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Lionbridge's Translation Workspace: a letter voicing concerns
Thread poster: Cruz Losada

Cruz Losada
Spain
Local time: 00:39
English to Spanish
Apr 19, 2010

Since comments have been heard in these lands about Lionbridge´s Translation Workspace I think some of you might be interested in a new development: a letter voicing some very sensible translator´s concerns and proposing a reasonable option. I don´t know how many people have been reached so far but I received this link on Friday from a reliable source. If you are in anyway interested read it, and if you consider signing it, please do so.

http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dFlqU1hFYXJuOGI4TzM0MmlCcWNUS1E6MQ

Words are our tools and our only weapon



[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2010-04-19 16:13 GMT]


 

Nadejda Vega Cespedes  Identity Verified

Local time: 00:39
Spanish to Russian
+ ...
What is different about it? Apr 19, 2010

This is a wonderful illustration of an already obvious fact: there's no limit to the amount of humiliation and disdain that some freelancers will happily tolerate.

It contains a useful lesson for agencies, too: they should all start charging people for the right to work. It is now clear that they'll not be ridiculed and left with no translations to resell. The worst thing that can happen is a few desperate emails from submissive translators begging the almighty agency to show some kindness.


 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: Empty post.

Cruz Losada
Spain
Local time: 00:39
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Ladies, please keep your socks on!!! Apr 19, 2010

I am quite surprised. I don´t find it offensive in anyway. Maybe it is because I am used to the coorporate "loving" language.
The difference is, I think, it puts Lionbridge in the spot using the "dear translators we are all a big family" approach they use themselves. It is false and ridiculous from any intelligent point of view, but it is the common currency in the business language they use.
It offers a proposal which if backed up by enough people, if they accept it would lead to THEIR SUPPLIERS NOT PAYING ANY ABSURD FEES (maintaining things as they are), and if they don´t accept it means they would have to explain why they are prepare to hurt their beloved suppliers.
I would have edited some "glory to the company" bits but in general I think it is, so far a start, a proposal to put forward and it has a space to add your own opinion. Do you have a better option?.
Of course there is the one option of not working for them, which it is good and well if your income doesn´t come mostly from them (it is not my case). But not working for them it would mean a lot for many freelancers and small agencies, and I guess many would decide to pay anyway. As well it looks as if professional translators drop out, they would be replacements ready. And I think if in any old way they get away with it, there would be others following.
They didn´t use a mighty-power language to impose their "I am going to suck your blood" policy so why not play the "poor me, be kind for I am just little" language to try to avoid their absurd and abusive policies?
I don´t know maybe I am wrong but I haven´t seen any other attempt to come up with a joined iniciative.

[Edited at 2010-04-19 16:14 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-04-19 16:20 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-04-19 16:20 GMT]


 

Cruz Losada
Spain
Local time: 00:39
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Another country Apr 19, 2010

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

It is getting harder to look/sound/appear as a serious *business* partner when colleagues in other European countries are writing such petition texts.



Is there any particular thing which makes you think the colleague who wrote this comes from ANOTHER European country?


 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Humbly beg your Lordship Apr 19, 2010

I must agree with Nadejda.

The letter struck me as feudal.

'My Lord Lionbridge, we do humbly and respectfully beg your indulgence...'

The best advice I can give any linguistic serfs is to flee his Lordship's manor and look for direct clients in the big city.


 

René Stranz-Nikitin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 00:39
Czech to German
+ ...
Me too, I cannot sign this! Apr 19, 2010



As to the corporate/strategic issues, we understand that Lionbridge is preparing to explore new markets and business areas. We welcome this approach and hope this effort can further strengthen the company.



And I don't understand all these efforts to heal the sick monster.

Yes, there was a time when I worked for L, but it was because of their hostile takeover of a European Company, with which it was quite a pleasure to work with. After that, it was clear to me that my only perspective will be to stick to my rates and not to worry too much, when they drop me.

Today, from my point of view L is just a bottom feeder, because it seems to be impossible to make a living working for their rates. It is impossible to deliver good work for end customers, who don't care a damn about this. So I won't give L any advice, what they should do to provide better services. I will just hope that they ruin their whole business. Then there will be better conditions on the market for smaller and smarter LSPs.

Have a nice evening!

René Stranz-Nikitin
www.uersn.de

Please note that English is neither my target language nor one of my source languages.


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:39
French to German
+ ...
What it means... Apr 19, 2010

What this petition means is that freelancers have sacrificed many, many things to be able to continue working for this outsourcer. And that some of them are still willing to work under increasingly bad conditions, as long as there is work coming from this source. Which neither gives a good image of freelance translators, nor of the translator sector as a whole. It is really becoming an "industry" in the 19th century sense of this word.

@ Maruja: I sent you an explanation about your quote of my previous post per PM.

[Edited at 2010-04-19 18:45 GMT]


 

Cruz Losada
Spain
Local time: 00:39
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Let them eat cakes Apr 19, 2010

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

Which neither gives a good image of freelance translators, nor of the translator sector as a whole. It is really becoming an "industry" in the 19th century sense of this word.


Yes I in that way you are correct, and I totally agree it is becoming like a Dickensian state of affairs for many translators, even with the technology "bling" it is more and more difficult to hide the modern slavery reality of it.
I think one of the big problems we have is that we work in isolation, so it is difficult to know what do the others think, what do they do, what would they be prepare to do.
I have welcomed this letter because it was the first combined effort to do something not to pay the Dark Lord (that is the main thing: a reason not to pay), not to do what they wanted. Some resistence. Something.
To say just don´t work for them (unless it is a colective action) it´s a personal option, but considering the amount of translators and small agencies who work not only for this company but for others in this industry, it is one not everybody can afford; some of these "submissive translators " and "linguistic serfs" are very good professionals whose circunstances, skills, etc might have place them in a complicated possition from where stop working for their main source is not really a viable option.
I do hope too this kind of companies and company behaviour would dissappear, there are many other ways (this site for example is one of them) to work, but as it is I don´t think what they do should be ignored.


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:39
French to German
+ ...
Some basic rules Apr 20, 2010

1) Any customer representing more than 10 to 20% of a freelancer's turnover is an actual threat.

2) Accepting too much work from a single source hinders freelancers from looking for better-paying customers.

3) Working for such entities fuels the commoditization trend, which comes with both declining rates and lower quality.

I am not saying that we should ignore colleagues dealing with difficult situations. My worst-case hypothesis is that those colleagues are taken as "hostages" and that this petition is a sign of some kind of Stockholm syndrome - cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome
They certainly need our help, but not in the way they want it.

ETA: I do not know about other European countries, but in Germany and France, such working conditions may be seen as "hidden employment" (meaning that freelancers actually act as if they were employees, but without the advantages linked to this status) and requalified as work contracts.
This is indeed a slippery slope - beware of the first steps towards it!

[Edited at 2010-04-20 05:33 GMT]


 

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz (X)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 00:39
English to Polish
+ ...
. Apr 20, 2010

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

1) Any customer representing more than 10 to 20% of a freelancer's turnover is an actual threat.

2) Accepting too much work from a single source hinders freelancers from looking for better-paying customers.

3) Working for such entities fuels the commoditization trend, which comes with both declining rates and lower quality.


Good point but surely Liox has done a lot to help translators realize what a bad strategy this is. Remember, few people who know a foreign language to a degree that allows translation are complete and utter idiots. They don't need to be told.

I am not saying that we should ignore colleagues dealing with difficult situations. My worst-case hypothesis is that those colleagues are taken as "hostages" and that this petition is a sign of some kind of Stockholm syndrome - cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome
They certainly need our help, but not in the way they want it.


I'm not sure how good you are at mind reading, Laurent.

From my experience with Liox, the company just does a lot of things that make no sense, as if the people that make the decisions actually didn't think. For instance, sometimes they tell you to "not review locked 100% matches" (because we won't pay you) but "please edit them if you accidentally (sic!) notice something wrong". Now, I don't need to tell you that the matches are often nonsense, due to context, but that the translators turn their head the other way and "fail" to notice mistakes in segments that they are not paid to specifically review. That's how garbage is born. However, a person who is less important, such as a PM, might actually realize how absurd it is and indeed pay you for doing the locked segments. "I'll reason with him", said Don Vito Corleone, and it worked.

This also means that whoever has made this highly political corporate decision of charging translators $14 a month, likely does not think. As a result, a letter may not be such a bad idea. While I don't like the "please don't, please don't" attitude, it might actually work with whoever is on the other side.

[Edited at 2010-04-20 06:47 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:39
French to German
+ ...
I agree with you... Apr 20, 2010

in principle, Krzysztof, but I also think that posts like the one I am linking to below were not necessary ten or even five years ago. And well, I do trust my intuition - and while my mind-reading abilities may be close to zero, my intuition never let me down... There is something rotten in the kingdom of Translatiomark.

http://tinyurl.com/yeedghw

As per the "non-thinking" point, I would say that such behaviours are quite common in big corporations. Why should the translation sector be an exception? And complying with such absurd policies is (too) often the key to success within the company.

[Edited at 2010-04-20 07:16 GMT]


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:39
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Humiliating indeed... Apr 20, 2010

but there will be enough colleagues who will pay for the privilege of working with Lionbridge...

 

Mette Melchior  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 00:39
English to Danish
+ ...
Great article about "Self-Injuring Translators"! Thank you for the link, Laurent Apr 20, 2010

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

http://tinyurl.com/yeedghw



Thank you for posting the link to this article, Laurent!

Wendell Ricketts is spot on in his observations about the problems we create for ourselves by acting - or failing to act - in certain ways. I highly recommend it if you haven't read it yet...


 

Kelly O'Connor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:39
Italian to English
Lionbridge hater Apr 20, 2010

Haven't worked for Lionbridge since 2005 or so and I've never looked back. I loathe that agency.

 
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