Off topic: Things we translate
Thread poster: Ritu Bhanot

Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
May 21, 2006

I received a profile mail asking for translation of smsicon_wink.gif

Of course I did it free of cost but this set me thinking of the sort of things we are asked to translate and how this reflects the need to end these frontiers... political boundaries which are so meaninglessicon_smile.gif

And some things that we translate inspite of ourselves. One of the first assignments that I had, while I was at the university, was translation of divorce documents. And I hated it 'coz it was evident that the man in question was trying to deceive his wife and he had this whole set of papers...

I didn't want to translate it... but all my classmates told me that if I didn't someone else wouldicon_frown.gif which is true... so I did it but refused to certify it or help him get it certified. Never said anything to the client but...

And now it is my policy not to translate anything like that... so I don't translate that sort of thing... and have received umpteen assignments for translating love lettersicon_wink.gif and I've translated lots of messages including love-letters by gays!!!

All I can say is, at least I don't feel that I'm cheating someone!!! Or Helping someone cheat on someone else.

Of course, I do translate serious general/ technical stuff as well as product-details of beauty products... yet...

What are other such "interesting" things that we translate?


Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:22
Swedish to English
+ ...
Drunk driver May 21, 2006

Of one of my earliest translations, and most interesting, was a police report about a drunken driver. The unusual thing was that he was an airline pilot, and was arrested in the cockpit of his plane shortly before takeoff.


chopra_2002  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:52
Member (2008)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Text full of abuses May 21, 2006

I remember once I had to translate the transcribed text which contained a number of abuses. Since it was required for the purpose of insvestigation, the transcriptionist was forced to incorporate those abuses and I had also to translate them!


Irene N
United States
Local time: 18:22
English to Russian
+ ...
Well... May 21, 2006

didn't want to translate it... but all my classmates told me that if I didn't someone else would which is true... so I did it but refused to certify it or help him get it certified. Never said anything to the client but...

Are you the judge and the jury? One example - sexual harrassment is a horrble thing that caused women a lot of pain, yet... Have you ever met oh so poor unfortunate girls claiming brutal sexual harrassment and having a girl's talk elsewhere that this is the best way to get the guy fired (out of revenge for not getting him laid, as the truth might be) and/or fix credit card problems when working in corporate environment? I have.

Triple professional misconduct - pouring attitude on the end customer, making money on translation and not completing the assignment (denial of certification), and not informing the client. Translation is one profession, social worker - another, Caring friend and fellow wife - yet another. Sorry, does not sound right to me.


Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
First Time I heard that one May 21, 2006

Is it really true?


Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 02:22
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
An interesting case May 21, 2006

Personally, I haven't been in a sticky situation like yours, but here's an intriguing real-world ethical problem.

A while ago there was a translation customer here on ProZ (maybe still is) who requested translation of his wife/fiance's personal letters (NOT addressed to him) from Russian into English. How he got hold of these letters is unknown to me. Once he posted the whole text of the letter in the job posting. The content of her letters indicated that either she knew he wasn't able to read Russian or, perhaps, never thought he could intercept her messages. Thus, it's likely that he was spying on his fiance.

So, do you think it's ethical to
1) translate this kind of stuff
2) offer it up for translation



olivier saint germes
Local time: 01:22
Spanish to French
+ ...
my best translation May 22, 2006

It was a user's guide on " how to enjoy a good Huelva's cured ham" (jamón curado de Huelva).
I learned a lot about pigs and take 2 kilos in one week (I was always hungry!)


Jo-Hanna Goettsche  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:22
English to Spanish
Unethical to open other people's mail, period! May 22, 2006

Let's forget for a second that opening others' mail is illegal. Afterall, it is somewhat plausible (I have my doubts) the guy opened them by mistake. However, the notion of him posting the contents on the WWW without the fiancee/wife's knowledge or consent makes me sick.

As far as to whether it would be ethical to translate, all I can say is that I would not want to get in the middle of this situation.


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