Agency asking free translation sample of 790 words
Thread poster: Nathalie Ohana

Nathalie Ohana  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:21
English to French
Feb 15, 2011

I was approached (as very likely some of you) by an agency to translate a 30.000 word document from English to French. The text was originally in Chinese, was translated in English and it was supposed to be then translated in French.

Yesterday morning, the PM asked me to do a test. The test I received contained 790 words. I sent back an email telling him I would be happy to do the test but of no more than 300 words. I got no response to this. As I was still looking through the test, I realized it was hardly understandable and about 40% of it did not mean anything in English. I sent another email to the PM who sent me another test.

I asked again if a 300 word test would be acceptable to him, the answer was that if I wanted to be involved in this project, I had to do the entire test, free of charge.

Of course, I did not.

What is your experience on this? And what is considered best practice?

Thanks.
Nathalie

PS it is to be noted that when an outsourcer posts a job on ProZ, the sample text requested is limited to 500 words.


 

Ioanna Orfanoudaki  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 06:21
French to Greek
+ ...
Check previous related threads Feb 15, 2011

Hello Nathalie,

This subject has been discussed several times in the past, you can check out previous threads for more details, among others:
http://www.proz.com/forum/being_independent/190567-should_i_take_this_trial_.html


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:21
French to German
+ ...
As discussed in the French forum... Feb 15, 2011

Hello Nathalie,
as discussed in the French forum, I think that one of our colleagues follows what I now consider as being best practice (opinions may differ, so don't shoot at sighticon_wink.gif).

Her take at translation tests is:

- that she will make them free of charge in order to set foot in the agency;
- but that she will request payment for tests when an agency known to her needs to convince a client.

As you wrote it, the average volume of words of a translation test is commonly seen as been in the 200 to 300 words range.

In the case at hand, I would take other factors in consideration, namely that the English text is hardly understandable. I could give "free advice", telling the agency about it and leaving it at that.


 

FarkasAndras
Local time: 06:21
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Thoughts Feb 15, 2011

Nathalie Ohana wrote:

I was approached ... by an agency to translate a 30.000 word document

Yesterday morning, the PM asked me to do a test. The test I received contained 790 words.


I see nothing wrong with that, I would just do the test. The request is inconvenient, but not unreasonable at all. If I was interested in a 30,000 word job I wouldn't mind doing a 790-word test to get it. In fact, I've just done a 2400-word test for large project (it's for the translation of a novel, so requiring a long sample is justified: one needs to assess the translator's stlye and feel for language.)

Nathalie Ohana wrote:
The text was originally in Chinese, was translated in English and it was supposed to be then translated in French ... I realized it was hardly understandable and about 40% of it did not mean anything in English.


Well, that would be the end of that project for me. Nobody can pay me enough to compensate for having to suffer through 30,000 words of rubbish source text. As a general rule, if you suspect that something was translated from an Asian language on the cheap, run like the Devil is chasing you.
Just let them know the English text isn't very good, you aren't interested in it and they would be better off translating from the original Chinese. That's supposing that the test excerpt was from the actual project, of course.


 

Francesco Toscano  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:21
Member (2010)
English to Italian
+ ...
Ne discourons point d’eux, mais regarde et passe Feb 15, 2011

Last week I was contacted from an Indian agency for a free test.
The approach of this PM was really annoying.
This was my reply:

Sorry Mr XXX,
in the previous e-mail I also asked for more information about the project volume/budget/deadline.
Kind regards,
Francesco Toscano

And this was his reply:

Hello,

First do this sample translation & I will let you know all details of this project.

Thanks for your co-operation.

I never replied back.


 

Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 01:21
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Ditto: already discussed in several forums... Feb 15, 2011

... including the Spanish forum: at this thread, http://www.proz.com/topic/85255 several Spanish-speaking translators discovered that they all had been contacted by the same job poster, who asked them to translate a Cuban novel of 1937. They were asked to translate different pages of the same novel.

Beware of long translation tests!

[Edited at 2011-02-15 10:13 GMT]


 

Cécile Andrade
United States
Local time: 00:21
Member (2010)
Portuguese to French
+ ...
Be assertive in what you tell them... Feb 15, 2011

It's 250/300 words for a test, don't ask him if it's ok with him? This is what it is, point blank. As professionals we need to adopt a strategy by taking a stand. I understand that many need to start and lower their standards, however for a great number of others that is not the case. In my case, I do respond I tell them exactly what it is.

 

telefpro
Local time: 09:51
Portuguese to English
+ ...
me too Feb 15, 2011

Recently, In India, I was asked to translate 2 pages as sample. I guess he asked several people to translate different pages, and later on I never heard of him.

 

shfranke
United States
Local time: 21:21
English to Arabic
+ ...
Free "test translations" Feb 15, 2011

Greetings to all in this interesting thread.

IMPO, that fallacious notion of a "free test translation" is nonsense from a business point of view.

When contacted by an agency to undertake such a free "test translation," no agency is able or willing to respond to my asking if that agency is also in the practice of asking its attorney of record or other legal counsel to invest professional time and effort to consider a possible case and then provide a free legal opinion.

Also, no inquiring agency responds about whether that agency pays its reviewer who will examine, assess, and evaluate such a free "test translation" submitted in consideration for a project.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Stephen H. Franke
Arabic linguist, trainer, teacher,
dialectologist, and lexicologist
San Pedro, California, USA


 

Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 23:21
Spanish to English
The test translation is one thing but... Feb 15, 2011

As FarkasAndras says you wouldn't want that job for anything. How is one supposed to translate goobledigook? Impossible hard, no chance of any professional satisfaction and then the agency would probably blame you for the poor result.

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:21
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Well done! Feb 16, 2011

Nathalie Ohana wrote:
I asked again if a 300 word test would be acceptable to him, the answer was that if I wanted to be involved in this project, I had to do the entire test, free of charge.

Of course, I did not.

OK!

My experience is that 200-300 words on a well-chosen text gives you a lot of information to know about a translator's capabilities.

The problem is that project managers don't spend time choosing the right texts for the tests, and insist on using a piece of the job at hand, which means that they need to make it a big test. Completely wrong approach if you ask me!


 

yyang
Local time: 00:21
Chinese to English
+ ...
Ugh Mar 17, 2011

that's awful, may karma catch up to those who abuse freelance translators.

telefpro wrote:

Recently, In India, I was asked to translate 2 pages as sample. I guess he asked several people to translate different pages, and later on I never heard of him.


 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Agency asking free translation sample of 790 words

Advanced search







Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »
Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search