When one's expectations are beyond reality
Thread poster: Kemal Mustajbegovic

Kemal Mustajbegovic  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:27
English to Croatian
+ ...
Apr 18, 2012

I received the following email at 13.52 CET:


"Dear Colleague,

we received an urgent translation project in ENG>CRO language
combination.

Project details:
Source language: ENG
Target language: CRO
Field: fryer manual (sample to be send via e-mail)
Rate: to be confirmed
Volume: 425 words
Project start: asap
Project end: today (18.04) 4 PM CET (to be confirmed).


In case of interest, could you please send your CV..."

So I'm supposed to send my CV, receive sample of the document for review, translate 425 words, all that in two hours!?

Such bull-dust I would expect from an agency that is out of this world but not from certified professional translator, member of proz.com.

Well, a bottle can hold a certain amount of water...


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:27
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Seems reasonable to me Apr 18, 2012

Assuming that the text in question doesn't present special problems (e.g., illegibility, exceedingly difficult subject matter, a physician's handwriting), 425 words within two hours seems an eminently reasonable expectation for a professional translator. I would only say that a rush premium is in order.

A review for the purposes of your determining if you can handle the job should take no more than a couple of minutes.



[Edited at 2012-04-18 15:59 GMT]


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Mark Hamlen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:27
Member (2010)
French to English
+ ...
Me too Apr 18, 2012

Seems reasonable for a rush job. And for me, 425 words is a job for 30 minutes. I don't normally accept such small jobs, though, unless it's regular clients.

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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:57
English to Tamil
+ ...
What is the problem? Apr 19, 2012

In your place, I would have got the sample and given a firm quote at my rate commensurate with the urgency of the work. If the client accepts, why not?

Regards,
N. Raghavan


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'll you why not Apr 19, 2012

Because:
a) they were already sufficiently interested in the translator to approach them in the first place, so asking for a CV seems a pointless knee-jerk reaction;
b) because the time taken to look out, check and send off my CV - in my opinion - costs about whatever they are willing to pay me for the 450 words translation.

Basically, because my modus operandi in such cases is: "No time wasters please!"


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:27
English to German
+ ...
Honestly - it is not. Apr 19, 2012

Mark Hamlen wrote:

Seems reasonable for a rush job. And for me, 425 words is a job for 30 minutes. I don't normally accept such small jobs, though, unless it's regular clients.


Any new job from a new client will require a lot of reading and research to get familiar with the topic, the product, the technology and what competitors have published to be able to provide top-notch quality.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, but... Apr 19, 2012

Mark Hamlen wrote:
Seems reasonable for a rush job. And for me, 425 words is a job for 30 minutes. I don't normally accept such small jobs, though, unless it's regular clients.

Yes, I have this kind of thing every now and then, but it comes from an agency that knows me well, and for an end-customer I know well too.

I have accepted this kind of rush job from unknown agencies in the past... and have regretted it later. The word "rush" only exists for me if the agency is trustworthy.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Bad appliance manuals.... this is how it happens Apr 19, 2012

Kemal Mustajbegovic wrote:
Field: fryer manual (sample to be send via e-mail)
Rate: to be confirmed
Volume: 425 words
Project start: asap
Project end: today (18.04) 4 PM CET (to be confirmed).

No wonder why so many leaflets/manuals for electrical appliances are a mess.

The companies making them and their translation providers should plan for these translations to be made more carefully. Clearly assuming that this particular job can be safely done in 2 hours by an unknown translator is a bad business practice that will have its consequences.


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
"425 words within two hours" - not Apr 19, 2012

Robert Forstag wrote:
Assuming ... 425 words within two hours seems an eminently reasonable expectation...


I think the problem that the OP and others are pointing out here is that, while translating and reviewing a translation of 425 words is certainly something that can be accomplished in two hours, the whole process required to get that far with a (potential) new client shrinks the period of time actually available for translation.

1) CV and/or at least cover letter may have to be tailored for the (potential) client.
2) Blue board and/or other sources have to be reviewed to check payment risk.
3) (Potential) client still has to respond and supply the text - who knows how long that will take.
4) Preliminary review of text has to be performed to determine if the project should be accepted and what will be required (special research, terminology resources, client glossaries or reference material, etc.)
5) Rate (including rush surcharge) and payment terms have to be negotiated with the (potential) client - again, this is an unknown quantity. I'm sure we can all recall times when simply agreeing on terms via eMail (back-forth-back-forth) took upwards of 30-60 minutes, even with regular clients.
6) Client needs to issue official PO or other written confirmation - again, the translator is left at the mercy of the client with regard to timing.
7) Finally, the translation process can begin - but after how much of a delay? ...
- - -
Mark Hamlen wrote:
for me, 425 words is a job for 30 minutes

Wow, you translate on average nearly 900 words an hour? Some of us are clearly in the wrong language pair! I know in my pair, 400 source words is probably about average for an hour, 500 maybe for really easy texts, but of course the rate may be more like 300 for tricky legal and financial documents. I think that for the easiest text I ever handled, I still didn't manage to translate much more than 600 words in an hour (and of course, that doesn't include review time). More power to you!


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xxxchristela
Agree with the above Apr 19, 2012

Electrical appliances are easy to translate, it's always the same thing: press buttons, store in a safe place and keep away from children. It's one of the easiest things I do. 800 words/hr without problems, with proofreading and invoice. But why a rush job?
I understand that a press release can be a rush job, but an electrical fryer?


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Disagree Apr 19, 2012

christela wrote:
Electrical appliances are easy to translate, it's always the same thing: press buttons, store in a safe place and keep away from children. It's one of the easiest things I do.

This is what I thought... until I translated my first toaster. I then noticed how quickly one can get carried away by poor writing and ambiguous language --sometimes to dangerous levels-- in the source text. My rule since then is: never underestimate the pitfalls of an apparently simple text, and reserve ample time for it.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:27
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
What defines a "rush job"? Apr 19, 2012

Christela wrote:

I understand that a press release can be a rush job, but an electrical fryer?

***

The freelancer who is approached with an offer gets to define what is a rush job, and to apply the associated premium. In my view, three intrinsic defining factors are length and difficulty of the text in relation to the delivery deadline. A fourth, extrinsic, factor would be the relationship with the client.

Thus, if I am contacted with no previous notice and asked to drop everything to knock out a translation within two hours, I think a rush fee is generally in order, irrespective of the difficulty of the text. If I know that I can't do the translation within two hours (whether because of the difficulty of the text or any other factor), then I advise the client right away and propose a different deadline. Either we can arrive at an agreement or not.

And if the request is coming from a longtime valued client, then I might even waive the rush fee as a courtesy.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:27
English to German
+ ...
I absolutely agree with Tomás Apr 20, 2012

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
This is what I thought... until I translated my first toaster. I then noticed how quickly one can get carried away by poor writing and ambiguous language --sometimes to dangerous levels-- in the source text. My rule since then is: never underestimate the pitfalls of an apparently simple text, and reserve ample time for it.


Especially when described item (C) turns out to be item (E) in the drawing, item (D) should actually be item (B), and you have to write half a novel to your client to explain the deviation from the source text before some moronic proofreader "corrects" it back to disaster level and tells your client that you suck as a translator.



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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:27
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apples and oranges Apr 20, 2012

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
This is what I thought... until I translated my first toaster. I then noticed how quickly one can get carried away by poor writing and ambiguous language --sometimes to dangerous levels-- in the source text. My rule since then is: never underestimate the pitfalls of an apparently simple text, and reserve ample time for it.


Especially when described item (C) turns out to be item (E) in the drawing, item (D) should actually be item (B), and you have to write half a novel to your client to explain the deviation from the source text before some moronic proofreader "corrects" it back to disaster level and tells your client that you suck as a translator.



The kinds of issues discussed here really have nothing to do with with whether delivery of 425 words within two hours is plausible per se. Ceteris paribus, it certainly is. And if the original text is inherently confusing or massively fu&#ed up, then the problematic issues need to be clarified irrespective of the number of words involved, and whether the deadline is in two hours or in two weeks.

[Edited at 2012-04-20 15:51 GMT]


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