Fishy: Strangest Translation Inquiry of the Year

Many of our fellow language professionals receive strange inquiries once in a while, ranging from someone willing to pay $30 for the translation of a 10-page aeronautical engineering document to someone's widow somewhere in Africa who needs documents translated into German (and no, it's not the Nigerian scam). Many times, our colleagues share these inquiries with us and give us a heads up on fishy inquiries. It's been relatively quiet on our bizarre inquiries front. However, this week, we received one that we want to share with our fellow translators. We are pretty sure no one would fall for this, but you never know. If you have also received this inquiry, we'd love to know.

We received an e-mail titled "Progress". Apparently, the sender has finished a book and needs help "writing, translating, and editing". The language pair is not specified. The sender goes on to state:

"I will be glad to send you the book by mail and its only 1170 pages."

Only 1170 pages? That's nothing. We can knock that out in an afternoon! Hard copy? No problem. We can scan 1170 pages.

"Let me know your charges for that.I graduated at the university of boston with a degree in writing and linguistics."

We doubt it.

"Also i will send you a deposit payment and then the balance later when the job is finished.

Let me have your address in making the payment so that we can begin work."

I don't think so!

"If you would like to travel, i will take full responsibility of your travel expenses so that you can get to meet some other people working for me towards the production of this book.You will be living comfortably in my home for 2 months and we all shall be working in my library."

Thank you very much, we don't want to live comfortably in your house. We have our own houses.

"Sorry , i don't make calls because i'm a stammerer so we can always communicate via email if thats not a problem but you can leave me a message."

Hm, maybe a little fishy?

We replied saying that we just don't have the bandwidth to take on a project of this magnitude at the moment. For *some* reason, we just don't feel comfortable sending our address to strangers and going to live in strangers' houses to work on a book with all travel expenses paid...


bonnjill on October 29, 2008 at 11:29 AM said...

Wow, that's a good one. That beats just about everything I've ever heard. My favorite part is "graduated at the university of boston with a degree in writing and linguistics." Hee!

Although I wouldn't have replied at all. Why let him know you even read the e-mail and that an actual person uses the e-mail address?

Anonymous said...

That ist by far the strangest translation inquiry I ever heard of.
But apart from being strange, and potentially dangerous, it's no doubt funny. I wonder what was on the mind of the guy behind all this.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on October 29, 2008 at 1:49 PM said...

Yes, it is funny, no doubt. My smart husband just pointed out that there's no University of Boston, too. Not surprising. :) And you are right, Jill, I should have probably not even responded. Glad you are getting some good laughs out of it.

Unknown on October 29, 2008 at 6:52 PM said...

Oh my gosh, that was just the laugh I needed as the second work shift starts... That really has the Nigerian thing and the Prince of Ghana beaten, hands down. No problem, I'll scan those 1170 pages and get back to you!!

Anonymous said...

Translations can be funny things, especially with circumstances like you list.
I stumbled your post and linked to in from my blog today.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if the "Bostonian" with a comfortable house and library did not consider the "twin" factor, and decided the libra could be best completed as a menage a trois :-D

I would not have responded either. However, I would have had this plastered on every forum I know of. Majority of translators are women, many young. An email address can lead to the door of your house/office. You don't want that.

Rose on January 25, 2011 at 8:01 PM said...

Ah, it's nice to go back over your past blog posts - even if they are old, they still get read, see!

Golly gosh. That one is a corker. I am actually quite curious what the big scheme was, particularly where the house is concerned.

(By the way, feel free to edit this out, but I thought you might want to know - you made an apostrophe error, you meant surely to say "strangers' houses" rather than "stranger's houses". :-) )

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