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I just declined an offer because of the client the translation would be for
Thread poster: Inez Ulrich

Inez Ulrich  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:33
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Nov 14, 2017

Sheila Wilson wrote:

It's society's job to protect the general public. unless the content is illegal. We don't need translation police, although we do have a duty to report illegal stuff, IMHO. But we as translators do have to protect ourselves and uphold our own principles, I'm sure we all have our own personal boundaries but they will vary enormously.

I refused a text that was written by a Muslim woman known for berating other women for not "living correctly". I can't be a party to their subjugation. But then I'm fussy about religious texts in general, as an atheist. OTOH, I thoroughly enjoyed editing some texts about sex toys, and swearing has never worried me in the least. I know others who feel very differently about those two more "earthy" areas. Those agro-chem giants certainly have a lot to answer for, but I'm not sure that I personally feel strongly enough about them to refuse their work. I think it would depend on the individual texts. But I accept that other translators might reject them out of hand.

Good to hear that you are doing well enough out of translation to be able to reject unsavoury jobs without worrying about putting food on the table. That has to be a goal to aim for .


very good point - exactly my opinion!
Yes, I'm doing well enough at the moment. Of course, that can change pretty fast, as we all now, but I'm confident


 

Inez Ulrich  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:33
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Nov 14, 2017

Jan Truper wrote:

I decline jobs based on my personal values almost on a daily basis.
I usually don't name the reason (I don't want the poor PM to feel like he/she is complicit in something despicable), but just decline the job. I don't work for airlines, tobacco companies, a**hole chemical giants, most banks, etc.

Obviously, it's pretty much impossible to exclusively work for companies that only do good for the world -- unfortunately, there aren't many of them. But within the range of jobs that I am offered, moral considerations play an important part when I decide what I take on.

I wouldn't hold it against anybody to do such work if they have to feed their children, and I count myself lucky to be at a point in my life and career that allows me to even have such considerations. But I think the world would generally be a much better place if people wouldn't constantly drown their conscience in filthy lucre, both in their work and consumption habits.

The "freedom of speech" argument does not hold universally, in my opinion.
There is a difference between translating court documents containing statements of an a**hole company and using your linguistic prowess to do marketing for an a**hole company, for example. In my view, the latter makes you complicit.


I like that! And I'm glad I'm not the only one you sees it this way.
I do legal, medical and marketing translations (marketing being my speciality area, ironically enough), too, even though I have a very ambivalent relationship to lawyers, banks and all that "buy me, buy me, you need more of me" stuff in marketing, and all of it has an impact on the world and the way we live, and very often not in a good way. But as Sheila said, I'm pretty sensitive in all matters environment and health due to personal experiences, so yes, there is probably my personal limit.

But it is really interesting to read about all those different perspectives - thank you for the exchange!


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:33
Member (2018)
French to English
Agree with Jan! Nov 14, 2017

Long ago working at an agency I had to do a translation about GM crops. Only a short letter, but full of cynical attitudes about having to "rebrand" them because the public were against the idea.
It gave me a horrific migraine, so I'm delighted now to be able to refuse such work.

I also routinely have to refuse work for a sports goods manufacturer. I don't mind their yoga pants and fitbits, but as a vegetarian I draw the line at accessories for hunting and fishing. I have t
... See more
Long ago working at an agency I had to do a translation about GM crops. Only a short letter, but full of cynical attitudes about having to "rebrand" them because the public were against the idea.
It gave me a horrific migraine, so I'm delighted now to be able to refuse such work.

I also routinely have to refuse work for a sports goods manufacturer. I don't mind their yoga pants and fitbits, but as a vegetarian I draw the line at accessories for hunting and fishing. I have to repeat this every time there's a change in project manager (about every six months for that agency - I think they only ever have interns for that particular client!)
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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:33
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I have turned down several jobs for ethical reasons Nov 14, 2017

Ethics are an important side of any business.

I have refused to translate texts that went against my own religious beliefs - I simply advised the client to find someone who would know more about the religious practices concerned and the required terminology. Basically it was the 'outside my scope' excuse, but there are some borderline areas I choose to read up on for the future, and some I do not...

I have firmly turned down jobs about 'alternative medicines'. I simply
... See more
Ethics are an important side of any business.

I have refused to translate texts that went against my own religious beliefs - I simply advised the client to find someone who would know more about the religious practices concerned and the required terminology. Basically it was the 'outside my scope' excuse, but there are some borderline areas I choose to read up on for the future, and some I do not...

I have firmly turned down jobs about 'alternative medicines'. I simply do not want to put my name to that kind of thing, unless I know the translation is going to be used in court as evidence of fraud!
I am not opposed to all kinds of alternative medicines and 'health foods', but I do specialise seriously in medical translation, and I have a conscience!

I believe in freedom of religion and freedom of speech, but that does not oblige me to assist actively in practices I believe are wrong or help to spread messages I strongly disagree with.

Luckily I have enough work, and it does not happen often. I hope you have reached that point and will stay there!

[Edited at 2017-11-14 11:14 GMT]
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:33
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Neat wording Nov 14, 2017

Christine Andersen wrote:
I believe in freedom of religion and freedom of speech, but that does not oblige me to assist actively in practices I believe are wrong or help to spread messages I strongly disagree with.

Very well put. That's exactly how I see it.


 

Inez Ulrich  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:33
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Nov 14, 2017

Christine Andersen wrote:

I have firmly turned down jobs about 'alternative medicines'. I simply do not want to put my name to that kind of thing, unless I know the translation is going to be used in court as evidence of fraud!
I am not opposed to all kinds of alternative medicines and 'health foods', but I do specialise seriously in medical translation, and I have a conscience!


[Edited at 2017-11-14 11:14 GMT]


Thank you, too, for that reply. I have the exact opposite opinion - you could simply exchange 'alternative medicine' with 'conventional medicine' and it could have been me who wrote this, word for word! However, I do translations with conventional medical content, because I'm interested in this since many, many years and I know both sides, the alternative and the conventional one, really well.

This makes it pretty clear how at least some of us make their decision based on their attitudes and convictions. And again I don't think this something to do with professionalism.

[Edited at 2017-11-14 11:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-11-14 11:28 GMT]


 

Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:33
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Trust your instincts Nov 14, 2017

I am firmly of the opinion that, if something doesn't feel right, then I shouldn't do it. Sometimes there is a logical explanation for this, but not always. I don't necessarily have to believe in what I am translating, but I do need to be empathetic. I am not the author, but just helping the author to find his or her voice, and other people are entitled to their different opinions. However if my gut reaction tells me that something is wrong, then I decline politely.

 

Inez Ulrich  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:33
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree Nov 14, 2017

Helen Hagon wrote:

I am firmly of the opinion that, if something doesn't feel right, then I shouldn't do it. Sometimes there is a logical explanation for this, but not always. I don't necessarily have to believe in what I am translating, but I do need to be empathetic. I am not the author, but just helping the author to find his or her voice, and other people are entitled to their different opinions. However if my gut reaction tells me that something is wrong, then I decline politely.


Yes, I feel the same.


 

Marcus König  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:33
Member (2009)
Portuguese to German
+ ...
In this case, there’s more you can do. Nov 14, 2017

It’s one thing not being part of their supply chain, but isn’t it by far more important not to be a consumer of their products?

You can decline the job but I guess it won’t make much difference. They will find other translators to get the work done, just like they will find farmers to buy their products. There will be be a market for food produced that way.

If you want to make a difference, the best way to achieve this is by getting involved in bottom up local com
... See more
It’s one thing not being part of their supply chain, but isn’t it by far more important not to be a consumer of their products?

You can decline the job but I guess it won’t make much difference. They will find other translators to get the work done, just like they will find farmers to buy their products. There will be be a market for food produced that way.

If you want to make a difference, the best way to achieve this is by getting involved in bottom up local community level solutions. Ultimately, in this case it means you can produce your own food or assist or effectively influence the way crops are produced. You believe that chemical-heavy farming techniques are harmful for our environment? We’re translators but we can be gardeners also. You work from home office? May be you can have a vegetable garden and grow nice crops the way you feel good about it. I do it during the breaks between the translation sessions. I step into the garden and immediately notice how I regain my ability to think straight. It is just miraculous. You can also join a local permaculture community or similar. Some learning is always required, but I believe there are simple paths to sustainability and wellbeing for people and the environment.
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Daniel Frisano
Switzerland
Local time: 00:33
English to Italian
+ ...
Almost did it... then I realized I would have been a hypocrit Nov 14, 2017

I do a lot of patents on cancer drugs, and there is always a lot of experimentation including injecting cancer in rats and watching them die or killing and dissecting them.

After doing several in a row I started wondering who are we to play God with other living beings and almost resolved to refuse any such job anymore.

A little later a close relative was hospitalized with a potentially life-threatening infection that was eventually cured with last-generation super-ant
... See more
I do a lot of patents on cancer drugs, and there is always a lot of experimentation including injecting cancer in rats and watching them die or killing and dissecting them.

After doing several in a row I started wondering who are we to play God with other living beings and almost resolved to refuse any such job anymore.

A little later a close relative was hospitalized with a potentially life-threatening infection that was eventually cured with last-generation super-antibiotics. I couldn't have cared less if millions of rats, mice, kittens, whatever, were killed to discover that antibiotic: when it touches you personally, goodbye rats, goodbye ethics.

And it's all over our lives: if I refuse a job for environmental reasons, that happily fill my life with items that involve heavy environment-unfriendly procedures, am I really as good as a person as I think I am?

Want an example? Lithium ion batteries. They are everywhere - laptops, phones, possibly the same device you are using right now. And they use cobalt:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4764208/Child-miners-aged-four-living-hell-Earth.html
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Inez Ulrich  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:33
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You are right Nov 14, 2017

Marcus König wrote:

It’s one thing not being part of their supply chain, but isn’t it by far more important not to be a consumer of their products?

You can decline the job but I guess it won’t make much difference. They will find other translators to get the work done, just like they will find farmers to buy their products. There will be be a market for food produced that way.

If you want to make a difference, the best way to achieve this is by getting involved in bottom up local community level solutions. Ultimately, in this case it means you can produce your own food or assist or effectively influence the way crops are produced. You believe that chemical-heavy farming techniques are harmful for our environment? We’re translators but we can be gardeners also. You work from home office? May be you can have a vegetable garden and grow nice crops the way you feel good about it. I do it during the breaks between the translation sessions. I step into the garden and immediately notice how I regain my ability to think straight. It is just miraculous. You can also join a local permaculture community or similar. Some learning is always required, but I believe there are simple paths to sustainability and wellbeing for people and the environment.


I do all of those things - not just empty words even though one can always do more, and I always try do.


 

Inez Ulrich  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:33
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Nov 14, 2017

Daniel Frisano wrote:

I do a lot of patents on cancer drugs, and there is always a lot of experimentation including injecting cancer in rats and watching them die or killing and dissecting them.

After doing several in a row I started wondering who are we to play God with other living beings and almost resolved to refuse any such job anymore.

A little later a close relative was hospitalized with a potentially life-threatening infection that was eventually cured with last-generation super-antibiotics. I couldn't have cared less if millions of rats, mice, kittens, whatever, were killed to discover that antibiotic: when it touches you personally, goodbye rats, goodbye ethics.

And it's all over our lives: if I refuse a job for environmental reasons, that happily fill my life with items that involve heavy environment-unfriendly procedures, am I really as good as a person as I think I am?

Want an example? Lithium ion batteries. They are everywhere - laptops, phones, possibly the same device you are using right now. And they use cobalt:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4764208/Child-miners-aged-four-living-hell-Earth.html


I absolutely understand your point, but there again is a difference between this and the agro-chem giant, at least in my opinion. I guess in the end it is always a matter of point of view, as we discussed earlier. Here it is about saving lives (for which antibiotics are meant for, not for every little sneezing and coughing, that is why we have such huge problems with resistant germs and because of that need more and more "super-antibiotics", but that is OT).

I try to live as environmentally friendly as possible, but you are right, there - still - are things where you hardly cannot avoid negative environmental impact, as with the batteries you mentioned. At least I buy second-hand and refurbished computers and devices, but in some areas it is difficult to stay "green". But I try to do my part as good as I can.


 

Sarah Lewis-Morgan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:33
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Having your own personal boundaries is perfectly valid Nov 14, 2017

Of course, as has already been mentioned, if I decline a job because it goes against my own personal code of ethics, someone else will do it. But I still feel better for not taking it. When I was starting out I did a translation for an escort service, which I would probably refuse nowadays. I did, however, turn down one on penis enlargement because I didn't think I would be able to stop laughing long enough to complete it. I would perhaps do a survey on the effects on cigarette smoking but not m... See more
Of course, as has already been mentioned, if I decline a job because it goes against my own personal code of ethics, someone else will do it. But I still feel better for not taking it. When I was starting out I did a translation for an escort service, which I would probably refuse nowadays. I did, however, turn down one on penis enlargement because I didn't think I would be able to stop laughing long enough to complete it. I would perhaps do a survey on the effects on cigarette smoking but not marketing material for a tobacco company. If you aren't comfortable with translating something then there is nothing wrong with saying no.Collapse


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
More work for the rest of us Nov 14, 2017

Some comments indicate that translators who will translate any text, regardless of the ethical principles of the company (client) involved, "just don't care."

Personally, I don't put any of my colleagues in a straitjacket for accepting or refusing a translation job based on my principles, beliefs or ethical stance. In my opinion, the moment we start mixing personal ethics with professional ethics, we risk creating a toxic environment in which some translators will feel vindic
... See more
Some comments indicate that translators who will translate any text, regardless of the ethical principles of the company (client) involved, "just don't care."

Personally, I don't put any of my colleagues in a straitjacket for accepting or refusing a translation job based on my principles, beliefs or ethical stance. In my opinion, the moment we start mixing personal ethics with professional ethics, we risk creating a toxic environment in which some translators will feel vindicated, justified or morally superior, or alienated or ridiculed because their personal ethics don't align with what the others support.

If a translator decides to stop translating medication information from a multinational that uses shady practices to promote its products (such as sending visiting salesmen to doctors, paying doctors a fee for a product endorsement of some kind, etc.), that's fine by me. It's a personal choice. Just keep it personal. No need to brag about it or announce it on social media to let others know how much you care for this or that.

As a translator, I only care about the quality of writing, about whether the communication of information is successful or not. I may opt for declining a job offer because the topic or the end client are unpalatable to me, but I keep it to myself. Professionally, I don't get assignments or get paid my fees because of my personal principles. Suggesting otherwise is, well, not germane to what we do as professionals.
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Michal Fabian  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:33
Member (2012)
Dutch to Slovak
+ ...
Ironic, innit? Nov 14, 2017

Mario Chavez wrote:

Just keep it personal. No need to brag about it or announce it on social media to let others know how much you care for this or that.


 
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