Do you accept sample translation?
Thread poster: Nisreen Barakat
Nisreen Barakat  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 00:55
English to Arabic
+ ...
Nov 17, 2014

Hello fellow translators,

Do you usually accept to submit unpaid sample translations?

After more than 10 years experience in translation; I find it a
bit "out of place" to submit a sample? And I usually refuse.

Is it common to accept sample translation? Should I reconsider
my decision?

Thanks for sharing your opinions


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:55
French to German
+ ...
No Nov 17, 2014

Generally speaking I refuse and send examples of articles or links of websites which have been translated by me.

Rarely I accept to do a sample translation of no more than 150 words for a concrete project.


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 23:55
English to Russian
+ ...
Sample translation is actually the best possible option Nov 17, 2014

Based on 29 years of professional experience both as a translator and as an evaluator, I consider sample translations the best possible way for the agency to check translator's fitness for the project and for the translator to prove he's worth his salt. No diplomas, letters of reference or lists of past projects or clients can conclusively prove anything. Sanitized samples of past work in the same subject field are better, but still not the best. A sample text carefully prepared by a competent evaluator (as opposed to an excerpt from a random document on the subject) will clearly show translator's strengths and weaknesses. The commonly accepted limit for such a text is 300-350 words, and that's where I draw the line - naturally, I will not do a 2000-word test.

P.S.: The above applies to recruitment of translators for permanent collaboration or for a large project. Asking translators to do a sample translation for a one-time job is certainly excessive.

[Edited at 2014-11-17 20:17 GMT]


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Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:55
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Sometimes Nov 17, 2014

I occasionally do a sample translation for a company I have a specific reason for wanting to work for. In the last 5 years this has happened twice and I have had a very good relationship with one of these companies, so I do not regret it.

It's not something I would do as a matter of course though, and in any case I am usually fully booked up and don't have time to be jumping through hoops to get more clients.


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:55
French to German
+ ...
Why not pay sample translations? Nov 17, 2014

If a company is really interested in working with a translator why not pay the sample translation?

I actually did two sample translations of more than 1000 words last year and the clients proposed to pay for it (and did!). I still work with both of them regularly.

[Modifié le 2014-11-17 21:16 GMT]


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 23:55
English to Russian
+ ...
Yes, some samples are paid Nov 18, 2014

If a company is really interested in working with a translator why not pay the sample translation?


Many agencies do indeed offer a small paid job in lieu of a test translation. In my experience, this happens more often with subjects that are not too complex. On the other hand, in safety-critical fields like aerospace, nuclear energy, or clinical research, the client may really need to check you out on subject-specific pitfalls (e.g. the difference between altitude, height and elevation in aviation, etc.), giving you a specially crafted test to translate, and it's extremely rare that an agency would pay you to translate a text that's not bringing them any revenue. I know because I wrote some of these tests


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Pierret Adrien  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 05:55
Chinese to French
+ ...
Nothing against it Nov 19, 2014

As long as my few first contacts with the company were courteous, I have no objection on the principle. I can understand that there is hardly any other way for a company to truly assess someone's skill, I have been on both sides.
My limits are: no more than about 300 characters, for real projects only (meaning, not as a part of some registration process).


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Catherine Howard
United States
Local time: 17:55
Portuguese to English
+ ...
sample in exchange for feedback Nov 19, 2014

Given how unethical some agencies are in not even screening the translators they hire, simply giving the job to the lowest bidder, I've come to appreciate agencies that go to some lengths to adequately evaluate the translators who might work with them. If that means a short sample translation is part of the process, then I am willing to provide it at no cost. However, I recently decided that, in agreeing to do their sample, I expect feedback from the person in the agency responsible for evaluating it (unless it's the end client evaluating it). This feedback will either give me useful and/or interesting advice from a competent evaluator -- meaning that I'm getting something in return for the time I spent doing an unremunerated sample -- or else it will reveal a novice proofreader who knows less about translating than I do -- which will give me grounds to challenge anything ridiculous that was said about the translation. I've gotten some really helpful feedback from really good evaluators at really good agencies this way, and it's even helped me screen out agencies that use nothing but CAT tools to evaluate samples by comparing fuzzy-match percentages.

[Edited at 2014-11-19 06:14 GMT]


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Tiffany Hardy  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:55
Spanish to English
Great clients obtained through testing Nov 19, 2014

I have in the past agreed to do test translations when I was first starting out. At that moment, I had time on my hands to invest and little experience to claim. I'm glad I did them as I got some very good long-term clients that way.

I would however be sure to establish your rates first with the potential client and make sure you agree with any payment terms, etc. before taking a test. Even if it is a short test, there is no point in doing one to later find you can't agree on a rate.


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Nisreen Barakat  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 00:55
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good suggestions Nov 19, 2014

Thank you all; your feedback is much appreciated

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