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Difficult period for translators
Thread poster: Vincenzo Di Maso

Vincenzo Di Maso  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:42
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
Oct 18, 2011

Dear colleagues,
How are you all? I'm writing this thread to ask your opinion regarding this difficult period. Before the crisis took place, I thought we would suffer its consequence, but not immediately, however just a few years from the outset.
And at least with Italian, myself and many of my colleagues, who had a reasonable workflow, are particularly suffering from this situation after the summer.
I have no idea how things will turn out in the coming months. I am supposing that this issue is particularly prevalent with Italian language, in which I translate.
However, I'm quite an optimist by nature, and I hope that we will all manage during this difficult period.
I'm interested to hear the thoughts and comments regarding other translator's experiences in different languages.

[Modificato alle 2011-10-18 14:37 GMT]


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Roy OConnor
Local time: 01:42
Member (2009)
German to English
Lots of work! Oct 18, 2011

Certainly in my specialisation (technical) and DE->EN language pair there is currently lots of work in Germany. At the moment I have the impression that there are not enough experienced translators available.

But then again, there is an enormous demand in Germany for well-qualified people also in other (technical) fields, particularly mechanical engineering and automation.

Of course, I have no crystal ball to say how long this will last!

Roy


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Working Italian-English Oct 18, 2011

Well, I'm working today but tomorrow I don't know. There has always been an element of uncertainty in running any business, be it Apple Corporation or just doing translations. It's possible this uncertainty has increased, of late.

Thanks to the activities of the people Gillian Tett called "The Masters of the Universe" there has been a general economic slowdown in the West and as was to be expected, this has brought about a corresponding slowdown in our little field of translating. But on the other hand, people will still need to understand one another, so I don't predict a drastic reduction in the amount of translating work that's available, although in particular sectors (e.g. real estate) it isn't difficult to imagine why that kind of work might dry up.

As for Germany- well, Germany is a special case as compared to all the other European countries.

I wonder how the Greek translation world is faring. Any Greek colleagues out there?

[Edited at 2011-10-18 14:09 GMT]


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:42
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
English<->German / French->German Oct 18, 2011

Dear Vincenzo,

So far, I haven't felt the crisis at all in my language combinations (English to German and vice versa, and French to German). Business continues to be stable at a high level, if not slightly growing (there haven't been any "idle" periods since I went freelance in October 2003). I should add that about two thirds of my customer base are direct clients.

Best regards,

Steffen

[Edited at 2011-10-18 14:05 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:42
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Reasonably busy Oct 18, 2011

In my language pairs English-Spanish and German-Spanish, I have a relatively high amount of work. I work in technical translation and in a fair number of industries, so I reckon that if one field is less busy, work comes from another place.

Of course negotiations about rates take a bit longer than before, but I have been quite busy all over this economic downturn, even if Spain is sort of blocked right now, probably until the legislative elections on November 20th.


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Rosa Grau
Spain
Local time: 01:42
English to Catalan
+ ...
Let's talk about it Oct 18, 2011

Hi Vincenzo,
I was recently discouraged by an English to Italian translator to go back to the localization business, as it seems the trend is to work much more for much less. I remember working a lot in the 90s and early years of this century, and also making good money. When I left the business in 2003 this downward trend was only starting but already noticeable. Now I am trying to go back to it again and I have no grounds to feel optimistic. My rates are about the same as yours, and I have not increased them since 2003, but I am being offered about half (0,3 to 0,4 EUR/word for translation). Does anybody think it is still possible to make a living in this business, or am I wasting my time? In the meantime, I keep on studying, getting more useless qualifications and translating ancient texts as a hobby.
Rosa


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Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:42
English to German
Agree Oct 18, 2011

I can only agree to Roy's experience. I am working mainly in the technical field as well (language pair English to German) and have an ongoing flow of work coming in. Also in the past summer months (which have been very slow over the last few years), there was more work than I had expected!

However,Vincenzo, I wish you luck and a lot of work to come during the winter months!

Annett


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XXXphxxx  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Certainly not the volume there once was Oct 18, 2011

I regularly used to have three times more work than I could handle; that has not been the case for much of this year and some old clients have fallen by the wayside as I couldn't drop my rates to the levels they were requiring. I'm managing to keep busy, but my schedule is interspersed with quiet patches, which one does worry could be the start of something more serious. I feel it's always good every now then to broaden one's client base and I've had both the time and need to do so recently and have found some excellent new clients. Let's look on the bright side.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:42
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Localisation is dead Oct 18, 2011

Rosa Grau wrote:
I was recently discouraged by an English to Italian translator to go back to the localization business, as it seems the trend is to work much more for much less. I remember working a lot in the 90s and early years of this century, and also making good money. When I left the business in 2003 this downward trend was only starting but already noticeable. Now I am trying to go back to it again and I have no grounds to feel optimistic.

After two years working as a localiser and localisation engineer (ages ago) I quickly grasped that the market would be most uninteresting in a short time, and it did happen in fact. Software companies simply don't want to pay for good translations, given the short lifecycle of their products, and would not hire experienced translators. They rely on their huge translation memories and a cheaper workforce.

Unfortunately the only way to escape from the ridiculous rates in the localisation business is to move into translation itself, so you might want to consider that possibility and take courses on specific translation areas like medicine, technical translation, etc.


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:42
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Dear Vincenzo Oct 18, 2011

I tought about the problem affecting English to Italian, in fact in the last 2 months or so, I am mainly working in my other pairs, especially French to Italian.

Sadly I am under the impressione that the pair Eng to Ita is nowadays problematic because even dogs (please forgivme the expression) consider them able to translate, so rates are more and more lowering, agencies have a huge choice... and... well this is an old story, you know Vincenzo.

BTW are you experiencing the same problem in your other pairs?

Hey, have a great day my dear friend:)


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Mailand  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:42
Italian to German
+ ...
Italian to German Oct 18, 2011

From mid-september until last week I checked with my regular clients by phoning them as I thought that maybe I had a problem with my e-mail account - nothing, absolutely nothing came in! Colleagues and agencies told me that they were going through the same. In my main language pair I had not a word coming in for more than 3 weeks, which is highly unusual. Now work is trickling, which is better than nothing ... Those who keep up-to-date about Italian politics, know what we are going through, so maybe it depends on the political situation!

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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:42
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
mmmm, why? Oct 18, 2011

Mailand wrote:

Those who keep up-to-date about Italian politics, know what we are going through, so maybe it depends on the political situation!


I do not think that companies stop to draw up agreements, or to sell machinery with manuals, or that lawiers stop to sue Italian companies because of the political situation.

I really do not think it matters... , no...

[Edited at 2011-10-18 15:22 GMT]


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alexmills
United States
Local time: 19:42
Member (2010)
Italian to English
+ ...
Masters of the Universe Oct 18, 2011

Tom in London wrote:
Thanks to the activities of the people Gillian Tett called "The Masters of the Universe" there has been a general economic slowdown in the West


Hello Tom. On a tangent: I was surprised when I saw you were attributing MOTU to G. Tett, as I had always associated the term to Bonfire of Vanities (1987)...So I google it and learned that MOTU was already used in the early '80s: it was the name of a series of action figures from Mattel, the toy company... the hero was called He-Man...:)


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Vincenzo Di Maso  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:42
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
language pairs Oct 18, 2011

Prof. Angie G. wrote:

I tought about the problem affecting English to Italian, in fact in the last 2 months or so, I am mainly working in my other pairs, especially French to Italian.

Sadly I am under the impressione that the pair Eng to Ita is nowadays problematic because even dogs (please forgivme the expression) consider them able to translate, so rates are more and more lowering, agencies have a huge choice... and... well this is an old story, you know Vincenzo.

BTW are you experiencing the same problem in your other pairs?

Hey, have a great day my dear friend:)
Dear Angioletta,
this problem is affecting Italian in the last 2-3 months. I am aware that my rates are maybe too high for this specific period. Anyway I can't work for glory or peanuts.
This crisis is also affecting my other language pairs. Actually I'm not having plenty of works with Arabic since 2009. Unfortunately many customers seem to come from another planet or galaxy. They'll never understand that working with 6-7 cents with Arabic language, the total amount can even be 10 Euros (gross!) per hour, given the kind of texts and their layout. Therefore I prefer to keep myself trained with Arabic through other channels.
About languages from the Iberian peninsula, I am actually not having that much as well. However we have to strive to provide our best service. Results, success and achievement will come!


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
Member (2008)
Italian to English
slight correction Oct 18, 2011

alexmills wrote:

Tom in London wrote:
Thanks to the activities of the people Gillian Tett called "The Masters of the Universe" there has been a general economic slowdown in the West


Hello Tom. On a tangent: I was surprised when I saw you were attributing MOTU to G. Tett, as I had always associated the term to Bonfire of Vanities (1987)...So I google it and learned that MOTU was already used in the early '80s: it was the name of a series of action figures from Mattel, the toy company... the hero was called He-Man...:)


OK Alex, allow me to focus it a little more.

"JPMorgan and the new masters of the universe" was the title of an article by Tett published in FT in 2009; but the expression "the new masters of the universe" has now become common parlance in the press when discussing banks and bankers. If, as you say, it has been ironically recycled from a Mattel toys original, that lends even more force to it as a metaphor !


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