Does this look like an attempt by the agency to significantly lower my effective rate?
Thread poster: Artem Vakhitov

Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
English to Russian
+ ...
Mar 29, 2017

I've been contacted by an old agency client of mine (that hasn't sent me work for quite a while) regarding translation of software UI strings. The work is supposed to be done using the end customer's in-house localization software.

We have long ago agreed with this agency on a CAT discount matrix, but with this software, they offer a different scheme:

AT (Automated Translation): human translated strings, "mostly 100% match" (but with optionally displayed "Confidence level" showing actual match percentage), "usually don't require editing" but have to be verified and checked against online termbase for changed official term translations — 30% of the base rate

MT (Machine Translation): machine translated strings from the end customer's MT engine (which is actually fairly good, but still MT), "rarely occurring" — 70%

Upd (Updated): obsolete translations where the source text of the string has changed, "almost always need editing" — 40%

New: new strings — 100%

The first assignment is about 600 words, including:

MT — 40% of the total word count
AT — 20%
Upd — 40%
New — 0%

Does this look to you like an attempt to significantly lower my effective rate?

[Edited at 2017-03-29 11:20 GMT]


 

Elif Baykara  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 20:57
German to Turkish
+ ...
Yes Mar 29, 2017

Being smart and efficient in business is nice but it should not be one-way. When it applies to one party only (here, the client), I call this "smart", that is in quotation marks and I do not consider this as a nice attitude.

I would ask them to lock all the segments that do not require editing icon_smile.gif

And for any checking assignment, you can charge a corresponding hourly rate.


 

Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:57
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Not sure if it is intentional Mar 29, 2017

I don't know if they are actively attempting to lower your rate, but off the top of my head, I take issue with this:


Upd (Updated): obsolete translations where the source text of the string has changed, "almost always need editing" — 40%


If they themselves admit that these segments almost always need editing, I would certainly be charging a much higher percentage (or even 100%) for these, as there's no indication here as to how much editing exactly would be needed, or how terrible the updated segments are. With no idea of quality, you might end up just having to retranslate these bits anyway, so 40% seems unacceptable.

Also if MT is only "rarely occurring" it seems odd that 40% of your project is MT. But then again, if you say the MT is fairly good, and they are proposing 70%, that sounds fair enough. (only you can decide!)


 

Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:57
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Locked segments Mar 29, 2017

Elif Baykara wrote:

I would ask them to lock all the segments that do not require editing icon_smile.gif




I would never do this. I hate when segments are locked. Then I have to get into arguments with the client who claims that those words should be free and I'm saying, no, you have to pay at least something because I still have to read those segments to translate around them and do the job properly.

It's a lot of headache and seems unnecessary when they are already proposing what I think is a reasonable percentage (30%) for segments that rarely require editing.


 

Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I asked the client if this assignment is typical, and here's what I got Mar 29, 2017

I asked the client if this assignment's word count structure is typical, and here's their reply:

"We mainly translate AT and MT strings, some Upd and very few New, because New are usually fed through the MT engine. Here's the breakdown for the last month's work: 40% MT, 35% AT, 20% Upd and 5% New."

40% MT total is hardly "rarely occurring," and by this breakdown I can see that the current assignment is not a fluke.


 

Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Translating changed source is not "editing" anyway, and MT results are not "matches" to me Mar 29, 2017

Angela Rimmer wrote:

I don't know if they are actively attempting to lower your rate, but off the top of my head, I take issue with this:


Upd (Updated): obsolete translations where the source text of the string has changed, "almost always need editing" — 40%



Well, frankly, if the source text has changed, it's not "editing" anymore. It's simply re-translation.

Angela Rimmer wrote:

But then again, if you say the MT is fairly good, and they are proposing 70%, that sounds fair enough. (only you can decide!)


In my past experience, their MT engine is decent, but that doesn't mean it actually saves me time or somehow partially relieves me from responsibility for the translation. In fact, I don't consider any MT results as "matches".


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:57
Member
English to Italian
Not very straightforward, are they? Mar 29, 2017

Artem Vakhitov wrote:

I asked the client if this assignment's word count structure is typical, and here's their reply:

"We mainly translate AT and MT strings, some Upd and very few New, because New are usually fed through the MT engine. Here's the breakdown for the last month's work: 40% MT, 35% AT, 20% Upd and 5% New."

40% MT total is hardly "rarely occurring," and by this breakdown I can see that the current assignment is not a fluke.


Looks like in the end the bulk of the work would be editing, at 1/3 of your full rate, plus post-editing, at 2/3, not translation...

Besides, if it's software localization, there are bound to be lots of short strings, which would increase the total amount of fuzzy matches anyway...


 

Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:57
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
MT Mar 29, 2017

Artem Vakhitov wrote:

Angela Rimmer wrote:

But then again, if you say the MT is fairly good, and they are proposing 70%, that sounds fair enough. (only you can decide!)


In my past experience, their MT engine is decent, but that doesn't mean it actually saves me time or somehow partially relieves me from responsibility for the translation. In fact, I don't consider any MT results as "matches".


Yeah, I don't work with MT really at all. I was assuming that you had some "inside knowledge" that I didn't. To be honest, I would never have expected ANY machine translation engine to cope well with Russian-English combinations. The little MT I have seen was with German-English, which with technical jobs can be quite accurate and pretty close to human if the engine is a good one and the sentence structure doesn't get too complicated.

That said, I have seen some Google Translate Russian-to-English in the past that was surprisingly decent, so I suppose like anything in the translation world, it very much depends on the context and the genre of text.


 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Another take from my experience with MT postediting Mar 29, 2017

Whenever a MT engine is used by a client, they call any text changes (improvements, rewrites, etc.) editing. The rate percentages, to me, are beside the point and maybe deserving of a separate discussion with your customer. What worries me is who is determining which strings are updatable segments, which are AT and which are MT. Your customer? Your customer's client?

A client with a customized MT engine may claim that 400 out of the 800 strings to work with are AT that rarely require a translator to read or edit or rewrite. That is a serious problem, because the deep reading part, prior to translating the original into the target language is being sourced to a machine or to a set of algorithms.

Who calibrates those algorithms? What statistical analysis is being implemented? Many dark points here.

Personally, I would fight to keep all the reading for the translator, not a machine, not a MT engine. Even with my CAT tool clients with whom we have agreed on a rate card, I insist on getting paid for every segment, no matter if it is 95-99% because I still have to read it to ascertain context.

The absurd ignorance of clients operating otherwise is appalling and should be denounced.


 

Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Totally not worth it Mar 29, 2017

Finished the assignment. I can already see that it's totally not worth it.

Mario Chavez wrote:

The absurd ignorance of clients operating otherwise is appalling and should be denounced.


This client is far from ignorant. Just trying to take advantage of translators who are less mindful of the effective terms they are working on.


 

Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Update Apr 1, 2017

The client agreed to increase the percentages from 70% to 100% for machine-translated strings, from 30% to 40% for "auto-translated" strings, and from 40% to 80% for updated ones. So this margin was there from the very start, just as I suspected.

 


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