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The cons and pros of translation.
Thread poster: Williamson

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:04
Flemish to English
+ ...
Oct 5, 2003

Cons:
*A translation always has to be finished by a deadline.
*If you work for a middleman (agency), most of them are always looking for pretexts (nobody is perfect) to pay less than agreed or do not pay on time.
*Translation earns more than a regular job? Is that so? If you multiply the number of hours needed to make a translation and you take the same number of hours times the hourly salary of an employee at lower-middle management level (about the equivalent of a translator), it does not differ that much.
*According to other professionals, translation is something (quote) “you do because you do not have anything better to do)” (unquote)of a recruitment manager and of a plant manager.
*It is no basis for a regular career.
You are required to buy and have knowledge of an increasingly number of software-packages, which are upgraded yearly.
Word alone does not suffice.
*A lot of haggling about rates.
*A very competitive market,because person XYZ can become a translator overnight.
*The influence of globalisation drives down
rates.
*It does not enable you to interact with others face-to-face and to learn from their experiences.

These are the cons.
And what are the pros if you bear in mind that you are not so "free" as you think, especially not when you have to finish a project by a certain deadline (sometimes you do not even have time to take a bite).

Pros/z....

[Edited at 2003-10-05 08:28]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:04
English to German
+ ...
Shouldn't you be looking for another job? Oct 5, 2003

Hi Williamson,
I won't contest the cons you raised, although very little of what you raised holds true from my perspective. But that may well be a question of personal experience.

What really amazes me is that you keep translating, despite the fact that it's obviously not worthwhile?

Best regards, Ralf


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:04
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The City of London and the Bockenheimer Landstrasse Oct 5, 2003

Ralf Lemster wrote:

Hi Williamson,
I won\'t contest the cons you raised, although very little of what you raised holds true from my perspective. But that may well be a question of personal experience.

What really amazes me is that you keep translating, despite the fact that it\'s obviously not worthwhile?

Best regards, Ralf


I do not want to be personal, but you have a business background, your clients are situated in the \"Bockenheimer Landstrasse\" (Frankfurt\'s Stock-Exchange and Banking district) and in the City of London, which means high rates.
If moreover you have put a structure in your activities then translation becomes a more attractive activity.
You are in translation management, an activity that has a certain plusvalue.
To make such a structure takes time and that is something you do not have if you \"hop from translation to translation\".
Personally, I prefer interpreting: the stress of the moment which you leave behind when you go home, fixed rate and no haggling.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:04
English to German
+ ...
Business issues Oct 5, 2003

Hi.
I do not want to be personal,

No problem at all.

but you have a business background, your clients are situated in the "Bockenheimer Landstrasse" (Frankfurt's Stock-Exchange and Banking district) and in the City of London, which means high rates.

True, but that's a business issue, not necessarily an issue that's inherent to translation per se. Also, don't forget that the German financial sector has been in dire straits for years now, with just a few faint hopes for recovery.

If moreover you have put a structure in your activities then translation becomes a more attractive activity.
You are in translation management, an activity that has a certain plusvalue.
To make such a structure takes time and that is something you do not have if you "hop from translation to translation".

But isn't that the same in any business? Of course, the success of the business I run depends on strategic decisions, specifically (i) specialisation, (ii) working for direct customers, not agencies, (iii) leveraging technology (including CAT) to develop business and (iv) running and maintaining a network of specialist freelance translators around the world. But this holds true for any service provider, wouldn't you agree?


Personally, I prefer interpreting: the stress of the moment which you leave behind when you go home, fixed rate and no haggling.

"No haggling" would be your personal perspective, right? It means that you have developed a market where customers value your service enough to stop trying to squeeze prices. That's possible in translation, too.

Best regards, Ralf


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:34
English to Tamil
+ ...
Let me give my personal experience Oct 5, 2003

I have been doing translation from 1975 onwards. Initially I was having a fulltime job as an engineer and the translation activities were carried out as additional ones. For the past 10 years I am into fulltime translation.
My earnings as a translator were and are always good. My prsent income is that of a highly placed executive in the top management cadre of a large undertaking. And I am placed in India, which is a developing country and the rates are quite low, when compared to the advanced countries.
Many of your cons are actually due to your finding the translation activities to be a chore. I find them to be a pleasure.
I had a look at your profile. With the repertoire of your software and clients I would be walking on air. It is really incredible that you have posted the lines found under your name. Why, you are so busy even to answer the Kudoz questions (concluded from the lack of any mention about the kudoz points in your profile.) I have to come to the conclusion that you have posted the original lines just to be provocative and to initiate a discussion.
Regards,
Narasimhan Raghavan


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:04
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Translation-Interpreting. Oct 5, 2003

Translation is business and some clients like those on the money-markets can afford to pay more.
Organizational principles are applied in any company and are based upon ideas of "management gurus" taught at biz.schools or during a management training at a company, not at schools for translators.
I had agency customers and direct customers.
Perhaps it was bad luck, but with a few rare exceptions, agencies were always looking for mistakes (who is perfect?) to ask for a price-reduction.
Some direct customers did not understand translation and asked for a low price.
--
This "haggling" does not hold sway with interpreting: Interpreting is a much smaller market-niche.
The usual more or less fixed rate is €350/day for interpreting in Anglosaxon countries to €400-500 euro per day in Europe and even €600/day if you are a member of AIIC. Nobody is complaining or is trying to reduce the price if you had a slip of the tongue.
Moreover, you do not become an interpreter overnight. Especially not when consecutive interpreting is required.
To end on a positive note: Could somebody sum up the Pros of the activity of translation from the point of view of the activity itself and not from the management point of view of translation.

[Edited at 2003-10-05 10:58]

[Edited at 2003-10-05 10:58]


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xxxPaul Roige
Spain
Local time: 03:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Points 1-10 revisited Oct 5, 2003

POINT 1
*A translation always has to be finished by a deadline.
Reply: Thank Goddess!!! Imagine otherwise...

POINT 2
*If you work for a middleman (agency), most of them are always looking for pretexts (nobody is perfect) to pay less than agreed or do not pay on time.

R: Not in my neck of the woods. Then, I do choose carefully who I work for. It works.

POINT 3
*Translation earns more than a regular job? Is that so? If you multiply the number of hours needed to make a translation and you take the same number of hours times the hourly salary of an employee at lower-middle management level (about the equivalent of a translator), it does not differ that much.

R: You did not take into account the following costs: transport, childcare, restaurant food, clothing, and so forth. Please count again.

POINT 4:
*According to other professionals, translation is something (quote) “you do because you do not have anything better to do)” (unquote)of a recruitment manager and of a plant manager.

R: Pure envy. Rot in it, big shots!

Point 5:
*It is no basis for a regular career.
You are required to buy and have knowledge of an increasingly number of software-packages, which are upgraded yearly.
Word alone does not suffice.

R: No, it doesn't. Hardware, software and power are basically the only expenses in my business. Never touched a CAT and I won't. Try opening a cornershop...

POINT 6:
*A lot of haggling about rates.

R: Not a bit in my case, I know my worth. Thank goddess, my clients do too. Besides, focusing solely on rates is what brings all the problems. Would you work for people you hate working for even if they pay you top rates. Personally, I wouldn't, poor feng-shui.

POINT 7
*A very competitive market,because person XYZ can become a translator overnight.

R: Bring them on!! The more the merrier! And we'll see who survives in the end...

POINT 8
*The influence of globalisation drives down rates.

R: Ae, and salaries at corporations if you're "lucky" not to be downsized...

POINT 9
*It does not enable you to interact with others face-to-face and to learn from their experiences.

R: Agree with that. I got over it though, specially when I was able to meet people online, work with them, share ideas with them, get help from them, ... AH, great friendships are born online if only you're open to it...

POINT 10:
These are the cons .
And what are the pros if you bear in mind that you are not so "free" as you think, especially not when you have to finish a project by a certain deadline (sometimes you do not even have time to take a bite).

R: To be free is to have the capacity to choose what you do in life... and take responsibility for it. A tight deadline? Nothing is perfect, then I chose this way of life and I accept it happily. Worse times I had working for companies, no comparison. Difference here is, I can say no to a job if the deadline is too tight. Say no to your boss at the firm...

My pleasure
P


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Lydia Molea  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:04
English to German
+ ...
I am a translator (and interpreter) Oct 5, 2003

simply because I LIKE it. This is my chosen profession. I am a firm believer in the principle that you have to like what you do in order to be good at it.

I really don't understand your problem: if you don't like translating, don't do it.
There are cons in every job/profession.

Sure, some of us (translators) are more successful than others, depending on their business structure, expertise, software, specialisation etc etc. So what? Again, this is true of every profession. And surely there's more money to be made in a lot of other sectors. But personally I wouldn't be HAPPY there.

Also, the pros have been mentioned on this site more than once. What is the point of your posting? Are you trying to "recrute" freelance translators away from being freelance translators or would you like us to convince you that it is a "cool" job after all?

Anyway, I need to get back to this translation I am working on, with a tight deadline, on a Sunday. And I love it.

Lydia


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lien
Netherlands
Local time: 03:04
English to French
+ ...
Thank you to point out a few things :) Oct 5, 2003

Paul Roigé wrote:

Worse times I had working for companies, no comparison. Difference here is, I can say no to a job if the deadline is too tight. Say no to your boss at the firm...



And the pleasure to be home, and the pleasure to look for and the finding of the word you know was there, somewhere in your head To exercise your mind like a ball, stretching in all directions, the proudness of your work and more...

Lien


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:04
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Plusvalue Oct 5, 2003

I do not find the translation itself a chore, but find the management aspect of translation a bit more interesting.
The cons summed up are based upon past experiences.
I sometimes answer a Kudoz-question, but only when I feel like.
It is not a "holy cow", which you have to revere or for which you need to have two screens, one for Kudoz to answer the question whenever an question pops up and one for your translations
I look at the activity of translation from a business point of view: in business the core question is : what is the "plusvalue" of your activity? How much cash-flow does it generate for you to grow or achieve goals?
If I posted those cons, then it is because I dare to look at translation bearing in mind both the positive and the negative aspects. The positive being that you are free to say "no" although this is true for a company also if you can motivate (based upon figures) your refusal.








[Edited at 2003-10-05 11:33]


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:04
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
I just love translating and keep on doing it Oct 5, 2003

Williamson wrote:

Cons:
*A translation always has to be finished by a deadline.

---I would think so unless you have an urgent reason (illness).

*If you work for a middleman (agency), most of them are always looking for pretexts (nobody is perfect) to pay less than agreed or do not pay on time.

--- I absolutely do not agree. I work for quite a bit of agencies and have not experienced that. We agree up front on a price and there is not hazzle. The ones that are different, avoid them like the plague.

*Translation earns more than a regular job? Is that so? If you multiply the number of hours needed to make a translation and you take the same number of hours times the hourly salary of an employee at lower-middle management level (about the equivalent of a translator), it does not differ that much.

--- This depends how you look at it. I like the fact that I am at my home, do not fight traffic and can organize my working hours the way I want ( I am much of an very early morning and night person).

*According to other professionals, translation is something (quote) “you do because you do not have anything better to do)” (unquote)of a recruitment manager and of a plant manager.

--- Again a matter of opinion. I also have credentials as a teacher and have about equal experience with both of them. The love for translation won by a landslide.

*It is no basis for a regular career.
You are required to buy and have knowledge of an increasingly number of software-packages, which are upgraded yearly.
Word alone does not suffice.

--- Why not the basis for a regular career. I have been at it since 1986 and still most days I wake up eager to continue a project or start a new one. I am a bit of an old fashioned translator and do not get along so well with the CATs (more of a dog person myself. Chuckle). Still, I get more work than I often can handle.

*A lot of haggling about rates.
---Usually not. I set my prices depending on the subject matter and difficulty of the translation and have a range of how much I can get down and still not work for free.

*A very competitive market,because person XYZ can become a translator overnight.

---True, but they do not last and their unhappy clients become my good ones.

*The influence of globalisation drives down
rates.
---Depends. I have not noticed this too much yet. I am glad of it though. I live in South America and without globalization I would not be able to work successfully from there.

*It does not enable you to interact with others face-to-face and to learn from their experiences.

---That is why I added ProZ to my life. My interaction points are furthermore my family, friends and two dogs.

These are the cons.
And what are the pros if you bear in mind that you are not so "free" as you think, especially not when you have to finish a project by a certain deadline (sometimes you do not even have time to take a bite).



Pros/z....

[Edited at 2003-10-05 08:28]


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Dave Greatrix  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:04
Dutch to English
+ ...
I know what I prefer Oct 5, 2003

[quote]Williamson wrote:

*Translation earns more than a regular job? Is that so? If you multiply the number of hours needed to make a translation and you take the same number of hours times the hourly salary of an employee at lower-middle management level (about the equivalent of a translator), it does not differ that much.

Well, this morning (yes, I know it\\\'s Sunday, but all the days are the same where I live)
I spent a few hours checking some work, looking across the Meditteranean and listening to some of my favourite tracks downloaded from the Internet.

I start when I want, I finish when I want, I have a cigarette when I want and I go out for a beer when I want. How many members of lower-middle management can do that?

I still can earn over €200 a day! More than enough to enjoy myself in Spain.

Don\\\'t forget that deadlines apply to all fields of work, its all part of business. I spent many years working as a carpenter and was always given a completion time for a given job, that\\\'s what you call a chore.

I certainly know what I prefer.


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kbamert  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:04
French to German
+ ...
mistakes Oct 5, 2003

Williamson wrote:
Perhaps it was bad luck, but with a few rare exceptions, agencies were always looking for mistakes (who is perfect?) to ask for a price-reduction.


If you would concentrate on one target language (your strongest one, mother tongue), maybe agencies wouldn't find any more a mistake to ask for a price reduction?


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:04
German to English
Yes, sometimes it can seem as if the Cons outweigh the Pros Oct 5, 2003

But maybe it's worth looking at things slightly more objectively.

1) Deadlines. Affect most jobs and professions, everywhere, don't they? And many translation deadlines can be legitimately extended. Rule #1: never take on more than you can handle.
2) Agencies. Maybe you should be working for more serious intermediaries, and of course for direct clients.
3) If you can't make more money out of translation than a "regular job", then a) you've really screwed your costing; b) you should consider changing jobs; c) maybe money plays a minor role in your decision to become self-employed. "Lower middle management"? You gotta be joking!
4) Quotes by other professionals. Isn't this really the same sort of thing as the old adage "people become actuaries because they find accounting too exciting"? There are few good recruitment and plant managers, but a hell of a lot of poor and even bad ones. Kinda like translators, isn't it? You want to hear some stories about accountants, lawyers and bankers who're really jealous of translators?
5) Regular career. Of course it's a basis for a regular career, otherwise so many people wouldn't choose it (or does translation choose them?) and do it for decades. My father-in-law translated as a highly successful freelance and staffer for a good 40 years. Isn't that a career?
6) Software. You should hear the complaints from my tax adviser, lawyer, even the electrician, about how much software they need nowadays. I think we get off pretty lightly, considering how dependent we are on IT. No, Word alone doesn't suffice, but it sure does go a long way.
7) Haggling. Don't you haggle with your own suppliers? If not, why not? We operate in a marketplace, and it's normal for prices and performance to be negotiated. So what's new?
8) It's not a very competitive market "because XYZ can become a translator overnight", but largely because of the current economic slump. Remember the late 1990s? Anybody halfway competent was turning work away almost every day. And for half the jobs, the customers were basically writing out blank cheques. Those days will return; I'm not sure when, but they will.
9) I don't think that globalization drives down rates; after all, it's a process that has been going on for several centuries now, although there's no doubt that it's accelerating. Surely what drives down rates to a significant extent is the reluctance by many translators to engage directly with the corporate buyers. The resulting intermediation has pushed rates down because in the current economic environment, there are more intermediaries (often with large fixed costs) chasing less work.
10) Translation doesn't necessarily have to be an isolated existence. You can always look for a staff job. But freelance work is certainly more suited to more independently minded people who aren't too bothered about working in a physical team.

And as for the Pros, the "added value", that's another post in itself. Another time, perhaps. But my only advice there is: if you can imagine yourself in another job/profession, then it's probably a good idea to try it, rather than just dreaming.

Just a thought, but is it possible that you're going through the sort of "Why the hell am I doing this? What prospects are there? Do I really want to be doing this for the next 20 years?" soul-searching that affects most of us from time to time? If so, then it's high time to get out of your pit and let off steam at a translator gathering, conference, or similar. Or disappear off to the Outer Hebrides with a laptop and mobile, that sort of thing.

Robin


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Jane Lamb-Ruiz  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
The cons and pros of translation: How Ambiguity Feeds the Meaning Chain Oct 5, 2003

The Pros of Translation:
When you are a pro, it's fun, not overly taxing and a helluva lot less burdensome than other professions.

The Cons of Translation:
They are many but they turn to fall away when customers realize what they are up to.

MORAL: Your not realizing the ambiguity of your written words leaves the door open to various interpretations.


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