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Poll: Have you ever turned down a translation project for either moral or ethical reasons?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 10:56
SITE STAFF
Mar 28, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever turned down a translation project for either moral or ethical reasons?".

This poll was originally submitted by Laura Bennett. View the poll results »



 

ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:56
Member
German to English
+ ...
pyramid scheme Mar 28, 2013

I started doing a translation once and didn't realise until halfway through that it was a pyramid scheme. As I had already accepted the order, I couldn't say I wouldn't do it, but I did say that I never wanted anything to do with any such translations again.

 

Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:56
Member (2008)
English to Italian
No, but Mar 28, 2013

never happened but a couple of times I regretted.
1) the title of the patent was so "innocent", but later on I realized it was about a bomb
2) the patent was about a medicine, and then all the experiments carried out on animals were disclosed.... a nightmare


 

Laura Bennett  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:56
Member (2011)
Italian to English
+ ...
A tricky dilemma? Mar 28, 2013

I submitted this poll a couple of years ago when I was offered a project translating dialogue for a porn film.

In the end, availability issues would have precluded me from accepting it anyway, but it caused me to ponder whether I would have taken the job. I was primarily concerned about whether I wanted my name to be associated with that particular industry or to take my career in such a direction.

Perhaps I was unnecessarily concerned. A colleague suggest I could have accepted the job on the condition of using a pseudonym. The issue has not arisen again although I have occasionally seen jobs with adult content offered on the Proz jobs board.


 

dasein_wm  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:56
Member (2009)
Italian to English
+ ...
Yes, often Mar 28, 2013

I have never had any problems of this nature from private clients but I get sent things by agencies several times a year that are less than appealing: pyramid schemes, plagiarism, research that is so bad that I don't want any part of correcting it or passing it on as is without correcting it, fashion texts that speak about 'other-worldly spirit channeling' of their designs to create subversiveness in society (I am not making this up and it has cropped up more than a few times).

But,even more than the above, I turn down texts based on the morals and ethics of agencies whose Blue Board evaluations imply that they have none.


 

Terry Richards
France
Local time: 19:56
French to English
+ ...
No... Mar 28, 2013

But I would if the situation ever arose. I wouldn't have any problem with pornography but my "porn name" pseudonym might be interestingicon_smile.gif

 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 18:56
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I will give exactly the same answer I gave one year ago Mar 28, 2013

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, but for me it is a question of comfort level — if you are not comfortable working on a project, you are certainly not going to be able to turn out your best work. If something feels wrong to me, I am willing to walk away from the money.

Deciding which projects are ethical to take on, though, can be very subjective. I would refuse jobs, and I have in the past, on gambling, obscene or pornographic material, military weapons, racism…

On the same subject:
http://www.proz.com/polls/archived?poll_id_link=8900
http://www.proz.com/polls/archived?poll_id_link=8948
http://www.proz.com/polls/archived?poll_id_link=11773


 

Louise Péron  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
English to French
No Mar 28, 2013

...but I would if I really didn't agree with the message of the text. I don't know how I would react if I was offered to translate "adult" content, but I definitely would refuse texts defending extreme political ideas.

 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:56
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No, but... Mar 28, 2013

I might in the future--and not because I was personally offended. Here's what happened to me: I translated a technical article on sex workers for the World Health Organization which entailed some research on the Internet. Soon I was getting a flood of porn in my inbox. The problem ended when I changed computers shortly thereafter. In the future, I would probably turn down any subject that might generate spam in an area that I didn't want to be associated with.

 

John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
An oxymoron? Mar 28, 2013

Laura Bennett wrote:

dialogue for a porn film.



Sorry, I know the subject could be serious but I found this funny icon_smile.gificon_eek.gif


 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Me too Mar 28, 2013

I was offered a porn film dialogue too, but I wasn't available to accept it. The agent told me that porn films are really easy to translate, a lot of the dialogue are sounds and repetitions of names. I would gladly accept a porn assignment.

I have turned down many a project due to low rates, a very valid ethical reason IMO.

Happy Easter


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 19:56
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I have turned down jobs for a number of reasons Mar 28, 2013

Strictly, it is unethical to take on any job you are not qualified to do, even if it is a perfectly respectable job for an expert in the right subject field.

But here most of us are not on the ethical high horse - it is simply part of the service.

I have turned down jobs on the grounds that they went against my personal beliefs, while fully respecting the right of others to believe in that sort of thing if they can! I would not want to spread such material.

I have also explained in several forum discussions that it depends on what the translation is to be used for. I might translate a text as court evidence or for a preventive campaign, but refuse to translate the same text for people involved in illegal activities or anything I regarded as immoral.

I have not turned down many texts on those grounds, but I would do it again if necessary.


 

macimovic
Netherlands
Local time: 19:56
English to Serbian
+ ...
Yes Mar 28, 2013

The content was against the law in my country and I didn't want to have anything to do with that.

 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:56
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
It is not only the topic, Mar 28, 2013

although the topics I refused over the years included tobacco, gaming, self-improvement, alternative medicine... As to porn, I was never asked to translate it, but I was asked to dubb it - I was about 30 then and offended by the offer, now I am over 50 and I would consider it just funny.
The problem is, the subject is not always obvious in advance (here I am talking about interpreting - once you are there...). An agency once hired me "for our local florist"; the trouble was, the florist wanted to discuss illegal financial dealings with dangerous-looking guys. Or a chemical company that I had been working for for some time hired me for an employee training about "product stewardship" - it was all about countering ecological movements' activities.
But the problem may be elsewhere: a fashion company once asked for an interpreting offer, with a CV, a photo, and my measurements, as they required their interpreters to wear their products when working for them. I just didn't answer, as I found no polite words.
It may also be who is asking, as other people already wrote - I recently refused a very good job for an infamously known pseudo-historical institute in my country.
But if you don't do it, somebody else will...


 

Enrico Zoffoli  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:56
Member (2013)
German to Italian
+ ...
No, and I would not Mar 28, 2013

I did translations in some of the "ethically dubious" fields that many of you mentioned, and I see nothing wrong with it.

I guess the main point is that my "ethical" view is sort of libertarian, or at least very tolerant. I don't like to claim moral authority, purporting to say what is ethically acceptable and what is not.

There is, to be sure, a lot of stuff I'm not crazy about, but I would never consider banning it from my desktop for ethical reasons - let alone losing a client on these grounds.

I'm fine with pretty much anything, provided it is legal in the country I reside.


 
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Poll: Have you ever turned down a translation project for either moral or ethical reasons?

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