Business, Linguistics, Translation

Do we need to talk about ethics?

Translators, who freelance like me, usually never meet the major part of their customers. In the past five years, there was one customer, who insisted to see me in his office, before actually letting me sign the NDA and the various papers to start our collaboration. This being invisible is difficult to handle for me, since – I am almost sure – my personal properties, which make me more, than another translator, have almost no chance to be taken into account. I am not only patient and quick in translating, but I am also very attentive of what I translate and also how I translate it. I read very good – loads of times, when I proof a translation, I see errors, made, because the professional misread the source…

Anyhow, this is like globalization. You have to market yourself and try to find a market for your values, otherwise you will be a very attentive and patient and accurate translator without any purchase order.

Now, another important aspect of freelancing is, that you don’t have long-term contracts. The PO is usually just for one translation, the deadline is short, it is like going to a restaurant. Your meal is prepared, you eat it and when you paid, the chair is there for someone else. Anyhow, if you keep going back into the same restaurant every day, the waiters start to recognize you and treat you, like a “family member”. They will greet you by name, they will bring you your “usual” and you might even have monthly credit by them. Exactly like for a freelance translator. If there is a customer – agency – which comes back every day, you get used to it and you consider the relationship lasting longer than just for the breath of preparing a translation.

Well, an agency, which I worked for since a year, just stopped sending me translations. I obviously asked them after the second week, what would have happened and they blamed the summer. Fair enough, automotive companies close in the summer season. But now, 20-25 days after summer officially finished, I asked them again, it was just to strange that they’d only send me around 5000 words per month (mostly proofing) – until now over 40000  for the same period. They said: “well…Hungarian goes so well – I’d say, because I worked pretty good, so they could have new customers – that we hired an in-house translator, who is the first to get the jobs, before we outsource it to free-lancing vendors.”

Hell, it was a slap right into my face!

I’ve never thought, we’d grow old together, but I would have expected them to tell it to me, if there is such an important change in the work-flow, even before I ask! No, they thought – or didn’t think at all – that since we have no contract to bind us to each other, it is “enough” not to ask me working anymore.

And here comes my question: If you go to the same restaurant every day with a large company of yours for over a year every day, so that the restaurant “knows”, you bring 10-15 people ever day, wouldn’t you think of telling them the last day, that they should’t wait for you anymore, because you won’t show?

Even, if you have no contract and you are not forced to do so, it is HUMAN to think about how others would feel, isn’t it?

This is putting your personal skills into the collaboration, because we might have never met, but we are still people, we live from our jobs and we live from the money, we make with these jobs.

(Beside the fact, that since newest I have to proofread the in-house diamond, whose skills are not bad, but still questionable, must be a young colleague…I so would like to have new customers to put this agency into second row, where they belong.)

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2 thoughts on “Do we need to talk about ethics?

  1. Pingback: Real Translator Jobs for Those With Bilingual Skills | onlinebusinesslounge

  2. Pingback: Translation Jobs: Do Not Forget To Get Away From The Computer | onlinebusinesslounge

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