When does it make sense to ask for a sample vs. an example?
There are times when it makes sense to ask for a sample of someone’s work and other times it makes sense to ask for an example of someone’s work.
To illustrate my point, I go back to last year when planning my daughter’s wedding; we sampled everything from appetizers, to main courses to wedding cakes. These are things that make sense to sample. They are tangible products that you can taste, smell, touch… They can be reproduced with a recipe by a variety of people with almost identical results.
Once we sampled the wedding cake flavors, fillings and icings, we then had to select the design of the cake. This is where we had to rely on examples vs. samples. We had a design in mind but couldn’t ask each of the cake designers to create a custom sample of our design for free so we could judge their skills. The best way for us to judge their design work was to view examples of their prior work through photos. By viewing these examples we were able to determine which designer we felt would best meet our needs in terms style.
We then checked references and online postings to get feedback on how they actually performed. Were they on time? Were they responsive? Did they follow directions? Would the customer use them again? Once all of this was completed, we then selected our cake designer.
The same concept can be applied to translations, since ours is a service business. You can read our FAQ, “Why Sample Translations Break the Rules“, to gain a better understanding of the pitfalls of sample translations. This is a case where asking for examples of similar work in the target languages makes more sense than asking for a translation partner to provide sample translations of your content for free. By asking for examples, combined with references, you will gain a truer picture of the translation partner’s service offering and their ability to meet your needs.
The next time you’re looking for a translation partner and are tempted to ask for sample translation, think again. Is a sample translation like a cake tasting or is it like the cake design, where an example of similar work is truly what you need?