Performing free test translations

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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:38
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
The circumstances of a free test translation are also to be taken into account Sep 11, 2010

It appears to be happening with increasing frequency that translators are being asked by agencies to do short test translations, requested by specific clients, even when the translators in question are regular suppliers of the agency, and the agency has had every opportunity to assess the translator's work.

I would be very interested to know what colleagues think of this. I am of the opinion that doing a test translation for a new agency, with which I have never worked before, may be feasible, but to be asked to do a free test translation for an agency with which I have been working for a long time is not acceptable.


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 17:38
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
My personal policies Sep 12, 2010

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:
I would be very interested to know what colleagues think of this. I am of the opinion that doing a test translation for a new agency, with which I have never worked before, may be feasible, but to be asked to do a free test translation for an agency with which I have been working for a long time is not acceptable.

In my policies, I do free test translation for:

1. New and challenging contexts.
2. New, big job volumes and interesting clients.
3. Killing my free time.
4. never expecting a certain job offer
5. Test volume I freely select based on my free time, preference etc.
And 6. Test for certain countries of clients (and never for some countries).

Soonthon Lpkitaro

[Edited at 2010-09-12 00:56 GMT]


 

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:38
English to Japanese
+ ...
Vote for Against Sep 12, 2010

I've written this a few times in the forum, but I am one of those against doing test translations. Only when they pay me, I'll do them. My main reason is that from my experience, free test translations led me to nowhere, and moreover, 99.9% of the time, I get no feedback whatsoever. It's a real waste of time, especially when it's for a potential job.

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 12:38
German to Serbian
+ ...
Tests done under bizarre circumstances. Sep 12, 2010

They ask the tests to be taken by people with degrees already having been assessed and qualified by relevant bodies. On the other hand, they are offering a blind assessment by an "unknown freelance proofreader", which is a little absurd.

However, I'm not against the tests followed by correct procedures. These procedures cost money, mostly because relevant reviewers cost money, which most agencies will not spend because they are about saving money ( usually at the translator's expense).


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:38
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Depends on whether it is for a trusted customer Sep 12, 2010

My trusted customers sometimes ask for a test to be used as part of their bidding process for a large project. I normally do the test for free --although in many cases they pay for it in the end-- since I am interested in helping my customer get the job: after all, I will be translating the big project later on, being their main source for Spanish translation. From a business point of view I find it good to offer that relatively small freebie to my trusted customers.

Now, it is a different thing if we are talking about a new customer or a customer who has more teams in your language pairs. By doing the test, you could help the company get the job, but they might give the work to a different person. That's why I expect to be paid in this situation.


 

Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:38
German to Spanish
+ ...
Performing free test translations Sep 12, 2010

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

It appears to be happening with increasing frequency that translators are being asked by agencies to do short test translations, requested by specific clients, even when the translators in question are regular suppliers of the agency, and the agency has had every opportunity to assess the translator's work.

I would be very interested to know what colleagues think of this. I am of the opinion that doing a test translation for a new agency, with which I have never worked before, may be feasible, but to be asked to do a free test translation for an agency with which I have been working for a long time is not acceptable.


This is what I think about: http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/149581-sample_translation_of_more_than_1000_words-page2.html#1259342


 

Odette Bélanger  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:38
French
+ ...
test translations Sep 12, 2010

I did some once in a while, but found that it may be a good trick for the askers to have some part (although very short) of their translations done FREE and then, for some obscure reasons, you are not choosen or they "put you on their list".

I have then taken the option of never doing free tests anymore. However, I minimize the amount I ask for those tests by asking a reasonable lump sum. Perhaps if the amount of work involved is huge, I may take a chance of doing a free translation test. However, since I am a member of a professional translating corporation (OTTIAQ) and a certified translator, I don't see the point of asking me to do a test. It is just like not recognizing the criterias of that professional corporation.


 

George Hopkins
Local time: 12:38
Swedish to English
There's no such thing as a free lunch Sep 12, 2010

Don't do translations for free.

Suggest instead that the potential customer sends you a piece to be translated at an agreed price, translate part of it at your discretion send it back for approval or rejection. If approved, complete the translation and send a bill. If rejected, then goodbye and no hard feelings.


 

chopra_2002  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 16:08
Member (2008)
English to Hindi
+ ...
There may be a genuine reason for test translation Sep 12, 2010

The agencies for whom are work, are quite convinced with the quality of my work but they sometimes mention that they need to provide the test translation to another agency which wants to be assured about quality before assigning a voluminous project.

Much to my surprise, sometimes, the agencies inform me that it is a test translation but I'll be paid for it and I should provide the best possible translation.

Regards,

Chopra


 

Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
French to English
+ ...
Ditto Sep 13, 2010

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:

I've written this a few times in the forum, but I am one of those against doing test translations. Only when they pay me, I'll do them. My main reason is that from my experience, free test translations led me to nowhere, and moreover, 99.9% of the time, I get no feedback whatsoever. It's a real waste of time, especially when it's for a potential job.


Only one of the several agencies I've been suckered into doing a test for has ever actually sent me work. Just the other day I got one from an agency in Montreal that I didn't even get around to doing - it was a page and a half single space! Pity, because it seemed like a good agency but I simply didn't have the time to be added to a mysterious database and not contacted after spending time slaving over unpaid work.

No-has ever offered me payment for one of these "test" translations.


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:38
German to English
certification and areas if expertise Sep 13, 2010

Hello,
I am against what was described in the original question: free translations for an agency that needs them in the course of a bidding process.

If the agency's potential customer wants a sample translation, this is an aspect of the agency's entrepeneurial risk and the cost ought to be the agency's responsibility and not mine. It is the same case as when the agency's customer cancels an order or doesn't pay: I am hired to produce a good translation and the amount of profit or loss that the agency derives from it is the agency's business.

Sample translations should certainly not be free: If this became standard practice, it would hardly be possible for anyone who does not already have a large pool of reliable direct customers to earn a living.

Regarding certified translators: The point that assessments are probably usually carried out in a non-professional way is a valid critique.
However, the fact that an individual is a certified translator certainly isn't a significant indication that he or she can deliver a good translation of an academic article on rocket science.
In theory, such professionals would never bid on such projects unless qualified, but this theory may not always reflect reality. Forcing (paid and properly assessed) sample translations upon certified translators seems perfectly reasonable in many cases.

Sincerely,
Michael


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 12:38
English to Polish
+ ...
Free sample of their review process Jun 18, 2013

Participating in a free test may give you a sample of their review practices in turn. Better to identify an agency that trusts a so-so or outright incompetent proofreader or reviewer earlier than later, and better after a short free sample than a long translation that you have done in reliance on an expectation of payment.

I don't mind longer tests because they are likely to be more fair in the hands of a qualified examiner. In my experience, short tests may be an exercise in meeting the examiner's terminological preference rather than actually translating. There is less risk of being failed simply for choosing a different convention out of available alternatives. There is also more context if your sample is longer. You also get more opportunity to show off sustained high quality. Again, the same goes for the examiner. A whimsical or less than competent reviewer will be more likely to show his true colours over some 500 words of a specialised or literary text. A shorter one might fail to trigger his antics.

Some things I don't like:

- Tests that contain serious errors (unless the meaning is clear).
– Tests that aren't representative of the field (e.g. an accounting document for law).
– Legal translation tests concentrating on the first page of a contract or judgment. There's really nothing interesting there from the point of view of evaluating a translator's ability to translate. It only checks whether the translator and examiner have the same default choices, as if the agency and translator couldn't establish a style guide or glossary.


 

Nick_Baker
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:38
Italian to English
+ ...
Testing Methodology Feb 12

Interesting and relevant comments, and I agree with the points about when a test should be free or paid. Actually, on balance I think tests should be paid for because the cost is marginal, it concentrates the mind of the recruiter on whom to consider, and it treats the professional translator with some modicum of respect.

The main problem with the tests used by agencies, apart from the way they are implemented, is the absence of rigorous testing methodology. They appear, in many cases, to be 'homespun' and thus unreliable as indicators of competence. That's why in all probability one rarely gets a marked-up copy back. Many of the 'corrections' by the revising translator could very well be open to challenge.


 


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