Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore
Thread poster: Vito Smolej

Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 20:15
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Aug 2, 2006

I thought this were too good not to share it. It will show one side of globalization, part funny part serious (at its core). And I do hope I will not come across condescending - my eyes have been just wide open and wondering the last few days -.

prequel: last year I did a few translations for an agency in Shenchen in the EN>SL pair. The idea was - I admit this will sound crazy - to meet the challenge of 3 cents a word head on. Train for lean years, Chinese products flooding ALDI stores in Slovenia. Later the line went dry from my side, because I had no more time to invest into the future of Chinese products in Slovenia.

main feature:Friday my lines suddenly went hot with mails and phone calls. Phone calls were only partially successful because a) I did not know the person b) his English was hard to understand (I guess he was rather nervous too). Same thing mails: they nearly all landed in my spam folder because of trash email adresses and empty subject lines. Anyhow: that same company had an urgent job for me, 1500 words to be done by Monday. Mind you, no purchase order, no indication of price, just the material.

When I opened the file, I got my blue wonder, as Germans would say: it was a short instruction manual for a pizza machine, clearly of an Italian origin.

One probable explanation could be the product has been pirated from A to Z, from the design down to marketing materials for the whole of the European Union. That I would call big-time vanity. How probable? Not much, because at this level of criminal intent, Slovenian language is an absolute non-issue.

More probable is small-time, kiddie-league lunacy: a translation food chain, that starts with an Italian client somewhere in Treviso or therabouts, who issues a purchase order, that passes several go-betweens ("slap on 15% and pass it on, will ya") to land eventually in CHINA. It goes without saying, that the hell will freeze over first before that agency will deliver an English to Slovenian translation by its own devices at the price it committed itself to.

Just a thought: maybe they should switch to construction business. Man, have I a bridge to sell to them...

On the serious side: the issue is not that Shenchen agency, the issue is here in Europe somewhere: it's those go-betweens, those blind, superficial, unthinking dodos, dealing in our sweat and blood.

One more thought: in a hind-view mirror of my experience, with every 10, 20, 30% below the market price I may have paid for one more (necessary, unnecessary? you be the judge) blood sucker.

We should all work toward the day when we will be able to say "Free, free at last".

regards

[Edited at 2006-08-02 16:58]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:15
English to French
+ ...
I can but agree Aug 2, 2006

Often, people (both freelancers and agencies) in the East get blamed for such absurd situations, but most of the time, it is actually those nearer to us, maybe even living in the same country, who are behind this sad reality.

Nike said a while back that they did not know that some of their subcontractors used children to do the job. They say this has now been corrected and that actually, if you think for a minute, whoever works for them in the East nowadays is making much more money than other citizens of the same country and that they are much better off. Yeah, OK, but who pays the price, I wonder?

Indeed, I also wish for freedom... Unfortunately, it feels like it's just a dream...


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tectranslate ITS GmbH
Local time: 20:15
German
+ ...
Ceterum censeo: "mere go-betweens" esse delendam Aug 2, 2006

Vito Smolej wrote:

On the serious side: the issue is not that Shenchen agency, the issue is here in Europe somewhere: it's those go-betweens, those blind, superficial, unthinking dodos, dealing in our sweat and blood.


True, and the only thing you can (and SHOULD) do about it, imho, is to demand the price the translation is really worth - this will make it impossible for the Chinese to maintain their prices, which will in turn make it impossible for those go-betweens to maintain their business the way they are and eventually, it will benefit the entire industry. Don't get suckered in to this perverse scheme!

I would like to, again, make it very clear that there are go-betweens whose single contribution is to slap on x% on the translator's price and there are language services providers who actually care about quality, who know how language and translations work, who carefully analyze and prepare the material to be translated (and ask the client for the source document when they receive a PDF to be translated...etc.), and who are willing to pay the translator his or her worth.

I strongly think there must be a place in the translation market for the latter, but the former are doing nothing but hurting the industry and need to become extinct.

Regards,
Benjamin


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 20:15
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not much to add, you said it all Aug 2, 2006


I would like to, again, make it very clear that there are go-betweens whose single contribution is to slap on x% on the translator's price and there are language services providers who actually care about quality, who know how language and translations work, who carefully analyze and prepare the material to be translated (and ask the client for the source document when they receive a PDF to be translated...etc.), and who are willing to pay the translator his or her worth


Amen to that, Benjamin, and I have been unlucky enough to hit upon some of that kind and lucky to meet and keep a few of the latter. Next to my brain & experience, good, trustful, dependable customers are my most cherished asset. Getting them - and NOT the top price - is what everybody's priority should be. It was my priority, anyhow, with some mishaps, as this story can attest(g).

And yes, I quoted normal price plus a 25% rush bonus, just to put them into the expected frame of mind.

from Victoria
Indeed, I also wish for freedom... Unfortunately, it feels like it's just a dream...


It's not that much freedom as freedom from BS - and it's way out of line, me quoting ML King in this context.

[Edited at 2006-08-02 12:36]

[Edited at 2006-08-02 17:00]


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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:15
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
Glad to hear this view Aug 2, 2006

Hi,

It's really a change as recently one translation agency actually told me that we as translators/ interpreters should stay out of the real market and avoid having any direct clients as we spoil the market!!!

I mean this person didn't know abc of translation and was telling me that I shouldn't have any direct clients (who pay far better) and agree to work with them (for a much lower amount) because we spoil the market... and of course any translators' association should be organized and run by the translation bureaux!!! I disagree but to my surprise, I found many translators around Delhi agree with this.

So... not much I can do about it.

only I'm not quitting... at least not yet...

well... just had to get this out of my system...

thanks for the opportunity

regards,

Ritu


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:15
English to French
+ ...
Hang in there, Ritu! Aug 3, 2006

Shame on the person for telling you that. Not because it's a shameful thing to say but because it is an insult to your intelligence. I guess I don't need to tell you the person was wrong for you to know it. It is pretty obvious...

I am amazed that most people in your area swallow such arguments. I bet those same freelancers are also the ones who accept the lowest rates and lose sleep without charging extra. It's a shame, because they are really contributing to their own misery - and to that of other freelancers all over the market. Of course, an agency will not agree with this - it doesn't pay for them to do so...

Let's hope the rest of us eventually wakes up!


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