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What is a fair rate for a translator?
Thread poster: Kevin Yang

Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:36
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Mar 19, 2002

Dear Translators:



I was in another fold and reading our Chinese translators\' messages. I think Xiaoping brought up an interesting question about the word rate a translator can make in China. Lets talk about it. I suggest to ask the question as what is a fair rate for a translator? Please share your wisdom with us!



Kevin



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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 13:36
German to English
+ ...
Fair rate Mar 19, 2002

Here\'s my definition (applicable to all countries and regions):



A fair rate is the kind of rate that will allow you to cover your overheads, other expenses, etc. - in short, the amount of money that will help ensure a \"comfortable\" lifestyle for yourself.


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brightex
Local time: 10:36
English to Chinese
+ ...
There is no Fair Rate Mar 19, 2002

Because it would depend on the country that you are based, the material you have to handle, and the demand of the market. A recent survey in the States marked the Chinese language translation the cheapest you can find on the market, averaging $0.05 per character as against the average of $0.15 per word in other languages.

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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:36
English to Swedish
+ ...
"A fair rate" is a meaningless fiction. Mar 20, 2002

A fair rate is a meaningless fiction.



\"A fair rate for translators\" is a meaningless fiction. To discuss it is as meaningless as to discuss \"How many angels can dance on the point of a needle at the same time?\". The concept \"fair rate\" is anchored in the labour union philosophy, but since there is no world covering Translators Union there is no \"fair rate\".



Q.E.D.



Sell QUALITY at PREMIUM PRICE!



Sven.



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Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:36
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Make sense, but... Mar 20, 2002

Sven, your comment makes certain sense. It is a free market, a translator can offer any rate he or she would like to. But when a rate offered by the translator that is too low comparing with those translators here in America, would it more likely to invite abuse, mistreatment, or disrepect?



Kevin


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 13:36
German to English
+ ...
Reply to Sven Mar 21, 2002

I don\'t think that the question was meant to look at \"fair rates\" from a union\'s point of view.



I still stand by my own, personal, definition of term \"fair rate\" (see above).

______________



Yes, low rates are often equated with low quality. It also invites disrespect and doubt with respect to the translator\'s abilities. No one, not even translators living in a \"third world country\", should sell themselves short, in my opinion.



But, unfortunately, there are also some who live in the US and still offer their \"services\" for a lousy $1.50 per page (!!!!) - I am not kidding; there is a ProZ member who advertises this rate in her member profile (but this is beyond me: how can anyone survive on $1.50 per page living in the US? Even if she lives in a slum, she couldn\'t pull it off!)





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Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:36
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Mar 21, 2002

Guden taag, Werner!(?) (Sorry, I thought I am speaking German to you.



That is amazing. I wonder if there would be a typo. Perhaps she or he works for pleasure, instead of making a living.



Kevin


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 13:36
German to English
+ ...
No, sadly, it is not a typo Mar 22, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-03-21 23:58, Tongli wrote:

Guden taag, Werner!(?) (Sorry, I thought I am speaking German to you.



That is amazing. I wonder if there would be a typo. Perhaps she or he works for pleasure, instead of making a living.



Kevin





If only it were a typo! But having seen her KudoZ answers, I\'d be surprised if she got even that ($1.50 per page)

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-22 00:28 ]

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xxxLiebling
Local time: 02:36
English to Chinese
+ ...
Kevin你也说德文吗? Mar 22, 2002

Kevin你也说德文吗? 不知在美国与加拿大地区德文翻中文的待遇如何?



-Liebling


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Tingting Hu
English to Chinese
+ ...
if the rate is unfair. Mar 22, 2002

everyone has rights to quote freely. if your rate is much higher or your service doesn\'t deserve the rate, you will lose clients gradually.



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David Rockell
Chinese to English
Perhaps fairness is relative (although my relatives are certainly not fair) Mar 22, 2002

In this dog eat dog world of suppliers, agents, freelancers, subcontractors, call \'em what you like, it is all about creating surplus value and gaining benefit from the fruits of other\'s labor. That we exploit one another is undeniable, perhaps a measurement of \"fairness\" might be by how much. An agency charging 10 but only giving 2 (without adding any value to work) in my view is unfair. An agency that charges 10 and gives 2 to its freelancers (but adds some value to the work) might be defined as fairly (greedy) and an agency that charges 10 and gives 5 to freelancers and adds value to work might perhaps be considered fair? Personally, I would love to be able to charge exorbitant rates, set a limit of 200 words a day and sit atop a mountain in Zhejiang completing my translations with a writing brush and Chinese ink (of course I only work when there\'s fine weather). On the other hand I would also like to have the mental and physical ability to churn out 50,000 words a day at any rate you\'ll give me. Henry Ford did something similar and he still seems to have a decent enough reputation. The question of rates is naturally a subject of great interest to translators. My view is that the inevitable trend is one of lower and lower rates as there are advances in new technology and also rises in language ability on a global level. On the subject of the dread MT, alas, I wouldn\'t be too confident that our highly intelligent brains are light years ahead of technology (okay I hear some out there saying speak for yourself). Granted, Systran and those other amusing software programs are next to useless (in terms of translation anyway) but bear in mind they have memory banks of a mere 2 million sentences. The answer is simple enough; just boost that good ol\' memory bank up to 200 million example sentences and many people will be suprised at how well the stupid and unthinking software translates. Well, it will be interesting to see. If this comes to pass, some of us will move on to greener pastures and others will become freelance polishers, searching for mistakes and then telling the computer off (still a skiled job but unfortinately likely to pay even less). Wu Hu Ai Zai, I better actually go and do some work instead of making myself a nuisance here. May my doomful words prove to be woefully wrong and may all translators reading this be offered a big job tomorrow at twice the rate they usually charge (with 50% up front). David

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Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:36
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
David, I can totally relate to what you said! Mar 23, 2002

David,



Thank you for the comments! Very insightful! I can totally relate to what you have said. Sometime I have the same feeling, but cannot define it well. To hear you spell it out gives me the equal satisfaction! Your perception is very much appreciated. By the way, you are on my contact list for my next project for sure.



Have you ever thought about this phenomenon in America? The customers go to Saks Fifth Avenue to shop without any question asked and proud of the purchase, but when they go to Ross Dress for Less or Volumeshoes, their attitude and behavior changed and turned less respectful, or even nasty. Is the same thing happening in the translation industry? What is missing here?



Kevin



[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-23 02:51 ]

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-23 03:05 ]


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Yngve Roennike  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:36
Danish to English
+ ...
Enjoyed DR's post. Mar 26, 2002

Well done. A refreshing view on MT, which I have espoused in other forums as well.

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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 13:36
German to English
+ ...
Re: MT Mar 26, 2002

It has nothing to do with memory; it is simply impossible (and will remain so) to program a machine - no matter how sophisticated it may be - to apply human instinct and emotions to the analysis of a text.



I mean, we don\'t even know yet how the human brain works. So, how could we program a machine to do something that even the smartest scientists in the world have not come to grasp yet?



Translation is more - a whole lot more - than just words, sentences and syntax. Understanding the information (including the information \"between the lines\", i.e., nuances) contained therein and conveying it in another language is something that no machine will ever be able to do - not even 500 years from now.



So, to those Trekkies out there who firmly believe that the \"Universal Translator\" will one day become reality I have this to say: dream on!


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Zonum
Spain
Local time: 19:36
Spanish to Catalan
+ ...
I agree with Werner Apr 2, 2002

\"Translation is more - a whole lot more - than just words, sentences and syntax. Understanding the information (including the information \"between the lines\", i.e., nuances) contained therein and conveying it in another language is something that no machine will ever be able to do - not even 500 years from now.\"



I agree 100% with this sentence.


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