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Russian-English engineering translation----complete novice needs help
Thread poster: MarginWalker

MarginWalker
United States
Local time: 14:47
Russian to English
Mar 14, 2006

Hello, I have been offered a job translating engineering documents from Russian to English, and I have no experience with this work at all and virtually no experience with translation in general.
My main question is about rates. What do some of you charge and what would be considered a good or normal rate for a complete novice? Of course I am willing to work pretty cheaply due to my experience level, but I dont want to be ripped off or taken advantage of.
Here is a small sample of the document I will be translating (I don't need any translation help!):

Примечания.
1. Под промысловыми понимаются трубопроводы между площадками отдельных промысловых сооружений (скважин, УППГ, УКПГ, ГС, сооружений газоперерабатывающего завода и др. объектов).
Границами промысловых трубопроводов является ограждения соответствующих площадок, а при отсутствии ограждения в пределах отсыпки соответствующих площадок.


It is basically 25 pages of that (with some graphs and charts and some formulas).

I know some of you do or have done engineering translation. How should I charge? Per word or page?

Also, if any of you had something like this, how fast could you get it done? This business wants me to tell them when I will finish it, and I have no idea what would be a resonable amount of time There is no deadline coming up for it.
A week, 4 days, 2 days?


Thank you so much for your help! i really want this job and the experience, and despite this post, I fully believe that I have the ability...but the world of pro translation is new to me. I just finished school.


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xxxPRen  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:47
French to English
+ ...
Are you sure? Mar 14, 2006

First off, let me say my combination is French-English, and I have no way of understanding the excerpt you included, and therefore no way of assessing the degree of difficulty.

That being said, the fact that these are engineering documents, and you say you have no experience in engineering and are virtually a complete novice in translating is a big red flag you would do well to heed.

If you insist on going ahead with this (and I recommend that you do not), you not only need to find the appropriate terminology sources/dictionaries/glossaries/lexicons in this subject area, you first need to find similar documents in English and read them to get a feel for terminology, style, and so on. I would also strongly recommend that you hire and pay an appropriate rate to an experienced Russian-English translator who also has engineering credentials and/or engineering translation experience to revise the entire translation.

Don't overestimate your abilities. Professional translators who are good at what they do have honed their skills by translating, translating and more translating and seeking revision when they are unfamiliar with a subject area. They also know to decline a translation when it is beyond their skill set.

You might want to revise your expectations and start out small, doing general business translations (letters, administrative-type reports) to get a feel for the documents, particularly if you have no prior experience in a business environment. Remember, you are not expected only to know how to translate, you're expected to be able to write, in English, in the style appropriate to the document. That comes with experience, not just translation ability.

Remember, if you do a crappy job for this client, you've lost the client for good. Prospective clients will respect you for turning down work you are not qualified to do.

Paula


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MarginWalker
United States
Local time: 14:47
Russian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, I am sure Mar 14, 2006

Your concerns and advice are very accurate, but I would never do this if I didn't think that I could handle it.
I translated one document for them to assess my abilities already, and it was spot on.

In a way, this is pretty basic work that is highly repetitive and dull. It isn't Dostoyevsky!

Also, I have a lot of resources at my disposal and this company wants us to strictly follow their formatting procedures...

I am just more interested to know what I can reasonably charge. I know nothing about professional rates or rates for beginners


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:47
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Rates should be suggested privately Mar 14, 2006

If anyone can help Margin with suggestions here, please send a private message as the scope of the forum is not to define prices.
All I can say, Margin, is that word/keystroke is how I generally calculate an offer.
A page can contain 2 words or even several hundred.
I don't know what the procedure is for Russian but I suspect it's words.
Angela


MarginWalker wrote:
I am just more interested to know what I can reasonably charge. I know nothing about professional rates or rates for beginners


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:47
German to English
+ ...
Just a minute Mar 14, 2006

MarginWalker wrote:

Hello, I have been offered a job translating engineering documents from Russian to English, and I have no experience with this work at all and virtually no experience with translation in general.

Thank you so much for your help! i really want this job and the experience, and despite this post, I fully believe that I have the ability...but the world of pro translation is new to me. I just finished school.


Sorry Margin.

This sounds like saying "Someone has asked me to fix their car. I have no experience with this work at all. I really want this job and the experience. How much should I charge him."

Would you have your car fixed by such a man? How much would he charge you if it did not work?

I understand your keenness, but you are starting the wrong way round. Try browsing all round the various topics to get a better feel of how the business works and where and how to start.

Good luck, though
Chris


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 14:47
English to Russian
+ ...
2 days is too much Mar 15, 2006

It's only 25 dull pages with drawings about some stupid pipelines. Sure, no Dostoyevsky to worry about.
Promise a 24-hour turnaround.


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:47
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
How can you say 2 days is too much? Mar 15, 2006

Please be very careful when making blanket statements such as this.
We have no idea how many words have to be translated and I would never promise a 24-hour turnaround for something that appears to be very long.
Angela

IreneN wrote:

It's only 25 dull pages with drawings about some stupid pipelines. Sure, no Dostoyevsky to worry about.
Promise a 24-hour turnaround.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 14:47
English to Russian
+ ...
Angela, are you serious? Mar 15, 2006

Angela Arnone wrote:

Please be very careful when making blanket statements such as this.


Moreover, this 24-hour period should include sleep, breakfast, lunch, dinner and diaper-changing time.


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:47
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
I was about to ask you the same thing! Mar 15, 2006

Hello Irene,
I am serious about blanket statements - I hope I didn't sound too blunt, if I did, I apologise.
......I hope you understand where I'm coming from with this one - simply not knowing how many words are on a page can be a real trap for a translator.
And you're absolutely right about fitting in all the rest too!!!
Ciao
Angela



IreneN wrote:

Angela Arnone wrote:

Please be very careful when making blanket statements such as this.


Moreover, this 24-hour period should include sleep, breakfast, lunch, dinner and diaper-changing time.


[Edited at 2006-03-15 09:43]


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 14:47
English to Russian
+ ...
No offence taken:-) Mar 15, 2006

My point is that a year or 24 hours - makes no difference here, Margin is about to commit a professional crime - no experience, no knowledge, but will proceed for sure with work ranging from gas processing units to pipeline construction site development. Would you be willing to read the outcome? I won't. And the main question is what to charge. Unbelievable, sad and offensive to me. In this text there are at least 3 options for a "pipeline" alone depending on purpose and facility. As Russian community are able to read the subject they are close to fainting.

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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:47
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
I have now understood!!! Mar 15, 2006

Gotcha Irene ... I missed the "flavour" of the post ... I speak no Russian so I am unable to comment on the difficulty of the translation.


Of course, it would depend on many diapers one has to change, because sleep is a total optional for translators, right?


Angela

IreneN wrote:

Angela Arnone wrote:

Please be very careful when making blanket statements such as this.


Moreover, this 24-hour period should include sleep, breakfast, lunch, dinner and diaper-changing time.


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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
Novice help Mar 15, 2006

MarginWalker wrote:
I am just more interested to know what I can reasonably charge. I know nothing about professional rates or rates for beginners


Well, it's kind of like this:

If you can do a good job (as good as any experienced translator would), then you should charge whatever is the going rate for your language pair in the US. No reason to charge less.

If you can't, then the ethical thing to do would be to bow out. Charging less and learning as you go is a big no-no, unless, as someone else pointed out, you charge the full amount and pay a percentage of your rate to have it thoroughtly revised by an expert, before delivery.

To calculate how much time it would take you, I suggest you translate a page, time yourself, and then do the math.

--
Dyran


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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:47
English to Russian
+ ...
nicely put Mar 15, 2006

But first i nearly choked myself (envying) [25 pages in 24 hrs.. and i asked for possible extension with my silly 4 pages on biochemistry..] But after some follow-up and coming back to my senses i agree that with such approach and attitude it could be probably done even faster.
I enjoy your posting and totally agree.

IreneN wrote:

It's only 25 dull pages with drawings about some stupid pipelines. Sure, no Dostoyevsky to worry about.
Promise a 24-hour turnaround.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 19:47
Dutch to English
+ ...
I don't think we can help ......... Mar 15, 2006

Your profile states:

"I am awesome and better than a lot of people.

I am new to this, so I will work cheaply to gain experience."

Well .........most of us on this site are professional and some of us are pretty awesome in our respective fields too but those that actually are wouldn't advise working cheaply.

You either have the ability and experience to do the job or you don't and if you don't, you really shouldn't take it on.

If you honestly feel you have, then you should charge the going rate - you're not going to be let off the hook if you charge cheaply and deliver work with mistakes.

In other words, a professional translator does not learn at his/her client's expense. Remember that.

Good luck
D


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 21:47
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Some advice Mar 15, 2006

MarginWalker wrote:
I have been offered a job translating engineering documents from Russian to English, and I have no experience with this work at all and virtually no experience with translation in general.


Start from some general texts, preferrably within the fields you really love and feel confident with.


My main question is about rates...
Here is a small sample of the document I will be translating (I don't need any translation help!):
Примечания.
1. Под промысловыми понимаются трубопроводы между площадками отдельных промысловых сооружений (скважин, УППГ, УКПГ, ГС, сооружений газоперерабатывающего завода и др. объектов).
Границами промысловых трубопроводов является ограждения соответствующих площадок, а при отсутствии ограждения в пределах отсыпки соответствующих площадок.


Being Russian-speaking, I feel that not every professional freelancer with a 20-year experience is ready to do the text. It's really tough. Forget it, refuse the proposal, and try do do something much more simpler. Don't spoil your good name. A newspaper article or a general text will perfectly do the work for you as a beginner. The project with the fragment you quoted is obviously not for you, sorry.

Start from simple things, and evolve to more specialized subjects. Don't think it's an easy money. It's not. Select spealiziation fields - you must be really interested in them - then stick to them. After that you may try to widen your specialization - but slowly and carefully! Forget yourself, your money and you own self-aggrandizement, think of the text in hand!


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