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Translator must live in the USA (Or Spain or the UK etc). Why?
Thread poster: Jerold Stamp

Jerold Stamp  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:44
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
Oct 18, 2001

I’ve seen so many messages asking for bids only from translators living in one country or another. Some of these jobs were quite interesting I believe I would have uniquely qualified for some of them yet I was not even considered. “Sorry we’re only looking for US-based translators”. Of course the problem is not only limited to US firms. Just the other day there was a company looking only for translators based in Spain, and before that only in the UK.



I imagine that considerations regarding legal costs or liability are the underlying causes for this type of discrimination. Perhaps businesses don’t want to have to worry about foreign courts and lawyers if something goes wrong. In other ways, however it’s probable that these policies also raise costs and reduce market efficiency.



I’d like to know that can be done to remove this barrier to free trade. Are there any practical solutions or something that we at Proz can do about it?



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Jesús Paredes
Local time: 04:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
Localization Oct 18, 2001

The main reason behind this is localization. Some languages present wide variations depending on location. The other day, I was translating a text related to oil production and I just couldn\'t understand some of the technical terms. The text had been written in Argentina and that was the reason behind the confusion.



I think it has very little to do with taxes and payment methods since I have done jobs for many companies in Europe, USA and Israel. In some particular cases, they insisted on a Venezuelan translator living in Venezuela because the texts were going to be submitted to Venezuelan companies.



Best regards,



Jesús Paredes

English-Spanish Translator

Caracas, Venezuela


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Telesforo Fernandez
Local time: 14:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
We live in a global village Oct 18, 2001

Yours is a great idea and I sincerely feel nice to live in a global village. But at PROZ.COM you can get yourself certified as a native by paying a certain fee. Due to this globalization,people can do business with anyone around the globe.But it seems people prefer to do business with natives only- I mean translations. And now PROZ.com can certify you as a native speaker to chaff out the imposters so to say.So you can find a lot of answers to the questions you posed.



Quote:


On 2001-10-18 10:41, Jerry wrote:

I’ve seen so many messages asking for bids only from translators living in one country or another. Some of these jobs were quite interesting I believe I would have uniquely qualified for some of them yet I was not even considered. “Sorry we’re only looking for US-based translators”. Of course the problem is not only limited to US firms. Just the other day there was a company looking only for translators based in Spain, and before that only in the UK.



I imagine that considerations regarding legal costs or liability are the underlying causes for this type of discrimination. Perhaps businesses don’t want to have to worry about foreign courts and lawyers if something goes wrong. In other ways, however it’s probable that these policies also raise costs and reduce market efficiency.



I’d like to know that can be done to remove this barrier to free trade. Are there any practical solutions or something that we at Proz can do about it?





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Jerold Stamp  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:44
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Jesús Paredes Oct 18, 2001

This may be a reason, but it\'s also true that a large percentage of translators are what are known as expatriates (even though I don\'t like the term - I\'m still a patriot!). That is, we don\'t live in our mother country.



Perhaps we could take a survey to see what percentage of us translators are expatriates and if we live one of our \"language-pair countries\". I myself am a US translator living in Italy, but there have been occasions when I\'ve not even been considered for the job because because I\'m in Italy, and these jobs were for US firms.

In this case, customer education would be the solution. How could we go about that.



Just yesterday, a company from Spain looking for Italian>English translators required that bidders live in Spain. Certainly in this case they weren\'t looking for \"Spanish English\".



I think in that case they could just say “only mother-language AE speakers wanted”.



However, I still suspect there may be other reasons as well.











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Telesforo Fernandez
Local time: 14:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
It des not matter where you reside, not even technically Oct 18, 2001

Well, a few days back I translated a technical document written in French (patent document). It was a document from France. It had an accompnanying English translation submitted to US patent Office. But the technical translation was not good enough and in places faulty. The translator was , perhaps, a native person, judging from the language and style, but I was asked to retranslate it, since technical language does not have much mutants. Only in case of internal technical memos circulated among base level technicians , the language takes a bit of a colloquial slant. But first class technical documents do not pose any problems.



So really speaking it does not matter where you reside if you are competent and ressourceful and are never shy to clear your doubts with colleagues all over the world who are just an e- mail away or even you can profit from the Internet.



Quote:


On 2001-10-18 11:08, jps2000 wrote:

The main reason behind this is localization. Some languages present wide variations depending on location. The other day, I was translating a text related to oil production and I just couldn\'t understand some of the technical terms. The text had been written in Argentina and that was the reason behind the confusion.



I think it has very little to do with taxes and payment methods since I have done jobs for many companies in Europe, USA and Israel. In some particular cases, they insisted on a Venezuelan translator living in Venezuela because the texts were going to be submitted to Venezuelan companies.



Best regards,



Jesús Paredes

English-Spanish Translator

Caracas, Venezuela



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Uwe Schwenk
Local time: 03:44
English to German
Translator must live in a certain country Oct 18, 2001

Let\'s not forget the time differences, because that can become an interesting challenge as well. While North and South America do not pose a big issue, when it goes towards Europe or Asia, it will become one.



Another reason is also sometimes the communication infrastructure of the country. While this shoud not be too big of an issue for large projects, for smaller ones, it can make the difference between keping or loosing the client.


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Maria Karra  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:44
Member (2000)
Greek to English
+ ...
Possible solution Oct 18, 2001

Jerold, I was not considered for quite a few jobs because of this reason. But I\'m not surprised that many clients have this requirement; we are basically pushing them to add this requirement. Here\'s what I mean:

Go to the link \"Post job (take bids)\".

There is a field that says \"Bidders must live in...\". Why do we have such a field? If the company is based for example in Spain, even if they hadn\'t thought about this matter, the will, once they reach that point. They can select \"Any country\", but why do that, since it\'s more convenient to find someone in Spain? I suggest that field be removed, and if a company still has such a requirement, they can always add it themselves in the description of the job.

What do you think of this idea?


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Silvia Carvalho  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
There is a reason why Oct 18, 2001

I have been a localization manager for various firms for many years, as well as a EN>ES translator for over 15. Over the years, I have found that you only learn specific terminology or local jergon by living in the country where the target or source languages are spoken. It is very hard for someone who has lived all his/her life in Argentina, for example, to know what \"munchkin\" or something related to the sitcom \"Sienfeld\" would translate as. Or, on the other hand, a person living in England, born and raised in Spain, who never travelled to Argentina, might have a hard time translating the term \"manzana\" in the environmental/planning aspect (that means \"block\").

Project Managers try to avoid headaches and to save time by asking directly for those who would be familiar with the specific localized terminology needed for either the target and source language. My experience shows it works better this way. For all translators out there: Consider adding to your resume all trips you made to different countries, the purpose, and length of stay. Some project managers like myself do look at this when considering a new translator to work with.

Silvia Moreira - Galton Technologies


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Jerold Stamp  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:44
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Native spearker certification could help, maybe a survey could be useful as well. Oct 18, 2001

Fernandes, I think you are right that Native Speaker Certification should help for those instances the company is looking for a native speaker from his country as Jesús has suggested and thus already is a step in the right direction.

In any case, making the assumption that some, many or most of the country of residence discrimination occurs to increase the odds of finding those true mother-language speakers of a particular combination, it still is a flawed method, at least to some degree, because of the expatriate translators. I have a feeling that there are a lot of us out there. Having visited a few translation conventions and meetings, I\'d make a rough guess of around 35%. If this is true, then companies who want resident translators from a particular country may be obliterating 35% of their potential legitimate bids in one fell swoop (I know the actual situation is a bit more complicated but I\'m just roughly trying to justify my point).

It would be interesting to plot or make estimates on the numbers and percentages of a given translation combinations based on mother language, native language (there’s a difference between them I’ve heard), and residence (perhaps the information is already available in the Proz database.

Armed with the results of such a survey, we could then try to spread the news throughout the translation industry.

What do you all think?



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Jerold Stamp  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:44
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It is built in to the system. Is there another way? Oct 18, 2001

Maria,



You made a good point, this method of discriminating by county of residence is built in to the system here. And Silvia makes a strong argue in favour of looking for translators of a particular regional language dialect (to avoid headaches). Are there really a lot of “impostors” out there? I guess the CV doesn’t give that information?



Might there be another solution? Perhaps just by calling up and talking directly with the project manager I can convince him whether or not I have mastered that language combination that they are looking for. It would be an international call and it might cost money, but if it helps to start a healthy long-term business relation, then it could be worth it. Silvia, do you think this might help?



Maybe I should try the recorded Proz greeting?



Would there be anyway of changing the Proz system that keeps everyone happy?



What are your thoughts?



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Marijke Mayer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:44
Dutch to English
+ ...
the reason is money Oct 19, 2001

I have been explained that the fees in certain markets, such as, let\'s say, Spain, are lower than in other countries, let\'s say, the Netherlands.



The other reason, which is of lesser importance to agencies, is that if you are living in any particular country, especially your native country, you will be more aware of the ever-changing linguistic expressions, you are more up-to-date as it were.


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Telesforo Fernandez
Local time: 14:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
first create need Oct 19, 2001

There is a maxim in marketing that says that one should create a need first. We ouselves create this need,by posing the quastion : Bidders must live in ------ ? Once you create this requirement, you can easily sell the concept of native certification for a small as PROZ.COM has started.



Quote:


On 2001-10-18 12:52, mkarra wrote:

Jerold, I was not considered for quite a few jobs because of this reason. But I\'m not surprised that many clients have this requirement; we are basically pushing them to add this requirement. Here\'s what I mean:

Go to the link \"Post job (take bids)\".

There is a field that says \"Bidders must live in...\". Why do we have such a field? If the company is based for example in Spain, even if they hadn\'t thought about this matter, the will, once they reach that point. They can select \"Any country\", but why do that, since it\'s more convenient to find someone in Spain? I suggest that field be removed, and if a company still has such a requirement, they can always add it themselves in the description of the job.

What do you think of this idea?



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Jerold Stamp  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:44
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Marijke, what you say doesn't apply to me: Oct 19, 2001

In my own experience, money certainly would not have been the reason being that rates are higher if not highest in the countries discriminating on the bases of residency (i.e. a US firm saying that bidders must live in the USA). I\'m not saying that you are wrong, just that I\'ve never seen an example of what you are referring to.



For the subject and matter for which I translate, being in the mother country is really not much of a benefit since one can easily stay up-to-date by continuous reading. Perhaps I’m unaware of some of then new faddish colloquialisms someone is using in a particular part of the US this week, but I think that would only be important if my material were of a literary nature, and then again, I keep up to date with those colloquialisms that survive with my reading, Reader’s Digest, Time, and many other books and novels..

Satellite TV and the Internet itself have probably done a great deal to eliminate the problem to which you refer. I’m convinced that, at least in my own case, the problem really does not exist (although my accent has changed a bit after having lived the past sixteen years in Italy.



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Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
English to Polish
+ ...
It is also a matter of convenience Oct 19, 2001

Jerold,



In my case I tend to agree with Marijke, because money is a factor in the Polish market where for English/Polish translations a specialist applying, naturally, from US or UK (rather from Italy) would have to compete with 4-5-6-8 cents max per word (and this in Warsaw which, on average, pays double of what the rest of the country does). Then, there is the additional hassle with international bank transfers, fees etc.

But it is also a metter of pure convenience from the technical point of view. Not all documents are available in the electronic form. Sworn translations, for instance, have to be delivered in hard copy anyhow, and have to be stamped by a qualified Polish resident. In the jobs I have outsourced, very often I have indicated that the translator not only must live in Poland, but addirittura in the Warsaw area, so that, when it comes to the worst (like that email is not coming and we are at the deadline, and, believe me, this has happened more than once), I can chase them with a courier or a driver rather than start an emergency fax transmission of 60 pages. Also, when extensive consultations by phone are required, if you start adding the costs of intercontinental calls, it is very different from the US. Very often, then, the translated documents will be amended and I am not going to chase someone overseas just to ask them to spend one more hour on those amendments. It has also happened that I needed someone for such amendments on the premises throught the night. I like the idea that the translator who is coming has previously had to do with this particular matter and is not completely new to the transation which, on top of that, may be particularly confidential and even though I am not saying that emailing stuff abroad is more dangerous than inside the country, yet...

Insomma, I understand very well your point. I also lived in Italy and tried to make a living as a translator. I think one day we will all live in a truly global village and all things will be possible in real time and online everywhere (including teleportation). Until such time comes, as an outsourcer I am atavistically more comfortable working perhaps not necessarily with flesh and blood people (I know that is a thing of the past), but at least with people who are within my reach. As a translator, on the other hand, I love to work long-distance for Brussels or New York. And I truly hate when they add that \"must live in\" restriction!



Jacek


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Jerold Stamp  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:44
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
3 reasons so far but no good reasons - Why not remove the option? Oct 19, 2001

Telesforo I wouldn’t think that the Proz folks would have put the “bidders must live in” option to intentionally create demand for their Native Speaker Certification program as a marketing strategy as use you seem to suggest. I think there already are ways that such a certification could be useful without somebody putting a simple option in their bidding system to promote it. Plus I’ve been seeing “bidder must live in … for quite a while. The fact that that bidding option does exist and does influence the selection process doesn’t mean that it was intentionally designed to promote the Native Speaker Certification program.



So far, I’d say the question of why the phrase “Bidder must live in …” has 3 good answers so far.



Firstly, as Maria said, because the option is built-in to the bidding system.



2. Secondly as Jesus points out- Residential discrimination is used as method to discriminate among the various linguistic varieties desired. This may actually be a reason, but I believe it is inherently flawed being that it doesn’t consider the expatriates (like myself).



3.. Thirdly for logistical simplicity. Jacek makes a convincing argument and maybe explains what Marijke wanted to say. I understand his point and I can see how it applies. It may be a very legitimate point. But if an experienced customer has this consideration, he shouldn’t need any prodding to say so in his message.



I second Maria\'s proposal that the option be removed from the bidding system. If a customer has the need to discriminate bidders by their nation of residency, why not let him simply say so in the context of the message. Why help spread a bad habit?



[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-10-19 04:38 ]


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