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Does country of residence matter?
Thread poster: Ian Ferguson
Ian Ferguson
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:20
Spanish to English
Oct 7, 2001

Why do so many outsourcers specify \"Must be resident in....(Country)\"? Of course, they are entitled to specify what they please, but surely the whole point of working on the Internet is that it doesn\'t matter where you live.
[addsig]


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Saenger.K
Local time: 23:20
Portuguese to German
Language is not static - it develops Oct 8, 2001

The point is that many translators living in a foreign country \"forget\" partly their mother tongue. Only translators who reside in their countries of origin have contact to the language as it is really used and spoken.

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CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 17:20
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
taxes, taxes, taxes Oct 8, 2001

I believe that the reason why clients specify country of residence, has to do with taxes (where to pay them, in what amount etc.)



Ciao



Paola Ludovici MacQuarrie

mod en>it



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Odilon Louzada
Brazil
Local time: 20:20
English to French
+ ...
Fully Agree !! Oct 8, 2001

Ian, that\'s exactly the point. Globalization is in its way. Many barriers have already beeen climbed, many of the internal dependence in each country are being leveled, but some people still insist in locking themselves up in their shell. As anyone can see Internet and other means of communication has caused one to be as close as if it was next door, despite one is thousands of miles away.

I phone my clients in Japan, they email me files, I get paid via bank wire transfer, all done automatically and as fast and reliable as it was done locally.



Guess it will take a little longer before people fully understand the giant step communication has taken towards getting people closest, and making life easier for everyone.....

All the best

Odilon Louzada

Brazil Translation.Com


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Raymond Chu
Taiwan
Local time: 06:20
English to Chinese
+ ...
Native Language Translators - No Guarranty of Quality Oct 8, 2001

Good question, Ian. I\'ve had the same question in my mind for quite some time, and have found that (1) the country of residence specified by translation agencies is generally the country of the target language, and (2) the reason for that is agencies want to be sure that the translated texts they deliver to their clients are well-written and mistake-free and that they believe only translators living in the target language country are capable of doing the job properly. Unfortunately, the fact is not always what they believe. Kerstin is right in that languages develop over time and translators who have been living in a foreign country for too long \"forget\" to some degree the way his/her moth tongue is properly spoken or written. Mistranslation can happen because the translator mis-reads the source text written in his mother language. I have read the English translation done by some Chinese-American translators from source texts written in Chinese, and have found terrible mistakes due to the translators\' failure to fully understand the Chinese source text. For instance, in one case, the Chinese complimentary expression \"Huatuo zai jian\" ¡£µØªû¦A¨£¡¤, which is commonly used in China to praise the excellent surgical practice of doctors, meaning literally \"Huatuo is reborn\", Huatuo being the most famous surgeon in the Chinese history about two thousand years ago, was translated by a Chinese-American translator into \"Goo-bye Huatuo.\" Obviously, the translator had no knowledge about Huatuo and misunderstood the phrase \"zai jian\" (good-bye; reborn; reappearing). Another example is that the \"section chief\" of certain cultural center under a Taiwan government agency is translated into \"manager.\" There are also numerous cases where English words and sentences are mistranslated into Chinese by \"native-born\" Chinese translators.



In short, my experience is that translation by native language speakers does not necessarily guarrantee the quality of the work, although the client who does not read the source language may be pleased with the readability of the translated text without being able to tell the accuracy or inaccuracy of the translation.


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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:20
Member
German to English
+ ...
Time differences Oct 8, 2001

Time differences are also a factor. If you\'re in Germany, it\'s a lot easier to work with a translatory in Britain where the time is only one hour out than one in the States or Australia when you can only contact them at specific times of the day.



That\'s how I\'ve always understood it, at least!



Regards



Mary


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Henning Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:20
English to Danish
+ ...
I agree with Kirsten Saenger Oct 8, 2001

Also it seems to me that many of the questions concerning translation of special terms english/german > danish come from translators residing outside Denmark.



Furthermore, I do every so often translations for foreign companies with danish subsidiaries, where I start out locating these subsidiaries asking for local reference material, and you will be surprised at the documentation available, evidently unknown to the parent company.

This is very useful, but only practical for someone residing in the country, and therefore I approve the requests for local residents.

Supplementary to the above: To-day I received 160 KudoZ-questions english > danish, submitted by someone that I would call illiterate when it comes to translation. The person is living outside Denmark, and all the questions were that simple, that they could be found in Gyldendals røde eller Clausens tekniske engelsk>dansk. I immediately deleted all 160 mails, some of them were duplicates, I did\'nt even bother to go over them. In a way it seemed that the translator was going to make his own automotive dictionary. 160 questions from one person in one shot, that can simply not be the intentions of KudoZ.

Pfuii !!!!

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-10-10 05:57 ]


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 17:20
SITE FOUNDER
The reasons are usually practical Oct 8, 2001

I have asked this question of a number of ProZ.com outsourcers. In most cases, the reasons for seeking in-country translators are practical ones: \"our accounting department can only authorize local suppliers\", \"we need to pay in local currency\", \"it is better to have people in the same time zone.\"



(Some outsourcers, by the way, prefer to have people in other time zones...)



Henry


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 17:20
German to English
+ ...
Time zones, taxes, "local color" Oct 8, 2001

I agree with all of the reasons given here. My feeling is, confirmed by several discussions with outsourcers, that many of them do not understand their own local tax laws. They think that they will be fiscally disadvantaged if they contract the services of a translator in a country far away. Of course, this may be true of some countries (with backward tax legislation), but in most EU countries and the US this is not normally a problem.



The other reason cited is \"different time zones\" - very often German companies prefer to assign a translation to a translator in the US because of the time difference: while the German office is about to close for the day, things are only getting started over here. This way, they can ensure that the translator will still have a full business day for his/her translation (this is common practice for those \"5 to 5 jobs\" - translations coming in towards the end of business; so instead of looking for a local translator, or one in a time zone close-by, German businesses or agencies often outsource such projects to North America).


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CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 17:20
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
Mother language knowledge Oct 9, 2001

I would just like to add a coda to this topic, concerning mother language living in the country where language is spoken. I am a mother language speaker of Italian who does not live in the country where the language is normally spoken (although I speak it at home, read newspapers, novels, magazines etc. and teach it)

Many clients also look for people in my position as I can ensure an up-to-date understanding of the source language, living, as I do, in a country where my two source languages are spoken on a daily basis (I live in a bilingual environment in Quebec)



I think that the main reasons are tax laws in some protective jurisdictions.



Best to all



Paola L M

mod EN>IT



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VBaby
Local time: 22:20
English to French
+ ...
Still, a lousy requirement Oct 9, 2001

Most of the reasons given make some sense. However, country of residence tells you very little and is therefore a very lousy indicator to use:



- loss of familiarity with language due to living abroad (Kirsten): quite right, but it takes time. What if you lived all your life in your native country and just moved to another three months ago? What if you still buy newspapers in your own language and listen all day to the BBC, RFI, Deutsche Welle etc?

- taxes, local laws: translators can have bank accounts in several countries, not to speak of accounts with online services such as Paypal. At least within the EU, this shouldn\'t be an issue at all.

- Time difference: makes no sense whatsoever when it comes to choosing between translators based in the US or Canada, or within Europe.



Finally, the residence requirement discriminates against translators living in smaller countries. I often see \"Translators must live in France\" for French jobs: wouldn\'t translators living in Wallonie, Suisse romande, Québec, Luxembourg, many French-speaking African countries etc, be just as qualified?





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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 17:20
German to English
+ ...
Time zones DO matter Oct 9, 2001

I must disagree with vbaby: time zones do matter to most of my clients. 95% of my clients are currently located in various parts of Europe, and they all came to me at some point, because they wanted to take advantage of the \"time lag\" - which is really useful for those \"5 to 5 jobs\" I mentioned in my previous message.



I do agree with vbaby, however, on the point of discrimination. Some outsourcers, for reasons of ignorance or otherwise, preclude a large number of skilled and talented translators.

Sometimes, they select a specific country not aware of the fact that, by using this feature, their job posting will, therefore, never reach all the translators that they wanted to address. I have had several cases where I did not receive an e-mail notification (because of a country having been specified), but when I found the job on the main page of PROZ and contacted the outsourcer, they told me that, yes, by all means, they did not want to exclude translators from other countries; they simply did not know that their selection would drastically limit the reach of their job ads. Perhaps there should be a short note of warning in the outsourcer\'s form.



I also agree with vbaby, and others, that simply living in a certain country is not sufficient to qualify for a particular translation project. Each case is different, and we are all individuals. PROZ is a meritocracy, and making the country of residence a qualifying feature does not jibe with the idea of meritocracy.



And, finally, in today\'s world it really should not matter anymore where we all live. Some of our colleagues live in Australia and work for clients in France, for example. It really should not be an issue anymore.


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Ian Ferguson
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:20
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Oct 10, 2001

I didn\'t expect to get so many, and such varied replies to my posting. Thanks to you all. It has been most informative reading all your views.



I agree with Kerstin, Raymond and Henning that one can lose touch with one\'s native language. A native English speaker, I lived for 10 years in Spain, and on occasional family visits to the UK I was often struck by the number of little phrases that had sneaked in to the English language in my absence. Mostly these were associated with \"youth culture\", or catch-phrases from popular television programmes. Sometimes, too, they were invented by the popular press. I must have been one of the last English speakers to learn what a spin-doctor was! However, this does not apply to me now, as I am back in the UK. I was thinking more of agencies which insist that translators must live in the countries where they are based.



On the matter of tax and/or currency issues, I think Odilon and others are right in saying that these problems are more imagined than real. I quote my rates in Sterling, Euros and US Dollars, but I can accept payment in any negotiable currency without any problem.



The question of time zones, it seems to me, cuts both ways. I am not yet established as a full-time professional translator, so I have to fit my translation work in around a regular job. This means that if a client in Europe tries to telephone me during office hours, they will only get a voice mail service, and if they email or fax me I won\'t see it until the evening. On the other hand, when I get home from my day job, business people in New York are thinking about where to go for lunch, and early risers in Los Angeles are just arriving at their desks!



Regards



IanF



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Raymond Chu
Taiwan
Local time: 06:20
English to Chinese
+ ...
Information on Tax Problem Oct 10, 2001




As a lawyer-translator specialized in international business law, I must point out that the income tax laws of most countries, including U.S., Canada, and EU countries, do not tax income of \"non-resident aliens\", i.e. foreign citizens and business entities. In other words, if the translator is NOT a citizen or permanent resident of the country where the outsourcer conducts business, the translator does not have to pay income tax for remuneration paid by the outsourcer, and the outsourcer is not legally required to \"withhold\" any income tax. In EU countries where VAT is high, remuneration paid to a translator living in a non-EU country is zero-rated for VAT purposes. Therefore, the tax laws in most countries actually operates in favor of non-resident translators rather than against them, as the outsourcer does not have to bother with the tax withholding process. I have done translations and proofreading for agencies in U.S. and Canada, and I did not have to pay any tax. It is true that the outsourcer has to arrange transfer of the payment to the translator living in a foreign country. This can be easily done by a simple telephone call to his banker if it is a country of free economy.


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