When translation becomes plagiarism
Thread poster: HRiley

HRiley  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
May 16, 2003

I have a client for whom I regularly translate technical articles on new technologies, from French to English. However, on a couple of occasions, when researching background information on the Internet, I have come across technical documents published in English by major corporations (such as IBM, Microsoft) which quite clearly served as the source for the article in French.



It seems as though the author has simply translated the relevant parts of the document into French, and then inserted them into his article. The problem is that when I translate these paragraphs back into English, they are suspiciously close to the original documents (sometimes even word for word). Although I do translate the documents, rather than cutting and pasting parts from the originals myself, I still feel that this is some form of plagiarism, and I feel uncomfortable with that.



I guess as it\'s the client that puts their name to the article in the end, I shouldn\'t feel concerned (legally, at least), but somehow I feel like it\'s cheating, and that my hard work has been undermined.



Has anyone had a similar experience?



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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:12
German to English
+ ...
No, but May 16, 2003

I think you should mention it to the client, especially because it\'s making you uncomfortable.



I have no idea what the thoughts would be in the client\' French-speaking country, so maybe you can put it in terms of \"in X English-speaking country, this would be considered plagiarism...\"


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primepage
English to German
+ ...
Yes and No... May 28, 2003

I have been asked a couple of times to translate materials that like copies of third party materials. To protect myself from any liability I have requested to be given a written statement from the client to the point that they were authorized by the copyright owner to translate the materials. And you guess it...I never get these jobs. Probably someone who doesn't care is doing them instead. As I have no control and knowledge in view to how the client uses the translations (internal use might be all right, but what if they put it in print?) I prefer to make sure I cannot get involved in a legal dispute.

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Richard Benham  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:12
German to English
+ ...
I don't see where it's your problem. Sep 10, 2003

You are asked to do a job, and you do it. You personally have not plagiarized anything.

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Gerard Michael Burns
Paraguay
Local time: 14:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
You're okay Sep 10, 2003

You mentioned that you DO translate the relevant paragraphs yourself. That means you're okay- The fact that some occasionally come out virtually, or perfectly identical is natural in some kinds of translation. I'm in a project now, parts of which were previously translated by 3 to 6 (nobody's really sure) previous translators- One or two of which I have access to -Occasionally, after an especially obscure paragraph, I look to see if the other translator(s) had a different take on the meaning. I think that as long as you aren't copying their language, and aren't often depending on their understanding of the original, you are nowhere near plagarism.

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When translation becomes plagiarism

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