking for a sample of the text before making a decision? "Industrial" might be referring to a survey of what factory employees think of their new cafeteria, for example. Take a look before you turn it down.

[Edited at 2015-08-02 22:12 GMT]


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:34
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Internet Aug 2, 2015

If you have seen the whole document (not just a sample) and decided that you can handle it, make extensive use of the internet. Read lots of websites and learn as much about the topic as you can. Bookmark the pages that are useful because you may need them further down in the document. You can learn anything on the internet from making jewelry to making bombs.

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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 03:04
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Evaluate the sample Aug 3, 2015

Most of us routinely translate beyond our "specialities", mainly because often there are not sufficient jobs in our specialities to keep us busy, or the wolf off our doors, all the time. For example, one of my "speciality" is poetry and fiction, but I don't recall having done a translation in this speciality for several years now.

So don't lose sleep over translating into your non-speciality. Eventually, if you do enough translation in this new area, it can become one of your speciality areas.

But, at the same time, you should not turn in a shoddy or inaccurate translation. I would suggest that you first evaluate the source text to see if you can fully understand it, and whether you can accurately translate it, and if you find that you can indeed do so, you should go ahead.

But, if it the text is too esoteric and you are hardly able to understand it, then of course you should decline it.

Most "industrial" text are straightforward and don't involve too much jargon or difficult scientific concepts - for example training manuals for workers, general safety related documents such as first aid, etc., which are consciously written in simple language. These any translator can translate. But if the text describes complex machine parts, or processes, which require some engineering or chemistry knowledge to understand or translate, then you should not take up these translations.

[Edited at 2015-08-03 03:51 GMT]


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 22:34
Danish to English
+ ...
Ask if the client can provide an expert contact Aug 3, 2015

Quite often, where English is involved, the client may have someone who could act as an expert and help you clarify any doubts.

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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:34
Member
Italian to English
YOU are the one putting yourself out there Aug 3, 2015

Remember that in situations like these, YOU are the one putting yourself out there. While you say your manager knows it is not your speciality but doesn't seem to care, you and he may have understood two very different things by this. If you run into serious problems, you risk not being paid, or that the job turns into a nightmare you may spend a long time regretting.

That said, technical translations vary enormously in their complexity; I would ask to see the text, and it may well be within your comfort zone. If it is not, however, I would advise turning it down - in my experience customers respect you for doing so, it shows a professional attitude. And it leaves you free to do what you are best at.


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 21:34
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Make sure the PM does know Aug 3, 2015

From the initial post, it is not fully clear how exactly the PM knows it's beyond yoyr expertise. Have told it clearly or assumed it for it is in your CV?
I work in a language combination where the existing translators are far too scarce to specialize in one field only, so we get all kinds of projects. It happens that I keep myself away from medical translations but accidents, illnesses, etc. happen and then our help is needed. I clearly tell please find someone else and whenever someone else is not available, I ask whether the translation i sgoing to be checked on the target end. Or read, for that matter, by someone with a hint about medical terms.
Hiring a proofreader is not the translator's responsibility in these cases.


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Jenny Nilsson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 22:34
English to Swedish
TOPIC STARTER
I took the job Aug 3, 2015

Thanks for your input.

I have been very honest with the project manager, which he appreciated, but he wants me to do my best with the job. Which I will. I have started working on the doc and it's not too straightforward. It is about the tool and its processes. But since I found the (English + Swedish) manual for the same kind of tool, I can use that as reference. I am looking up A LOT terms in there.

It's going well ... I hope.


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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:34
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Rates Aug 4, 2015

J.N wrote:

I should mention I am happy to get a job at all. English-Swedish seems to be very saturated.


Maybe clients look at your profile and find your rates too high (0.90 EUR per word). Maybe you meant 0.09 EUR per word?


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:34
French to German
+ ...
For me it's no Aug 4, 2015

I would not do it.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 22:34
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The standard on this site is EUR 0.12 per word for English to Swedish Aug 4, 2015

Michele Fauble wrote:

J.N wrote:

I should mention I am happy to get a job at all. English-Swedish seems to be very saturated.


Maybe clients look at your profile and find your rates too high (0.90 EUR per word). Maybe you meant 0.09 EUR per word?


You can check average rates here:
http://search.proz.com/employers/rates

Those rates are probably not too high, and it's up to you, but maybe Michele has a point.


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Translating outside working fields

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