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Do You Translate Texts (For Clients) That Have An Agenda/Bias That You Don't Personally Agree With?
Thread poster: Barbara Cochran, MFA

Barbara Cochran, MFA  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oct 21

Why or why not?

 

Jan Truper  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:53
Member (2016)
English to German
No Oct 21

I categorically do not work for companies in the fossil fuel, airline and tobacco industries, as well as a few others.

Why not? Because they are destroying the planet we live on and I don't want to waste my life supporting evil.

[Edited at 2020-10-21 06:55 GMT]


Tom in London
Teresa Borges
P.L.F.Persio
Kay Denney
Yolanda Broad
Eric Azevedo
Katya Kesten
 

Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:53
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
No Oct 21

I specialize in marketing texts, so I have to believe in the products I'm (co-)promoting for my work to be convincing and believable as well. It may be different for other types of specializations.

Yolanda Broad
Katya Kesten
Eliza Hall
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes Oct 21

I remember way back at the beginning of my career when I was ghost-writing this book called Mein Kampf for a German client that the flavour of the guy’s politics was a bit off, but I told myself, you’re a professional, Siegfried, there’s no place for personal sentiment here, it’s a free country and if you don’t do it, someone else will.

If we want to make a stand, I suspect we will make a greater difference by not using fossil fuels and not gassing people.


Mervyn Henderson
P.L.F.Persio
expressisverbis
marijaflora
Liviu-Lee Roth
Robert Rietvelt
Felipe Lacerda
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:53
Member (2008)
Italian to English
My refusals Oct 21

As a translator I have refused to translate a market research questionnaire about peoples' smoking preferences.
There is a particular country with which I would not work in any capacity. Don't ask what country because I won't tell you.
When I was an employed architect I was once asked to work on the design for a prison, but after a couple of days I couldn't take it any more. I asked my boss to put me on something else, but he fired me. 20 years later I still think I did the right thi
... See more
As a translator I have refused to translate a market research questionnaire about peoples' smoking preferences.
There is a particular country with which I would not work in any capacity. Don't ask what country because I won't tell you.
When I was an employed architect I was once asked to work on the design for a prison, but after a couple of days I couldn't take it any more. I asked my boss to put me on something else, but he fired me. 20 years later I still think I did the right thing.
That aside, I often translate commercial/sales documents at which I would probably look askance, but which I wouldn't regard as particularly harmful.
I would not translate anything that uses the term "Life Sciences" as a disguise for experimenting on animals (and there's a lot of that going on at the moment because of Covid-19).



[Edited at 2020-10-21 09:40 GMT]
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P.L.F.Persio
Chris S
Zibow Retailleau
Yolanda Broad
Eric Azevedo
Katya Kesten
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:53
Member (2018)
French to English
. Oct 21

I refused work on a fortune-telling website. I did some work on it, and I worked in a spirit of "this is codswallop but good for a laugh" but then I got a set of emails to be translated, with far too much in common with the Nigerian prince scams for my personal comfort. I refused, saying that even if you had to be stupid to fall for such scams, I wanted no part of it.

Once I didn't refuse to translate a letter for a big chemicals firm, in which they very cynically set out their gre
... See more
I refused work on a fortune-telling website. I did some work on it, and I worked in a spirit of "this is codswallop but good for a laugh" but then I got a set of emails to be translated, with far too much in common with the Nigerian prince scams for my personal comfort. I refused, saying that even if you had to be stupid to fall for such scams, I wanted no part of it.

Once I didn't refuse to translate a letter for a big chemicals firm, in which they very cynically set out their greenwashing strategy to foist GMOs on the market. It gave me a migraine.
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Tom in London
Chris S
Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Zibow Retailleau
marijaflora
Yolanda Broad
P.L.F.Persio
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Well, that apostrophe’s cheered me up a bit after a trip to the dentist Oct 21

Tom in London wrote:
peoples' smoking preferences

I admire your stance against such blatant racism.


There is a particular country with which I would not work in any capacity. Don't ask what country because I won't tell you.

Oh, you tease. We’ll just have to assume it’s Belgium then. Is it a waffle thing? Or their appalling record on human rights? Or did a young lady or gentleman from those parts break your heart during the War?


P.L.F.Persio
 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 00:53
Member (2016)
English to German
Basically, yes Oct 21

I don't study the agenda or bias of all end clients I work for before starting the work. There are probably a lot of things I disagree on. For example, many businesses sell products that don't make the world better, like curling irons, videogames, or derivative investments, so that these are essentially a waste of money and resources, particularly the curling irons. But I might be biased myself since my hairstyle is not very fit for curls. In most cases, I don't believe I know better than the cl... See more
I don't study the agenda or bias of all end clients I work for before starting the work. There are probably a lot of things I disagree on. For example, many businesses sell products that don't make the world better, like curling irons, videogames, or derivative investments, so that these are essentially a waste of money and resources, particularly the curling irons. But I might be biased myself since my hairstyle is not very fit for curls. In most cases, I don't believe I know better than the client and I translate their product descriptions and sales pitches anyway.

I draw the line when it seems that the client tries to defraud anyone by giving false information. For example, I don't translate messages that could be used as spam messages or scam attempts, and my translation could lend more credibility to these scams with the target audience.
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P.L.F.Persio
 

Zibow Retailleau  Identity Verified
Mauritius
Local time: 03:53
Member (2019)
English to Chinese
+ ...
No Oct 21

Back in China, I had an interview with a 'dating agency'. As the interview progressed, I realised what the 'translators' of that company were doing. They were writing highly suggestive emails on behalf of some Chinese women who could barely speak English, if at all, but who wanted a 'romantic relationship' with a foreign (read: white) man. The salary was based on how many virtual gifts the 'translators' could lure these men into buying.

No, thanks.


marijaflora
Eric Azevedo
P.L.F.Persio
Mervyn Henderson
 

Nurettin Ceylan
Turkey
Local time: 02:53
Member (2009)
English to Turkish
Part of professional life. Oct 21

I don't have to agree with every material I translate.

expressisverbis
Liviu-Lee Roth
Robert Rietvelt
IT>EN Legal
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:53
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Yes and no Oct 21

I think I started in-house with translations of the speeches of a leader of a Danish women's trade union. She had an impressive way of putting things, and it was a real challenge to render her thoughts and opinions into English that would sound just as good when she stood up up and read it out at international conventions.
I did not agree with everything she said, but I respected her, and she was definitely entitled to her opinions. I translated a couple more of her speeches as a freelance
... See more
I think I started in-house with translations of the speeches of a leader of a Danish women's trade union. She had an impressive way of putting things, and it was a real challenge to render her thoughts and opinions into English that would sound just as good when she stood up up and read it out at international conventions.
I did not agree with everything she said, but I respected her, and she was definitely entitled to her opinions. I translated a couple more of her speeches as a freelancer.

I have turned down horoscopes and 'alternative' medical texts. I simply do not believe in them, and I do not want to be associated with spreading them.

There are other types of material that would be against my principles if they came my way, but it depends a little on the circumstances. I have not always agreed with all the evidence I have translated for court cases, but for that purpose, I could see it was necessary.

I have translated some quite horrifying newspaper articles, one bunch as recently as this year, and I did not always agree with all the points of view put forward, but as part of the discussion, and in context, I felt they were important.



[Edited at 2020-10-22 09:32 GMT]
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Katya Kesten
 

William Tierney  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:53
Member (2002)
Arabic to English
You take it or you don't Oct 21

I examine the document and either take it or I don't. There have been a few I turned down because I could not be a party to the content. If I take the job, I give it my all. It is either one way or the other. I don't take a job for something I don't agree with, then do less than the best. This isn't translation; its sabotage. Better to just steer clear.

 

marijaflora
Australia
Local time: 10:53
Member (Nov 2020)
Bosnian to English
+ ...
Better you then somebody else Oct 21

@Tominlondon

"When I was an employed architect I was once asked to work on the design for a prison, but after a couple of days I couldn't take it any more."

but why not use your humane personality to come up with a prison architecture designed "space" that is innovative and creates change is the system and in inmates?
If not you, then someone else would just do it and will just make it uninspiring, functional and sad etc...


 

Zakaria abdelslam
Oman
Local time: 03:53
English to Arabic
+ ...
No Oct 21

Although the translator should maintain neutral position, but I avoid to translate some texts or topics which are contradict with my norms or believes.

 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apostrophe's Oct 21

Chris, that one's possible, I think. You have to admit the thoroughly unlikely scenario of the smoking preferences of the peoples of Europe or the peoples of Africa, for example.

So let's give him the Benefit Of The Doubt, as he Always Does For U's. ... Holy moly, it's contagious.


Chris S
P.L.F.Persio
 
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Do You Translate Texts (For Clients) That Have An Agenda/Bias That You Don't Personally Agree With?

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