Frequently Asked Questions

As a matter of principle I never do any free sample translations. Here is why: 

I studied translating for 5 years and have been successfully working as a translator since 1997. My rates for agencies are very competitive, but like yourself, I do not work for free. You might argue that you are not making any profit from a test translation because you are not going to sell it to any client. However, I would have to invest my time no matter what you will do with the translation afterwards. In fact, ‘free’ test jobs would cost me dearly as they would distract me from my paying clients.

There is no guarantee I will ever get any paid jobs from you even if I 'pass' your test. 

In my experience, most agencies asking for sample translations only want to get translations ‘especially cheaply’, and you never hear from them again.
I can send you a reference list of translation agencies from many countries. All of them were and are very satisfied with my work without their ever having felt the need to ‘test’ me.

Every time I receive a new job from an agency, I study it thoroughly and I only accept it if I feel absolutely comfortable with its terminology. I decline jobs that do not fit my fields of expertise or, with your approval, sub-contract a colleague who is experienced in the field required. A colleague checks each and every one of my translations before delivery. This service is included in the price.
My minimum charge is very small. This way you can easily ‘test’ my skills at minimal risk.

This questionable habit of ‘free services’ only seems to exist in the world of translating. Even if your sample text only has 200 words, you would be receiving a free gift worth at least EUR 20. Next time you are at your local bakery, why not try and persuade them to hand you free bagels worth EUR 20. Alternatively, promise your plumber a ‘fruitful co-operation’ for many years to come, if he just repairs your toilet free of charge this one time. I wish you the best of luck :-)!

"Please note that for the following reasons I no longer complete ex ante questionnaires" 

I will complete your questionnaire only in case of a specific inquiry on your part. Here is why: My partners and I offer top quality at a fair price. To do this, we need to focus on our job, which is translating and proofreading. There is no time for any occupational therapy. Many years' experience of completing questionnaires for agencies has taught me:

The length and complexity of the questionnaire are inversely proportional to the likelihood of a job being assigned.
Many agencies issue questionnaires automatically, even though they might already have saved the details of 200 applicants for the same language pair.

Instead of sending me a questionnaire, please ask yourself: Do you believe there is a real chance of us ever working together? To help you, you will find all my data on this website. If you do need any additional information or if you have a question, please just mail me. I will be only too pleased to reply.

If you do not require any more partners for my/our language pairs, please save your time and mine, and simply delete my application email. No hard feelings! Otherwise, just save my application email. Should you ever look at a text, thinking "This might be a job for Jörg...", I will be happy to be at your service.

Please note that I can only sign your NDA in case of a specific inquiry on your part: My partners and I offer top quality at a fair price. To do this, we need to focus on our job, which is translating and proofreading. Please also see .
Our aim is to deliver top-notch quality only. That is why my partners and I only accept texts with which we feel absolutely comfortable. Also, creating a high-quality translation requires time. While all our translators are very experienced and work fast, very short deadlines always have a detrimental effect on a translation as it does not leave enough time for a second check and other QA measures. That is why we turn down jobs with deadlines that are not viable.

Another crucial factor is, of course, the price. Your translation should remain affordable. Top translation quality AND affordable rates can only be combined if we can concentrate on the essentials. For this reason we decline any jobs requiring time-consuming extra work. For instance:

non-editable and/or hand-written texts
Typical examples are faxes, scanned documents, pdf files etc. Such documents prevent a translator from using translation management systems such as DejaVu, Trados, Wordfast, etc. This in turn often leads to inconsistencies within the terminology used. What is more: A translator would need to spend too much (unpaid) time on formatting: creating charts, re-creating paragraphs, underlining words, changing font types and sizes, etc. All these activities keep us from concentrating on translating. Also, we would need to print such documents in order to translate them. This too costs time and money.

For these reasons, we usually decline jobs of this kind.

Powerpoint Files
Powerpoint files often contain texts in tiny boxes. These boxes can cause formatting issues, especially when translating from English. English is the shortest European language. Translations from English are therefore bound to be longer than the source text. As a result, text parts might ‘disappear’ behind graphical elements. Translating in PPT can shift text fields around, affecting the file's layout. In the end, the entire document might end up distorted and in need of reformatting, which can take a very long time. We would need to decrease font sizes, shift text boxes etc.

On top of all that, Powerpoint files hardly ever allow the use of terminology systems. In theory, DejaVu, Trados, Wordfast etc. do support the editing of PPT files. In practice, though, line breaks in mid-sentence and similar nuisances make editing PPT files with TM systems very cumbersome. That is why many translators do not bother using TM systems for Powerpoint files. This in turn could lead to inconsistent terminology and longer deadlines.

For all these reasons, we only translate PPT files in very rare cases.  

Continuing work on existing translations
Sometimes we are asked to complete translations that a different translator had started. This would require us to analyse the existing source and target text in order to create a glossary after manual extraction of any specific terms to be used. Preparing translations like this takes forever and is usually not payable. That is why we usually decline these jobs.

Translations with existing translation memories but without a glossary
We accept jobs using existing terminology in an existing TM only if we receive a glossary as well. TM databanks alone only help a translator in the case of 100 % or fuzzy matches (for which many agencies demand hefty discounts). Contrary to common belief, TMs without a glossary do not speed up the translating process, but rather slow it down: This is because a translator constantly needs to search for terms in the current TM manually (‘concordance search’). In order to keep the terminology consistent, (s)he needs to extract each term even in the simplest sentences.

Here is a fictitious example: „Dieses Gerät ist sehr leistungsstark.“ Without a TM, the translator would just type: “This device is very powerful.” With a TM running, however, he or she may think: ”Maybe the previous translator translated ’Gerät’ as ’‚appliance’. or ’machine’ or ...“ So (s)he highlights ‘Gerät’, runs a concordance search to scan (potentially long) source text sentences for ‘Gerät’. If found, (s)he will then look for the English equivalent used in the old translations, exit the concordance search and can finally translate ‘Gerät’. Thus, an existing TM (without a glossary) makes translating harder.

For this reason we accept TM jobs only when provided with a glossary as well. (In the above example, a glossary would contain ‘Gerät = device’ and automatically replace any occurrences of ‘Gerät’ by ‘device’ ).

Texts written by non-native speakers
A text does not need to be a masterpiece of world literature to be translatable. It just needs to be clear in its intention and message. Consequently, documents written by non-native speakers can be translated too. The English used by Dutch native speakers, for instance, tends to be very good indeed. Certain phrases might reveal that the author is not a native speaker of English. However, this need not affect the translatability of a text in the slightest.

On the other hand, there are authors who have not mastered the language they are using at all. Their documents are at best ambiguous but more often than not plainly incomprehensible. We must refuse such texts as a matter of principle, because they preclude maintaining the quality standards on which our reputation depends.

Contact Us


Jörg Loebnau (sole trader)
The Foundry
68-72 Newtownards Rd
United Kingdom

VAT ID no.: GB 984 1795 69




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