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What's frequency of hard copy originals in Japan?
Thread poster: CELC Inc

Local time: 19:19
Japanese to English
+ ...
Nov 5, 2003

I am curious what other translators working in Japan (or, I guees, in Japanese) find the frequency of hard copy originals to be.

I am plagued by them. They're all I get. My clients refuse to give me text data in more than 80% of all cases (and perhaps more than 90%, I just want to avoid hyperbole). As you must all know, the problems are endless -- word count is annoying, Trados is hard to use, OCR takes time and has its faults, etc.

And because the bulk of this work is subcontracting, there is no room for rate negotiation...

I suppose if anyone has any good ideas I would love to hear them, but mostly misery loves company and I would love to know you're all suffering too. (*^.^*)

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Local time: 19:19
Italian to Japanese
+ ...
Perhaps 50 to 80% Nov 5, 2003

It depends on what type of translations you do. For example, technical documents or appliance manuals are usually provided as files, PDF in the worst cases. But for almost all other topics hard copies is the rule. Basically I think that the normal originating client knows almost nothing about the "operational" differences (for the Translator) between hard copies and files, and therefore he thinks that sending faxes is more straighforward and less time consuming. On the other hand - and this is perhaps the most common situation - translation agencies do not like to further "disturb" their clients with this kind fo request; in many cases they even do not like to call them to request clarifications on certain terms the Translator does not understand very well ("Our Client is always very busy and does not like to be disturbed by questions the Translator is supposed to know perfectly about"; this is sometimes their reply...).

It also happens that, upon frequent solicitations, that translation agencies start responding positively to the request of providing files instead of hard copies, although they easily tend to forget about it if you don't keep asking them. In my experience, it worked in some cases but every now and then I have to remind them of my need.

Somebody has suggested that you raise your rate if the original text is provided as hard copy; I do not know if this strategy works, at least in Japan, but unless you have a strong and lasting relationship with these agencies/clients, they may well decide to turn to less "demanding" translators. There are so many on the market right now... In a couple of cases they become suspicious of my intention to use a CAT software. They said to me: "If you intend to use 'translation' software with us, you should also make it native-checked by a native speaker in the target language, as we know well that translation software is everything but perfect". How would you react to this type of statement?

In general, with some exceptions I think that japanese translation agencies are not very professional. They perhaps employ too many part-time people without pertinent background nor a special interest in what they do at a given time (I know one that before becoming PM for a well konwn translation agency was working at a "fashion shop". After some months she returned there because she was feeling frustrated by so many things she did not understand about handling languages).

Moral: keep trying and good luck.

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