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Obnoxious exchange of words with a German freelance translator
Thread poster: Sara Marques

Sara Marques
Portugal
Local time: 17:18
Member (2012)
Portuguese to Spanish
+ ...
Oct 10, 2018

This morning, our translation agency was in an unpleasant situation. We are going through a reorganization process and we are looking for freelance translators to fill language pairs we still didn't offer. In that sense, we have posted a few projects to Proz, looking for candidates. However, we have received an extremely unpleasant phone call and later email from a German freelance translator. On such email, he questioned our work ethics when it came to select translators for our database and ga... See more
This morning, our translation agency was in an unpleasant situation. We are going through a reorganization process and we are looking for freelance translators to fill language pairs we still didn't offer. In that sense, we have posted a few projects to Proz, looking for candidates. However, we have received an extremely unpleasant phone call and later email from a German freelance translator. On such email, he questioned our work ethics when it came to select translators for our database and gave some unsolicited and unpleasant advice on how we should conduct our business.

Even though we appreciate any advice and comments from our possible collaborators, we do not appreciate that they make us or any other agency loose their time simply because they do not agree or do not wish to work with us. And what's worse, that they give do it in an obnoxious way, it´s unpleasant and very disrespectful.

We do our best to treat our collaborators and clients with the utmost respect. It was, indeed, a very distasteful situation.

I am leaving this post as a warning to any one who encounters the same person. Do not make the same mistake we did, do not engage with him. No one is forced to work with anyone when they don't want to.

Have a good day and good translations!
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Elina Cor
Nicole König
IanDhu
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
accents Oct 10, 2018

Sara, I'm still not sure whether your post is about a nagging translator (which is easily settled via 'Thank-you' followed by "Mark as spam"), or the fact he was from ProZ (which is still no problem); or something else?

What exactly was the offense? And what kind of mistake? Who did what?
Let alone how it might relate to other agencies and translators?

You don't want to waste your time, no?

[Edited at 2018-10-10 11:54 GMT]


Ksenia Akulova
 

Olga Koepping  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:18
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
How unpleasant Oct 10, 2018

Just out of interest, I had a look at the job post you had put up, to see what could have set this guy off. It was entirely innocuous, I thought.

I do have to admit that I am sometimes close to becoming impatient if I see an agency ask for "very urgent, at least five years experience in legal, highest quality essential" followed by "0.04 per word maximum". But that's just me muttering away at my desk, it's quite a leap to start being rude to people who haven't even asked for input!
... See more
Just out of interest, I had a look at the job post you had put up, to see what could have set this guy off. It was entirely innocuous, I thought.

I do have to admit that I am sometimes close to becoming impatient if I see an agency ask for "very urgent, at least five years experience in legal, highest quality essential" followed by "0.04 per word maximum". But that's just me muttering away at my desk, it's quite a leap to start being rude to people who haven't even asked for input!

My sympathies, anyway. Perhaps the solitude is getting to him.
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Elina Cor
Nicole König
IanDhu
Valérie Ourset
Ryan Saxon Montcalm
 

Nicole König  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:18
German to English
+ ...
The other side of the medallion: Thank you, Sara, for speaking up! Oct 10, 2018

Sara Marques wrote:

This morning, our translation agency was in an unpleasant situation. We are going through a reorganization process, and we are looking for freelance translators to fill language pairs we still didn't offer. In that sense, we have posted a few projects to Proz, looking for candidates. However, we have received an extremely unpleasant phone call and later email from a German freelance translator. On such email, he questioned our work ethics when it came to select translators for our database and gave some unsolicited and unpleasant advice on how we should conduct our business.

Even though we appreciate any advice and comments from our possible collaborators, we do not appreciate that they make us or any other agency loose their time simply because they do not agree or do not wish to work with us. And what's worse, that they give do it in an obnoxious way, it´s unpleasant and very disrespectful.

We do our best to treat our collaborators and clients with the utmost respect. It was, indeed, a very distasteful situation.

I am leaving this post as a warning to anyone who encounters the same person. Do not make the same mistake we did, do not engage with him. No one is forced to work with anyone when they don't want to.

Have a good day and good translations!


As professional word nerds, we dread the "Dear Colleague" emails in our inbox, the ones pitching seemingly interesting projects working with seemingly stellar business partners aka translation agencies. They ask us to fill in "welcome packages" asking information from shoe size to proof of residence, banking details, etc., just to then let us know that the project budget is well below what a self-reliant entrepreneur has to charge in order to, well, stay self-reliant.
Since that is more the norm than we'd like to admit, we're a bit tired and a bit frustrated and, frankly, a bit fed up, especially when we read about million Dollar/Euro/... deals struck between those same agencies that pay their word force pennies. Nobody forces us to work with bottom feeders, of course, but the frenzy for the next rent paid and the next paycheck putting food on one's table can avalanche junior translators and those weakly positioned or in dire straits or not knowing better.

That's why a whole armada of seasoned colleagues who DO know better spoke up against ProZ bidding scenario when they first set it up. But that's a different conversation.

What I'd like to say, not having seen your job post, of course, and therefore going from your forum entry alone, is that it is unfortunate that the backlash of bottom-feeding business etiquette hit, in this case, an agency that strives for good business. It shows a lack of professionalism on my colleague's side and I'm sorry you had to sit through what I understand must have been an uncomfortable conversation.

We're all human, and sometimes you might not realize that the mule-kicking that you bestow onto others has the potential to hit you back twice as hard when it makes the round that you're not the most pleasant person to work with. BUT. The frustration is real and, sadly, you're sitting at the side of the table that has a lot (!) of two-faced translation agencies aka managers to us language professionals.

The tragedy of the commons as it relates to the translation industry: bad-egg agencies burn both client trust and word force until they're forced to deliver MT "proofread" by less-than-professional humans, losing money on both ends.

What then? The rise of the professional freelance translator? A new generation of business, built on MT, sans etiquette, ethics, human touch?
Or can we stand together and get the ship we all travel in off the reef?
What's your opinion, Sara?

[Edited at 2018-10-10 15:58 GMT]


Oleksandr Ivanov
Robert Forstag
 

Baran Keki  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 19:18
Member
English to Turkish
+ ...
'Best rate' Oct 10, 2018

I saw your ad, and it seemed ordinary enough until I saw 'your best rate' bit, then I had to check to see if you were an Asian agency.

Rebecca Davis
Daryo
Yvonne Gallagher
Inga Petkelyte
Ryan Saxon Montcalm
 

Rebecca Davis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:18
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
I wouldn't worry... Oct 10, 2018

Sarah, there is no guarantee that everyone you come across on an open forum like ProZ is going to be pleasant, or even sane, quite frankly. I once had an outsourcer threaten to kill me (I kid you not) because I asked to be paid...Just ignore whoever was rude to you and move on. Life is too short!

Valérie Ourset
 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:18
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I sympathize with Sara, and... Oct 10, 2018

The actions of the German translator here would have been uncalled for under any circumstances. They are doubly unwarranted given that he initiated contact in such a beligerant, oppressive, and repetitive manner.

I truly hope that any reasonable person would agree with this.

The only note of caution I would add is that agencies should not consider themselves immune from pointed comments (solicited or not) when they post jobs here that offer less than half
... See more
The actions of the German translator here would have been uncalled for under any circumstances. They are doubly unwarranted given that he initiated contact in such a beligerant, oppressive, and repetitive manner.

I truly hope that any reasonable person would agree with this.

The only note of caution I would add is that agencies should not consider themselves immune from pointed comments (solicited or not) when they post jobs here that offer less than half the generally acceptable rate for a given language pair.

(Please note that I wrote “pointed” above: not “nasty” or “threatening.” Please also note that I have made clear that I think that the translator in this case was grossly inappropriate.)

[Edited at 2018-10-10 21:03 GMT]
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Kevin Fulton
Daryo
Yvonne Gallagher
 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:18
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
[Wo]man in the middle Oct 10, 2018

Nicole König wrote:

We're all human, and sometimes you might not realize that the mule-kicking that you bestow onto others has the potential to hit you back twice as hard when it makes the round that you're not the most pleasant person to work with. BUT. The frustration is real and, sadly, you're sitting at the side of the table that has a lot (!) of two-faced translation agencies aka managers to us language professionals.


Nicole:

You make a number of important points in your post, and the above extract is especially eloquent.

PMs of course do not deserve blame or reproach of any kind when they merely reflect an agency culture committed to paying grossly below-market rates - a practice that inevitably brings with it all sorts of other ethical and operational problems....

PMs who find themselves in such situations need to decide for themselves if they are comfortable or not. After all, these are the people who will bear the brunt of any displeasure expressed by their agency’s vendors (or would-be vendors).

[Edited at 2018-10-10 22:20 GMT]


Nicole König
Daryo
 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:18
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Please delete. Oct 10, 2018

Please delete. My mistake.

[Edited at 2018-10-10 21:00 GMT]


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:18
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Please delete. Oct 10, 2018

Please delete. My mistake

 

The Misha
Local time: 12:18
Russian to English
+ ...
Ahem... speak for yourself, please Oct 10, 2018

Nicole König wrote:

As professional word nerds...


Not to make too fine a point of it, but I am not a nerd. I am a professional writer with half-a-lifetime's worth of experience and substantial expertise in my areas of specialization. Maybe that is the reason I do not have to jump through the hoops, real or imaginary, that you refer to in your post.


Or can we stand together and get the ship we all travel in off the reef?


Apparently, we travel in different ships:)


Daryo
 

Nicole König  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:18
German to English
+ ...
Good for you! Oct 11, 2018

My intentions writing and your perception reading my post don't match in the slightest.

Good for you to have it made. My point referred to the struggle of the profession as a whole aka the image we send to junior colleagues and the next generation of translators. The fact that people feel like they have to work their way "up" to sustainable rates rather than working in an environment that encourages stellar work and win-win situations from day 1.

Not to dive too deep in
... See more
My intentions writing and your perception reading my post don't match in the slightest.

Good for you to have it made. My point referred to the struggle of the profession as a whole aka the image we send to junior colleagues and the next generation of translators. The fact that people feel like they have to work their way "up" to sustainable rates rather than working in an environment that encourages stellar work and win-win situations from day 1.

Not to dive too deep into the old "if we were all paid like lawyers" argument, but we could sure do with a healthy dose of their perception that they are in it for the money. It shows in the attention they pay to professional development, how they enter the business world, run a business, plan their retirement, etc.
In stark contrast, translators act and are/let themselves be treated as if being a "starving artist" was somehow a business model.

Not laying blame here, just stating that the majority of voices I hear struggles with building mutually respectful relationships with agencies. Mutually respectful meaning first-class results in exchange for first-class rates and etiquette and ethics as the driving force.

Entering into any toxic business relationship is, of course, on the translators themselves. We are free to choose our business partners, after all. But when go-to platforms sport a majority of non-sustainable projects, junior colleagues and those who don't (yet) know any better fall prey to the misconception that those rates are the "going" rates and likely adapt their business vision to it. Off the top of my head: more work, less pay, being the small fish at the very end of the food chain, no time/resources to evolve.

Rant over.
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IanDhu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:18
Member (2005)
French to English


Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile


Decent job advert; Chaucerian put-down, perhaps Oct 11, 2018

Hullo Sara,

I took a look at one of your job offers, and its phrasing was entirely unexceptionable. I don't know whether it's wise to, but if all else fails, a really crushing quotation from Chaucer could lay this surly practitioner by the heels: in the Pardoner's prologue are the words,
"At either end of thee foul is the sound".

The foregoing voices my indignation at such ill-usage of you.

Success for the business reconfiguration.

Wit
... See more
Hullo Sara,

I took a look at one of your job offers, and its phrasing was entirely unexceptionable. I don't know whether it's wise to, but if all else fails, a really crushing quotation from Chaucer could lay this surly practitioner by the heels: in the Pardoner's prologue are the words,
"At either end of thee foul is the sound".

The foregoing voices my indignation at such ill-usage of you.

Success for the business reconfiguration.

With kind regards,

Adam Warren
(ProZ. com: IanDhu; translator 41189)
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Kevin Fulton
Nicole König
 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:18
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Freelance translator Oct 12, 2018

I wonder if it was necessary to specify that it was a German freelance translator. In what way is it relevant that the freelance translator is German?

Inga Petkelyte
 

Baran Keki  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 19:18
Member
English to Turkish
+ ...
Oddly enough Oct 12, 2018

Michele Fauble wrote:

I wonder if it was necessary to specify that it was a German freelance translator. In what way is it relevant that the freelance translator is German?


German wasn't even included in the ad.


 
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