Question for colleagues in Spanish-English
Thread poster: Robert Forstag

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:40
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 11, 2015

There was a recent post on the Jobs Board of this site offering the rate of US$0.03-0.05 per word for work on a project involving 150,000 words, with a desired output of 2600 words per day over the course of said project and the requirement of passing a short translation test.

This prompts the following question:
Is there anyone working in this pair, whatever their native language, experience level, or country of residence might be, who is interested in such an offer? If so, what is it about the offer that makes it interesting?

I truly am interested in knowing this to satisfy my curiosity.

I look forward to being enlightened.

[Edited at 2015-09-11 14:18 GMT]


 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:40
English to French
+ ...
RFP? Sep 11, 2015

Let me venture that this is a translation "Not to be read, but to be put on a shelf to satisfy [some sort of] requirement", as I was once told by a "Beltway bandit" agency.

Therefore, no one cares about the translation proper in terms of accuracy, legibility and other "quality" issues.


 

564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 04:40
Danish to English
+ ...
Dire straits Sep 11, 2015

I rarely work in this language pair, and definitely not at those rates.

However, I've just done some simple sums (not my strong side, so I may have it wrong):

150,000 words at $0.03-0.05 = $4,500-7,500
150,000 words divided by 2,600 words = 58 days

If you work flat out, that's two months' work.
If your living costs are low and you haven't had any income for a while, maybe that is enough to survive for a couple of months?

Of course, if you are able to knock out translations at greater speed, the sums will look different.

I understand your incredulity and disgust at these dumping prices, but living costs and circumstances vary across the globe, don't they?


 

Romina Navarro
Argentina
Local time: 23:40
English to Spanish
Good question! Sep 11, 2015

I understand your point and it is true, Gitte.

But (of course, there is a BUT), as I always say when the rates topic comes up, I have killed myself studying several years in order to make a GOOD living out of this profession, not just to make ends meet.

If we only expect to 'survive', why don't we find any other easier, 9-to-5 job, and let the professionals work for fair rates? There are plenty of positions and activities that do not require any specific degree or background and work well for this purpose.


 

Marius Reika  Identity Verified
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
low rate Sep 11, 2015

Gitte Hovedskov, MCIL wrote:

However, I've just done some simple sums (not my strong side, so I may have it wrong):

150,000 words at $0.03-0.05 = $4,500-7,500
150,000 words divided by 2,600 words = 58 days

If you work flat out, that's two months' work.
If your living costs are low and you haven't had any income for a while, maybe that is enough to survive for a couple of months?


If you live in a country where an average monthly salary is around 100 bucks or less, one can survive several years on this money.

The problem is not with the low rate, but how much profit the outsourcer is getting from the project.

To me, this is the biggest concern, and not only in the the translation business but also in virtually all other professions, where the guy who does the biggest part of the job gets the smallest reward. That is how we end up in a world where the rich 10% are responsible for the misery of the 90% of the population.


 

Patrick Porter
United States
Local time: 22:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
simply not possible Sep 12, 2015

Robert Forstag wrote:

There was a recent post on the Jobs Board of this site offering the rate of US$0.03-0.05 per word for work on a project involving 150,000 words...

...Is there anyone working in this pair, whatever their native language, experience level, or country of residence might be, who is interested in such an offer?...


I don't believe there is any way that a quality translation can be had at these rates. It is simply not possible. And I don't say that out of wishful thinking or suggesting that it should be that way. It just is that way.

I also saw this same job posting, and guess what, it's a PDF conversion too, and they want you to follow their template and have experience with formatting, etc. And it seems like they are seriously expecting this to be done at these rates. Don't worry. It won't happen.

A more realistic scenario would be:
1. paying their quoted rate to someone merely to transcribe the entire document into Spanish.
2. paying a translator at least 3 times that much for the translation.
3. paying a reviewer a rate similar to #1 for review.
4. further validation, linguistic checking, formatting, etc. either handled by someone in-house or outsourced.

If they go cheap on any part of this process they will end up with a bad product. You just can't get something for nothing, even in this industry. There are plenty of good clients who know this, including some agencies who are not trying to compete with a race to the bottom on prices, but through quality and expertise.

This outsourcer would be better off doing step 1 above to potentially leverage repetitions, fuzzy matches, etc. and possibly reducing costs that way (again not trying to be cheap but looking for reasonable points of efficiency). They could also try to work with long-term clients to build translation memories and other resources. These are valid ways to reduce costs, and if done carefully and correctly, can be implemented without a negative effect on quality.

But thanks for bringing this up Robert, because I think it's important to have discussions like these, so that uninformed readers won't think that performing translation work under the terms of these kinds of job postings is the norm.

[Edited at 2015-09-12 14:20 GMT]


 

Patrick Porter
United States
Local time: 22:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
unless... Sep 12, 2015

JL01 wrote:

Let me venture that this is a translation "Not to be read, but to be put on a shelf to satisfy [some sort of] requirement", as I was once told by a "Beltway bandit" agency.

Therefore, no one cares about the translation proper in terms of accuracy, legibility and other "quality" issues.


but if this is the case, then they should just transcribe it and put it through Google Translate. I doubt they are likely to get a much better translation than that at their quoted rate.


 

Patrick Porter
United States
Local time: 22:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
and by the way... Sep 12, 2015

Romix wrote:

I understand your point and it is true, Gitte.

But (of course, there is a BUT), as I always say when the rates topic comes up, I have killed myself studying several years in order to make a GOOD living out of this profession, not just to make ends meet.

If we only expect to 'survive', why don't we find any other easier, 9-to-5 job, and let the professionals work for fair rates? There are plenty of positions and activities that do not require any specific degree or background and work well for this purpose.


And don't forget that no matter where you are based, if you are a true professional translator, you are likely conducting your operations like an actual business. Therefore you have business expenses, and on top of that are paying for (either through taxes/public contributions or in the private market) social security/pension savings, healthcare, just to name a few things. These are universals. I mean, not to say that there aren't geographic differences in cost of living or cost of running a business...of course there are....but the pursuit of professionalism has a bit of an equalizing effect at least. An outsourcer might be able to find some amateurs who will take any price, but then they really can't expect any sort of quality that way.

[Edited at 2015-09-12 14:16 GMT]


 

Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
And if you take at least your weekends Sep 12, 2015

Gitte Hovedskov, MCIL wrote:


150,000 words at $0.03-0.05 = $4,500-7,500
150,000 words divided by 2,600 words = 58 days

If you work flat out, that's two months' work.

I understand your incredulity and disgust at these dumping prices, but living costs and circumstances vary across the globe, don't they?


- which would be desirable in such a long time - that's three months. And of course you can accept no other job in the meantime. And you have still to answer your phone and e-mails... 2.500 Euro/month gross in a Western European country is not that much for hard work day in day out - hardly sufficient. But 1.500 would be absolutely outrageous.

However, like Gitte says, for some of us this may be a lot of money. But it's disgusting anyway. I am fully with you here, Marius, and this is always my main concern in similar circumstances:

Marius Reika wrote:
The problem is not with the low rate, but how much profit the outsourcer is getting from the project.

To me, this is the biggest concern, and not only in the the translation business but also in virtually all other professions, where the guy who does the biggest part of the job gets the smallest reward.



[Bearbeitet am 2015-09-12 20:02 GMT]


 

Camille Beaupin
Peru
Member (2010)
Spanish to French
+ ...
My point of view from Peru Sep 13, 2015

With $5000 I can pay my rent for more than a year in Peru. So I understand why some people accept those low-paid jobs. And because the cost of living is low here, at the end of the month, the translator living in Peru could have more money that the translator living in Western Europe, even if he charges lower rates. Because he doesn't have to spend so much on food, transportation etc. and because taxes are incredibly low too. There is a HUGE difference with France, for instance.
I personally wouldn't accept this kind of project because I don't like the idea of working for several weeks, on the same project and for the same company. However, I understand why people accept this kind of rates. And yes, they are low, but when people charge the double/triple in Europe how much do they keep and how much "disappears" in taxes and daily expenses?

[Modifié le 2015-09-13 12:38 GMT]


 


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


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

Question for colleagues in Spanish-English

Advanced search







PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

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