Sample translations: Are they necessary?
Thread poster: Allison AHN

Allison AHN
Australia
Local time: 14:45
Korean to English
+ ...
Jan 15, 2016

Hello,

I am invited to conduct a one-page sample test. If the domains are specific, it would be probably accepted but still I am wondering this is a norm in the industry when sample portfolios are provided. And also I am wondered how many tests had colleague translators been through generally before establishing as an independent translator?

Thank you in advance for sharing.

Ali


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:45
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Logically no, but... Jan 15, 2016

You might think an agency which has read your CV including translation samples ought not to need a sample translation, but on the other hand, how does the agency know the sample is your own work? Anyway, why not do one if that's what the client wants? Why irritate the client at the potential beginning of useful cooperation? However, there are limits. One page is OK but 300 words is about the most that is acceptable.

I have been translating since 1953 and freelancing since 1965, but I still do samples occasionally.


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:45
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
One page sounds too much Jan 15, 2016

Allison AHN wrote:
And also I am wondered how many tests had colleague translators been through generally before establishing as an independent translator?

I do one unpaid test for each new client. I do not provide references so I personally think it is reasonable for them to have an opportunity to assess my ability on a text of their choosing.

I suggest that you don't allow them to take liberties with the length of the test. I state in advance that I do not accept tests that are longer than about 500 Japanese characters (roughly 250 English words). A page of Korean would be quite a lot - probably 800-1,000 characters?

Also, you should negotiate your rate before you take your test.

One potential client wanted me to do three different unpaid tests in three very similar areas (I think it was finance, economics and stocks or something like that). I pointed out that this was unreasonable and started the "I don't work for less than X" conversation.

It turned out that the maximum they would accept was was 30-40% less than my minimum. So I'm glad I didn't waste my time on those three tests.

Regards
Dan


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Alistair Gainey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:45
Member (2009)
Russian to English
Agreed Jan 15, 2016

Jack Doughty wrote:

You might think an agency which has read your CV including translation samples ought not to need a sample translation, but on the other hand, how does the agency know the sample is your own work?


Another thing to consider is that you can take as a long as you want over a sample translation, a luxury agencies are rarely willing to offer. Furthermore, agencies in my experience often use tests not just to analyse your translation proficiency but to see if you can follow instructions, use certain software, meet deadlines, etc.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 03:45
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Agreed Jan 15, 2016

Jack Doughty wrote:

You might think an agency which has read your CV including translation samples ought not to need a sample translation, but on the other hand, how does the agency know the sample is your own work? Anyway, why not do one if that's what the client wants? Why irritate the client at the potential beginning of useful cooperation? However, there are limits. One page is OK but 300 words is about the most that is acceptable.

I have been translating since 1953 and freelancing since 1965, but I still do samples occasionally.


I haven't been translating as long as you (full-time since 1986 + 10 years in part-time) and I still do samples from time to time, specially if the project (or the client) seems appealing...


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xxxAdrian MM.
Local time: 04:45
French to English
+ ...
Inhouse or independent centre testing/potential abuse Jan 15, 2016

If you are going inhouse at the prospective client's - or to a neutral and independent testing centre/center - to translate the sample, as I used to do as a supplicant staff or 'UN/EU institutionalisable' translator, then all well & good.

Otherwise, heed the usual caveats entered by others here and the 'implausible' scenario of a patchwork novel, court pleading or professional article made up of 'inconsistent sample translation' fragments, so - unless, unusually, charged for - translated for free.

Also, although it may sound odd, add the copyright symbol, your name and date to any sample translation!

Object lesson:

a one-page English-into-German 'sample translation' of a textile and fashion advertisement - that had been reportedly claimed by a (since insolvent) London-(dis)located translation agency to have 'failed' the testing process - soon found its insidious way, without the translator's copyright consent or payment but word-for-word, into a Frankfurt-am-Main trade-fair exhibition catalogue.

The possibilities for abuse and racketeering by the users are slim but still there.

[Edited at 2016-01-15 17:20 GMT]


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Allison AHN
Australia
Local time: 14:45
Korean to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all. Jan 18, 2016

Yes, so I can accept one page test for new clients. Thank you all for your comments.

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Sample translations: Are they necessary?

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