Request to translate a document the translation of which is already available on the net
Thread poster: Srini Venkataraman

Srini Venkataraman
United States
Local time: 09:16
Member (2012)
Tamil to English
+ ...
Sep 21, 2013

Recently a client asked for translation of a hospital admission form. Being so basic, on checking, I found that the translation is already available on the net. After checking the match and translating a little specific to the client, I have submitted.
It is similar to another member asking for French laws already available in English.
How ethical is it? or should the client have checked the net- of course they cant read the language to check correctness.


 

James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:16
Russian to English
+ ...
it's happened to me Sep 21, 2013

About a year ago I was asked to translate an article by Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs. Upon checking, as you did, I found an excellent translation posted on the ministry's website and informed my client. Although I could have gone ahead and translated the article, making sure not to plagiarize, I didn't think that would be ethical.

Every situation is different, of course. If the ministry's translation had been bad, I would have felt perfectly justified in providing my client with my own translation.


 

Srini Venkataraman
United States
Local time: 09:16
Member (2012)
Tamil to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
weird Sep 21, 2013

That was case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand has!! In my case the client cannot read the language so could not have found+10%-15% specific to the user had to be translated.

 

finnword1
United States
Local time: 10:16
English to Finnish
+ ...
offer discount Sep 21, 2013

Since you accepted the job, it is your responsibility to deliver an accurate, word for word translation. In your situation, I would charge full rate for what is new or different, and carefully check the rest, charging my usual rate for proofreading/editing. If I don't like the old translation, I would make all the changes I want.

 

Don Hank  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:16
German to English
+ ...
Translation work Sep 21, 2013

Srini Venkataraman wrote:

Recently a client asked for translation of a hospital admission form. Being so basic, on checking, I found that the translation is already available on the net. After checking the match and translating a little specific to the client, I have submitted.
It is similar to another member asking for French laws already available in English.
How ethical is it? or should the client have checked the net- of course they cant read the language to check correctness.


Since there was client-specific information on it, and since it took you time to determine what those differences were, you should not be blamed for taking money for this. I assume it wasn't that much money.
On the other hand, my main client sometimes sends me patents for translations that have EN equivalents. I always inform them of this and offer to cancel the translation. About half the time they cancel but other times they have me translate the claims only and normally, there are major discrepancies between the claims and the original. Advantage to me: This strengthens their loyalty.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:16
Russian to English
+ ...
If anybody asks you to translate something which is in the public Sep 21, 2013

domain or to which they hold the copyright -- you don't have to hesitate -- just translate it. You are not supposed to use the other translations though as the basis for your translation. There is nothing wrong with it. Certain companies may have a reason why they want something translated from scratch. Maybe it was Machine Translated before, or they are not sure if the translation is right, or any other reason.


[Edited at 2013-09-21 16:29 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
Why not? Sep 21, 2013

I don't recall it happening to me, but a friend of mine was once asked to translate an EU document from French to Spanish by the local authority here. She discovered that the document was already available in Spanish - from another office in the same council building! However, as the existing translation wasn't up to her own high standards, she simply went ahead and did the translation as requested, using the already translated document as a base, but improving it substantially. I don't think she really did anything wrong or unethical in that case, but I might have reacted differently myself if the request was from a regular client.

 

Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
English to Russian
+ ...
Translate and use the existing translation as one of the references if needed Sep 22, 2013

That's what I usually do. And who knows, maybe your translation will be bettericon_wink.gif

 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:16
Russian to English
+ ...
I would advise against using any other translations as reference Sep 22, 2013

If you copy some sentences they may accuse you of copy rights violations.

 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:16
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
It's happened to me! Sep 22, 2013

I don't often do legal but I was asked to translate a letter about working conditions.

Once I had laboured practically to the end of my first draft, I had to research a term and came across an EU directive that the author of the letter had all but quoted in full (without specificying any reference numbers dates or anything, otherwise of course I would have started by checking.

Given that it seemed to be the official English version, and was well-translated, I decided to lift the text and simply tweak it for it to read smoothly, as the source author had done. I felt quite smug seeing just how similar my translation actually was, but acknowledged that the text I had found was better (after all I hadn't got to polishing my text).

At the time I was working in-house, I believe the boss simply billed the entire thing, because there had been no references for me to have realised that there could be an English version already.


 

finnword1
United States
Local time: 10:16
English to Finnish
+ ...
EU translations Sep 22, 2013

I would not trust EU translations anyway. They use an army of translators, each one seemingly going their own way. I have seen discrepancies, where the same term has been translated differently, sometimes incorrectly.

 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:16
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Essentially agree with Neilmac and Artem Sep 22, 2013

Provided that there is substantial room for improvement, I don't see the problem with proceeding as these two colleagues have indicated. If, however, the existing translation is top notch, then I would inform the client of that and charge some nominal fee for whatever time I have spent on the project (e.g.,writing e-mails leading to the contracting of the work, reviewing the existing translation to assure that it was of high quality, etc.).

I think it reasonable to assume that clients do not require reminders that the internet exists, and that they can conduct a simple search to determine if a translation of a document can be found there.

[Edited at 2013-09-22 18:03 GMT]


 

Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
English to Russian
+ ...
I said use as a reference, not copy sentences Sep 22, 2013

LilianBNekipelo wrote:

If you copy some sentences they may accuse you of copy rights violations.



You shouldn't copy sentences. But it can be another source of terminology, phrasing solutions etc. I can't see any problem with that.


 

Sarai Pahla (MD) MBChB
Germany
Local time: 16:16
Member (2012)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Agreed Sep 23, 2013

Artem Vakhitov wrote:

LilianBNekipelo wrote:

If you copy some sentences they may accuse you of copy rights violations.



You shouldn't copy sentences. But it can be another source of terminology, phrasing solutions etc. I can't see any problem with that.


As several others have said, if there is an existing translation and you feel you can improve, by all means improve on it and bill for the job as usual.

With regards to using translations as reference, however, that does not necessarily mean copying the sentences word for word - and even if you were worried about copyright violations, text that is copyrighted is usually clearly marked as such in this day and age - and what if you came up with the exact same translation on your own without using the site as reference? Would you still be liable? To me it is just too much of a grey area.icon_smile.gif


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:16
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
And are laws copyrighted? Sep 23, 2013

Sarai Pahla wrote:

Artem Vakhitov wrote:

LilianBNekipelo wrote:

If you copy some sentences they may accuse you of copy rights violations.



You shouldn't copy sentences. But it can be another source of terminology, phrasing solutions etc. I can't see any problem with that.


As several others have said, if there is an existing translation and you feel you can improve, by all means improve on it and bill for the job as usual.

With regards to using translations as reference, however, that does not necessarily mean copying the sentences word for word - and even if you were worried about copyright violations, text that is copyrighted is usually clearly marked as such in this day and age - and what if you came up with the exact same translation on your own without using the site as reference? Would you still be liable? To me it is just too much of a grey area.icon_smile.gif


And are laws copyrighted??? I mean, when we're discussing things like EU directives or standards, the standard text should surely prevail unless there's a howler in there.


 


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