The other day I wrote (quoted from my website) a little something about my views regarding the never ceasing requests for translation samples, often also called "trials".
These always look like tests for the translator.
BUT I have come to think of these things ALSO as tests of the companies/clients requesting these trials.
1) I have been working 27 years as a translator and do not need to test today in order to know what I can do. Samples of my work can be found on my website too.
2) During these long years of work I have often been asked to "evaluate" some translations made by somebody else. If these had been work, it is "natural" that they are several (many) pages long, but there have also been plenty of trials. These were mostly 3-4 pages long. But I usually need AT MOST half a page to get an idea of what that person can (or cannot) do. If I go through the rest of these pages, this will provide me only with some more minor details, or some specific words that may have been used wrongly.
3) When I get something to "evaluate", I am expected to produce an output within hours, or at the latest 2-3 days. However, those "trials" I have been doing are send to some mysterious "reviewer" and it takes something LITERALLY months to get the "results" back. The details of these results are - as I wrote before - are most often kept "secret". If someone (the reviewer) needs THAT much time to come to a conclusion -> I as a translator feel sufficiently authorized to question his/her competence!
4) I also dare to doubt the competence of the reviewer/company when they are ONLY able to evaluate my skills with ONE PARTICULAR text. Anybody who claims to be a professional in this field should be able to evaluate the skills from ANY translation sample.
5) Then I get sample text, which contain mistakes = in the source language.
Thinking positively I could regard these as "part of the trial", intentionally placed there to see if I pick those up.
In case THAT was not the purpose, these mistakes reveal the lack of language skill of the client/company providing the sample. If ther are not able to write in their native language, how in the world do they intend to judge the quality of a certain translation?
Precisely this last aspect provides in MY MIND a red flag for that particular client. If I work for them, they are likely to come up with all sorts of unreasonable claims etc. I have seen this before. More than once.
So, I do a trial and observe how the results come back: this give me a certain view on how much the client can be trusted.