Pages in topic:   [1 2 3 4 5] >
Let's start a revolution, serfs!
Thread poster: xxxblahdibla
xxxblahdibla
Jun 11, 2013

I'm sick of it....sick of being treated like crap by agencies, and as a native English speaker, the worst thing of all: not being used to translate, being used at a much lower rate to clean up after a translation has been done by a non-native speaker. This happens constantly, it's insulting and there's nothing I can do to change it. I get paid to proofread but am in fact re-translating/re-writing the entire thing. If you complain to the project manager you get total silence (in contrast to their flurry of stressed emails if you don't reply to them within a 5-minute timeframe). Sometimes, upon telling them that the quality is terrible throughout the document, you just get a: ''Please jsut do your bset, thank you so so so much!!!!!!!!!''. Anyway, that's just a common 'into English' problem, I'm sure all mother tongues have their own issues that keep cropping up.

More generally though, I'm sick of agencies and their robotic ways, sick of getting mass emails, or emails where my name contains spelling mistakes, sick of being offered ''interesting projects (usually followed by ''!!!!'') for small change and with tight deadlines.

What we need is a revolution. What we need is to create a global trade union style thing. To be a member you'd have to meet certain standards in your work and would then be applying our minimum rates.

For the clients and agencies, using a translator from the ''union'' would be an indication of quality. Perhaps it could become so widespread that they would feel pressure to only use ''union'' translators.

For us the translators, it would mean better pay, protection (the union could intervene in the case of disputes) and respect of certain industry standards.

What do you think? I believe this is a long time coming. I cannot believe that in the year 2013, we consider ourselves 'professionals', working a trade that for many has taken years to hone through experience and/or qualifications, and yet we are working in an unregulated industry that reduces us to the status of serf-robot hybrids.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Shai Navé  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 00:47
Member
English to Hebrew
+ ...
You do have the power Jun 11, 2013

there's nothing I can do to change it.

On the contrary, you have a lot to do, starting by not working with this type of agencies anymore.
I get paid to proofread but am in fact re-translating/re-writing the entire thing.

So don't. Don't let others take advantage of you. Don't accept "proofreading" (which is always editing) work before you at least were able to review the text and assess the quality of the translation. Then quote according to the real amount of work and not by some arbitrary "rate" (professionals have fee, not a rate) set by the agency. You can even stop taking "proofreading" projects altogether.


More generally though, I'm sick of agencies and their robotic ways, sick of getting mass emails, or emails where my name contains spelling mistakes, sick of being offered ''interesting projects (usually followed by ''!!!!'') for small change and with tight deadlines.

So stop working with this kind of low-tier resellers of translation services. There is really no other answer here. They are what they are, and if you don't share professional and business values with them (which no professional would), simply don't work with them.

Being a professional independent translator doesn't mean some kind of certificate or qualification, the 'Professional' part of the title is more about how one conducts him or herself in the real world, including from a business perspective. Having the linguistic skills is just a prerequisite.


Starting a revolution is a nice idea, but highly unpractical from a global perspective. There is no such thing as translation industry (which is a bad choice of words to begin with), there is only a translation marketplace. Professional translators and agencies should start separating themselves from the unprofessional infested "marketplace" and develop new channels of communication.
But the first step towards any kind of change is to start acting as professionals.

[Edited at 2013-06-11 18:32 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jane Proctor  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:47
French to English
similar call to arms recently Jun 11, 2013

There was a related topic started 6 weeks or so ago by an equally hacked off independent. It should be easy enough to look up.

Perhaps you could team up. But don't hold your breath for a revolution as I seem to remember he got short change here!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ildiko Santana  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:47
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...

MODERATOR
what we can do Jun 11, 2013

Dear Shai,
I couldn't agree more! You have perfectly summed up what we can do in order to remain professionals, find satisfaction in our work, be appreciated, and stay financially and mentally sound language service providers. : ) Thank you!

Shai Nave wrote:

there's nothing I can do to change it.

On the contrary, you have a lot to do, starting by not working with this type of agencies anymore.
I get paid to proofread but am in fact re-translating/re-writing the entire thing.

So don't. Don't let others take advantage of you. Don't accept "proofreading" (which is always editing) work before you at least was able to review the text and assess the quality of the translation. Then quote accordingly, or even stop taking proofreading projects altogether.


More generally though, I'm sick of agencies and their robotic ways, sick of getting mass emails, or emails where my name contains spelling mistakes, sick of being offered ''interesting projects (usually followed by ''!!!!'') for small change and with tight deadlines.

So stop working with this kind of low-tier resellers of translation services. There is no other answer.

Being a professional independent translator doesn't mean some kind of certificate or qualification, Professional is more about how one conducts him or herself in the real world, including from a business perspective. Having the linguistic skills is just a prerequisite.


Starting a revolution is a nice idea, but unpractical. There is no such thing as translation industry (which is a bad choice of words to begin with), there is only a translation marketplace. Professional translators and agencies should start separating themselves from the unprofessional infested "marketplace" and develop new channels of communication.
But the first step towards any kind of change is to start acting as professionals.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:47
Member
Italian to English
Shai has summed up my thoughts perfectly Jun 11, 2013

It is unfortunate that conditions as the ones you describe exist.

But they only exist because people are willing to accept them. And agencies all over the world are rubbing their hands together in glee.

The power lies in YOUR hands. Start respecting yourself as a professional, stop working for "agencies" who do not respect their translators, and find ones who do, or look for direct clients.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:47
Member (2008)
French to English
There are no lords, no serfs Jun 11, 2013

blahdibla wrote:

I'm sick of it....sick of being treated like crap by agencies, and as a native English speaker, the worst thing of all: not being used to translate, being used at a much lower rate to clean up after a translation has been done by a non-native speaker. This happens constantly, it's insulting and there's nothing I can do to change it. I get paid to proofread but am in fact re-translating/re-writing the entire thing. If you complain to the project manager you get total silence (in contrast to their flurry of stressed emails if you don't reply to them within a 5-minute timeframe). Sometimes, upon telling them that the quality is terrible throughout the document, you just get a: ''Please jsut do your bset, thank you so so so much!!!!!!!!!''. Anyway, that's just a common 'into English' problem, I'm sure all mother tongues have their own issues that keep cropping up.


It's your choice to work for that kind of agency. Don't blame them, it's the translators who accept working for them,

More generally though, I'm sick of agencies and their robotic ways, sick of getting mass emails, or emails where my name contains spelling mistakes, sick of being offered ''interesting projects (usually followed by ''!!!!'') for small change and with tight deadlines.


Why be "sick of being offered..."? People will offer you all sorts of things. Just say NO. Then walk. It's not like there's some law that says you have to pay attention to these offers.

What we need is a revolution.


No. Revolutions are to overthrow dictators and tyrants who force things on people. No one is forcing you to pay any attention to these agencies. Learn to present yourself properly and to market your services and find other agencies.

What we need is to create a global trade union style thing. To be a member you'd have to meet certain standards in your work and would then be applying our minimum rates.


Trade unions are, first of all, for trades. Translating is a profession, not a trade. Translators work with their heads, not their hands (well, except for typing). Besides, trade unions represent employee groups to employer groups. In the translation profession there are no employee groups (freelancers are businesspeople, not employees) and there are no employer groups (anyone can be an agency, and they purchase the services of freelance translators, they don't employ them).

For the clients and agencies, using a translator from the ''union'' would be an indication of quality. Perhaps it could become so widespread that they would feel pressure to only use ''union'' translators.


I doubt it. Quality translators are already too busy to bother with such ideas. Using a translator from some so-called "union" is more likely to be an indication of low quality, people who are not sufficiently in demand due to their own skills that they have time to worry about such things.

For us the translators, it would mean better pay, protection (the union could intervene in the case of disputes) and respect of certain industry standards.


Standards I could see, but better pay and protection? Doubtful. Highly skilled professional translators are already well paid and pick and choose their clients.

What do you think? I believe this is a long time coming. I cannot believe that in the year 2013, we consider ourselves 'professionals', working a trade that for many has taken years to hone through experience and/or qualifications, and yet we are working in an unregulated industry that reduces us to the status of serf-robot hybrids.


So the best thing is to actually start considering yourself as a "professional" and not a "serf-robot hybrid", presenting yourself well (like, not a blank anonymous profile, hardly professional) so you can find those better paying more "interesting" projects that you want. They're out there.

[Edited at 2013-06-11 18:34 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
I agree with other colleague Jun 11, 2013

The revolution starts from you: Stop accepting what you don't like, you don't have to do it. Actually if you keep on accepting those proofreading jobs, you're undermining your own self. It's as simple as that.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:47
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No, thanks! Jun 11, 2013

No, thank you. I prefer my freedom than having to follow the pack, especially because the pack is not always wise when galvanised by some temporary situation or by some lobby.

We are translators but are also businesspeople, and businesspeople have to know how to sell their services and how and when to say no to unreasonable projects and conditions. The sooner we all realise that, the better. And thanks to fora like this one and translators associations, we are slowly getting there.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:47
English to Polish
+ ...
It isn't really so simple Jun 11, 2013

It isn't really as simple as that. If you are booked full of great direct clients or reasonable agencies, that's great. I have known the feeling. But not everybody is. You can change how you react to offers, but you can't change the offers that come your way. You can only make some of them stop coming.

In short, you can choose your reaction but can't choose your opportunities. This is an oft-forgotten part of the equation. As a lawyer would put it, you can't make rain out of nowhere. You need rain. Once you have rain, you can be fussy. Before you have rain, you can't be fussy.

So, you can change your approach, you can perhaps improve your fortune by the application of sound business rules, but you can't mentalities. Clients won't pop out of nowhere, and the same agencies who have disrespected you so far and paid you peanuts won't suddenly start treating you like a partner and paying you fairly just because you have announced the wish.

Lords and serfs aren't a bad metaphor, by the way. Some standard contracts I've seen have been quite feudal. Speaking of feudal, according to Blackstone and others, Masters of Arts and other Oxbridge graduates were esquires, which actually means they outranked a good deal of hereditary landed gentry. Doctors were higher than esquires (basically between an esquire and a knight), meaning they outranked manorial lords, i.e. dudes that owned a village. Most of the people who give translators grief, feudal-style, would've been a plain mister under the old rules. Food for thought.

I too am considering calling it quits. If this is any consolation to the OP, the quality of English found in source texts (which has a growing tendency to be horrible) or in PL-EN translations I need to proofread or revise has a lot to do with it. So has the quality of English found in a number of proofreaders and reviewers I have crossed ways with.

Not like the situation with Polish is great, but it's not as bad as with English. Not so great Polish is the norm. Disappointing Polish is frequent. Thoroughly bad Polish, thankfully, is very rare. On the other hand, the rules are a bit of a mess these days because there have been some changes, not all proofers are up to date, and, frankly, some of the new rules are bad. Plus, there are as many opinions about what's good or even acceptable style as there are proofreaders. People do go above their pay grade in correcting others. What I like about PL-EN is that there is less DIY proofing and reviewing to worry about, although pesky clients with a First Certificate or so can be quite annoying. It's already unbearable to me, but it must be all the more painful to a native speaker. You have my deep sympathies.

Even more annoying is how agencies allow unqualified B1 clients to play proofreader. IMHO it should be screened before it reaches the translator if there are any suspicions. And it's usually so bad there should be suspicions right away. At any rate, what's a non-linguists, non-writer, non-journalist, no-nothing, doing in the process? (The answer may be in ISO norms, by the way.)

Anyway, the pround lack of respect for translators, including the use of translators as cheap office force for entry level footwork, the decreasing rates and increasing CAT reductions – apply a CAT grid on any business or legal text, and a 10-20% reduction is almost guaranteed, especially if your CAT of choice has the right definition of a word – the rudeness of so many agencies and other outsourcers, plus the incompetence mentioned by the OP and by myself above are all making me want to leave this job. And I'd been through quite a lot prior to entering it.

[Edited at 2013-06-11 20:15 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-06-11 20:16 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxblahdibla
TOPIC STARTER
Surprise, surprise.... Jun 11, 2013

Not surprised to see that the two neutral/understanding posts come from recent Proz members, while the frankly self-contradicting posts come from people who have apparently been on here for years.

You can't just ''choose'' to not work with these people if you're starting out today, not unless you've been working for the past 20 years in a relevant field. If you're young and a newcomer, you know what happens if you ''show a bit of self-respect''? They just go for a 5-second fumble in the writhing mass of other rock-bottom ''service providers'', and your bills will go unpaid.

I'm not trying to get your backs up, I'm trying to say that it's all very well dismissing the idea when you're already nice and settled with a solid pen of clients.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
Member (2004)
German to English
"Indications of quality" already exist Jun 11, 2013

There's Certified PRO, CIOL, ITI etc. - why not try going with them instead of trying to start up something new from scratch?

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:47
English to Polish
+ ...
I like your choice of vocabulary, reminds me of my own Jun 11, 2013

blahdibla wrote:

Not surprised to see that the two neutral/understanding posts come from recent Proz members, while the frankly self-contradicting posts come from people who have apparently been on here for years.

You can't just ''choose'' to not work with these people if you're starting out today, not unless you've been working for the past 20 years in a relevant field. If you're young and a newcomer, you know what happens if you ''show a bit of self-respect''? They just go for a 5-second fumble in the writhing mass of other rock-bottom ''service providers'', and your bills will go unpaid.

I'm not trying to get your backs up, I'm trying to say that it's all very well dismissing the idea when you're already nice and settled with a solid pen of clients.


But how about you play with your profile for an hour so as a passive marketing investment? Even if you're going to do little more than just copying the essentials from your CV and writing one or two native paragraphs, you could still have some clients come your way. Perhaps yes, perhaps not. I scored a grand total of 1 between 2009 and 2013, but Polish is a relatively rare language.

Armorel Young wrote:

There's Certified PRO, CIOL, ITI etc. - why not try going with them instead of trying to start up something new from scratch?


What about monolingual proofers that are actually proofers? Sounds like something the OP might find more to his liking.

[Edited at 2013-06-11 21:13 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:47
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Who are you? Jun 11, 2013

Thank you for your post, blahdibla.

It would be helpful if you would give us some more information about yourself. I think others might be able to help you.

Establishing oneself is difficult in any profession. If a profession is saturated, then the newest ones whose reputations are not yet established will tend to get weeded out first. Sometimes they elect to go elsewhere, as another poster hinted he would do.

There certainly are other non-entrepreneurial professions with trade unions out there if you feel the translation industry/marketplace is treating you badly. It seems that our profession does not lend itself well to the establishment of one. There would be many reasons for this.

Many of your colleagues on Proz would be willing to give you advice if you ask for it. Indeed, if you search the forums the advice has already been put out there. I wish you luck.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Shai Navé  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 00:47
Member
English to Hebrew
+ ...
I was sorry to read your Cynicism Jun 11, 2013


You can't just ''choose'' to not work with these people if you're starting out today

Yes you can. Why people fail to understand this is beyond me. Everyone, even the most established of translators/businesses, have started from pretty much nothing; and no, in the past not everything was fine and dandy with legions of clients who offered one unlimited budget knocking on the door twice an hour.

Secondly, Proz is not the face of the marketplace, it is only one avenue.


If you're young and a newcomer, you know what happens if you ''show a bit of self-respect''? They just go for a 5-second fumble in the writhing mass of other rock-bottom ''service providers'', and your bills will go unpaid.

Getting established as a business is not an easy task, some even argue that it should not be easy. Too many independent translators, who are business people first and foremost like John and Łukasz have said, just declare themselves translators one day, register to a website or too, and that's it. Then they sit passively by expecting to magically get established overnight and for an influx of quality work to just drop in their inbox. Well, the business world doesn't work quite like that.

If you are just starting out and don't have any experience, you might want to consider finding a part time job to pay the bills while you gain experience, specialty, and develop your business and career.

I'm not trying to get your backs up, I'm trying to say that it's all very well dismissing the idea when you're already nice and settled with a solid pen of clients.

You have received some very good and solid advices here (from what you consider to be "established" translators, so why not listen to their experience?). Advices that actually apply globally when running a business. I fail to understand why you chose to dismiss them by claiming what seems to be as "oh, it takes too much hard work and time to get established, you guys had it easy in the past, and I much prefer to have some kind of union that will take care of everything for me".

Getting established takes work and time. There are no shortcuts and no magic tricks. You always start at the bottom but your goal should be to advance your career as a professional and not just pay the bills. To pay your bills you can probably get a job stacking shelves at your local supermarket and get paid what you earn now as a translator, only without the headache of running a business and with social benefits. You should be proactive about your career and work to get to the market segment that you want to work in and with. Being passive about it will most probably not advance you anywhere and you will be dependent on those who cast a wide net to see what they could come up with, i.e. low-tier, unprofessional opportunistic and abusive resellers/brokers of translation services.
Don't worry if not everything is clear to you at the moment, it is a journey, but you should always look at things also from a career and business perspectives. You will succeed and you will fail along the way, it involves some kind of trial and error especially at the early stages of one's career. Learn about the marketplace, join, follow and participate in these forums as well as forums of other online resources, continue your business education because your can always learn something new, but don't let others abuse or exploit you. If you are a professional, even an inexperienced one at the moment, you should work and act like one.
More than anything professionalism is a mindset. It is really as simple as that.

[Edited at 2013-06-11 22:21 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Thomas Deschington
Poland
Local time: 23:47
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Something can be done Jun 11, 2013

In Norway, we have recently started The Norwegian Association of Professional Translators (http://www.norfag.org/home.html). We aim to gather qualified translators in order to present a "unified" face, if you like, to the agencies and clients. We don't cooperate on price, which is illegal, but we do discuss what we think are fair prices, and everyone is encouraged not to accept "peanuts". Basically, we say "what is a fair and realistic yearly salary for a person with my qualification and how much should I earn per hour to get that". You do the math.

We have to stand firm and let agencies and clients know that translation is an art, it requires a number of skills and training to be done well, and it simply isn't fair that people with our competence are treated and paid as if we were unskilled laborers. I just did a contract for the boss of a utility company. It was an express job, so I demanded a double rate. He was a bit hesitant, but (I know the guy personally) I told him that if he were to send out two electricians on a Saturday evening to fix an emergency situation, it would cost A LOT more than I required. And he would have gladly payed. Because it is normal. Why should we accept crazy work hours and apologize? Seen in this light, he had no problem with paying. Many people just don't know what goes into our job!

It sure is a long way, but if we show some solidarity and say no to these absolutely ridiculous offers and business practices, the agencies will be left with the no-good sloppy monkeys who are happy with peanuts, and we'll see how happy their clients will be when their customers will complain, experience accidents because of erroneous translations, and start suing. Quality costs, but it is a long-term investment and the cost is NOTHING compared with lawsuits and lost goodwill.

Remember also - freelancers by nature like to work alone, but if we start cooperating and building networks, it is fully possible to take on large-volume jobs together and offer very competitive prices because we don't work in fancy office buildings, etc. We might not get the super-big jobs (Microsoft software, etc.), but other big jobs I believe are very realistic. But we need to stop complaining, start talking, be constructive, build networks.

Also, be visible. Use Facebook groups, etc. where there are potential clients. Be active and visible. Say something smart. Sell yourself. Nobody's going to find you in your dark cave. I've been doing this for the past year, and it has proven very fruitful.

Good luck, people. Don't give up!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3 4 5] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Let's start a revolution, serfs!

Advanced search







Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »
Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search