Translating On-site During an Interpreting Gig

On several of my interpreting assignments, I have been asked to translate documents during break-out sessions when I am not interpreting. They are generally less than a page or so, which is why I have never refused. However, by doing this, I am working for free since I was only hired as an interpreter, not as an on-site translator/interpreter combo. I have thought about this and talked to co-workers who have shared many great insights.

On the one hand, I hate being the “bad guy” for saying no to the client and being perceived as difficult, but on the other hand, this is separate work that deserves separate compensation.

At this point I have decided to keep saying yes to any translations of less than 1/2 page if, and only if, I am not interpreting and the participants are in break-out sessions for more than 1 hour. However, for documents longer than 1/2 page, I will explain that I am not contracted to do translations, but I’d happily put them in contact the translation agency who can write up a separate contract for us.

My main concern is that these documents are usually translated pretty quickly, since they are often needed for the afternoon or the next session. Yet, my gut tells me that they probably keep using my rough, first-draft translation for future workshops/conferences.

A colleague came up with a great idea to address this issue…If I ever complete a short translation on-site, I could watermark the word document with the words “Rough draft” all across the page and then in the header or footer I could write “only to be used on [date of the translation]”. In addition, if they need an electronic version, I could convert the word doc to PDF so that they cannot make edits to it.

How do you deal with clients who ask you for translations during an interpreting assignment?


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