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Translation Tests
Thread poster: Oliveira Simões

IrinaN
United States
Local time: 00:09
English to Russian
+ ...
Oliveira, we are:-) Aug 20

Everything about the proper use of free tests was implied. Maybe 2-5 out of a thousand offers and "opportunities" are worth doing but when it's worth it, it really is.

I've done less than 10 free tests in my 30-year career. 7 of them fed me for decades between 20 and 80K a year. 2 or 3 wasted ones do not make me cry a river over my oh, so precious 250 word:-). Every contractor in every industry on the market starts with a proposal and writes it as his own expense.

If y
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Everything about the proper use of free tests was implied. Maybe 2-5 out of a thousand offers and "opportunities" are worth doing but when it's worth it, it really is.

I've done less than 10 free tests in my 30-year career. 7 of them fed me for decades between 20 and 80K a year. 2 or 3 wasted ones do not make me cry a river over my oh, so precious 250 word:-). Every contractor in every industry on the market starts with a proposal and writes it as his own expense.

If you ever worked on serious oil and gas bids, you know that very reputable, established, sought after smaller companies do not send a message "Hey, I'm XXX, you know me, cut the cr* and let's do business." They spend tens of thousands on a proposal to get a chunk of multi-million-dollar projects and... get a response "Sorry, not you. Have a nice day". This is how the market works, and this is the logic of the same corporations when they seek language vendors. They often demand those tests to be forwarded to them. The bidding agency pays someone to coordinate it all.

For real, worthy clients, the tests are not free. They have to pay someone to sift through it and read it. Real, worthy clients use very expensive editors who sometimes occupy valuable space and assets in their offices.

Oh well, I don't seek 1-2 pages from 100 sources, so I'm used to play by the big dudes' rules.

There is only one way to evaluate a new translator - to read a few sentences written by him on a related subject. There is only one way to evaluate the person who will be holding your bank account hostage when translation is your only income, aka the editor - to see what kind of editing he does. Mind it, editors are a big part of the word-of-mouth part of our lives. Assess the potential award, including its source and the chance of it turning into a real thing and, if satisfied with the risk assessment results, spend hardly much longer than the time needed for a long forum discussion against it:-)..

Best of luck to you too.

Respectfully,
Irina
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Kay Denney
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:09
Member (2018)
French to English
That degree is really not worth very much. Aug 21

Oliveira Simões wrote:
there are also translators with academic degrees, either at the BA or MA level. Why should they accept to take free tests if they have been to school for many years?


As far as I'm concerned, that bit of paper is pretty meaningless. Just as I have walked out in disgust from several professionally qualified doctors' surgeries because they refuse to treat the problem I am consulting for, so it goes for translation degrees. A translation degree might help someone who has never had to get to grips with translation, but it won't help in the case of highly technical texts when the translator simply doesn't know a thing about that field, to the point that they don't even know what they need to learn and where they have to start.

As a proofreader working at an agency, I have countless times failed supposedly seasoned, qualified professionals with expert knowledge in the relevant field, for not bothering to do basic things like change the comma in French into a decimal point in English, or for lazy false friend translation.

Also, a young woman with a master in translation told me she was glad she chose to do a translation for her thesis because otherwise she would not have translated a word while studying for her master. There is so little demand for language courses, let alone translation, in British universities, that they just lump all linguists together and they study translation theory only, never actually putting any of it into practice. The young woman in question could barely speak French (despite living in France and having a French boyfriend!) yet she had a master in FR-EN translation.

The only decent interns I ever worked with had already gained experience with using French in their everyday lives and had also worked in various fields and knew the jargon for those fields. i.e. they had been through the university of life. The master in translation was just a bit of paper that proved what they had learned elsewhere.
As indeed is my own, since I earned that master on the strength of my professional experience rather than at uni. I did it simply because people are reassured when you say you have a master in translation, not because I needed to learn anything, because I had learned it all on the job.

So yes, a test is often necessary. In the agency I worked for, we would mostly test a new translator by sending them a short paid translation before entrusting them with big stuff. For example when a translator we sent lots of work too was due for maternity leave, I sought out a translator with a similar profile ahead of her contractions. Of course it's not always possible to plan in advance and we did sometimes have to send big jobs to new translators. In this case we would sometimes send just a small part first and the rest once we were satisfied that they were up to scratch.


IrinaN
Zeineb Nalouti
 

Oliveira Simões  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:09
Member (2017)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, degrees are important Aug 21

Kay Denney wrote:

As far as I'm concerned, that bit of paper is pretty meaningless. Just as I have walked out in disgust from several professionally qualified doctors' surgeries because they refuse to treat the problem I am consulting for, so it goes for translation degrees. A translation degree might help someone who has never had to get to grips with translation, but it won't help in the case of highly technical texts when the translator simply doesn't know a thing about that field, to the point that they don't even know what they need to learn and where they have to start.

As a proofreader working at an agency, I have countless times failed supposedly seasoned, qualified professionals with expert knowledge in the relevant field, for not bothering to do basic things like change the comma in French into a decimal point in English, or for lazy false friend translation.

(...) The young woman in question could barely speak French (despite living in France and having a French boyfriend!) yet she had a master in FR-EN translation.

(...) So yes, a test is often necessary. In the agency I worked for, we would mostly test a new translator by sending them a short paid translation before entrusting them with big stuff.


If degrees are not important, are you advocating that doctors become butchers instead? All doctors have gone through residency so it's not fair to assume that their degrees are "meaningless", or that they are inexperienced. Not true. How can a doctor operate on a patient if they don't know the ins and outs of the human body? How can they acquire this knowledge unless they have a degree? Impossible... Your argument doesn't make sense. As I said earlier, there are good professionals and bad ones, those with good reasoning skills and those with not-so-good reasoning (or problem-solving) skills, but this has nothing to do with the degree argument. A degree definitely helps. There's nothing more annoying than when a colleague "corrects" a translation error that's not really an error, when they don't know that the gerund, for example, is not a verb tense, or keep insisting on the wrong translation, despite all evidence. Or worse yet, when the "translator" does a transcreation under the guise of "translation". I see that all the time. Most translators I see around don't have a degree and you can clearly tell the difference. Some don't have a clue. So yes, degrees are not to be discarded as irrelevant. Definitely! Experience is very important too. Just to clarify, I'm not against the use of translation tests, as long as they are paid for. What we, as translators, cannot accept (at least, I don't) is to take free tests for every single project, even if they are large. In short, it's up to each one of us to determine what's best for us. I won't take any unpaid tests that are longer than 200 words. And I only take them if I want to.

[Edited at 2019-08-21 15:48 GMT]


Kaspars Melkis
 
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