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You agree to submit an estimate for interpretation at an innocuous-sounding conference. In preparing the quotation, it emerges your contact is acting for an organisation whose moral or political stance is repugnant to you.

Has this happened to you? How would you advise colleagues to proceed should they find themselves in this situation?

asked 15 Apr '12, 02:12

parthenope's gravatar image


edited 15 Apr '12, 04:24

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

Many thanks to all of you for giving me the benefit of your experience.

I appreciate Marta & Vero's position that under these circumstances there is nothing to gain by engaging in a dialectical argument. Danielle's suggestion of referring a query to another colleague works for me, were I to consider the aims of a potential client personally unpalatable but nonetheless legitimate.

As Marta Piera implies, any quotation or contract should stipulate that it is between the interpreter/s and the event organiser for a specific event. To avoid the 'grin & bear it' situation described by msr, were the party named in the contract subsequently revealed to be a 'front' and not the actual organiser in charge of an event, or were the event itself to be disguised under a misleading title, in my opinion the contract would become void and unenforceable.

(26 Apr '12, 05:16) parthenope

First, one shouldn't provide quotations for undisclosed third parties or partners. One needs to know as much as possible about the organisation to provide a realistic and professional quotation.

However, in the real world we may provide quotes or draft quotes for third parties or intermediaries. If one discovers the organisation has a," moral or political stance (is) repugnant to you", you have two choices: withdraw your quotation saying you and your team are unavailable on those days or withdraw your quotation saying you and your team are unable to work with their organisation due to the political/religious/funding nature and activity of their organisation.

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answered 15 Apr '12, 09:00

Marta%20Piera%20Marin's gravatar image

Marta Piera ...

I've worked quite a few times, and with a lot of pleasure, for the Intl Planned Parenthood Federation, an organization which does a splendid job in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, in particular in developing countries.

I was once approached, shortly after one of the IPPF meetings, by a Spanish Foundation, known for being vociferously anti-feminist and pro-life, although headed by a woman; they wanted a quote for their big congress in 3 or 4 languages to be held in Madrid. I knew who they were – granted… So, I politely declined and cowardly suggested they got in touch with one of my AIIC colleagues based in Madrid. Nobody can force you to interpret for people you loathe. I once did. It felt like (mental) rape and I learnt my lesson.

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answered 16 Apr '12, 10:41

Danielle's gravatar image


I agree with Marta that you should find an elegant way out. Try by all means not to engage in a discussion with the client/third party about what is right or wrong. It will lead nowhere. Just make sure you are not incurring into any contract breach.

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answered 15 Apr '12, 19:11

Vero's gravatar image


...this earlier discussion may prove useful .

If you're still at the planning stages and you cannot bring yourself to continue, once you've found out you disagree, politely decline by invoking, say, prior engagements and/or that you cannot find the necessary talent; if you've accepted the contract, my best advice is "grin and bear it".

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answered 15 Apr '12, 08:21

msr's gravatar image


I am glad it only ever happened to me once. I was lucky to have found out before I finished the quotation that it was not a normal but a very right-wing extremist organisation seeking to organise a conference in the city I live in. Their name sounded so innocent!

As soon as I knew I informed many colleagues about what I had found out in case they would also be asked to provide quotations and would fall for the innocent name. Of course, everybody is free to make quotations for whoever wants them to do so, but I had a pretty good idea of what the colleagues would think of such an organisation. They in turn also spread the information. Our professional networks can also be very helpful in such situations!

As far as I know, the organisation did not find any professional interpreters who wanted to work for them - and months later there were many public protests against the conference and the police had to be called.

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answered 02 Apr '13, 17:37

AlmuteL's gravatar image


edited 02 Apr '13, 17:39

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question asked: 15 Apr '12, 02:12

question was seen: 6,891 times

last updated: 02 Apr '13, 17:39

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