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Poll: Have you ever refused a project due to conflict of values/interests?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 12:04
SITE STAFF
Aug 11, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever refused a project due to conflict of values/interests?".

This poll was originally submitted by Anne-Sophie Cardinal. View the poll results »



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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:04
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes Aug 11, 2013

As I told here before (http://www.proz.com/forum/poll_discussion/246064-poll:_have_you_ever_turned_down_a_translation_project_for_either_moral_or_ethical_reasons-page2.html), 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 I am not comfortable working on a project, I will certainly not turn out my best work.

I would refuse jobs, and I have in the past, on gambling, obscene or pornographic material, military weapons, racism, human violence…


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:04
English to German
+ ...
Same here and one additional example Aug 11, 2013

Teresa Borges wrote:

As I told here before (http://www.proz.com/forum/poll_discussion/246064-poll:_have_you_ever_turned_down_a_translation_project_for_either_moral_or_ethical_reasons-page2.html), 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 I am not comfortable working on a project, I will certainly not turn out my best work.

I would refuse jobs, and I have in the past, on gambling, obscene or pornographic material, military weapons, racism, human violence…



Early 2002 I was offered two book translations about Islam from two different publishers in two different countries. As much as I want children/students/pupils all over the world to read information side-by-side to be able to learn and to make their own decisions, it was a very bad time to start projects like this.

There are more reasons for professional translators to decline projects than petty debates about cents per word.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:04
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Once or twice Aug 11, 2013

Just like I stated before, there are a few solid reasons to refuse a project: everything that is harmful to someone or to the environment can be translated, just not by me. And seriously, I don't have a price when it comes to this type of translations.

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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:04
English to Polish
+ ...
Yes Aug 11, 2013

Yes, I don't believe that a translator has some kind of romanticised duty to further the values of the speaker or writer or client above the basic duty to avoid evil. Translating faithfully is one thing, actually accepting the job or not is another.

So, when I do translate, I translate faithfully. However, I don't accept translation jobs that are likely to be intended to promote evil or at least do harm. My Terms of Service contain some language about bulk jobs with mixed content that has not been capable of verification prior to the initial acceptance of the job.

The most likely to pop up is sexual content or suggestive content. I believe that mankind is called by its Creator to something better than commercial titillation. And I don't even mean outright, full-blown sexual content. You will not see me translating even a beauty product leaflet that mentions something about being bold or seductive (but not attractive, smashing, irresistible etc., at least not on its own). I have recently withdrawn my participation from about the only translation contest in the country in which I'd be eligible to run, protesting against the vulgar technical descriptions. I asked if the times really were so bad that a piece of fiction couldn't sell without including obligatory 'scenes'.

I also feel bad about gratuitous violence or unnecessarily evoked negative emotions, which makes me need to stay away from a lot of gaming translation that I love so much. But heck, a recent KudoZ question in my pair cited: you can only live by what you're ready to die for. Causes are worth sacrifices and what good is your cause if you don't make sacrifices for it. Similarly, I wouldn't translate for titles that involved a heavy emphasis on the occult. Or presented law-breaking in a positive light (well, okay, perhaps not just about every pirates game or Robin Hood, but you get the idea). I had compunctions when it came to a vengeance theme, but I delivered on the contract, I just decided to read more carefully next time. I also have a policy of informing agencies in advance so that they aren't surprised and the content I get is pre-screened.

I've also declined to translate in the context of divorce, a distribution contract for contraceptives, some corpo stuff involving tax havens and likely tax evasion (not like I'm a big fan of governments' exortion schemes and practices, either), and perhaps some other things. Before you ask, I don't judge my clients or potential clients. When the case is obvious, I politely turn down the offer, sometimes stating my reasons, and when it's not, then I either balk out altogether or tell the client in which circumstances I could accept it and in which I could not, leaving it up to the client then to proceed with the order or not in the light of the information.

Being a religious person and shunning religious indifferentism, I also don't assist in the promotion of a conflicting religion, at least in a thematical proximity of the differences. For this reason, I've recently had to skip a very interesting KudoZ question, for example. But I stress that promotion (proselitising, obtaining conversions) is different from merely information.

It would be similar for important secular causes. Especially there's no way I could translate anything for use against democratic opposition by dictatorial governments, while I could translate for such guerillas, even though they might be illegal in the country of origin. The same goes for democratic governments that employ dictatorial methods, e.g. UK or Scandinavian courts banning Christian expression.

But it goes down to oppressing the labourer too. I am no fan of translating oppressive workplace regs or assisting mass redundancies with my translations, or anything like whistlebower silencing or dodging overtime pay.

[Edited at 2013-08-11 13:46 GMT]


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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Aug 11, 2013

I think Łukasz pretty much summed up everything that I was going to say, though I still work in gaming (but I don't touch gambling). I think one of the perks of being a freelancer or independent contractor is the ability to turn down jobs based on personal beliefs or opinions. That certainly wasn't the case while I worked for a major financial company as an interpreter. There were days that I really felt guilty because of the things that I had to say, knowing that there were options and solutions available for people who were just passing through a difficult time, but I would lose my own job if I brought any of them up. Eventually, I did just that and quit.

On the reverse side of this topic, my wife and I have several clients that we translate for at reduced prices or for free whenever we can, because they are causes that we support.


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:04
Member (2008)
English to Italian
Yes Aug 11, 2013

To make it short:
I have translated several patents about drugs against cancer. Unfortunately all the drugs used by my father, were translated by me (for my country)
I started to understand how the world of medicines and patens work, and since my father died I have refused to translate any patent related to cancer. Since for the applicants it is just a matter of money.


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Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member because it was not in line with site rule
xxxwonita
China
Local time: 16:04
Yes,once Aug 11, 2013

It was the website of an erotic club.

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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:04
Dutch to English
+ ...
A couple of times Aug 11, 2013

Mainly Christian propaganda.

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Heather McCrae  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:04
Member (2012)
German to English
repetition is good Aug 11, 2013

Paula Hernández wrote:

is this question going to be asked?

I think it's the third time I've seen it asked already.


Not everyone has been lucky enough to be with Proz for so long, and not everyone has time to go mining through the poll archives in search of certain polls.
I have not seen this question (or many other questions) before and I find it interesting!
Also, different people respond each time and have different answers.

If any outsourcer offers me work I find unethical or not to my taste in any way, I just tell them I am too busy. That way, nobody gets offended.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:04
Hebrew to English
Me too Aug 11, 2013

Marijke Singer wrote:

Mainly Christian propaganda.


This is pretty much one of the only things I'd refuse too. Fortunately not much of it is produced in my source language.


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 16:04
English to Spanish
Yes Aug 11, 2013

Ty Kendall wrote:

Marijke Singer wrote:

Mainly Christian propaganda.


This is pretty much one of the only things I'd refuse too. Fortunately not much of it is produced in my source language.

Same here.

I also refused to translate a Human Resources book on hiring/evaluating people based on their astrological sign.

While I'm quite certain I'd be able to set my personal opinion/bias aside if I were to accept something that conflicts with my beliefs, and do a professional job regardless, I still feel like I'd be helping promote/encourage something that I am strongly against.

Therefore, I simply say "thank you for your interest in my services, but no, thanks".


Nicole Schnell wrote:
There are more reasons for professional translators to decline projects than petty debates about cents per word.

Thayenga wrote:
And seriously, I don't have a price when it comes to this type of translations.


Exactly.

Greetings!

[Edited at 2013-08-11 21:44 GMT]


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Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:04
German to English
+ ...
Different strokes for different folks Aug 11, 2013

I am no prude, but I couldn't stomach the offer to translate a pornographic magazine.
Luckily I happened to know a translator who was quite happy to take on the work, and glad of the recommendation.
Happy outsourcer, happy translator.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:04
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Conflict of interest? Aug 12, 2013

There's a big difference between 'conflict of interest' and values. The 'conflict of interest' part is intriguing. I'm trying to think of an example. Since we are sworn to confidentiality, I can't imagine such a case.

In the business world, I can imagine that a translator can become privy to corporate secrets, but unless the translator has stock in that company or a competitor, I don't see a problem.

Mostly, translators' vested interests are their clients. Again, no problem. If one my clients has confidential information against another of my clients, I would still translate the text and simply keep my mouth shut.

My clients are mostly international organizations, and it has happened more than once that one of them had a big issue with another organization that also work for and I have had to translate their complaints. No problem. I trust that I will be discreet when I accept the job, and that has always been the case.


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