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Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
Poll: Which of the following translation trends do you consider is having the most impact on the industry?
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 21:42
SITE STAFF
Apr 5, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Which of the following translation trends do you consider is having the most impact on the industry?".

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Simon Cole  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:42
Member (2008)
French to English
Yesterday... Apr 5, 2012

...a common deadline for new work.
Why is the time required for a good translation never included in the schedule for industrial or marketing projects?


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Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 08:42
English to Russian
+ ...
Other Apr 5, 2012

Dramatic increase in the number of translators eager to work for very low pay.

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neilmac
Spain
Local time: 06:42
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
MT Apr 5, 2012

Glad to be in the majority again.

By the way, I have no idea what TMS is/are about, nor do I wish (or need) to know for the time being.


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neilmac
Spain
Local time: 06:42
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Proactivity Apr 5, 2012


Simon Cole wrote:

...a common deadline for new work.
Why is the time required for a good translation never included in the schedule for industrial or marketing projects?


I think it's because we don't nag them enough about it. One of my clients seems to be getting the picture now, after about a decade...


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Gennady Lapardin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 08:42
Italian to Russian
+ ...
Other - general progress in IT Apr 5, 2012

None of the above (MT, TMS, crowd, etc., etc.)
Just this marvelous and wonderful method of typing, copy-pasting, easily deleting and so on. And the ability to save translations and save paper and work space. And the ability to work in a library without leaving home.

[Edited at 2012-04-05 14:17 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-04-05 14:18 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:42
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Machine translation Apr 5, 2012


Alexander Kondorsky wrote:
Dramatic increase in the number of translators eager to work for very low pay.


I tend to disagree, Alexander.

As machine translation evolves, what's the point in spending - no matter how little - on cheap translation when it's possible to get it absolutely free?

So my impression is that machine translation will eventually wipe out the demand for cheap translators.

Now and then I am hired (at my normal rates) to redo work by overly cheap translators, after they have been rejected by the end client. Quite honestly, the overall quality I've seen in such jobs is about the same as machine translation output, however the latter tends to be more consistent in its flaws. As they say, pay cheap, buy twice.

Sometimes free machine translation is the most cost-effective solution for the intended goal. See my last paragraph at the end of http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/save-money-.html and the example below.

Who would hire a translator, no matter how cheap, for the instructions attached to a 99¢ retail product? Nobody is expected to read all that @#$%; it's just a formality to have it there.


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Theo Bernards  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:42
English to Dutch
+ ...
Greed Apr 5, 2012

The biggest impact in my opinion is the ever growing amount of kitchen table agencies, who haven't got a clue about translation and who in their greed think it is a good plan to underbid consistently with ridiculous rates (and even position themselves as a low-budget fifteen thousand language combinations translation agency) and win ambitious projects that they haven't a hope to deliver successfully, and who subsequently try to flog the work off - through bulk emails - for an apple and an egg to anybody who happens to be registered in their database as a provider.

The result of what I describe here is a general view with large and small companies that translators are overpaid: if Kitchen Top Translations can handle such prestigious projects for 5 cents per word, why on earth should I pay you three times that amount? You may be better, but not three times as good!

This is not a rant, by the way (close but not quite), but a mere observation. Unfortunately, it is difficult to convince clients otherwise. Once they have tasted the promise of low cost language solutions, it is difficult to convince them that, rate wise, more is usually better, and they increasingly budget less and less for translations as a result...


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:42
Member (2008)
English to Italian
in my experience Apr 5, 2012

deadlines required, like 10 K words delivered at 7 pm which MUST be ready by 9 am, and we would appreciate if you could deliver earlier. Additional material sent at last minute, which obviously MUSt be ready .. 1 hour ago.

Basically same old issue: everybody needs translations, they are crucial for their work, but - who knows why? - the profession is really underestimated from every point of view: skills required, specializations, rates.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:42
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Various types of kitchen tables Apr 5, 2012


Theo Bernards wrote:

The biggest impact in my opinion is the ever growing amount of kitchen table agencies, who haven't got a clue about translation and who in their greed think it is a good plan to underbid consistently with ridiculous rates (and even position themselves as a low-budget fifteen thousand language combinations translation agency) and win ambitious projects that they haven't a hope to deliver successfully, and who subsequently try to flog the work off - through bulk emails - for an apple and an egg to anybody who happens to be registered in their database as a provider.


Surprisingly, I've worked for some excellent kitchen table translation agencies, usually translators whose outstanding marketing skills led them to a demand they couldn't possibly serve alone. They are greedy... on behalf of their carefully selected translators, which they pay fairly, and very quickly. As former translators, they know they are not in the finance business, so their payment terms, both in & out, are short.

On the other hand, I see some large and famous translation agencies that use sophisticated computer systems to manage the work of hundreds of translators. Their PMs are limited to find best-match translators for each job in their database, try to impose lower rates and longer payment terms on them, get someone who will commit to do it on time, and merely 'click' on them. Then they'll move on to the next job, and repeat the same routine. Owners there are in the finance business, not necessarily translation any more (if ever), so they strive for higher margins, and try to receive earlier and pay later, as much as they can. Translator payment issues are handled by a non-responsive accounting department behind a stone wall.

The point is that a 'smart' - or otherwise - web site will often conceal the truth that lies behind it.


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dsd-sl
Italy
Local time: 06:42
Member (2011)
German to Italian
+ ...
Well described Apr 5, 2012

Quote:
Then they'll move on to the next job, and repeat the same routine. Owners there are in the finance business, not necessarily translation any more (if ever), so they strive for higher margins, and try to receive earlier and pay later, as much as they can. Translator payment issues are handled by a non-responsive accounting department behind a stone wall.


Well described!
It's a new industry, developed by new technologies and globalization too, I'm afraid. Where reliability, experience and general know-how don't count anymore.

The big go with the big ones.

One example: you work hard to get and maintain (disounts, work at night and so on) customers with larger amounts of work, but after a few years the regional work gets managed centrally, for ex.for Europe, so you loose the local/regional customer, and the local customer looses translators that have grown up with them, write in native language and are able to localize appropriately thanks to years of experience with product and market.

The central location gets a full services package from agencies that may manage more services (translations, advertising, and so on) and the small, local Translators have to look for underpaid "tasks". That's the way it goes, most of the times.


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Sílvia Martins  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 05:42
Member (2011)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Counterproductive trend Apr 5, 2012

In my opinion, what is having more impact on the translation industry is the increasing of translators accepting dishonorable rates...

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:42
English to Spanish
Hmmm, 'trend' being the operative word here Apr 5, 2012

Since we are all linguists here, let's clarify the meaning of the operative word in the question: trend.

What is a trend? When is a tendency a trend? According to whom? Aren't we paying too much attention to the self-appointed industry gurus?

I find it funny that many refer to the activity of translation as an industry. Allow me to guffaw for a few minutes.

But let's allow this misnomer to stay for the sake of argument. Take the auto industry, which is actually an industry because it makes things —cars— in different models, prices and categories. True, cars are a commodity now, but there is a premium segment (or segments for which buyers pay top price. These are not your average car but a luxury item.

Unhappy with the comparison? Okay, how about lawyers? Yes, we've heard it before, lawyers that are able to charge $300-500 (dollars) per hour and will charge you for even 15 minutes of their time, not to mention faxes, letters, etc. But guess what? Law services are being commoditized also. Some lawyers now work in call centers for $12/hour to answer general questions.

This is not to say that MT and the rest are not important factors. But MT, for all its bells and whistles and promises, does not have a large footprint. I haven't been offered a postediting job since 1993.

One of the ongoing trends that worry is the perpetuation of the myth that bilingualism is a form of translation skill. American businesses operate under some pretty faulty assumptions. One of them is that translators are interpreters, and vice versa. How do we correct this misconception? Not by sending out brochures or by "educating" the customer. I would posit that the client education should begin in the schools and universities, not at the point of sale of our services.


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Stefano Papaleo  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:42
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Translation is overrated ;) Apr 5, 2012


Mario Chavez wrote:

What is a trend? When is a tendency a trend? According to whom? Aren't we paying too much attention to the self-appointed industry gurus?



No, obviously just according to our daily experience. Who needs gurus anyway? They usually end up awfully rich and you end up awfully bad & ripped off;)

You may be forgetting that both the auto industry and lawyers have an edge we don't. They hold advantage positions, they sell things that billions of people "really need", we don't. Besides, in many countries you cannot defend yourself in a court of law w/o a lawyer so... again... getting rich by law;) We're also too many.

I guess with your car example you imply the "find your niche of good clients and charge good high rates" solution. Luxury translation? Really? What would that be exactly? I'm curious, really, not being sarcastic here. Even the top Fortune 500 companies do not always pay good rates for translation.



This is not to say that MT and the rest are not important factors. But MT, for all its bells and whistles and promises, does not have a large footprint. I haven't been offered a postediting job since 1993.


A) I hate this thing about "post editing"... I mean... why POSTediting? We always edit AFTER a translation has been made, right?;) Would they offer PREediting? Yeah, I know... now someone will kick and say that yes, often you have to edit the text before feeding it into the MT system. I fund the term dumb anyway, sorry.

B) I haven't been offered either but there are indeed offers in this area and MT is catching up. It's in the client's mind, regardless whether quality is good enough or not.



One of the ongoing trends that worry is the perpetuation of the myth that bilingualism is a form of translation skill. American businesses operate under some pretty faulty assumptions.
I guess that their misconceptions about translation skills is the least of their faulty assumptions;) But I'd go OT.



One of them is that translators are interpreters, and vice versa.


It isn't limited to the US. It's a worldwide epidemic. Wanna know why? And why translation has little credibility/respect? And therefore, just like it has already been said before, it comes into the production process only... when it is too late.

Except few examples as large international institutions (UN, EU etc.) where translation/interpreting plays an important role, or famous novelists or cinema/TV and somehow the video game industry too, nobody really cares for translation. And let's be honest, why should they? It is taken for granted and.. just think about technical manuals for example... who really really reads them anyway? They end up on some dusty shelf at best or they're throw right away into the trash together with the package. Be it the latest smartphone, the awesome 3D plasma TV set, the coffee machine or your car... you will probably pick it up only to check a couple of new important features or if you're really cursing like crazy because the bloody device doesn't do what it's supposed to.

No one really cares much, unless one is faced with a life-or-death situation like in the middle of the rain forest with some tribe or in Afghanistan or Iraq just a breath away from being beheaded or whatever so you give your life into the hands of... the interpreter;)

Even tourism often can manage with poor translations most of the time.

Legal? No way... you just write that nice little clause that what really matters is the version in the source language;)




How do we correct this misconception? Not by sending out brochures or by "educating" the customer. I would posit that the client education should begin in the schools and universities, not at the point of sale of our services.


I've never believed in client education, either in our or other fields, it's like so many other things... either you get it or you don't. Preaching to the deaf won't help;)

Of course, this wants to be a provocation but please... think again... are we really that precious and necessary? And if we are? How come hardly anyone thinks so and how can we turn this thing around?


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Miroslav Jeftic  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:42
English to Serbian
+ ...
Hm Apr 5, 2012

Machine translation I guess, at least for major language pairs, for smaller languages not so soon I guess.
A colleague of mine recently attended a big translator's conference, said that machine translation was THE topic there, everybody was talking about it.


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Poll: Which of the following translation trends do you consider is having the most impact on the industry?






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