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Poll: Have you ever rejected a project for ethical or moral reasons?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 17:30
SITE STAFF
Nov 7, 2014

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

This poll was originally submitted by Angus Stewart. View the poll results »



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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Many times Nov 7, 2014

Animal testing of cosmetics is a no-no for me

As is being asked to go below my minimum charge


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:30
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not really Nov 7, 2014

But I've refused jobs because they looked boring, and sometimes there was a thin line.

When I taught translation at Georgetown University, I gave my students an assignment that was essentially communist propaganda. I assigned it because it was an interesting linguistic challenge. I explained to them that a translator's job is to do his or her best job with the text, regardless of whether or not they agree with the content.

More than once I have translated texts that I found morally repugnant. I just put a clothespin on my nose and keep working.

Now, as Chris pointed out, some rates being paid to translators are both unethical and immoral, and those jobs I routinely reject. (Off topic: It recently came to my attention that a colleague is currently advertising a rate that's only 10% of what some contractors are paying--and even less than half the rates being advertised 40 years ago.)

[Edited at 2014-11-07 09:21 GMT]


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Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 00:30
Japanese to English
A few times Nov 7, 2014

I steer clear of adult material, for example. Clients are usually quite understanding, possibly because there's no shortage of translators willing to work on that kind of thing.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Nov 7, 2014

Not that I can recall. My reasons for refusing work are usually because I'm too busy, or I don't like the format (scanned PDFs, etc) or the deadline.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 01:30
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes! Nov 7, 2014

As I said before, 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. 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
(...)


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ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:30
Member
German to English
+ ...
Started, so I'll finish Nov 7, 2014

In early days, I once received a text which looked quite normal until I got halfway through and I realised it was promotional material for a pyramid scheme. As I had already accepted the job, I couldn't really back out. I told the PM she was not to ever send me such texts again. She apologised, telling me that she hadn't actually read it, so she was not aware of its contents.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:30
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Yes again! Nov 7, 2014

Teresa Borges wrote:

As I said before, 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. 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
(...)


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Susana Magnani  Identity Verified
Argentina
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
At least twice that I can recall... Nov 7, 2014

Once, I was requested to translate TONS of materials for VERY GOOD money for a military weapons tradeshow. I declined.

The other time, I was offered a very decent rate for collaborating with a new agency, only to have the rate sliced to a third of the value when I filled out the forms and the vendor manager realized I live in Argentina (a fact that was more than clear in my CV, which he had received previously, by the way).

I am sure there must be more instances in my career, but these two always stand out in my mind, for some reason.


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Antonio Fajardo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:30
Member (2011)
English to Spanish
+ ...
So easy, how come we have a 6% "Other"? Nov 7, 2014

I will never understand why there are so many translators choosing "Other" when they just mean "Yes, but" or "No, but"

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Exactitude  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Turn down adult work Nov 7, 2014

Yes. I was offered to translate adult content, and I replied honestly "I'm not familiar enough with the field specific vocabulary for this job".

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Pavel Slama  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:30
Member (2014)
English to Czech
+ ...
Low rates Nov 7, 2014

Why am I even surprised. The only moral issue translators recognize is, of course, low rates.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
I don't want to be overly catty... Nov 7, 2014

babylondon wrote:

Why am I even surprised. The only moral issue translators recognize is, of course, low rates.


... but I am mildly irritated.

How ethical is it to offer translation into English when, judging from your profile, you clearly lack native proficiency?

OK, that was very catty. But do try reading posts before condemning them.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:30
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Other Nov 7, 2014

Antonio Fajardo wrote:

I will never understand why there are so many translators choosing "Other" when they just mean "Yes, but" or "No, but"


Call me conflict shy, but sometimes I turn down jobs for mixed reasons, not all of them clearly ethical or unconnected with ethics.

I have on several occasions used the excuse that I did not have time for borderline cases, because it was true (and uncontroversial).
The texts I was presented with were probably harmless: one was about horoscopes, I remember, but right on my personal ethical border if not over it.

Alternative medicine is another field I do not mess with, because I don't believe in it, but I cannot dismiss all of it as outright unethical.
I have turned down at least one job full of mumbo-jumbo on the grounds that I did not know enough about the subject.
Did not want to was more like it - I did know enough to place it outside my ethical limits.

I don't always read the text thoroughly enough to know whether I would consider it strongly unethical - I just turn it down on some other pretext if I don't like it.

Did I turn down that job about fracking because I am opposed to fracking, because I did not know enough about it, or because I could not meet the deadline?
Was that for ethical reasons or purely practical reasons?
Yes, as my husband would say. Yes to all, or Other ...




[Edited at 2014-11-07 17:27 GMT]


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Mariel Azoubel  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:30
English
+ ...
Other Nov 7, 2014

I would consider turning down an offer to translate something you're not familiar with or lack expertise in an inherently ethical reason. But I don't think that's what the poll question was after, so I'd probably have to say other, as I haven't really been offered anything that conflicts with my morals on a personal level.

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