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Technically challenging test translation
Thread poster: Marion Plath

Marion Plath  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:37
Member (2013)
English to German
+ ...
Nov 8, 2013

Hi,

I received a very confusing test translation from an agency. They sent me a folder including an analysis file, ini file, ttx files to translate, reference files and a TM export which I should access via an ftp server, they provided me a temporary password.

Am I naive to expect only a Word or Excel doc when I am asked for a test translation?
To be honest, I don't really understand what I am expected to do. What is the analysis file and ini file for? I am supposed to implement the ini file into Trados, so I tried to open this file with Trados but it didn't work. I know how to use Trados for translation and how to export/import a TM but I am not a technical whiz to be honest. I am good with languages, this is why I am a translator.

Can anyone shed some light on this? Did you ever get test translations like that? It seems to be more a test of my IT skills than my language skills. Should I ask them to explain something they seem to take for granted? Sorry if this is a stupid question, but I am a bit confused to get such a kind of test.

Thank you.


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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:37
Member (2009)
English to Russian
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Ask the agency. Nov 8, 2013

Don't be afraid to sound silly or nonprofessional: always ask when in doubt. I think in this case the agency wanted to re-create a real project assignment as precise as possible. If this is their standard procedure in dealing with real projects, they probably want to check whether you are able to handle all these files (and instructions - which is of crucial importance).
How many words are there in the test?

[Редактировалось 2013-11-08 17:21 GMT]


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:37
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
*.ini files Nov 8, 2013

The *.ini file contains customer-specific tag settings. You activate it in TagEditor with Tools>Tag Settings>Open>[browse to your ini file].

Then try to open your ttx files.


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Marion Plath  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:37
Member (2013)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not a short test either Nov 8, 2013

Thanks Natalia,
the test is 500 words. When I read this, I wrote back, telling them that 500 is quite lengthy, and if they could reduce the test to approx. 300 words and I received the answer that it is their standard length and 200 words would be matches. So I accepted, but I didn't know that I would get all these files. Maybe it's not so bad once you know the procedure but I feel quite frustrated at the moment...


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:37
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Have you offered Trados? Nov 8, 2013

In your previous discussions with them, or on your CV, do you offer to do Trados-based work? This is clearly what they expect, from the files they have sent you. It's best that you clarify this with them right now, before starting the text.

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Marion Plath  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:37
Member (2013)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
ini files Nov 8, 2013

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:

The *.ini file contains customer-specific tag settings. You activate it in TagEditor with Tools>Tag Settings>Open>[browse to your ini file].

Then try to open your ttx files.



Thanks Rudolf. I will give it a try.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
If you truly know how to handle these files... Nov 8, 2013

Marion Plath wrote:
I received a very confusing test translation from an agency. They sent me a folder including an analysis file, ini file, ttx files to translate, reference files and a TM export which I should access via an ftp server, they provided me a temporary password. ... Am I naive to expect only a Word or Excel doc when I am asked for a test translation?


Naive is perhaps a little strong, but there is nothing wrong with what they sent you. If you truly know how to handle these files, then it shouldn't be a problem, right? But if you don't know what to do with all these files, then this is a good time to confess that to the client, and tell him that you can only provide translations in other formats and not in this format.

What is the analysis file and ini file for? I am supposed to implement the ini file into Trados, so I tried to open this file with Trados but it didn't work. I know how to use Trados for translation and how to export/import a TM but...


But... do you have Trados 2007 or Trados 2009/11/14? Because it sounds to me like the client had sent you Trados 2007 files that should be opened in Trados 2007.

If you only have Trados 2009/11/14, but you claim to be able to handle TTX files in it, then this is the time to put your money where you mouth is (and I mean this in the kindest of terms). Or, post a request in the Trados forum, for they are the ones claiming that you should be able to do this.

If you do have Trados 2007, then this is what you must do:

1. Double-click the TM. That will cause it to open in Workbench.
2. In Workbench, go to Options > Translation Memory Options > Tools, and click the "Tag Settings" button. This will open the screen in which you should select the INI file.
3. Run TagEditor, and open the TTX file in it (or: double-click the TTX file, which will cause it to open in TagEditor).
4. Translate the file in TagEditor, then save it, and send it back to the client, and optionally send the TM back to the client as well (it will have been updated with your translation).
5. Do not send the INI file back to the client, and do not send the analysis file either, unless the client had asked you to generate a new analysis, which you can do in Workbench, but I've never had a Trados 2007 client ask me to do that.

Can anyone shed some light on this? Did you ever get test translations like that? It seems to be more a test of my IT skills than my language skills.


I often receive test translations in CAT formats, if I have indicated to the client that I'm able to deliver work in that format. It is not a test of your IT skills, but a test to see if you can do a good translation *and* deliver it in the format that the client requires.

Should I ask them to explain something they seem to take for granted? Sorry if this is a stupid question, but I am a bit confused to get such a kind of test.


Well, I concur with Natalia -- tell the agency that you don't know what to do with these files. That will give the agency the opportunity to decide what to do. It may be that they don't mind sending you the files in another format. It may be that they're so used to sending out Trados files that they did not even think about it when they sent you the test file.

They will not respect you any less if you admit that you have no idea what to do with the files. But you must inform them (unless you think you can successfully google for it).

Samuel


[Edited at 2013-11-08 18:48 GMT]


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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:37
Member (2009)
English to Russian
+ ...
Another thing to do before you proceed is... Nov 8, 2013

Check the agency's Blueboard record (if any) to make sure they are not asking for a free translation pretending it's a test. Also, 200 words as matches are still words you need to deal with. It's up to you whether to accept the entire test or to offer them 50% of translation (well, that's just an idea to consider). And make sure they know your rates (and your Trados discounts, if any), because sometimes agency's rates are too low to even start a test.
Good luck!


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Shai Navé  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 09:37
Member
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Some red flags Nov 8, 2013

While not conclusive, this whole scenario has some tell-tale signs of trying to score free work under a false pretense.

I would suggest refusing this alleged test. Even if it is a test, a rule-of-thumb is that the amount of paperwork and other hoops a client (especially agency client) tries to get you going through just for the "privilege" of maybe working with them is in inverse correlation to the quality of relationships and the amount of actual business that you will do with them. In other words, this whole thing is probably a waste of time on your part.

Also, their dictating tone and refusal to negotiate by stating their "standards" tells a lot about what you can expect in the future: they dictating the terms and you accepting or rejecting them, no room for professional negotiation and considerations. This is usually typical to brokers who don't value your services and tend to chose their business partners by obedience rather than merit, and this type of clients become an anchor on your career development.

I strongly advise to avoid such an alleged low-tier broker and focus your efforts on potential clients that deserve and worth your time.

[Edited at 2013-11-08 17:47 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't worry Nov 8, 2013

Although I have been working full-time as a translator now for at least 15 years, I don't use Trados and would be just as baffled if any agency or other potential client sent me anything like what you describe. I don't even know what an ini.file is either, even after reading Rudolf’s explanation, but since I don’t use the big T and am never likely to, it’s just another detail that I don’t need to know right now.

My advice is not to worry about it too much - AFAIK there is plenty of work going in your pair without having to jump through these dispiriting hoops.


PS: I should add that I have translated several texts containing the term "ini.file", but have never bothered to find out what it actually is or does


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Marion Plath  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:37
Member (2013)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Legitimate agency Nov 8, 2013

@Samuel, @Tomás
I have Trados 2009 Freelance; I used Trados 2009 already when I was an in-house translator but it seems we worked in a different way than this agency expects me to. I didn't claim to be able to handle certain files. I found their instructions a bit insufficient but I guess that's part of their test.

@Natalia, @Shai
Thank you for the warning. I made sure that it is a legitimate agency before I applied, so I don't think they are doing this to score free work. The job is a permanent project, so I can understand that they want to make sure they have the right person. But still, it's a lot of effort and invested time on my side, almost like an employee job application. I sent them a personalised application letter (I stated my rates there), my CV, even copies of my certificates, filled in their application form and at the end of it all they come up with a simulated "real project" test. I'm actually wondering if anyone apart from me is still left at this stage of their "selection process". Thanks Shai, I am still on the lookout for good clients, the way there is quite bumpy...


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:37
English to German
+ ...
treat everything like a real project, not a test, and avoid issues Nov 8, 2013

Marion Plath wrote:

Hi,

I received a very confusing test translation from an agency. They sent me a folder including an analysis file, ini file, ttx files to translate, reference files and a TM export which I should access via an ftp server, they provided me a temporary password.

Am I naive to expect only a Word or Excel doc when I am asked for a test translation?
To be honest, I don't really understand what I am expected to do. What is the analysis file and ini file for? I am supposed to implement the ini file into Trados, so I tried to open this file with Trados but it didn't work. I know how to use Trados for translation and how to export/import a TM but I am not a technical whiz to be honest. I am good with languages, this is why I am a translator.

Can anyone shed some light on this? Did you ever get test translations like that? It seems to be more a test of my IT skills than my language skills. Should I ask them to explain something they seem to take for granted? Sorry if this is a stupid question, but I am a bit confused to get such a kind of test.



Thank you.




I never did a test like that. Is this paid for or are you supposed to do this for free?
I no longer do free test translations, and paid test translations are just as any other projects and I suggest treating them like that, incl. telling them what you expect THEM to pay for it or refuse their offer if it is way below what you expect/deserve to earn. You said it is a "technically challenging" project - I would never do any challenging test/project for free or for cheap. You set yourself up to be treated like that again and again.

Also, if there are technical issues or questions you have, they need to be addressed by them.
I work in Trados 2009, and I accept projects/packages that can be easily opened. Don't take anything on that remains unclear to you.

Did you research the company? What will they be able to offer you IF you "win" the test translation competition? Are they aware of the rates you expect? Are they on blueboard? If they are already confusing you, chances are, it won't get better.
The bigger the test and the more they demand (and I assume it's unpaid), the less professional they are - my opinion.

Take care!

B

[Edited at 2013-11-08 19:34 GMT]


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Marion Plath  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:37
Member (2013)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
There is hope! :-) Nov 8, 2013

neilmac wrote:

Although I have been working full-time as a translator now for at least 15 years, I don't use Trados and would be just as baffled if any agency or other potential client sent me anything like what you describe. I don't even know what an ini.file is either, even after reading Rudolf’s explanation, but since I don’t use the big T and am never likely to, it’s just another detail that I don’t need to know right now.

My advice is not to worry about it too much - AFAIK there is plenty of work going in your pair without having to jump through these dispiriting hoops.


PS: I should add that I have translated several texts containing the term "ini.file", but have never bothered to find out what it actually is or does


I love your answer! Seriously, it is good to know that not the whole translation industry is overly technologised. Trados can be useful if you translate texts with lots of repetitions, but to me it is just a tool and certainly only that and not more. For a lot of texts, it is rather useless though. It can cause problems for translators that were not there before its existence.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:37
English to German
+ ...
legitimate agency? permanent work? Nov 8, 2013

I see you addressed a few things already. But let me say a few more things.

Marion Plath wrote:

@Samuel, @Tomás
I have Trados 2009 Freelance; I used Trados 2009 already when I was an in-house translator but it seems we worked in a different way than this agency expects me to. I didn't claim to be able to handle certain files. I found their instructions a bit insufficient but I guess that's part of their test.

Imagine this is a real project. Are you going to solve the technical issues all by yourself, even though the instructions are shaky to you? Clear and easy instructions are a must to accept any job.


Marion Plath wrote:
@Natalia, @Shai
Thank you for the warning. I made sure that it is a legitimate agency before I applied, so I don't think they are doing this to score free work. The job is a permanent project, so I can understand that they want to make sure they have the right person. But still, it's a lot of effort and invested time on my side, almost like an employee job application. I sent them a personalised application letter (I stated my rates there), my CV, even copies of my certificates, filled in their application form and at the end of it all they come up with a simulated "real project" test. I'm actually wondering if anyone apart from me is still left at this stage of their "selection process". Thanks Shai, I am still on the lookout for good clients, the way there is quite bumpy...


There are myriads of agencies out there you might call "legitimate" but they might be exploiting translators (especially new ones) anyway by paying unacceptably low rates, paying them late, and expecting arbitrary CAT tool discounts. Only when you get to the point where they owe you money, you'll find out how "legitimate" they really are (minus those that ask for your best rates and promise permanent work from the beginning). Not saying there aren't any good agencies out there that I would consider legitimate.

You say you sent them your rates. Did they reply that these rates would be acceptable?
Of course, I don't know what rates you suggested, but if they are lower than the average rates posted on Proz.com (see link below), then you are not being paid adequately - no matter how many millions of words they will have for you. That's another trick in some agencies' books to promise you continuous projects and expect you to work for low rates.
Keep in mind that there are never any guarantees, especially from agencies that look for the cheapest way to get a relatively good or even excellent service from translators.

You said you filled out an application. Sounds to me they already have the upper hand. I assume you read everything carefully. But they will not be abiding by your terms, but you by theirs.

I know it's hard to get good clients, but it's not worth getting ripped off.
Don't waste your mind.

http://search.proz.com/employers/rates

[Edited at 2013-11-08 22:49 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Marion Nov 8, 2013

Marion Plath wrote:
I have Trados 2009 Freelance; I used Trados 2009 already when I was an in-house translator but it seems we worked in a different way than this agency expects me to.


Okay, well, the client sent you Trados 2007 files, and although the Trados developers claim that you can handle Trados 2007 files in Trados 2009, it is not a simple affair. I googled a bit and found a guide that might help you, but I could not download it myself because the web site does not work in my browser.

I didn't claim to be able to handle certain files. I found their instructions a bit insufficient but I guess that's part of their test.


It may be that they're so used to working with translators who know what the instructions mean that they did not realise that you need more instructions than the other translators. Do not be so quick to assume that they're acting in bad faith. Who knows... maybe they're willing to provide the files in a different format, or willing to show you how to open it in your program.

Did you claim that you have Trados? If so, did you specify the version number? But hey, perhaps their PM is ignorant of the fact that Trados 2007 is outdated...

...and at the end of it all they come up with a simulated "real project" test. I'm actually wondering if anyone apart from me is still left at this stage of their "selection process".


FWIW, the test would not have scared me off.

Seriously, it is good to know that not the whole translation industry is overly technologised. Trados can be useful if you translate texts with lots of repetitions, but to me it is just a tool and certainly only that and not more.


You could say the same thing about MS Word. After all, why can't the client judge your translation skills in Notepad, or in a handwritten translation written on bond paper?

Marion Plath wrote:
Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:
The *.ini file contains customer-specific tag settings. You activate it in TagEditor with Tools>Tag Settings>Open>[browse to your ini file]. Then try to open your ttx files.

Thanks Rudolf. I will give it a try.


I'm afraid that you can't "give it a try" because Rudolf's instructions are for Trados 2007 (i.e. TagEditor) and not for Trados 2009.



[Edited at 2013-11-08 19:05 GMT]


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