sample (previous) translations or test translations when dealing with potential, new clients
Thread poster: Will Masters

Will Masters  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 6, 2011

Hi everyone. I know that similar questions have been posted on here before, and I've read through those threads, but I'm still not 100% clear on the answer to this question.

I have built up some experience doing a mix of both paid translations for different agencies, as well as translations for ONGs. Due to confidentiality, I make a point of telling any prospective clients that I do NOT provide examples of my work from previous clients. Rather, I say I have no problem what-so-ever in doing a sample translation of a couple of hundred words from a different text to see if they like my work.

Some agencies say that they are happy to do this, and have said that they understand completely and respect the fact I take confidentiality very seriously. Others, however, have said that it is unacceptable as far as they are concerned and are firm in the belief that if they ask to see a sample of translation then it should be provided regardless.

Based on your experiences, do you think I am going about this the right way (as generally I do not have written consent to divulge the works I have translated from the provider) or should I start getting consent so that I can provide future sample translations if/when requested?

Many thanks in advance for your advice


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
To trust or not to trust Nov 6, 2011

Will Masters wrote:

... I say I have no problem what-so-ever in doing a sample translation of a couple of hundred words from a different text to see if they like my work.

Some agencies say that they are happy to do this, and have said that they understand completely and respect the fact I take confidentiality very seriously. Others, however, have said that it is unacceptable as far as they are concerned and are firm in the belief that if they ask to see a sample of translation then it should be provided regardless.



I might have no problem with doing a sample text, but not providing work done for previous clients, or TMs or other data.

The very request would make me question their motives... which is not a promising start.


 

Hazel Underwood  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:37
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Copyright Nov 6, 2011

A lot of agencies these days ask you to sign some kind of NDA to refrain from disclosing any information passed between you and them to a third party, so you'd be breaking this by passing on your translations to another agency.

I agree, if the agency is not willing to accept you offering to do a test translation then they are not worth working for.

If you are keen to acquire more clients though, then maybe pick a few random texts from magazines or other publications and translate those to keep ready for such agencies.

Hope this helps!


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:37
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
You are going the right way! Nov 7, 2011

Will Masters wrote:
Others, however, have said that it is unacceptable as far as they are concerned and are firm in the belief that if they ask to see a sample of translation then it should be provided regardless.

You are going the right way: no sample texts from previous customers, and offering to do a translation test for them.

Now, something you might consider is to make some non-customer samples: grab some publicly available, non-confidential texts of your liking and translate them as future samples of your work. When asked for samples of your work, explicitly state that these are samples you translated from publicly available texts just for the purpose of being able to offer some samples, and that you never disclose other customers' materials. This way you satisfy the prospects requirement without violating anyone's privacy.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Weird for agencies, not so weird for direct clients Nov 7, 2011

Hazel Underwood wrote:
I agree, if the agency is not willing to accept you offering to do a test translation then they are not worth working for.


It is weird that an agency would not understand the concept of client confidentiality, but I can understand that a direct client (especially one that is new to translation) might be less sensitive about it.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:37
English to German
+ ...
Confidentiality vs. logic Nov 7, 2011

Let's compare the work of a translator to the work of an art director.
An art director is supposed to build up a top-notch portfolio of printed and published (!) work samples, otherwise he/she would never be able to land a job, neither as an employee nor as a freelancer, right? There is no such thing as a test drawing ("Please draw us a picture, 5" x 7", as an unpaid test"icon_smile.gif ), or a test layout, haha.
You may say that an art director does creative work and is the sole author and creator of his work. So is the translator. The translator is the sole author of the published text in this particular language variant. Neither the art director nor the translator own the copyrights to their work - copyrights are sold and gone as soon as the project has been paid or, if the art director is employed at an advertising agency, is property of this agency, until their end client has paid up.
So - why should a translator not keep a portfolio and use it for marketing purposes?
We tend to misread and to misinterpret our NDAs. Just as a translator would never include confidential texts in his portfolio, an art director would never include his terrific illustration of the latest and secret military aircraft.

The owner of a translation agency once told me: "Of course you can use your translation as a work sample - just don't forget: WE, the agency, have been your client, not NASA, FBI, Adobe, ..."

I don't hesitate to show off and market my work, but I will always name my client: the agency. After all, it's free advertising for them.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:37
English to German
+ ...
Addendum Nov 7, 2011

The clauses in an NDA are to prevent the translator from contacting the agency's clients directly ("Look, I wrote all those translations for you! I can offer the same services and quality for less if you bypass the agency and work with me directly!").
BTW, an art director's contract will always contain a clause that he/she will be sued for an amount of a quarter million, should the art director attempt to steal any of the agency's clients. Which of course is useless, because clients can choose their vendors as they desire.
NDAs are signed to protect your client, however, they are not meant to force a translator and his small business to start at square one each and every time and play Mr. or Ms. Anonymous whenever there is a new and prospective client in sight. This is our own invention and interpretation. Same goes for the famous and wildly popular discounts that, according to agencies, are supposedly "industry standard"...


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:37
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Sample source and target texts required? Nov 7, 2011

It sounds a good idea to have some "sample" translations available based on published texts in magazines, etc.
When sending a sample, to enable the recipient to check the quality of the translation, surely it would be necessary to send the source text too?
Has anyone been asked to do this, or done it?
Regards,
Jenny


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
On portfolios Nov 7, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:
An art director is supposed to build up a top-notch portfolio of printed and published (!) work samples, otherwise he/she would never be able to land a job, neither as an employee nor as a freelancer, right? There is no such thing as a test drawing ("Please draw us a picture, 5" x 7", as an unpaid test"), or a test layout.


Of course, if a translator can find printed and published samples of his own work, he can include it in his portfolio, but for many of us the distance between our work and the end-product is so long (and the interference from additional professionals e.g. editors so severe) that a portfolio of published works would not be a true representation of our skills.

Art people who haven't had much stuff published often create a portfolio of made-up work, to show what they can do, even if none of it has been published.

Neither the art director nor the translator own the copyrights to their work - copyrights are sold and gone as soon as the project has been paid or, if the art director is employed at an advertising agency, is property of this agency, until their end client has paid up.


What you write is not universal (different countries have different copyright laws). Still, I don't think it matters in the case of portfolios. It is a collection of materials, not a distributed literary or artisitic work. A portfolio is what I would consider fair usage (or fair use, in some countries). The issue is not copyright, however, but confidentiality.



[Edited at 2011-11-07 09:23 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Non-disclosure versus non-compete Nov 7, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:
The clauses in an NDA are to prevent the translator from contacting the agency's clients directly...


I think you're confusing an NDA with an NCA. Although many NDAs contain non-compete clauses, the NDA is specifically a "non-disclosure" agreement (that's what the "D" stands for).


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:37
English to German
+ ...
Yes. Nov 7, 2011

Jenny Forbes wrote:

It sounds a good idea to have some "sample" translations available based on published texts in magazines, etc.
When sending a sample, to enable the recipient to check the quality of the translation, surely it would be necessary to send the source text too?
Has anyone been asked to do this, or done it?
Regards,
Jenny


I send the originals of brochures, print ads and articles as PDF, together with the PDFs of my translated versions (which are visible to the rest of the world anyway). And the name of the outsourcer. Or the links to websites in both language variants. As a translator running a business you have to prove that your good work is being published.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:37
English to German
+ ...
No confusion Nov 7, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:

Nicole Schnell wrote:
The clauses in an NDA are to prevent the translator from contacting the agency's clients directly...


I think you're confusing an NDA with an NCA. Although many NDAs contain non-compete clauses, the NDA is specifically a "non-disclosure" agreement (that's what the "D" stands for).


Usually both aspects are combined in such NDAs. I am talking about finished and published products. How the translator got from point A to point B, by means of any internal reference texts or instructions by the client, remains strictly confidential.


 

gad
United States
Local time: 14:37
Member
French to English
Continue to respect privacy and confidentiality Nov 7, 2011

I work at a law firm, so of course I believe that you are going about this the right way. It is best not to disclose anything. For those agencies who think that is unacceptable, well in my opinion they are wrong. I don't like their attitude besides - just because they ask for it means you have to hand it over? Really? And you don't even know them yet? Very strange.

If you want to prepare sample translations for the future, take something off the Internet. That way it's already in the public domain. You also could conceivably redact a previous translation. If you do that, I would also suggest that you remove the metadata from that document - if it's not possible to remove the metadata, then paste unformatted to a new document, and that should do it.


 

Will Masters  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks for the comments. could I... Nov 7, 2011

Thank you all for your comments and general advice on this subject. I especially like the idea of having other already public text translations ready to be sent when requested, and will start having them lined up in the future.

I am strongly considering specialising in translations that are more of a legal nature. Would it be advisable to have a sample contract (the one I was presented with by my private ex-landlord in Spain) translated to show to prospective clients, should they want to see it or is that just best steered clear of? Obviously, specifics such as names, the address etc would be missed out in the translation.

Please feel free to add any other comments or thoughts about the topic if you have any. Thanks againicon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2011-11-07 20:46 GMT]


 


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