LinkedIn Translation Fiasco Makes the NYT

Our friend Jill Sommer sent us a note that the paper of record, the New York Times, just published an article about the fact that LinkedIn recently sent an e-mail to thousands of translators, essentially asking if they would help translate LinkedIn for free. This has been covered very widely in translation blogs and forums, and we certainly support the majority's viewpoint that professional translation services should not be available for free. It's disappointing to see that a major player like LinkedIn fails to take our profession seriously enough to compensate professional linguists for their services. We wonder if LinkedIn also sent an e-mail to attorneys, asking them to review some documents for free?

Read the NYT's excellent coverage, including a comment by Matthew Bennett, who started a LinkedIn groupd that hotly debated this issue, here.


Riccardo on June 29, 2009 at 3:59 PM said...

I'm not really sure the NYT coverage is really excellent, when it contains sentences like "But LinkedIn insists that the interpreters are, well, misinterpreting." which shows a lamentable lack of knowledge of the difference between translators and interpreters.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on June 29, 2009 at 5:10 PM said...

@Riccardo: good point, we completely agree with you. It's amazing that even world-class newspapers cannot figure out the difference between translation and interpretation. It's really quite simple: written word = translation. Spoken word = interpetation. We are still happy that the NYT gave this some coverage -- LinkedIn certainly deserves the public scrutiny. Can't wait to hear how this one plays out. Thanks for your comment.

Francesca said...

Hi Judy!
Thanks for posting this article, it raised an interesting point. I totally agree with all of you saying that professional services should not given for free; voluntary work is good but at least not requesting it in such way.
I have been on Facebook and ProZ for a couple of years now and I stick to the English interface just because I like originals. But sometimes I had a peak in the Italian versions, and Facebook in particular, do not live up to expectations; on the other side, I do understand that 'crowdsourcing' for translators-wannabes can lead to such results. The important thing for me personally is to keep raising the quality standards in my work and leave unprofessional/volunteer work to where it belongs!
Hope to see you again in Vienna or Las Vegas!

Michael on June 30, 2009 at 10:38 AM said...

Judy, I have been waiting to mention this, and I am sure you will appreciate it: For years I have been a follower (and before their purchase through CBS a financial supporter) of When they invited their users to translate their UI into German some time ago, the initial results were somewhere between hilarious and horrifying. The German version has since been cleaned up, but I kept a quote from one of the German translation contributors (and I'm not making this up):

"Im übrigen finde ich es großartig, dass ihr auf Holzhammer-Übersetzungen verzichtet habt und beispielsweise das Dashboard immer noch Dashboard heißt. Anglizismen rocken den shit."

Need I say more?

Thomas Gruber on July 1, 2009 at 9:44 AM said...

Translations for free should only be done on open source projects ( and not for companies who make money with your free work.

Guija Matías on July 6, 2009 at 12:51 PM said...

I totally agree with Thomas Gruber.

Honestly, Facebook, LinkedIn and may hold their hands and just go to hell, if you ask me.

Thanks for covering this relevant matter anyway, Twins. Good night and good luck.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on July 10, 2009 at 12:30 PM said...

@Francesa: Thanks for your comment and insight. I also use the English FB version, perhaps out of habit. And we think volunteer translation is a great thing, but for non-profit company. Yes, would very much enjoy seeing you soon in Vienna or elsewhere!

@Michael: Wow, we are speechless.

@Thomas Gruber and Guillermo: Agreed, open source translations are a worthy and worthwhile contribution to the greater good, and we would be happy to participate in a translation of that type.

Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

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