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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Test Translations

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?