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Poll: Do you convert the currency when translating?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 18:45
SITE STAFF
May 31, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you convert the currency when translating?".

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Milestone
Local time: 03:45
English to Arabic
Not my mission May 31, 2012

My clients do not ask me to do so, and I have to stick to my mission.

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Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:45
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
No May 31, 2012

The currency in my source texts is invariably euros, which is sufficiently international not to warrant conversion. Frequently the readership is not from one single country, so there would be little point in doing so anyway.

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Angus Stewart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:45
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
No, it is not my role as a translator to do so May 31, 2012

I never convert the currency when translating, as I consider that it is outwith my role as translator to do so. As a legal translator, I translate a lot of contracts. These contracts contain obligations to pay specific amounts, which require to be paid in a specific currency. Accordingly, if I were to convert the currency I would be meddling with the underlying legal relationship between the contracting parties and thereby providing an inaccurate translation.

Exchange rates have a tendency to fluctuate over time and currencies can even be devalued. Therefore it is vital to retain the original currency in the target text, since it is for the contracting parties to decide how to allocate this risk between themselves.


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Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:45
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
An option May 31, 2012

Angus Stewart wrote:

I never convert the currency when translating, as I consider that it is outwith my role as translator to do so. As a legal translator, I translate a lot of contracts. These contracts contain obligations to pay specific amounts, which require to be paid in a specific currency. Accordingly, if I were to convert the currency I would be meddling with the underlying legal relationship between the contracting parties and thereby providing an inaccurate translation.

Exchange rates have a tendency to fluctuate over time and currencies can even be devalued. Therefore it is vital to retain the original currency in the target text, since it is for the contracting parties to decide how to allocate this risk between themselves.


I totally agree with your approach for formal legal, financial, business texts etc. But take journalism, for instance; news reports on foreign countries often either just give the amount in the local currency or state the original amount in the foreign currency then provide a rough conversion in brackets.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
No May 31, 2012

That's up to the client. As Simon says, I might provide a rough conversion (usually in brackets) if they wanted me to...

[Edited at 2012-05-31 09:21 GMT]


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 10:45
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
No May 31, 2012

@Neilmac
Yes, I agree it's up the client for the simple reason that translators aren't accountants.

But, I will put parentheses in the document I deliver to the client accompanied by a comment to the effect that their bean-counters should fill in the necessary blanks, such as:

"Sales rose by 56.7 million yen ($xxx,xxx) or 6.8% over the previous term."

Edited small typo

[Edited at 2012-05-31 11:35 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:45
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Definitely! May 31, 2012

neilmac wrote:
That's up to the client.


The same applies to measurement units.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:45
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I think I preferred the question about pets May 31, 2012

As others have said, this isn't the role of the translator, unless specifically asked to do so. For the same reason, I would not provide conversion from the metric to imperial system, or vice versa.

What next? Our favorite fonts? Preferred spacing? To kern or not to kern? By all means, let's not leave any stone unturned in exploring the truly important issues that affect our lives as freelance translators.


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Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:45
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
sometimes May 31, 2012

It depends on the type of text. For anything sales related - no. For a more descriptive text - maybe. When I do 'translate' currency, I leave the original and add a converted one in brackets the first time. After that, the reader knows roughly how much (for example) a Brazilian real is in euros and I leave the currency as it is.

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Berna Bleeker
Local time: 03:45
Member (2011)
English to Dutch
Only if the client asks me to May 31, 2012

Title says it all.

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Oliver Lawrence  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:45
Italian to English
+ ...
No May 31, 2012

Because exchange rates vary on a daily basis. Who knows when someone might look at the translation at some point in the future? It could be years hence, when the conversion rate may have become very different. Currency isn't like metric/imperial conversions, which are always constant.

Querying with the client prior to delivery would be the best approach.


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Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 04:45
English to Russian
+ ...
If ordered May 31, 2012

Why "if ordered" is not on the list? I think, it is logical.

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Clara Chassany  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 04:45
Member (2012)
Finnish to French
+ ...
Depends of the context May 31, 2012

As said before, it is not my task as a translator, so I would do it only if the client would ask me to. Depending on the target audience, I might convert the currency of the target country and put it in brackets though.

[Edited at 2012-05-31 16:09 GMT]


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:45
Hebrew to English
Agree with Robert Forstag May 31, 2012

This is a non-issue.

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