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Credit Crunch hitting Translators?
Thread poster: Raf Uzar

Raf Uzar
Poland
Local time: 07:30
Polish to English
Feb 11, 2009

I found an interesting little article about this here:

http://transubstantiation.wordpress.com/

Raf


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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 07:30
Italian to English
+ ...
Now and Then Feb 11, 2009

The hysteria around the so-called credit crunch is certainly affecting financial flows and international trade, hitting certain sectors of the translation business with it.

But the list in the article you provide a link for is not surprising and I believe that globalization will emerge from this crisis deepened, so, to be sure, just like scribes in pre-industrial times, translators will be in demand in full force when the current crisis passes.

I suppose the biggest risk to this scenario is a return to 1930s-style protectionism, but that only triggered war and, later, the globalization that we have today.

I think the balance of probabilities leans towards deepening rather than prolonged protectionism.


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:30
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
I have never been busier Feb 11, 2009

Well, call it what you like, but I have never been busier - fortunately so as it has hit my husband's building business!

Good luck to you all!

Liz Askew


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:30
English to French
+ ...
Much ado about nothing Feb 11, 2009

It always makes me laugh when some of our colleagues post threads asking how The Crisis has affected our respective businesses or if we have noticed any drop in work lately. I understand that the current state of the economy is making many of us uneasy, and I have my share of worries as well (strong inflation on all fronts, more difficulty in getting credit, etc.), but my business is what worries me the least. The reason why is because the companies who want their documents translated actually need to get those documents translated, because in many cases, it is precisely the existence of translated documents that helps them stay afloat despite the downturn.

I would say that, more than ever, our clients need our services. I have to admit, though, that literary translators probably are affected by the crisis, since they translate consumer products, considered to be a luxury in many countries even before The Crisis.

I am also hoping that this tight economic situation is also helping clients to double-check whether they have enough money to waste on cheap translations that will end up having to be redone. More than ever, they can't afford for that to happen. You never know - our endless attempts at trying to educate clients about rates and quality may just pay off in the near future...

In the meantime, I am not the least worried.


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Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 12:00
German to English
+ ...
Depends on sector Feb 11, 2009

Since the translation marketplace covers so many different sub-markets, the likelihood of being hit by the credit crunch depends on the market underlying the translation requirement.

I agree with Viktoria that the translation of consumer product material may be affected. On the other hand, businesses will still need to communicate even in the face of protectionism, so the market for the translation of business documentation should continue to hold up.


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Raf Uzar
Poland
Local time: 07:30
Polish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Virtual Crisis? Feb 11, 2009

As some of you have intimated the crisis may be bigger on the outside than the inside, however, there is no doubting the fact that I have witnessed a rather annoying ripple, knock-on effect hitting businesses here in Poland that have American/British capital. They have had to cut back especially on services, training and HR which in turn has affected translation. There may not be less work but companies are beginning to look for companies that can offer similar (though sometimes poorer quality) services for less.

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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:30
Italian to English
Late payments, perhaps Feb 11, 2009

If you have a steady flow of work from customers who are happy with your rates and service, the first effect of a credit crunch could be the late settlement of invoices by previously reliable payers, or perhaps the failure of some businesses that were borderline before the recession.

As they say here in Friuli, "viodarìn" (we shall see).

Giles


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Sergei Leshchinsky  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 08:30
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
I alway remember... Feb 11, 2009

... the saying "Oral sex it NOT speaking of it".

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
... colleagues post threads asking how The Crisis has affected our respective businesses or if we have noticed any drop in work lately.


Yes, some folks spend more time discussing the crisis than doing what they are supposed to do (to deal with it faster, BTW). And even more folks think that "the crisis" has anything to do with them. Actually, the most talkative are those who are beyond: they are neither affected by it, not can influence it...
Let's do what we can and... The life is a show, it needs spectators. Sometimes I prefer being "too busy to entertain poor actors"...

[Редактировалось 2009-02-11 19:34 GMT]


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Anjo Sterringa  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:30
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Economic downturn is general Feb 11, 2009

We do not live in a glass bubble behind our desks, so of course the economic downturn, or this recession, is going to hit us translators. Maybe not all translators but certainly many of us. Companies are not translating the number of documents they used to. A Company Code of Conduct - hm let's wait for things to get better before we continue with that. Updating the General Conditions? We'll think about it.

The writing was on the wall, I worked a lot last year as I knew it was not going to last - now I just have enough work and I can only hope it will stay that way. Of course, there's always the steady jobs, but even there, there's just less of it. And in Europe we are expensive in relation to the UK and the US.

Companies are busier laying off people and surviving than anything else - how could we even think the translation industry would be handling the same volume as before? Yes, there are always documents that just have to be translated but there are more translators available than before.

It's not the media making a big thing out of The Crisis - it's actually many people losing their jobs. Just have a look at the UK:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/business/2008/downturn/default.stm
Not to mention the Netherlands where they thought they were pretty safe until the entire banking system collapsed - ING bank is laying off 7,000 people in the near future.
http://www.investmentnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090126/REG/901269994


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Raf Uzar
Poland
Local time: 07:30
Polish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Economic downturn... Feb 11, 2009

Yes, there IS an economic downturn and I wouldn't want the discussion turning towards the economic, fiscal and political reasons behind it, however, the reality of the crisis in Europe is that it is not homogeneous throughout the continent.
What may be termed 'crisis' in the UK, is not necessarily the same in Spain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Belgium or Poland. There are different scales to this crisis and what is interesting is the fact that each translator is feeling this differently. I wonder which language pairs (or languages) will be hit hardest...


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Jana Teteris  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:30
Latvian to English
+ ...
Think before you write Feb 11, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

It always makes me laugh when some of our colleagues post threads asking how The Crisis has affected our respective businesses or if we have noticed any drop in work lately.


Viktoria -
I'm pleased to read that things are going well for you, but I must say that I find your comment (quoted above) particularly offensive.

I'm glad I've managed to bring some laughter into your life, as I am one of those 'colleagues' who has recently started a discussion on proz.com regarding a downturn in work for the EU. My concerns were both personal and genuine. Some translators may think that they live in an ivory tower from which they can look down on the rest of the world and think that they are unaffected by what is going on around them, but the reality is that we do not live in a glass bubble (as someone already said) and we are all to a greater or lesser extent affected by the so-called credit crunch both in our working and private lives.

[Edited at 2009-02-11 22:37 GMT]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:30
English to French
+ ...
If the hat don't fit... Feb 12, 2009

Jana Teteris wrote:

Some translators may think that they live in an ivory tower from which they can look down on the rest of the world...


Oh, because a translator whose business is doing just fine and doesn't anticipate any problems is automatically one that lives in an ivory tower looking down at the rest of the world? Oh please, Jana! Don't put words in my mouth. Laughing when reading a post doesn't automatically mean laughing at its author or laughing at some people's misery. Gee, aren't we a wee bit sensitive...

Yes, I am amused by people anticipating the end of the world for 7 o'clock Greenwich Mean. That is what I personally think and I am not going to change my mind about it just to please you. What you say makes me think of the kind of lack of confidence that leads to underselling your services, and - oh, don't even get me started! If my comment hit the target, I am not the one to blame. I stated my opinion. If you have a problem with it, you are free not to read it. Did I go to the thread you started to publicly laugh at you?

...we are all to a greater or lesser extent affected by the so-called credit crunch both in our working and private lives [V.G.: my emphasis]


As I have said before, in my case, the credit crunch only affects my personal life, not my business. Speak for yourself.

And now, I'll go back to my ivory tower and speak to my translator buddies who, although they are reportedly pretentious, actually understand what I'm saying.


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
OT: I saw it the other way too Feb 12, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote: Laughing when reading a post doesn't automatically mean laughing at its author or laughing at some people's misery. ... Yes, I am amused by people anticipating the end of the world for 7 o'clock Greenwich Mean. That is what I personally think and I am not going to change my mind about it just to please you.

Viktoria, I have a lot of respect for you and your posts, I am constantly impressed by your dedication both to take the time to share what you think as well as to provide words of wisdom, at least as you see them.

But I have to say, I sympathize more with Jana on this point. There are millions of people in the world who have already been devastated by the current economic landscape. It seems quite normal to me that a translator who may be experiencing the onset of business problems might survey his/her peers because of his/her concerns.

Starting out a response to legitimate concerns with "It always makes me laugh..." does make it seem that you are indeed laughing at those concerns.

Fair enough, you claim not to be laughing at people - only that they anticipate calamity. Not much of a difference to my mind, but as you said, it's what you think. However, Jana is not alone in viewing your particular choice of words as insensitive.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:30
English to French
+ ...
I may not have been clear enough Feb 12, 2009

Thank you, Janet, for your polite and conciliatory post. A breath of fresh air.

If you feel more or less the same way about my initial post as Jana does, that's okay. I have my opinions and others have theirs. I often express disagreement with others' opinions, and I often express agreement as well. What I don't do is tell people that their opinion is offending, unless it touches upon human rights, which is a borderline subject when viewed from the forum scope angle, so let's not stray off topic here. Another thing I don't do is take things personal when I wasn't the direct target of a post. When I am the direct target, though, watch out because I definitely do reply.

I don't think you would have posted what you just posted if the last two posts before yours had not been posted. There are other people in this thread beside Jana who disagree with me, yet, they were content with simply exposing their own views.

I may not have been clear enough: what makes me laugh is not that some people fear the effects of the crisis (I reflected on the possible effects of the crisis on my business as well - it's all behind me now), but rather the ambiance in this forum of late. That people fear the effect of the credit crunch is fine by me. But there have been some posts where the posters seem to say "The end is nigh! We are all going to lose our jobs!" That does make me laugh. Especially since the situation is still recent and there is no telling the consequences.

Some people may have been experiencing some difficulties lately, but pointing the finger right away at the crisis is a bit too soon, I say. I had a slow period at the end of last summer, and I didn't blame it on anything - it just so happened that none of my clients had work for me. Did I get scared? No. I spent some time wondering how I can ensure that I don't have any more of those slow periods. Being all negative all of a sudden will not help any of us to bring in the contracts. Some people talk, some people act. We may want to discuss things in the meantime, but feeling terrorized, in my humble opinion, is not an option. And when those who feel terrorized spread their fears around like a virus, yes, that makes me laugh.

As for people who feel offended by a mere opinion while feeling entitled to their own, and then go telling me that I should think before I write, well, I can't bring myself to feel sympathy. There are other, smarter ways to go about it. Like yours, Janet. Or like expressing your own opinion. Or like simply saying you disagree and explaining why.

[Edited at 2009-02-12 04:51 GMT]


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Nadejda Vega Cespedes  Identity Verified

Local time: 07:30
Spanish to Russian
+ ...
"Do you suffer from nightmares?" – "Come on, Doc, I enjoy them..." Feb 12, 2009

There is an upside to the crisis, too. Like, you enter your favorite (and normally crowded) eatery at 10 p.m. on a Saturday and immediately get a table you didn't even bother to book. Or you get a free upgrade at a hotel without being a frequent guest: The better room would otherwise stay empty, the marginal cost is about the same, and value is the new luxury as one influential brand puts it. A buyer's market, that is. Sucks if you sell, but one to enjoy if you are both willing and able to purchase.

That said, as far as I can tell, the translation market hasn't suddenly become a buyer's one – at least in my segment, it definitely hasn't. Quality suppliers are still scarce, documents still need to be translated; in brief, the general landscape doesn't seem to have changed much. Moreover, if the layoffs involve in-house translators, the logical thing to expect is actually a further increase in demand.


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