I received an interesting email today
Thread poster: KateKaminski

KateKaminski
Local time: 00:00
German to English
Jul 10, 2013

An email arrived in my email box today from a total stranger. No company name, address or background information of any kind - simply the individual's first name.

She asked if I would be available to post-edit 11,000 words (contract). From the wording of the email, this seemed to be someone who works in the industry and knows what they are doing/talking about.

I was quite amused by this situation and asked to see the target file this stranger wanted me to edit. It was quite clearly translated using Google Translate or similar and was quite dire.

I told her it would be quicker to translate it from scratch. I told her my usual rates and estimated it would take a week to complete. I would of course need to be paid in full in advance as I had not worked with her before.

She said no, this is a post-editing job and their offered rate (!?!) is GBP 25.00 per 1000 words. Of course, I said no thank you, as the quality of the "translation" was too poor.

She then told me they had given the job to another translator and she would put me in their files for another time (no thanks ...).

What concerns me is that another colleague might actually have accepted this job. Who knows whether they will ever be paid for that nightmare of a job ...


 

George Christodoulatos  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:00
English to Greek
+ ...
Desperate times... Jul 10, 2013

Desperate times breed desperate professionals (re. the colleague that allegedly took the offer). In my own experience, there have always been people around trying to catch you where they can. And, you are right: for most intents and purposes (bar the most simple straightforward text), Google Translate is more of a hassle than a convenience.

 

Sarai Pahla (MD) MBChB
Germany
Local time: 01:00
Member (2012)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Result: Poor Quality Output Jul 10, 2013

So the text was run through Google Translate and is being offered to what we assume will be the lowest bidder? In that case, the final outcome is unlikely to be of high quality. It is possible that a well-qualified translator could be used to working with Google Translate output, but in my experience, most translators would have said what you said - it is easier to retranslate GT output than edit it.

 

James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:00
Russian to English
+ ...
I once… Jul 10, 2013

…got a request from a client with whom I had a good relationship to post-edit a translation that -- believe it or not -- was worse even than a machine translation. It looked as though someone had simply taken a dictionary and looked up every word. I replied that it would be best to re-translate it from scratch and provided my translation of the first few sentences in the article. That was enough to convince my client, who does not speak the language, that I was right. she went back to her customer, and the upshot was that I got the job to re-translate.

One red flag here, of course, was the lack of identifying information from the requester. You were right to request an advance payment, if only to teach a lesson.


 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
Too bad Jul 10, 2013

Don't worry about other colleagues, you did the right thing by refusing the job. Anyone who would accept it deserves their fate.

 

Charlotte Farrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:00
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
I got the same email Jul 10, 2013

But wasn't the one who took the job. The lack of company name or surname concerned me as well so I asked if the sender's company had a website or ProZ blueboard page. The sender provided me with a website, but as the name of the company had nothing to do with the email address she sent the email from, I sent the company themselves an email just to check. It turned out to be legit and from a company with high ratings on the Blueboard so I was surprised by this bizarre way of contacting translators, especially now you've said how low the rate was. Post-editing is something I tend to steer clear of anyway unless it's something I can rattle through quickly and end up getting a good hourly rate for.

 

Shai Navé  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 02:00
Member
English to Hebrew
+ ...
This happens all the time Jul 10, 2013

...an attempt to get something for next to nothing. In the past people attempted this after using an amateur/bad human translator as the source for cheap translation, and recently free MT engines are used as well instead of the bad human translators.
Good for you for turning down this "opportunity" for its abusive and questionable terms, and moving on. To me it sounds like a potential scam anyway.

What concerns me is that another colleague might actually have accepted this job. Who knows whether they will ever be paid for that nightmare of a job ...

From my experience, no matter how ridiculous and abusive the terms are, there will be always someone who will take it. The market is segmented and this potential work doesn't come from an entity that values quality, so this is not the market segment for professionals.
This is actually a classic case of two unprofessional parties (one a reseller of translation services and the other an unprofessional translator) that are in it just for the money and act accordingly.

Desperate times breed desperate professionals (re. the colleague that allegedly took the offer).

The person who allegedly took this project is nowhere near a professional. He/she/they might call themselves translators, but they are not professionals translators.


 

Sara Bueno Carrero  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:00
Member (2013)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Too desperate Jul 10, 2013

George Christodoulatos wrote:

Desperate times breed desperate professionals (re. the colleague that allegedly took the offer).


Once an agency tried to make me work for USD 0.05 per source word (English to European Spanish translation) claiming that, if I didn't take the job, there was another translator willing to do it for USD 0.02. When I told her I would only do it for USD 0.08 because I wasn't a low-cost translator, but a high-quality one, the PM told me this cheap translator was one of their best in the language pair! Honestly, how can a professional translator work for that rate? Even if she translated 2500 words every day, 7 days per week (which is quite unlikely), she wouldn't even be earning the minimum wage in Spain.

You know what the funny thing was? It was a 60-word job. Obviously, I wasn't going to fight for two dollars. Maybe that super excellent translator really needed that one single dollar she would earn in order to survive. If she desperately needs a dollar, probably she isn't such a good translator.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 01:00
English to Polish
+ ...
Something similar has happened to me Jul 10, 2013

James McVay wrote:

…got a request from a client with whom I had a good relationship to post-edit a translation that -- believe it or not -- was worse even than a machine translation. It looked as though someone had simply taken a dictionary and looked up every word. I replied that it would be best to re-translate it from scratch and provided my translation of the first few sentences in the article. That was enough to convince my client, who does not speak the language, that I was right. she went back to her customer, and the upshot was that I got the job to re-translate.

One red flag here, of course, was the lack of identifying information from the requester. You were right to request an advance payment, if only to teach a lesson.


I've seen human translators do worse than GT. And I'm not theorising, I actually put the text through GT to make sure, and GT won the contest.

Actually, for that type of text, GT post-editing would probably haven been a somewhat viable option, perhaps to the point of being somewhat faster than translating from scratch.

***

I think translators need to put up a unified front, and agencies too, and reject any "proofreading" jobs to be performed on MT output (other than clearly designated PEMT-ing of competent proprietary MT or something), or translation of MT output into other languages.

I'm especially dismayed by how agencies accept poor quality English sources. If the PMs are at least B2-level learners themselves (or any manner of native speaker), they should be capable of sniffing nonsense right away. Unfortunately, sometimes there is a delicate issue involved, as it is feared that telling a client his English is not up to the task will result in losing that client.


 

Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:00
English to Spanish
Bad agencies, really Jul 10, 2013

Charlotte Farrell wrote:

It turned out to be legit and from a company with high ratings on the Blueboard so I was surprised by this bizarre way of contacting translators, especially now you've said how low the rate was.


This is a very common situation. Agencies that offer extremely low rates but have very high ratings on the blueboard.

Draw your own conclusions...


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 01:00
English to Polish
+ ...
Ratings Jul 11, 2013

Rates per se are not a reason to give a low rating – other than perhaps taking the overall rating down a notch to reflect dissatisfaction with rates requested by the agency – but there is one thing to say here: NDAs (non-disclosure agreements, confidentiality clauses, gagging clauses, howsoever called) may prevent low ratings from being given.

In fact, contracts proposed (required) by outsourcers may well contain specific clauses prohibiting the expression of negative opinions on the Internet. Or at least of the information required to substantiate such an opinion. Thus, only a good or very good opinion can realistically be given, while the rest pre-empted. I'm not saying this to undermine the credibility of BlueBoard outsourcers, but I want to say that it's possible to do something like that.

I believe BB rules should make it a bannable offence to skew the opinion process like that.

[Edited at 2013-07-11 01:45 GMT]


 

Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 02:00
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Bizarre Jul 11, 2013

Charlotte Farrell wrote:

this bizarre way


Right you are! The very word I thought about when reading the post.


 

roguestate
Local time: 02:00
Swedish to English
+ ...
I received this email too....... Jul 11, 2013

I was wondering whether anyone else received it and where they had found my work e-mail, as I keep separate agglomeration ones for translator sites.

The first time that I received a request (she seems set on wearing down my defences through downright persistence), I answered thus:

"Thank you for your cryptic enquiry.

Firstly, could you please introduce yourself and tell me how you heard of me, as I am not in the habit of responding to commissions received from mysterious e-mail correspondents. (Same as above: e-mail address didn't correspond to writer and had even less in common with the supposedly excellent agency it purported to represent).

Secondly, after a cursory glance at one document, I would describe the work required as translation and not 'Post editing'", and submitted an estimate of EUR 90.

She then explained that documents that I would receive would be "pre-translated using our own software", and "would require only grammar/spelling changes as well as making sense to some sentences".

So I politely declined and the full realisation of their business model hit me when I received the next offer in another Nordic language.

We are not talking about a full document of GT gobbledegook (though that is bad enough); I was given 2 documents where one was purportedly the source text (poor encoding left you having to guess what certain characters were) and the "translated" doc that was a facsimile, save for 2 or 3 lines per page in Danglish.

They had not even made the effort to bung the whole thing in GT, but that is not the most alarming: The text was a safety manual for helicopter rescue personnel!

How can anyone be so utterly irresponsible with matters of public safety, and so cynical enough as to wish to make a profit out of it?

I did not reply then and these daily jobs now get deleted after I sate my perverse curiosity firsticon_smile.gif


 


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