How to offer free translation?
Thread poster: francesellen
francesellen  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:01
French to English
+ ...
Sep 24, 2011

Hi everyone,

I wonder if you could help or whether you'd have any experience of a similar issue.

I'm about to embark on my dissertation for my MA in Translation which will take the form of translating a previously untranslated text and commenting on it. I have lots of organisations and publishers to contact asking if they have any suitable texts which they would be happy for me to translate as part of my studies but I am unsure how to approach them. I (obviously) won't want any monetary reward for the translation, but I feel I should ask their permission and possibly for contact details of the author who might be useful to get in touch with during the course of the project.

Thanks,

Frances


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Jean-Pierre Artigau
Canada
Local time: 11:01
English to French
+ ...
What type of text? Sep 24, 2011

In my opinion, you should first determine what type of text you want to work on: literary, commercial, scientific, journalistic, a thesis? And what would be a "suitable" text?

Only then should you ask the questions you are asking in your message.

I think you might undertake to study anything you find on the Web without asking permission, since it is in the public "domain", as long as you don't publish it or exploit it for commercial purposes.

Jean-Pierre


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cwfutter
Germany
English to German
+ ...
public domain Sep 24, 2011

I think it be wise to ask for permission. Now, you are right in saying it is public domain, but as far as I am aware if its for a degree it will be published, even if only to a very limited degree. So I would choose a piece carefully, do consider that not everything is easy to translate, some terminology takes an awful lot of time to research and go forth and ask straightaway. The author/publisher probably won't mind having a free piece to use in return.

all the best, Gernot

[Edited at 2011-09-24 19:36 GMT]


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francesellen  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:01
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Availability on the web Sep 24, 2011

Hi both, thanks for your replies.

@Jean-Pierre - great idea about trying to find something on the web, but the required length is c. 10,000 and that type of text doesn't tend to be readily available online. I'm looking at literary texts but haven't got a particular genre pinned down.

@cwfutter - the whole point is that not everything will be easy to translate! At Master's dissertation level I think I'll be looking for something challenging, with either difficult terminology (if addressing a non-literary text) or a similar level of difficulty in literary texts.


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:01
Italian to English
10,000 words on the web Sep 24, 2011

francesellen wrote:

@Jean-Pierre - great idea about trying to find something on the web, but the required length is c. 10,000 and that type of text doesn't tend to be readily available online.


Actually Frances, it does. When I started out, I translated a 10,000 word online article for free on this site: http://www.scaruffi.com/cinema.html

I was interested in cinema but he covers other genres too. I confess I was tempted by his hint at possible payment (which didn't materialise) but I did get my name credited, linking to my e-mail address and that proved very useful as a CV reference in the early days.

Good luck.


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Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:01
Member
English to German
+ ...
Regarding your offer... Sep 25, 2011

Hi francesellen,

I would offer the normal rate that you would otherwise offer for thus a kind of project.

Regards,

Marina


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:01
French to English
+ ...
"On the web" != "Public domain" Sep 25, 2011

Jean-Pierre Artigau wrote:
I think you might undertake to study anything you find on the Web without asking permission, since it is in the public "domain", as long as you don't publish it or exploit it for commercial purposes.


Remember even MA theses aren't usually "secret" documents: a condition of being granted the degree will usually be that you make the thesis publicly available in the university library/web site. So I don't think you can just take any old text and assume it's "fair dos": if the text isn't genuinely in the public domain, you do need to get permission.

Just because a text is published on the web doesn't automatically make it "public domain": you should treat it like any other form of publishing, subject to copyright.


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:01
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Not everything on the web is "public domain" - What gave you this strange idea? Sep 25, 2011

Jean-Pierre Artigau wrote:

I think you might undertake to study anything you find on the Web without asking permission, since it is in the public "domain"

Jean-Pierre


I don't know what gave you the idea that anything you find on the Web is in the public domain. Go and ask a lawyer specialized in IP - you'll find this is not true at all.

If I write something and publish it on the web, perhaps in a blog or on another web site, I'm the copyright holder of text, and nobody can use it without permission, certainly not for commercial purposes, but also for other purposes. Only if an author explicitly puts a text into the public domain, you can be sure it is fair game.

A text can also be in the public domain because its copyright protection has expired or lapsed. But you can be sure a text is no longer protected by copyright only if it is fairly old (how old, depends on the country - but as a rule of thumb you should assume that most anything written after 1925 or so is protected by copyright).

[Edited at 2011-09-25 04:43 GMT]


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Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:01
Member (2009)
French to English
A simple introduction should work Sep 25, 2011

I would start contacting the publishers just as you have here:

Dear...

I am working on my Masters in Translation blah blah blah looking for suitable texts blah blah blah. Do you have any recommendations? This would not be for publication/would be published in my thesis/excerpts would be published... etc.

Sincerely yours,

etc etc...

Although others have stated it, the importance of not assuming that everything on the web is public domain cannot be overstated. See the Cook's Source scandal for more details: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Cooks_Source_infringement_controversy


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Karolina Kopczyńska-Rojek
Poland
Local time: 17:01
English to Polish
+ ...
Suggestion for a starting point Sep 26, 2011

Hi Frances,

have you checked out Project Gutenberg ( http://www.gutenberg.org )? All the works available on the site are not subject to copyright in the US, so that leaves you with one issue less to worry about. And even if you do not find any particular piece to your liking, you may still come across some sources of inspiration.

But, on a side note, have you tried narrowing down the topic of your dissertation? It is definitely easier to proceed with the search once you have established what you would like (or definitely would not like) to focus on. If you are looking for a challenge, you could browse for a work which has not been translated due to significant cultural differences (visible, for example, in the use of humour) and prepare a few translations in which you could employ different strategies for coping with the untranslatable elements. This method enables you to prepare a comparative analysis of various approaches, but at the same time it would also force you to significantly broaden the scope of the dissertation.

Regards from a fellow MA student
Karolina

Edit: malformed website address.

[Edited at 2011-09-26 15:14 GMT]


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Jean-Pierre Artigau
Canada
Local time: 11:01
English to French
+ ...
Public domain? Sep 26, 2011

Hello

OK, they all disagree with my remark on public domain, let's say I was simply wrong when I said that. Next time I swear I'll think twice.

The problem I had once was "should I reveal such and such information to a third party" (e.g. by sending a sample of my work), and it appeared that if it was available on the net, it could be considered "public", i.e. available to everyone.

Cheers everyone.

Jean-Pierre

[Edited at 2011-09-26 15:41 GMT]


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Bilbo Baggins
Catalan to English
+ ...
Creative Commons Sep 27, 2011

Look for something with a Creative Commons licence.

EG. I've just downloaded a book called Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig, conditions of use as follows:

"FREE CULTURE is available for free under a Creative Commons license.
You may redistribute, copy, or otherwise reuse/remix this book provided that you do so for non-commercial purposes and credit Professor Lessig."
http://www.free-culture.cc/freecontent/

And see here for books: http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Books

You may find something in Italian, or leads to Italian books with a CC licence.


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