Translator, advertise thyself – Update

Remember that purple-and-pink, 1/8 page ad I told you about on March 23? The one sandwiched between Sarit who will wax your legs and a shop selling disposable tableware?
I've got an update! Guess who saw the ad and called? A beautician. No, not the one whose ad is next to mine… a different one. Maybe she was examining the competition, who knows. I didn't ask. Anyway, her high-school son had to hand in a paper in English, an essay on a subject of his choice, and she wanted me to translate it from the Hebrew…
I said I'd look at it.
She only had it in handwritten form, she said, and couldn't email it. So she faxed it to me. Many years ago, I used to work for one of Israel's top handwriting analysts. Not those charlatans who do it as a party trick (or worse -- offer their "services" to HR agencies); I mean a highly educated professional who was an expert on questioned documents – i.e., examining forgeries, etc. More about that in a later post. Point is, I could determine with reasonable certainty that the handwritten text was written by Ma, not by Son. Though the content and style seemed to be in keeping with the mindset of an average Israeli teenager. For all I know, maybe his hand was in a cast and he dictated it to his mother.
Would it be ethical of me to translate the paper into English, knowing that the boy plans to hand it in as his own? Won't his English teacher, if she's any good, (of course it's a she…) realize that it can't possibly be his own work?... Even if I eschew difficult words?... After all, the average Israeli high school kid is bound to have at least a few grammatical or stylistic errors, don't you think?.. Does this come under [moral] aiding and abetting? Would I be colluding in and encouraging dishonesty? Is it acceptable to say, I'm just doing my job, what Ma & Son do with it is up to them?


Miriam Erez said...

I give you permission to just translate it and forget about it. You don't actually have evidence that it's the parent masquerading as the kid, just as you don't actually know about any of your jobs' origins. Did my client actually write the article I'm now translating? Who knows, but I'd certainly never get anything done if I questioned every job's source.

I did get one guy who wanted me to go over his 50-page paper and "paraphrase" the highlighted parts. I realized he'd probably copied them, and said goodbye.

A friend asked me to translate her immigrant daughter's Bat Mitzva speech into Hebrew, "but make it sound like her level of Hebrew". That I won't do. I won't guess at what a particular person would or wouldn't know, or how they'd word something, and I won't dumb down my translations. She doesn't understand a word? Let 'er look it up and learn.

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