Sunday, 6 April 2014

Ethics in Practice: Case Study no. 2 (competency)

We once saw a fellow translating the title of a four-year degree from Portuguese into English in a way that was unacceptable: Basically, she had chosen the title of a one-year degree as the most suitable equivalent. 

What should we do if the fellow insists that their point of view is correct?

Should we do something?

From an ethical point of view, we should always try to help the fellow because what is at the stake is the performance of our professional class, not the performance of an individual. In that sense, not mattering what we feel for them (hate, love, indifference or others), we must try to help.

We do not have to denounce this as breach of ethics however: We denounce it only if we want.

If a prospective client speaks to us and says that, for instance, they are choosing us because of their experience with our fellow, we must keep silence or do something to soften the impressions of our prospective client: It is our obligation to always try to improve the image of our profession and professional class. 

If the prospective client looks for our empathy when saying their words to us, we must refrain from giving it, since our empathy, in this case, means depreciating our professional class.

When speaking with our fellows in profession, or even with our superiors, we obviously can refer to the episode, but we must refrain from mentioning names (unless we are denouncing all to the competent organ, in case we mention their names exclusively to the organ and to those whose function is registering the denouncement or dealing with it).

If we are the client (we must always remember that we cannot translate our own documents), then things are obviously worse.

In this case, we are left with trying to converse with the fellow and coping with the result (if we decide not to involve anyone else), which may injure us for life if we do not have a suitable alternative, say we are short of money, time or others.

We may obviously add a note to their work when handing it in to explain all, but we must always make sure that we treat them and their work with all elegance on earth (without ever depreciating any, therefore without ever saying it was a mistake or something like that).

This sort of situation is very tricky.

We sometimes like the person in terms of social relations, but we cannot stand their standards of work.

We should try to keep fellows as fellows and clients as clients when we work with translation and interpretation also because of that. 

It is very difficult to hide from an acquaintance that we are after a provider of translation services, and they will probably feel offended if we do not use their services.

We should use the episode as a learning experience: We then will pay more attention to what our other fellows say about our work and try to always change our minds, to best that we can, when they oppose what we have done.

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