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Poll: Do you accept jobs that are offensive in nature?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 07:14
SITE STAFF
Sep 30, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you accept jobs that are offensive in nature?".

This poll was originally submitted by Yasutomo Kanazawa. View the poll results »



 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
Depends on how... Sep 30, 2015

What people find "offensive" tends to vary widely both between and within cultures, so I tend to weigh up each case on its own merits.

 

Susana E. Cano Méndez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:14
Member
French to Spanish
+ ...
Never been in this case Sep 30, 2015

I have never been assigned such a task: no Hitler's memories, no porn books, nothing. My life as a translator is quite boringicon_frown.gif. But it's true that Spaniards take as non-offensive things that citizens from other countries consider very offensive.

 

Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:14
Member
German to English
+ ...
Other Sep 30, 2015

I've never been offered a job I found offensive. I've done some littered with profanities, but actually find they make for a bit of light relief. But whether others might have found them offensive, I don't know!

 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:14
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I don't offend very easily Sep 30, 2015

I have translated quite a few texts that some people might be offended by.

 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
What is offensive? Sep 30, 2015

One of my biggest regrets is getting into translation just as the Internet killed off Scandinavia's hardcore porn industry, so I've never had the chance to translate the likes of "Oooh, here comes the photocopier repairman, let's take all our clothes off".

On the other hand, I don't translate stuff about animal testing.


 

Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:14
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
No Sep 30, 2015

Of course not.

I remember some American Christian group asked me to translate a 'spiritual message', which I was fine with. However, it turned out it was all about thrashing the current pope calling him the Antichrist with long quotes of 'evidence'' from the Bible.
But although I am not a Catholic myself, I did not think it was fair, nor condusive to World Peace. So I said, absolutely NO.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:14
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It really depends what you mean by offensive... Sep 30, 2015

It is ten years today since the publication in a Danish newspaper of certain cartoons, which I have in my desk drawer. I did not find them offensive - but I can read the text and see them in context.

I could barely wait for a translation of Flemming Rose's book about the subsequent events, 'The Tyranny of Silence', when I read it in Danish - I wanted to give it to all my friends for Christmas. It came out in English last year.

It discusses freedom of speech and the intent to offend in depth. There is a difference between on the one hand freedom of speech and criticism of what should be criticised, and on the other hand libel, and untrue statements designed to offend.

I still go in for complete freedom of speech, but I would not translate anything I personally found offensive - I would tell the client to find someone who shared their beliefs.

I understand a lot of languages, but from my upbringing I use very few profanities in any of them... so I would not be the best translator anyway for that kind of subject matter!

I hope the moderator does not need to remove my post - I have tried to stay within the rules, but if I have gone too far, I apologise. It seemed very topical when this question came up precisely today!


 

Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:14
Dutch to English
+ ...
Translating things you don't believe in is an intellectual exercise Sep 30, 2015

There are lots of things I don't believe in and things which sit bad with me, but it is the role of a translator to render these things as well as possible in another language. As long as my name is not on it, it is an enjoyable experience to me.

If tomorrow a mighty 'religion' in the US (which I will not mention here) came to ask me to translate a book, pamphlets or whatever with their nonsense, even ridiculing the evolution theory, I would not say no. I would render it as well as possible and as persuasive as I could, in keeping with the original text. I would have a great time laughing my head off as well.

If we couldn't translate anything because it was against our beliefs, there would not be much work left.

However, there would be other concerns like political ones that would move me to reject things that came my way. Let's say I was living in a country where porn was forbidden, carried a prison sentence and the law was not inclined to make a difference between watching it for work (research) and personal pleasure, I would rather be inclined to reject such work, as that could affect my personal freedom/quality of life.


 

564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:14
Danish to English
+ ...
No, but... Sep 30, 2015

... sometimes you don't realise that a text is offensive until you are well into the translation and have already agreed to do the job. Then what do you do? Go back on a business agreement?

I recently took on a transcription job (not one of my usual services, but my client was stuck for someone to do this), and it turned out to be a very unpleasant conversation, where two people were ganging up on a third person. I told my client that had I known how nasty it would get (I only listened to the first couple of minutes to get a gist of the standard of the recording before agreeing to do the transcription), I would have turned down the job. My client sympathised, but still wanted the job done, so I slugged on, feeling awful for the third person. However, if, for instance, the job had been ordered by the third person and they wanted to use it in a court case, I would have been happy to do the job, because then an offensive recording could suddenly be used for something good...

Things are not always black and white...


And just for the record

Chris S wrote:

One of my biggest regrets is getting into translation just as the Internet killed off Scandinavia's hardcore porn industry, so I've never had the chance to translate the likes of "Oooh, here comes the photocopier repairman, let's take all our clothes off".


You sweet, innocent man...


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
@Gitte Sep 30, 2015

Don't blame me. After all, it's your countrymen who chose to call one of their biggest companies DONG Energy...

 

Harry Blake Paz Bonzano  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:14
Member (2014)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
It depends (always) on the context Sep 30, 2015

I am really open minded concerning everything. Of course I have my vision of the world so the translation may be of different or opposite opinion.
I have yet to experience such types of translations so I need more context on what is the content, whom it is aimed to and I have the proper experience to provide the correct message even if it may be controversial to me.

Given the context, why not. One thing I have learned in my course of translation is that you just say "no" when you do not feel it is right for you.

I will look at the book Christine is suggesting, that is the type of books I am interested in. Knowing others through their thoughts.


 

Damien Poussier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:14
Member (2012)
English to French
+ ...
No Sep 30, 2015

It's never actually happened to me, but I can see myself refusing something I'd find offensive.

I don't think you can accept anything because you're just doing your job (a poor excuse historically). We're human beings, and our work will be read by other human beings. Always do the right thing.
I'd find it difficult to look at myself in the mirror when I've been an active part of the propagation of hate-mongering.


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:14
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
It depends Sep 30, 2015

The definition of offensiveness varies, I guess. Some of the video subtitles I translate might offend some people because they use everyday slang. But let's face it, who hasn't used "4-letter" words before, especially when the deadline is tight and the computer is acting up?

I am pretty open-minded, so it doesn't really offend me how "the normal people on the street" talk. Basically, there are 3 types of work I would not accept, 1. violence against children or animals, 2. anything discriminating against people, races, religions, etc., and 3. hard-core ponography. Everything else is simply part of nature, so to speak.


 

564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:14
Danish to English
+ ...
@ Chris Sep 30, 2015

Chris S wrote:

Don't blame me. After all, it's your countrymen who chose to call one of their biggest companies DONG Energy...


That's what I meant: If you thought the photocopier man was rude, you ain't seen much of anything Danish... icon_biggrin.gif


 
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