Volume 4, No. 1 
January 2000



Happy 2000!
by Gabe Bokor
Index 1997-2000
  Translator Profiles
Love, Languages, and Translation
by Peter Griffin
  The Profession
The Bottom Line
by Fire Ant & Worker Bee
When Trust Is Broken
ASTM Standard for Language Translation
by Steve Lank
Translating the Web: Into the Future
by Jan Oldenburg
Science or Translation?
by Maria Karra
  Translators in the Media
Translators and the Media—Part 1
Translators and the Media—Part 2
  Business & Finance
Translating a Brazilian Balance Sheet
by Danilo Nogueira
  Translating Development
Neologisms in International Development
by Alexandra Russell-Bitting
The Arabic Language and Folk Literature
by Srpko Lestaric
  Science & Technology
A Translator’s Guide to Organic Chemical Nomenclature XVIII
by Chester E. Claff, Jr., Ph.D.
  Caught in the Web
Web Surfing for Fun and Profit
by Cathy Flick, Ph.D.
Translators’ On-Line Resources
by Gabe Bokor
  Translators’ Tools
WordFisher for MS Word
by Tibor Környei
Translators’ Emporium
Translators’ Events
Letters to the Editor
Call for Papers
Translation Journal
The Profession


When Trust Is Broken

ot getting paid for services rendered is a sobering experience to a translator who applies his or her intellect and best effort to produce a unique piece of writing within the parameters established by the customer. More than by the financial loss, the translator is wounded in his self-esteem by the apparent lack of appreciation for his work and the betrayal of trust in one of the few industries where non-repossessable merchandise is custom-produced and often delivered on the basis of a phone call from a stranger. This is exactly what happened to Tom Translator (we use fictitious names to protect the innocent and the not-so-innocent). Below is a summary of events by Tom and Bob Burowner’s unedited response.
Tom Translator’s Version Bob Burowner’s Version
On January 10, 1999 Tom Translator delivers a small translation to XYZ Technical Translations headquartered in Nowhereville, USA, owned and managed by Mr. Bob Burowner, with an invoice of US$ 299.43.

Apparently satisfied with the work, on January 20, 1999 Bob authorizes Tom to do a larger job, which is delivered on February 11, 1999 with an invoice of US$ 4,443.19. On this occasion, Bob agrees to pay in 30 days.

On February 12, 1999, Bob makes a payment for a previous job done by Tom, and promises to pay the $ 299.43 (by then in arrears) together with the larger job, but changes the terms previously agreed upon and now promises payment "45 days + banking time" from the second invoice (or 75 days from the first invoice).

When Tom reminds Bob of the original terms agreed upon, in an e-mail dated February 16, 1999, Bob refers him to his client to confirm the payment conditions agreed on between XYZ and the client.

Alarmed by the evasive responses given to him by Bob and by his complaints about not having been paid, Tom calls the client on March 23, 1999, introducing himself as Mr. Burowner’s "project partner." To his surprise, he learns that the client paid XYZ in full on March 15, 1999, i.e., within the 30 days agreed upon.

On March 29, 1999, claiming to be angered by the fact that Tom contacted his client (as he was encouraged to do by Bob himself earlier), having by then ignored Tom’s several emails and phone calls since their last contact, Bob posts a message to the said discussion list, publicly refusing to pay the two outstanding invoices, which by now are long past due.

At the time of this writing (December 23, 1999), Tom has received no payment for either the $ 299.43 job delivered in January or the $ 4,443.19 job delivered in February, 1999. He has now retained an international debt collection firm to represent his interests. Also, at the initiative of a 600-member mailing list, a legal expense fund has been set up by George Goodfriend (george@goodfriend.com) in the U.S. and Olga Otherfriend (OOtherfriend@ISP.com.br) no Brazil to defray the expenses of the legal action that now seems to be all but inevitable. Contributions to this Fund can be sent to the following address:

[US postal address]

Or, in Brazil, to the bank account:

[foreign bank accoount data]
Please make checks payable to: The Tom Translator Legal Expense Fund.
How does one feels about business ethics? How serious do you apply on your daily practice? Well, I underwent a irreversible episode by trusting someone that I thouhgt was not only a "partner" but also a friend.

Indeed Tom Translator was hired as a free-lance translator by XYZ translation Services.

The point I want to make that Tom may be considered a professional translator, but he seriously infringed the Translator's Business Ethics Code and Business Practices by imposing himself as an employee of my company and gaining access to trade secrets without the Principal's written or verbal consent.

The question remains: How many of you would "cross the line" and call your employer's" client to gain trade secrets?