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Poll: Have you ever rejected an assignment on ethical grounds?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

Andreas Majetic  Identity Verified
Sweden
Member (2010)
English to Swedish
Yes Dec 23, 2011

I turned down a pretty big religious translation some month ago. Doesn't mix well with me, seeing as I'm a man of science.

 

Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:18
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
I would Dec 23, 2011

if I knew the agency involved was known to be scammers or if it were something completely against my principles: i.e. right wing views, religious/creationism, espousing hatred etc. However, none of my clients has offered me anything like that to date!

 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 18:18
English to Russian
+ ...
The worst job offer I've seen Dec 23, 2011

The worst job offer I had to decline was for a translation of project documentation for construction of a VIP hotel in a nature reserve. The project would wipe out a large part of a unique endangered forest biotope. Apparently, they found some corrupt officials to strip that area of its reserve status.
Judging by the rates I was offered, I wasn't the first to decline that job.


 

Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:18
Member (2009)
French to English
A bit of nuance Dec 23, 2011

I would reject some assignments on ethical grounds, although for the most part, I am not qualified as I know little about for example, weapons systems. However, several people have said that they would not translate the words of extremists or have "softened them" for an international audience. Isn't it important that the wider world, outside speakers of the original language, be aware that these viewpoints are being expounded?

 

Interlangue (X)
Angola
Local time: 18:18
English to French
+ ...
Re: Dec 23, 2011

Jenn Mercer wrote:

However, several people have said that they would not translate the words of extremists or have "softened them" for an international audience. Isn't it important that the wider world, outside speakers of the original language, be aware that these viewpoints are being expounded?


It is important to develop the critical sense of (more) people. In that sense, "monitors" of such behaviour are important: they know what to do with that sort of propaganda and manipulation.
As translators, we have to stick to the source text, without letting in our personal opinions.

I did not present wishes for Aid El Kebir, neither will I for Christmas.

Happy solstice celebrations everyone and enjoy life!


 
Yes Dec 23, 2011

Interlangue wrote:

As translators, we have to stick to the source text, without letting in our personal opinions.

I did not present wishes for Aid El Kebir, neither will I for Christmas.

Happy solstice celebrations everyone and enjoy life!


Yes we as a professional should stick to the source text, but also to our own moral obligation (in this case, "to my own"). If you feel like you have to alter and/or "soften" the content while translating, as for me that's a slap in the face onto my profession.
That's why I don't take certain jobs, and here's a short list of what I believe non-ethical (in avoidance of my definition of "unethical" which tends to be the outside of the scope of this discussion):
Adult website; certain political propaganda that could be misleading to general public; big pharma advertisements that well could be detrimental to people's health; and tatoo (for some reason many tatooist hopefuls seem to like Japanese characters for this senseless habit that has no social root).

By the way, do you guys and gals understand what Interlangue saying about solstice celebrations?
Indeed Jesus is nothing to do with this much bloated celebration whether it's overly commercialized or not.


[Edited at 2011-12-23 17:13 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-12-23 17:40 GMT]


 

Interlangue (X)
Angola
Local time: 18:18
English to French
+ ...
Re: Dec 23, 2011

humbird wrote:

Interlangue wrote:

As translators, we have to stick to the source text, without letting in our personal opinions.

I did not present wishes for Aid El Kebir, neither will I for Christmas.

Happy solstice celebrations everyone and enjoy life!


Yes we as a professional should stick to the source text, but also to our own moral obligation (in this case, "to my own"). If you feel like you have to alter and/or "soften" the content while translating, as for me that's a slap in the face onto my profession.
That's why I don't take certain jobs, and here's a short list of what I believe non-ethical (in avoidance of my definition of "unethical" which tends to be the outside of the scope of this discussion):
Adult website; certain political propaganda that could be misleading to general public; big pharma advertisements that well could be detrimental to people's health; and tatoo (for some reason many tatooist hopefuls seem to like Japanese characters for this senseless habit that has no social root).

By the way, do you guys and gals understand what Interlangue saying about solstice celebrations?
Indeed Jesus is nothing to do with this much bloated celebration whether it's overly commercialized or not.


[Edited at 2011-12-23 17:13 GMT]


My moral obligation in that case is to turn down the job! I do not consider I have a right to alter or soften the content.
Solstice (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/solstice) is just the shortest (in my part of the world and now, or longest in the other hemisphere) day of the year... In the Northern hemisphere, days are starting to get longer now! No religious connotation whatsoever, just a matter of nature!


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:18
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
Yes Dec 23, 2011

Yes, I once declined a job that I considered immoral by my personal standards.

 

Matthew Fisher (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:18
German to English
I would, but privately Dec 23, 2011

I do have objective criteria, which are accessible to rational discovery, for not participating in evil. However, it is not my policy to wear my political and other commitments on my professional sleeve. I don't think it's unprofessional of me to have such commitments, but to trumpet them would not make the world a better place. (N.B., this is not a criticism of those who have freely shared their own ethical criteria.)

On the other hand, I would translate a wide range of speech with
... See more
I do have objective criteria, which are accessible to rational discovery, for not participating in evil. However, it is not my policy to wear my political and other commitments on my professional sleeve. I don't think it's unprofessional of me to have such commitments, but to trumpet them would not make the world a better place. (N.B., this is not a criticism of those who have freely shared their own ethical criteria.)

On the other hand, I would translate a wide range of speech with which I disagree. The desire to suppress erroneous free speech is itself a bit of a trap. In free societies, the cat is out of the bag. It is regressive to give the bag new and different occupants according to a transitory form of conventional wisdom.
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Elena Novski  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:18
Russian to English
+ ...
I always try to be professional Dec 23, 2011

Teresa Borges wrote:

As a professional translator, I try to leave my causes, my biases, my likes and dislikes and my morality at a good distance from my translation desk

You can argue on what is ethical, and what is not. Let me put it down in another way, how professional you are.


 

Rasha El-Gabry  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:18
English to Arabic
+ ...
Would definitely turn down any content against my principles Dec 23, 2011

I believe working as a translator, one should commit to certain principles and is holding the resppnsibility for their work. Don't try to convince me that when translating a content promoting violence or sexual activity you are not accountable for increasing them. I am not just a tool of transferring a content from one language to another.
Still a translator should not be biased or show their vioepoint while translating, but this is a different story.

Happy new year and happy
... See more
I believe working as a translator, one should commit to certain principles and is holding the resppnsibility for their work. Don't try to convince me that when translating a content promoting violence or sexual activity you are not accountable for increasing them. I am not just a tool of transferring a content from one language to another.
Still a translator should not be biased or show their vioepoint while translating, but this is a different story.

Happy new year and happy holidays to you all !!
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Chun Un  Identity Verified
Macau
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Where to draw the line? Dec 24, 2011

Would you consider a Wall street financial report immoral? Or would you accept a translation job for an Apple advert promoting their expensive iPhone4 made cheaply by the near-slave labour in Shenzhen, China?

I am a technical translator specialising in biomedicine. And I do understand many pharmaceutical juggernauts are not as moral as I wish them to be.

Turn them down? I think not...

The only principle is the law of relativity if you know what I mean.... See more
Would you consider a Wall street financial report immoral? Or would you accept a translation job for an Apple advert promoting their expensive iPhone4 made cheaply by the near-slave labour in Shenzhen, China?

I am a technical translator specialising in biomedicine. And I do understand many pharmaceutical juggernauts are not as moral as I wish them to be.

Turn them down? I think not...

The only principle is the law of relativity if you know what I mean.

[Edited at 2011-12-24 01:31 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-12-24 03:36 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-12-24 03:36 GMT]
Collapse


 

Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 11:18
Spanish to English
Arms industry Dec 24, 2011

I refuse to translate for the arms industry.

 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sure, all the time Dec 24, 2011

When I am offered a rate that makes me think I'll earn more money flipping burgers. Those LSPs are behaving unethically.



 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
Winter Solstice celebration Dec 24, 2011

humbird wrote:

Interlangue wrote:

As translators, we have to stick to the source text, without letting in our personal opinions.

I did not present wishes for Aid El Kebir, neither will I for Christmas.

Happy solstice celebrations everyone and enjoy life!


Yes we as a professional should stick to the source text, but also to our own moral obligation (in this case, "to my own"). If you feel like you have to alter and/or "soften" the content while translating, as for me that's a slap in the face onto my profession.
That's why I don't take certain jobs, and here's a short list of what I believe non-ethical (in avoidance of my definition of "unethical" which tends to be the outside of the scope of this discussion):
Adult website; certain political propaganda that could be misleading to general public; big pharma advertisements that well could be detrimental to people's health; and tatoo (for some reason many tatooist hopefuls seem to like Japanese characters for this senseless habit that has no social root).

By the way, do you guys and gals understand what Interlangue saying about solstice celebrations?
Indeed Jesus is nothing to do with this much bloated celebration whether it's overly commercialized or not.


[Edited at 2011-12-23 17:13 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-12-23 17:40 GMT]


I agree with Interlangue. Being an atheist (or an antitheist, as The Hitch would have said), I don't celebrate any religious holidays. I do observe Xmas if I'm with family because they're Christians.

About tattoing, I respectfully disagree. Tattoos have been with humans for thousands of years. Whether you like tattoos or not is a whole another story.


 
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