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Poll: Do you turn down projects that contain or express hate in any form?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:47
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
Nazi tract Feb 27

I once turned down a job translating the diary of a leading Nazi. I had other options at the time, but I felt very strongly that it would have been an extremely hard thing emotionally to be immersed in that level of hatred for such a long time. I very shortly afterwards discovered that the project was illicit, i.e., it was not the officially sanctioned translation in the offing at the same time and would anyway have come to naught. However, my decision was based on avoiding the barrage of hatred... See more
I once turned down a job translating the diary of a leading Nazi. I had other options at the time, but I felt very strongly that it would have been an extremely hard thing emotionally to be immersed in that level of hatred for such a long time. I very shortly afterwards discovered that the project was illicit, i.e., it was not the officially sanctioned translation in the offing at the same time and would anyway have come to naught. However, my decision was based on avoiding the barrage of hatred. A second translation was never published.Collapse


 

Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 16:47
Member (2006)
Swedish to English
+ ...
I promise nothing bad will happen. Feb 27

neilmac wrote:

Paul Lambert wrote:

Chris S wrote:

neilmac wrote:
a certain government ... anti-Semitic


Oooh, so cryptic! 😂😂😂


Clearly, we're talking about Mongolia, right?


Well well, it seems my half-hearted attempt at discretion did the trick. I didn't like to point the finger directly, but well done, you sussed me out.
PS: "Ridiculous people" yourself, my good man.


Just say it, neilmac. You are talking about Israel and Jews. Say the name! Nothing is going to happen to you or me or anyone for that matter. You want to drum up hate on a thread discussing hate? I promise you will face no reprisals at all.


 

Jan Truper  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:47
English to German
+ ...
OT Feb 27

Mario Freitas wrote:
It is highly unprofessional to turn down a job due to personal preferences.


I must be highly unprofessional, then.


Chris S
Teresa Borges
Helen Shiner
Jean Dimitriadis
Philip Lees
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Handbags Feb 27

Paul Lambert wrote:
Just say it, neilmac. You are talking about Israel and Jews. Say the name! Nothing is going to happen to you or me or anyone for that matter. You want to drum up hate on a thread discussing hate? I promise you will face no reprisals at all.


I think the wrong end of the stick has been grasped here. I think Neil was just trying to circumvent the ProZ police’s political filter. It just tickled me because it reminded me of when I used to put in my CV that I translated the annual reports of the best brewer in the world, probably.


 

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:47
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Feb 27

I've never been faced with a text that I found so offensive or hateful that I turned it down.

I imagine if some "hateful" text were given me, I'd still translate it. Let it all get out there so someone's mistaken hate can be shown for all to see. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

I suppose I would start to consider turning down a "hateful" text if putting my name to it would damage my reputation.


Muriel Vasconcellos
Philip Lees
IrinaN
 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:47
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Feb 28

I consider each translation a linguistic exercise. I'm more interested in rendering the translation than the opinions of the author. When I taught translation at Georgetown University, I gave my students a speech by Fidel Castro and told them: This is a linguistic challenge. It doesn't matter whether you agree with him or not. In fact, Cuban Spanish can be difficult to translate and I wanted them to hone their skills.

In possibly offensive areas unrelated to hate, I was once asked t
... See more
I consider each translation a linguistic exercise. I'm more interested in rendering the translation than the opinions of the author. When I taught translation at Georgetown University, I gave my students a speech by Fidel Castro and told them: This is a linguistic challenge. It doesn't matter whether you agree with him or not. In fact, Cuban Spanish can be difficult to translate and I wanted them to hone their skills.

In possibly offensive areas unrelated to hate, I was once asked to populate a machine translation database with translations of pornographic expressions. I turned the job down because it's not my area of expertise and it would have required "research," not because I was offended. Also, after I translated a scientific text on sex workers, my inbox filled up with unsolicited emails on the subject and I didn't want to repeat the problem.
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Nikolay Novitskiy
 

Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 17:47
Member (2008)
Greek to English
Too broad Feb 28

The question is so broadly stated as to become meaningless. Who would turn down the translation of a novel in which one of the characters expressed hatred of something or somebody? I mean, turn it down because of that, not just because you don't translate fiction, or whatever.

It's never happened to me, but I have turned down jobs from regular clients because I didn't think I was the best person to do them, which is a kind of personal preference.


 

Alexandra Frolova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 17:47
Member
English to Russian
+ ...
Other Feb 28

Well, I have never been offered projects connected with hatred so I can't say for sure. I once translated a chapter from some book on the life of Islamic tribes in Africa, written by a European author. It wasn't really about the religion but more about their tradition to marry girls under the age of puberty. However, the connection with Islam that the author tried to imply was quite clear. I knew that the client just wanted to know what this book is about. I wouldn't have undertaken the project ... See more
Well, I have never been offered projects connected with hatred so I can't say for sure. I once translated a chapter from some book on the life of Islamic tribes in Africa, written by a European author. It wasn't really about the religion but more about their tradition to marry girls under the age of puberty. However, the connection with Islam that the author tried to imply was quite clear. I knew that the client just wanted to know what this book is about. I wouldn't have undertaken the project if it had been aimed at offending my religion (or any other religion, actually).Collapse


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:47
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
@ Jan Feb 28

Jan Truper wrote:

Mario Freitas wrote:
It is highly unprofessional to turn down a job due to personal preferences.


I must be highly unprofessional, then.


Can a doctor or a dentist refuse to assist a patient because he is a drug addict or an alcoholic?

Would a lawyer refuse a potential client because he is a murderer or rapist?

Should a mechanic refuse to fix a car because it's painted with a Swastika?

It's up to each person to choose and make their own decision. But you can't say it's professional. It's strictly personal and zero professional.


 

Jan Truper  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:47
English to German
+ ...
... Feb 28

Mario Freitas wrote:

Jan Truper wrote:

Mario Freitas wrote:
It is highly unprofessional to turn down a job due to personal preferences.


I must be highly unprofessional, then.


Can a doctor or a dentist refuse to assist a patient because he is a drug addict or an alcoholic?

Would a lawyer refuse a potential client because he is a murderer or rapist?

Should a mechanic refuse to fix a car because it's painted with a Swastika?

It's up to each person to choose and make their own decision. But you can't say it's professional. It's strictly personal and zero professional.


Examples of reasons that can cause me to turn down projects:

-I'd rather go skating today
-stupid/boring source text
-PM is too pushy and a tad dickish
-pay is too low
-end client is an a**hole company that's making the world a significantly worse place
-if I spend another day on this subject matter I'm gonna get sick
-I'd rather work for a smaller agency whose business model is not based on vulture capitalism
-payment terms are too long
-I'm just not feeling it

Of these and other reasons that can cause me to decline projects, ***every single one is based on my own personal preferences***.

If that makes me unprofessional in your eyes, so be it.


Elizabeth Tamblin
The Misha
Kay Denney
 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:47
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
Yes, “in any form” makes it very broad. Feb 29

Philip Lees wrote:

The question is so broadly stated as to become meaningless.


For instance, if you translate divorce lawsuit documentation where at one point you come to files where spouses express a great deal of hatred and maybe lies (conflicting info) about each other. Is that also hatred “in any form”?


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 22:47
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Of course Feb 29

Mario Freitas wrote:
Can a doctor or a dentist refuse to assist a patient because he is a drug addict or an alcoholic?

The doctor, no.
The dentist, absolutely yes, unless it's an emergency.

Would a lawyer refuse a potential client because he is a murderer or rapist?

In many places, absolutely, unless they're a public defender.

Should a mechanic refuse to fix a car because it's painted with a Swastika?

They are absolutely within their rights to do that, especially if performing the service may put themselves in danger.


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:47
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Refusing jobs vs. professionalism Feb 29

If anyone refuses a job because it promotes an unlawful act, its perfectly comprehensible. I wouldn't do a job if the client is a drug dealer or a site that contains pictures of naked children, of course!
But refusing a job for PERSONAL reasons, for example: (i) it's about Islamism, and I'm catholic, (ii) it's about child porn (about, not promoting) and I'm against it, (iii) the language is very low-level, with too much swearing, (iv) it's about terrorism, (v) the client is an evangelian c
... See more
If anyone refuses a job because it promotes an unlawful act, its perfectly comprehensible. I wouldn't do a job if the client is a drug dealer or a site that contains pictures of naked children, of course!
But refusing a job for PERSONAL reasons, for example: (i) it's about Islamism, and I'm catholic, (ii) it's about child porn (about, not promoting) and I'm against it, (iii) the language is very low-level, with too much swearing, (iv) it's about terrorism, (v) the client is an evangelian church; or any reason like this is unprofessional. Personal reasons are not professional reasons whatsoever. Not even close.

Jan, all the reasons you mentioned are strictly personal. Non of them are professional.
And Lincoln, yes in all your examples, these people could refuse the jobs. They'd all be unprofessional then. In some cases, they'd even break codes of ethics of their profession.

[Edited at 2020-02-29 07:26 GMT]
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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:47
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Hate hate hate Feb 29

Yes. I hate projects that contain or express hate.

 

Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 17:47
Member (2008)
Greek to English
Personal versus professional Feb 29

Mario Freitas wrote:

Personal reasons are not professional reasons whatsoever. Not even close.


I don't think this distinction is a valid one. If I cancel a job because I think I'm too sick to do it properly, my reason is a personal one, but my behaviour is professional.

In general, I think it would be unprofessional to accept a job if you thought that, for personal reasons, you would not be able to deliver work of your usual high quality.


Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Mario Freitas
Kay Denney
 
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Poll: Do you turn down projects that contain or express hate in any form?

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