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Does anyone have experience working in a country that has no established translation rates?
Thread poster: alexandra123

alexandra123
Local time: 09:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
May 4, 2004

Hello everyone,

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions. I work as a translator in Honduras. My work is mainly English to Spanish and some german. AS far as I know, there are only two other certified and academically prepared translators here and both actually only translate as an added income to their normal work. There is no organized entity of translators or interpreters that I can use as a guideline for establishing rates. Researched the rates and how translations are charged here on this site. I decided to go by rate/word, not only based on what I have seen on the proz site but also because clients here in Honduras complain about the rates thinking that it is unfair to charge for the whole page when only 4/5 of it are full of text. Charging rate/word hs also presented a problem because they think I am cheating(*) them. I charge in Honduran currency at Lps. 0.50 per word (to explain: the exchange rate to the dollar is Lps. 18.00 to USD 1.00 as of now, in a month it will probably be even greater) and they still say it is too much. My main competition, the Honduran-American Chaber of Commerce charges ca. Lps. 300.00 per page. I have no idea what to do. Can someone give me some advice?

Thanks a million.
alexandra

(*) To explain "cheating"...They think I am cheating them because they ask me directly "How do I know that the amount of words in the document is really the amount you are charging for? The document does not look like it has 500O words...how do I know you are telling the truth?" (for example)...I do give them a pretty detailed explanation and a copy of the translation on diskette so that they can have proof that I am not charging for more words than the amount on the document.

[Edited at 2004-05-04 21:01]

[Edited at 2004-05-04 22:08]


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ntext  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:32
Partial member
German to English
+ ...
Cheating? May 4, 2004

alexandra123 wrote:
Charging rate/word hs also presented a problem because they think I am cheating them.


Does "cheating" mean being expensive?

I don't know anything about the Honduran translation market, but I would say this much: If a client asks you how much you charge for the translation of a certain document, just tell them how much it is. You don't owe anyone an explanation how you arrive at that figure. Just make sure that, per hour or per day of translating, you make as much money as you need or want to be making. If the client wants to know how much that is per word or per page or per whatever, use a calculator with a ÷ function and tell them.

If all you ever hear is "you're too expensive," you have the choice of either looking for a different clientele — perhaps outside your country — or lowering your prices.


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 04:32
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Hi Alexandra May 4, 2004

alexandra123 wrote:
AS far as I know, there are only two other certified and academically prepared translators here and both actually only translate as an added income to their normal work. There is no organized entity of translators or interpreters that I can use as a guideline for establishing rates.

The translation market does exist. The fact that the translators who work are not certified or academically prepared or do it as an added income is not relevant. There is a market and there is a local standard, that can vary a lot from one translator to another, that's another point.

Researched the rates and how translations are charged here on this site. I decided to go by rate/word, not only based on what I have seen on the proz site but also because clients here in Honduras complain about the rates thinking that it is unfair to charge for the whole page when only 4/5 of it are full of text.

What's the standard in Honduras? In some countries it's to charge per page, in others per word.
When you charge per page it's an advantage for the translator when it's not a full page, but it also means that it's not much work. You can either fix a per word rate with a minimum charge for less than 250 words (one Chilean standard page) or a per page rate no matter how long it is (for one page). In Chile some people change the size of the fonts because usually translators charge per page. Because of that it's good to be precise and say xx/page of 250 words. So the total amount of words is just divided by 250.

My main competition, the Honduran-American Chaber of Commerce charges ca. Lps. 300.00 per page.

You see? There are established rates. They are those applied by your competitors.

What to do:
I don't know why you sound as if you were just arrived to Honduras, maybe I'm wrong. But as there seems to be few translators, you could try to meet them.
In our last PowwoW many young, new, isolated translators learnt a lot about rates. Sometimes it's just ignorance that keeps people asking for low rates.
Secondly, try to make the difference between local and international clients. Your rate can't be the same for both. And your local rate must consider what's the competition's rates. The fact that then you prefer to work for international clients is another problem.

[Edited at 2004-05-04 23:17]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
It's true for all of us. May 5, 2004

There are no "established rates" for translation anywhere. There are only those rates being charged by translators and agencies in the market, which is becoming increasingly globalized. Everyone charges what they feel they can get, according to what the competition is asking and according to the relative value of their services (quality, delivery, specialization, etc.).

As for pages, I would forget that as a measure. The only viable measure is by the word. The number of words can be counted very quickly and efficiently by a computer, though it should be defined as source or target words, usually the former. For paper documents there are efficient ways of counting words with only a minor error factor, or target words can be used if the client does not insist on an exact quote up front.

One of the main challenges in our business is to educate clients on what we do, how we do it and why we, as opposed to someone's supposedly "bilingual" secretary, etc. are unquely qualified. This would also include rates and the basis for same.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile to devote some of your time to educating clients or potential clients whenever you can. Once they understand, they will be more trusting, and once they see your work, they will be convinced that it is worth what they are paying for it.

That, of course, is the bottom line, and if you can convice them, that small market in Honduras with few competitors can be yours and the rates can be quite good compared to the cost of living there.


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:32
I could not agree more with Henry May 5, 2004

I was about to post a comment along the same lines as Henry, but I could not have said it better that he did! In my opinion, Henry is absolutely right in all the points he covered, and in everything he said. Good Luck!

[Edited at 2004-05-05 14:23]


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