Usually, when we are applying for a translator position in an agency, we will be asked to take a short translation test or to provide sample translation from our previous works. But unfortunately, most of us are prohibited to expose any part of the text from our previous works because we are bounded by the signed NDA.
While some professional translators think that free translation test is not relevant anymore because it seems to be humiliating their professionalism and experiences, providing sample translations is considered to be a better solution. But, where do we get text for sample translation from?
There are certainly gazillion of various text on the internet. But not all of them can be used due to copyright. So, how do we choose the most appropriate text?
As you can see that here in my blog, I provide Sample Translation section where all the articles were taken from various famous blog. So, how did I get the rights to translate and publish them? Yes, I contacted the author or the publisher to ask for permission!
Contacting the author or the publisher to ask for permission is a must, so we can legally publish or share them. We can contact the author or the publisher through email or through their social media account. Usually, I use the following “template” to contact them:
My name is Khadis, English-Indonesian freelance translator from Indonesia. I am a new reader of your website and I found that the articles there are very interesting.*)
I am also a blogger and writer (mostly, write for local magazines). And now, I am interested to translate some articles in your website into Indonesian for free, and publish them in my blog. is it possible to do so? Basically, I am a translator in IT and technical documents field, but I am expanding my knowledge in other fields too, including in …. and …. field. So I need to translate some articles as my sample of translation. If I may translate articles in your website, I will keep the original links and mention the source. And of course, I will be glad to help you with professional English to Indonesian translation service whenever you need it.
*) Sometimes, I add more sentences like: Many of them are inspiring me to …..
Can we just use the non-copyrighted text?
Yes, we can. Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg, Foss projects, or any blog post with Creative Common license are good sources.
How many words should we translate?
Generally, the “standard” word count for sample translation is about 250 words or so. Just do not cut off the paragraph(s) in a weird way. Other things to consider are controversy and subject matter. Here are what I read from Proz:
Controversy – certainly shouldn’t matter. But people are people, and if you choose to translate a highly political rant, it might look suspicious. Why on earth did this person choose that? And if you happen to send the sample to someone whose politics run the other way, well – people are people, you know? It can’t help. Pick something neutral.
Subject matter – you’re showing off your skills, and trying to win a job. If it’s an agency that specialises in technical, pick technical. If you’re claiming to be a legal specialist, do legal.
Publishing the samples, is it important?
Publishing sample translations in a blog like me is only one of many ways to inform the agencies about our expertise or our interest. At the same time, agencies are likely to have no much time to read, surf, and explore our entire blog. So, make sure that you prepare the <.doc> or <.pdf> files so you can attach them in your email once they are needed. Or put the sample translation files in an online storage, and then share the links in your blog so the agencies can download them.
Publishing the samples is also useful not only for the agencies, but also the readers. If we can provide a good translation, it will “educate” our readers about what a good translation is.