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Request for low quality translations
Thread poster: XXXphxxx (X)

XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:04
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Jul 4, 2012

Indeed, this was an email that came in this morning from that giant of translation agencies requesting "lower, basic quality translations in the financial domain", boosting productivity through their "Automated Translation Process". They also point out that "Machine Translation is an essential part of the process". Quality Control BTW is also automated. I get to do all this for half of my normal rate using their CAT tool with fuzzy match discounts applied. My reply? It took all of ten seconds to ponder and compose. See below:

"Thank you for your message.
I am a qualified, professional translator with twenty years of experience in the trade and find this move by X depressing and short-sighted. You're now planning on intentionally populating the market with low quality translations at low rates? Forgive me if I do not want to be part of this, I'm sure you'll find plenty of half-witted translators who will grab the opportunity."



[Edited at 2012-07-04 16:44 GMT]


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 00:04
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Similar wordings Jul 4, 2012

>"Thank you for your message.
I am a qualified, professional translator with twenty years of experience in the trade and find this move by X depressing and short-sighted. You're now planning on intentionally populating the market with low quality translations at low rates? Forgive me if I do not want to be part of this, I'm sure you'll find plenty of half-witted translators who will grab the opportunity."

I also used similar words against such strange requests.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


 

nrichy (X)
France
Local time: 19:04
French to Dutch
+ ...
Target error Jul 4, 2012

It might be financially interesting for translators, for instance you translate 3x more words for half the price = higher hourly fee.
The error here is that they send their requests to qualified translators, who will react in the same way as you did. How can we deliver low quality translations, it seems something like prostitution (which is sometimes well-paid too).
If they sell also 'normal' translations, it is a huge marketing error too, people will identify this firm with bad translations.

[Edited at 2012-07-04 08:11 GMT]


 

Andrei Yefimov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 20:04
English to Russian
+ ...
Ignore Jul 4, 2012

I share your irritation but talking down is not going to make the difference. As you said, they will sure find someone who is desperate enough to take on the job. So why gift them your precious time and reply at all?

Also, it may be that it's a one-off job that they accepted, and in the future they could come up with a tempting offer. Happened to me once. So, to go on the offensive is not always the best bet.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 01:04
Chinese to English
Remember, MT is the future! Jul 4, 2012

My time-filler project is translating training texts for an MT system developed by one of the big shadowy organisations that does these sorts of things. As I was looking into the job, I went a read an interim report they'd produced in about 2010. It said something like:

"The first ten years of this project have not produced the results we'd hoped. Our automatic translation system is not yet at the level of a 2-year old human, where we hoped it would be. Nevertheless, we've made some important progress, so we're forging on!"

I have a bilingual 18 month old. Would anyone like him to work on some financial translations?


 

Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:04
Member
French to English
+ ...
End clients Jul 4, 2012

I wonder whether the agency will advertise these "lower-quality" translations as such to end clients, or whether it will talk up the quality!

As for responding directly to these sorts of "offers", I tend to agree with Andrei. What I call the "corporate approach" to translation (I'm guessing this company might be listed on a stock exchange, as some of the worst offenders are) is very firmly anchored in a low-quality, low-cost model that works best when an agency deals with quality-naive clients and business-naive translators, and I don't see that changing any time soon. But as long as good translators stay away from these agencies, the latter will find it difficult to penetrate the high-quality segment of the market, which I believe will always exist to a greater or lesser degree as there will always be clients in a range of sectors for whom accurate transfer of information and good writing skills are important enough to warrant hiring a professional.

On another note, I feel that posting in forums about this kind of practice is always very worthwhile, as there will be plenty of young or inexperienced translators out there who stand to benefit from learning about this phenomenon and the impact it has on both the profession as a whole and them individually. The more information is shared, the less naivety there will be, and the less the corporate cowboys and their ilk will prosper.


 

XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:04
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I don't believe in sitting back just to protect myself Jul 4, 2012

Their response was that they are there to serve their customers "in the best possible way". Mine was that as one of the largest agencies around they have the power to educate clients, not to mislead them and allow them to think that "lower, basic quality translations" will benefit their business in any way. If a client doesn't have the budget or doesn't want to allocate sufficient budget to this area then go ahead and refer them straight to Google Translate. This client is still getting fleeced; they're been charged for someone else to run their documents through machine translation.

 

XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:04
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@ Peter Jul 4, 2012

Peter Shortall wrote:

On another note, I feel that posting in forums about this kind of practice is always very worthwhile, as there will be plenty of young or inexperienced translators out there who stand to benefit from learning about this phenomenon and the impact it has on both the profession as a whole and them individually. The more information is shared, the less naivety there will be, and the less the corporate cowboys and their ilk will prosper.


My intention precisely, the somewhat crude reference to "half-witted translators" was put there for a reason. I sent the reply with every intention of posting the case on here. I'm sure nobody would like to think of themselves as "half-witted".

[Edited at 2012-07-04 19:40 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:04
French to German
+ ...
It's all about marketing... Jul 4, 2012

They try to sell us something, and sell something else to end clients.

That's what I'd call making money out of crap. Long life to salespersons!

[Edited at 2012-07-04 10:44 GMT]


 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 19:04
English to Czech
+ ...
Hmmm... Jul 4, 2012

Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:
Indeed, this was an email that came in this morning from that giant of translation agencies requesting "lower, basic quality translations in the financial domain" and boosting productivity through their "Automated Translation Process". They also point out that "Machine Translation is an essential part of the process". Quality Control BTW is also automated.


At least they were honest enough to inform you beforehand.


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:04
French to German
+ ...
What worries me... Jul 4, 2012

Stanislav Pokorny wrote:

Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:
Indeed, this was an email that came in this morning from that giant of translation agencies requesting "lower, basic quality translations in the financial domain" and boosting productivity through their "Automated Translation Process". They also point out that "Machine Translation is an essential part of the process". Quality Control BTW is also automated.


At least they were honest enough to inform you beforehand.


What worries me is that such entities now try to enter a highly specialised market with low-quality translations.

Is it that corporations want to spend less (on specialised and thus more experienced translators) or that they're just trying to get their foot into a more profitable sector?


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
They also serve... Jul 4, 2012

Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:

Their response was that they are there to serve their customers "in the best possible way".


Mine would be that they are simply serving themselves, lining their coffers at the expense of anyone unfortunate enough to need the work they claim to be able to provide.
Sadly, operators like this seem to have building up a large client portfolio down to a tee.

[Edited at 2012-07-04 11:05 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-07-04 11:05 GMT]


 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 19:04
English to Czech
+ ...
Hard to tell Jul 4, 2012

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:
What worries me is that such entities now try to enter a highly specialised market with low-quality translations.

Is it that corporations want to spend less (on specialised and thus more experienced translators) or that they're just trying to get their foot into a more profitable sector?


Hi Laurent,
I'm happy to see you around again!

The translation market has various sub-segments. I remember a recent call for quote where the client needed to have about 3,000,000 (yes, three million) words translated from English into Czech within six months.

He explicitly said that he didn't mind if the translation was done by a bunch of students or machine-translated with some post-editing. He wanted high quantity, not high quality because he just needed the documents translated and nobody would ever read them.

I didn't want to engage in this because the whole project raised a number of questions the client couldn't answer (e.g. what happens if somebody does read a document and finds out that there are factual mistakes that could cause damage to life and health etc.). But this case indicates that there are some market segments where people don't care much about what they get.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:04
Russian to English
+ ...
I agree wit Lisa, absolutely Jul 4, 2012

I think real translators should stand for the pride of the profession, and protect languages from total degeneration, through senseless machine translation of complex texts. Machine translation is good when you want to have a clue what a French article is saying at six in the morning (I don't speak French) -- just to have a vague idea about something. It can never be used for any serious translation purposes. Our cars will explode soon, and people will die because of senseless translations.











[Edited at 2012-07-04 12:19 GMT]


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
I received the same from Spain Jul 4, 2012

My reply:
Whilst I understand that as a company you have to be able to offer what your clients want, I'm not sure how I would go about delivering substandard work.
I struggle to conceive how I could possibly modulate the quality of my translations to offer lower quality and in light of this, I think that the only way I could offer the level of quality you appear to require is by not doing the translation at all.
As a result, I am forced to decline your offer and shall continue to offer what I consider to be an excellent standard of quality and service to clients who expect nothing less.


I totally agree with Lisa's comments. If they want substandard work, they shouldn't be approaching professional translators and if their clients have budget constraints, I don't think that offering lower quality is the solution.

I wonder how other professionals (lawyers, architects, surveyors etc.) would react to being told to offer a lower quality of work for half their normal rate...


 
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