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Posts Tagged ‘NAATI’

In 2012 a working group of distinguished colleagues updated the AUSIT Code of Ethics, which regulates the professional conduct of AUSIT members, both translators and interpreters, and on which all NAATI candidates are tested. The code, written in the early 1990s, and officially endorsed at the 1995 General Meeting, has been an essential tool for professionals, but so much has changed in the space of less than twenty years, that an update was maybe even overdue.

A few months ago I attended a panel discussion about the new code at the latest AUSIT Biennial Conference in Sydney, presented by Uldis Ozolins, where we had the chance to examine and discuss the changes to the code. Christian Schmidt was also enlightening in talking about this precious contribution to the process during the National AGM at the end of the conference.

Let’s have a quick look at the new code. In terms of structure, the major change is that to Section 6 of the old code, formerly titled “Employment,” and now basically split into two sections, called “6. Clarity of Role Boundaries” and “7. Maintaining Professional Relationships.” The two sections, which, put together, are longer than the old one they replaced, offer a much clearer understanding of the themes they deal with, which will help practitioners and clients alike. Furthermore, this is the only instance where the code got more verbose in the re-writing process. Overall, each section has been greatly simplified and shortened: Section 1 (Professional Conduct) went from 15 points subdivided into five sub-sections to just six points. Section 5, (Accuracy) went from 4 sub-sections, and a total of 11 points, to 4 simple points. All the other sections are considerably shorter and will appear much clearer and to the point to people who are not part of the industry. This is a great achievement: the much more concise format of the new code, and the clearer language used make it much easier for clients to get an idea of what they can and should expect by a T&I service provider.

This is of pivotal importance to ensure a smooth and mutually beneficial relationship between the client and the T&I service provider. For example, I was asked several times to change or explain some section of an official document. Sometimes a client might even ask me to add information which is nowhere to be found, or to change a date on a document on the basis that they are going to apply for a new copy which they expect to be issued on that date.

I have also encountered a few clients who sounded quite concerned about what I might do with their personal details and any information acquired while carrying out a job. Clearly, a Code of Ethics with a detailed section about Confidentiality, is an excellent way to show clients what they can and should expect from us as professionals.

Of course, explaining what the boundaries of my role are is easy and has always proven effective. Furthermore, it positively affects the client’s perception of the translator as a highly ethical professional, satisfying their need to know that they are dealing with a professional who is required to maintain an extremely high level of integrity. Still, I have noticed that some clients had minor troubles with the wording of the Code, and I was very happy to see that the new version will be an even more effective tool to educate clients and allow them to save valuable time and resources.

Finally, as an Italian, I can’t help but comparing the Australian case with that of my home country – AUSIT and its Code of Ethics, as well as body like NAATI, might still be far from perfect, but they are at the forefront, globally, in terms of protecting, advancing and regulating our profession. Italy still lacks – and desperately needs – an accreditation body comparable to NAATI and a professional body comparable to AUSIT. How my former university colleagues manage to navigate a market that does without these two pillars is beyond me. A simple, superficial analysis actually suggest that the consequences are disastrous, and directly linked with some of the major woes of translation in Italy. Unskilled translators market themselves well above their true level of competence, at amazingly low prices, and clients, big and small, assign them projects which often result in major embarrassments (like the official website of the Italian Ministry of Tourism). Setting a bar, like NAATI accreditation, and having a professional body that requires its members to abide to a code of conduct would doubtlessly sweep away unskilled and untrained people claiming to be translators, leaving the market to professionals. Without unskilled people driving prices down, translators could finally be able to compete on quality of service, rather than sacrificing it to compete on prices with unskilled competitors. This shift, by itself, is a major ethical imperative, and figures like the ones we read in the latest AUSIT report, with an average fee of $25 per 100 words, show that a high emphasis on ethics and conduct is not just fluff. On the contrary, it even affects, in a not-so-indirect way, the livelihood of professionals and therefore the quality of the services we provide.

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Come sapete, questo blog è orgoglioso di sostenere il Movimento No Peanuts! for Translators. Ci lamentiamo spesso – e con buone ragioni – di essere sfruttati da agenzie di traduzione, clienti, e siti web che sostengono di fornire un ottimo servizio ai traduttori quando in realtà ciò che fanno è perpetuare ed ottimizzare detto sfruttamento. Purtroppo, però, il problema peggiore, e di gran lunga il più dannoso per la nostra professione, viene da colleghi traduttori. Alcuni magari si accontentano di lavorare per le briciole. Ad altri invece manca qualsiasi parvenza di senso etico. Oggi vorrei condividere alcuni estratti dalla mia corrispondenza con M.N. (sarò un signore, o no?) del S.L.C. (e due…) Ho tradotto al volo il testo delle email, originariamente in inglese.

Il suddetto Mr. N. aveva bisogno della traduzione di un testo molto breve (342 parole) dall’inglese all’italiano, e quindi ha subappaltato il lavoro al sottoscritto.

Il 13 ottobre gli mando la mia traduzione, con tanto di fattura per $85.50. Il tizio neanche mi risponde con un laconico ‘grazie’. Niente.

Il 4 novembre, non avendo ancora ricevuto i soldi, gli scrivo un’email:

Buongiorno M,

Mi chiedevo quando pensava di riuscire a pagarmi per la traduzione XXXXXXX.

Grazie

Giuseppe

A cui lui risponde con

Aspettiamo il pagamento per la prossima settimana. Posso assicurarti che non scappiamo.grazie
m

Non c’è problema. A parte che, il 7 gennaio, mi rendo conto che questo tizio ancora non mi ha pagato. Quindi, pur ricordandomi del codice deontologico che mi richiede di essere educato e cortese e diplomatico, gli scrivo un’altra e-mail:

Buongiorno M,

Ho appena notato che non ho ancora ricevuto il pagamento per la traduzione XXXXXXX. Sono passati tre mesi, nonché due dalla sua lettera di rassicurazione. La prego di effettuare il pagamento appena possibile.

Grazie

Giuseppe

Al che lui mi risponde con un messaggio davvero professionale

Ancora non hanno pagato. Chiuso per natale. Credo prossima settimana
m

Poi, miracolo dei miracoli, il 19 gennaio noto il versamento sul mio conto, soltanto che ammonta soltanto a $68.00. Faccio un bel respiro profondo, conto fino a dieci, ripetendomi intanto che  “i traduttori devono cercare di risolvere ogni dissidio con i propri colleghi con spirito collaborativo, costruttivo e professionale”, dopodiché gli scrivo ancora un’email:

Buongiorno M,

Ho finalmente ricevuto il pagamento per la traduzione XXXXXXX. L’unico problema è che la mia fattura era per $85.50 (la trova allegata al presente messaggio) ma io ho soltanto ricevuto $68 sul mio conto. La prego di versare altri $17.50.

Distinti saluti

Giuseppe M Brescia

Ora, sono 17 dollari. La metà di quel che faccio pagare per un certificato di nascita. Non mi interessa. Ma il principio, quello che sì che mi fa ribollire il sangue nelle vene. Specialmente quando il server mi informa che M.N. ha letto l’email, ma mica si è degnato di rispondere. Quasi me ne dimentico; per fortuna ho una vita. Solo che il 10 di febbraio ci ripenso, e gli mando l’ennesima e-mail:

M,

Venti giorni fa – più di tre mesi dopo aver portato a termine un lavoro per lei – le ho mandato il seguente messaggio:

[…]

Non ho neppure ricevuto un cenno che confermasse l’avvenuta ricezione del messaggio. Si renderà conto che nonostante siano soltanto $17.50, si tratta pur sempre di un 20% abbondante di ciò che mi doveva. Tuttavia temo che non abbiamo mai parlato di un simile sconto.

Apprezzerei molto se potesse rispettare il codice deontologico della nostra professione e pagarmi quanto mi deve.

Distinti saluti

Giuseppe Manuel Brescia

Al che, finalmente, lui risponde con la seguente:

Ogni tanto dobbiamo essere competitivi e abbassare i prezzi. Era una di quelle occasioni. Spero che tu capisca.

M

Ora è troppo, caro M.N. Ora è troppo. Faccio davvero fatica, ma riesco a risultare educato. Tuttavia, non mi si richiedano carinerie.

No, M. Non capisco. E non mi piace che si approfitti di me.

Ci siamo accordati su una tariffa. Ho fatturato in base a quella tariffa. Mi deve pagare per quanto ho fatturato. Poi, naturalmente, lei è liberissimo di vendere la traduzione al suo cliente al costo che più le aggrada. Gliela può anche dare gratis, ma mi deve pur sempre pagare. Mi spiace doverle dire che la sua scusa è del tutto irrilevante.

Mi permetta di fare il punto della situazione:

Lei non ha mai accennato a un tale “abbassamento del prezzo”. Ha costantemente ritardato la data del pagamento, e ci sono voluti più di tre mesi, durante i quali, come dicevo, non ha mai neppure accennato a questo cosiddetto abbassamento del prezzo. Alla fine, dopo tre mesi, mi ha pagato il 20% in meno di quel che mi doveva, senza nemmeno farmelo sapere, o spiegarmi il perché. Dopodiché le ho mandato due e-mail,e dopo venti giorni lei ancora non mi aveva pagato, né aveva risposto alle e-mail, e addirittura neanche aveva confermato l’avvenuta ricezione. Alla fine le ho mandato quest’ultima e-mail e lei ha partorito questa scusa senza senso.

Glielo chiedo un’ultima volta, dato che è buona educazione risolvere i nostri dissidi fra noi, e in maniera civile:

intende onorare il suo debito e pagarmi quanto mi deve, oppure no?

Nel caso non dovesse rispondermi, la considererò una risposta negativa, e prenderò le misure necessarie per difendere il mio interesse, nonché l’integrità e la dignità della nostra professione.

Distinti saluti

Giuseppe M Brescia

Ora, ovviamente lui non ha risposto, e io non ho preso misura alcuna, perché il gioco non valeva una candela da $17.50. Ed è esattamente per questo che quest’uomo si comporta come si comporta. Non penso che ci sia molto da aggiungere. La gente come M.N. è, secondo il mio modesto parere, addirittura peggio delle agenzie negriere e dei clienti disonesti, perché questo signore è un traduttore professionista, accreditato dalla NAATI come me. Sta sfruttando e mancando di rispetto ad un collega, per la stratosferica cifra di 17 dollari australiani. So che paragonarlo ad un kapò potrà sembrare un tantino pesante, ma personalmente sono pronto a scommettere che erano esattamente persone di questa fibra a diventarlo. Fortunatamente, al giorno d’oggi, e in questi lidi, è solo questione di briciole.

Tuttavia, come possiamo aspettarci che la gente rispetti i traduttori, quando i traduttori non riescono nemmeno a rispettare i propri colleghi, e di conseguenza loro stessi?

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As you know, this blog proudly endorses the No Peanuts! for Translators movement. We often complain – with good reason – about being exploited by translation agencies, clients, and websites that claim to provide a great service to translators while they actually further and streamline the exploitation process. Sadly, though, the worst problem, the one which is by far the most damaging to our profession, comes from fellow translators. Some of them might just work for peanuts. Others simply have no sense of ethics whatsoever. I’d like to share some excerpts from my correspondence with M.N. (how kind am I?) of the S.L.C. (again…)

Said Mr. N. needed a very short text (342 words) translated from English to Italian, and subcontracted the job to me.

On the 13th of October, I sent my translation, and my invoice, for AUD 85.50. The guy didn’t even bother replying with a ‘thank you’, or anything.

On the 4th of November, I still had not received the money, so I wrote an e-mail to him:

Hi M,

I was wondering when you were expecting to be able to make payment for the XXXXXXX translation. Cheers

Giuseppe

He replied with

We expect payment next week. I can assure you we do not run away.
cheers
m

Fair enough. Except that, on the 7th of January, I realised that the guy still hadn’t paid me. So, remembering the Code of Ethics requiring me to be polite and courteous and diplomatic, I wrote another e-mail:

Hello M,

I just noticed that I still haven’t received payment for the XXXXXXX translation. It’s been three months since I did it and two since your reassurance attached below. Please make payment as soon as possible.

Cheers

Giuseppe

He got back to me with a real professional message:

Was not paid as yet. Closed for Xmas. I understand next week
m

Then, miracle of miracles, on the 19th of January, I noticed the deposit on my account, but it was only $68.00. I took a deep breath, counted to ten, repeated to myself that  “translators shall try to resolve any disputes with their colleagues in a cooperative, constructive, and professional manner”, then composed another message:

Hello M,

I finally received your payment for the XXXXXXX translation. The only problem is that I sent you an invoice for $85.50 (please find it attached again) and I only received $68 on my account. Please deposit another $17.50.

Regards

Giuseppe M Brescia

Now, it was 17 dollars. It’s half what I charge for a birth certificate. I don’t care. But it’s the principle that makes my blood boil. Especially when my server informed me that M.N. had read the e-mail, but did not reply. I half forgot about it; luckily, I have a life. But then, on the 10th of February, I thought about him again, and sent him yet another e-mail:

M,

Twenty days ago – more than three months after I completed a job for you – I sent you this message:

[…]

I have not even received an acknowledgment of receipt. You do realise that even if it is only $17.50, it’s over 20% of
my fee. We did not mention such a discount, I am afraid.

It would be appreciated if you could respect the ethics of our profession and pay me the agreed fee.

Regards

Giuseppe Manuel Brescia

To which, finally, he replied with this:

Every now and then we have to compete and reduce prices. This was one of those occassions [sic]. Hope you understand.
M

Too much, dear M.N. Too much.I really struggled, but I managed to come off polite, although please don’t ask me to be nice.

No, M. I do not understand. And I do not appreciate being taken advantage of.

We agreed on a fee. I invoiced you according to that fee. You have to pay me for what I invoiced you. Then, of course, you are totally free to give the translation to the client at the cost you want. You can give it to them for free, but you still have to pay me. So, I am sorry to say your excuse is irrelevant.

Let me refresh the sequence of events:

You never mentioned this supposed reduction of price to me. You kept pushing the date of the payment and took three months to pay me, during which you didn’t hint to this supposed reduction of price. Finally, after three months, you paid me 20% less than what I was due and even then didn’t bother informing me of that, or of the reason why. Then I sent you two e-mails and twenty days later you still hadn’t made payment, replied to said e-mails, or even acknowledged their receipt. Then I finally send you this last e-mail and you come up with this nonsense.

I am asking you one last time, as it is common courtesy to resolve disputes between us, and in a civilised manner:

do you intend to honour your commitment and pay me my full fee or not?

Should you not answer this, I will consider it a negative answer and take the appropriate steps to defend my interest and the integrity and dignity of our profession.

Regards

Giuseppe M Brescia

Now, obviously, he did not reply, and neither did I take any step, because it’s not worth the time and effort to get $17.50. And this is exactly the reason why this guy acts like he acts. I don’t think all this needs many comments. People like M.N. are, in my opinion, even worse than dishonest agencies and clients, because this guy is a NAATI-accredited professional translator, like me. He is exploiting and disrespecting a colleague (although I’m probably neither the first nor the last), all for the hefty sum of AUD17.50. I know that likening him to a kapo sounds a tad harsh, but personally I bet that this is the kind of person who would have become one. Luckily, in this day, age and place, it’s just about peanuts.

Yet, how can we expect people to respect translators if they don’t even respect each other and, therefore, themselves?

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