On the subject of Test Translations

On the subject of Test Translations

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I recently came across the following blog post (which I am copying in here for the sake of clarity) on a really useful translator blog:

http://translationjournal.blogspot.com/2006/04/test-translations.html

Many translation clients request free translations as a precondition for a paid assignment. Is this a reasonable request? And if so, what is a reasonable size of a test translation that will give the client an idea of the translator’s capabilities, yet is unlikely to be resold, possibly supplemented by other “test” translations, to the client’s client.

The Code of Professional Conduct and Business Practices” of the American Translators Association stipulates: “As an employer or contractor of translators and/or interpreters, … I will not require translators or interpreters to do unpaid work for the prospect of a paid assignment.” Is this a reasonable rule for translation buyers? (Note that it does not prohibit translators from doing free test translations.) How common is the abusive practice of requesting test translations as freebies to be used by or resold to the final customer?

Some translators refuse to do free translations. Others establish a limit of X words they are willing to do free of charge. Again others charge for test translations, but credit the amount paid against the price of the actual assignment. How should the translator respond when asked to do free work against the prospect of a paid assignment?

I would love to hear from other translators about what they think about this subject. I for one, have been taken for a ride at least once….

Someone connects with you on LinkedIn, Twitter, or simply through your blog and claims to be from a big company currently in the middle of a move into the Spanish market, requiring a huge amount of translation to facilitate this move and an ongoing, mutually benficial arrangement. However, he says he absolutely has to see what the quality of your work is, before he agrees to work with you instead of with someone else. So basically, he wants you to deliver a Test Translation, free of charge.

So what do you do when faced with the prospect of this potential translation opportunity?!

In one such case I went ahead and worked very hard to produce an excellent translation for the guy in question, sent it off to him and..you guessed it… never heard back. So who bets he went ahead and used it without ever having paid for it?!

Would love to hear from other translators faced with this quandry and to hear whether they establish word-limits or conditions in order to stop it happening.

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