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A new tactic for ripping off translation companies/translators?
Thread poster: Amy Duncan
Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:17
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Mar 5, 2008

Have any of you run across this scam? The client passes a text through a translation software program, then sends it to the translator or company to be revised. I got one of these today and it took me a minute to realize what the client was trying to pull. I sure hope this doesn't become a trend, but I know for myself I'll never accept such a job again and I'll look at revision jobs more closely before I start to do them. Some clients will do anything to save money, or even not to pay. I'm sure some of you have run into a situation where the client says your translation is no good (when you know it's perfectly fine) so they won't have to pay.

Amy


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:17
English to Arabic
+ ...
Ignorance Mar 5, 2008

I put it down to ignorance more than an attempt to rip off translators - because no translator in his/her right mind would accept to do such a job (or accept to offer a discount for doing such a job). So the clients usually think they'll give it a try and see what the translator makes of it.
One of the agencies I work with recently sent me such a MT-generated text, but they apologised in advance saying that they have to respect the end-client's wish to have a translator look at it. It only took me a minute to reply as well, and the agency was very understanding.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
Special rate for editing garbage Mar 5, 2008

I usually explain to clients that my standard editing rate is for revising work performed by a professional human translator who is a native speaker of the target language. To edit anything else, I charge my full translation fee. This is justified because editing a bad translation takes at least as long as retranslating the text from scratch.

As someone eloquently put it in an "ATA Chronicle" article a few years ago, the editor's job is to take a good translation and make it better.

[Edited at 2008-03-05 22:37]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I do it... at normal translation rates! Mar 5, 2008

I don't differentiate MT from the work of a perpetual wannabe translator. I haven't yet received a MT to proofread, but once I received a translation "dizaster". It was a video for dubbing. It didn't take me longer than watching 20 secs of the video with the script - infront of the client - to realize that it was doomed - no 'quick fix' would be possible.

So I made a gesture of tearing the script in two. The client said: "Go ahead! Do it! I only didn't do it myself because I paid for that trash." And so I re-translated the whole thing from scratch, at my normal rate.

So when a client plays'em close to his/her chest, I emphasize proofreading competent human transtaltion in my rate.


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 06:17
Spanish
+ ...
Per hour and only if translated by a professional Mar 6, 2008

I've seen plenty of those pseudo-translations and I agree with Nesrin, it's usually just ignorance. Even if those come from a respectable agency, sometimes the translation is sent directly to the proofreader for a quote, without the agency knowing who did the translation. That's why I never charge editing/proofreading projects per word, even for old clients. And like Steven and José Henrique, I only proofread/edit translations done by a PROFESSIONAL translator; I've seen translations done by bilingual people who are worse translators than MT.

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casey
United States
Local time: 07:17
Member
Japanese to English
I've quit proofreading for that reason Mar 6, 2008

There are so many agencies in Japan doing that. Not machine translations but translations by non-native speakers. They are awful, and more often than not they have to be re-translated. The agencies pay peanuts to have the documents translated, then they get a native speaker to "proofread" them. The quality varies, of course, when it's done by humans, but more often than not it's not worth the hassle.

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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:17
Member
French to English
+ ...
Always charge by the hour Mar 6, 2008

Like Claudia, I too find that charging by the hour is the only fair way to tackle proofing or editing (of which I do a lot) and all of my customers happily accept this. When you charge by the hour, it's in everyone's best interest that the original translation be well done.

That said, I always have a look at the text before accepting and if red flags go up I either refuse the job or warn the customer that the job at hand will take a long time - and once or twice have suggested that the text be retranslated from scratch.

Amy, if your customer is reasonable and you really feel that you got ripped off on your work today, you might try to bring this up with them. In any case, I would definitely suggest informing them that in the future you will not accept such substandard texts on a rate-per-word basis (unless it's your full translation rate, as others have said).

I don't think that this will become a trend as although some people may fall for such an act the first time, generally reviewers once bitten will be twice shy, as they say...

Best,
Jocelyne

[Edited at 2008-03-06 10:12]


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KathyT  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 21:17
Japanese to English
Ditto that! Mar 6, 2008

casey wrote:
There are so many agencies in Japan doing that. Not machine translations but translations by non-native speakers. They are awful, and more often than not they have to be re-translated. The agencies pay peanuts to have the documents translated, then they get a native speaker to "proofread" them. The quality varies, of course, when it's done by humans, but more often than not it's not worth the hassle.


Shuddering at the memory...
Never going back down that path.
Ever.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A quick calculation Mar 6, 2008

casey wrote:
The agencies pay peanuts to have the documents translated, then they get a native speaker to "proofread" them.


Let's assume that for a certain language pair / specialty / whatever, the average market rate were 10¢/word for translation, and 3¢ for proofreading/editing. Just using round numbers here, the proportion is what matters.

Sample job: 10,000 words, agency charges 20¢/word from the end client, gets $ 2,000.

CASE A:
Translation = $ 0.10 x 10,000 words = $ 1,000
Proofreading = $ 0.03 x 10,000 words = $ 300
Agency's gross gain = $ 700, or 35%

CASE B (cheap translator):
Translation = $ 0.05 x 10,000 words = $ 500
Proofreading = $ 0.03 x 10,000 words = $ 300
Agency's gross gain = $ 1,200, or 60%

CASE C (rock-bottom cheapest translator):
Translation = $ 0.01 x 10,000 words = $ 100
Proofreading = $ 0.03 x 10,000 words = $ 300
Agency's gross gain = $ 1,600, or 80%


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Irene Schlotter, Dipl.-Übers.
Spain
Local time: 13:17
English to German
+ ...
Not a tactic, but a trend Mar 6, 2008

Hello Amy,
I regularly get asked for proofing MT material, and I systematically reply with my quote with per-hour charges.

The dilemma is the following:
a) Sometimes the fact that you will be dealing with a MT is not mentioned. Ok, it only takes one good look (if the MT memories were good) but still...
b) Sometimes the client will openly state that you will be dealing with MT material OR the client will then (if a) suggested MT use) 'admit' at least the possibility that MT might have been used. At the same time the client points out that the MT material used was very good, directly implying that proofing should be quick and easy.
-> c) Provided now that the MT is as good as suggested I see no problem in charging by the hour, and not at the regular rate but rather at a slightly higher one. I do so for several reasons:

1) I know that taking into account all semantic possibilities when establishing virtually mathematical rules that will then be fed to Logos (or any other MT environment) is very difficult, laborious and tricky work which requires time. As time is always of the essence, I simply assume that sometimes this process was not done with the best results possible which implies a lot of manual work afterwards.
As MT is usually applied for highly repetitive texts (e. g. IT) this means lots of changes which usually I cannot make globally (thanks to the German grammar). Small errors or shortcomings in the MT process may have great impact, and I have to take care of it.

2) Secondly, MT translations from English or other languages to German are usually a drama. As the German language requires the verb to be placed at the end of the sentence or to be split in two, grammar is likely to go down the drain - in most of the sentences. This means that I have to reorder the phrasal structures - sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, page by page. This is a very time-consuming process which would not be required if the translation had been done by a professional 'human' translator in the first place.

Very often re-translating is faster than proofing this type of text. This is why I believe that charging by the hour is only fair: if the quality is as good as suggested the price remains reasonable, if not, I will be paid for my effort. If the client does not accept those terms it will be his or her loss, not so much mine because for me proof-reading is not the most exciting thing to do.

As I mentioned before MT seems to become more widespread, but it is only worthwhile when texts are repetitive. But - to finally address your posting - I think that the increasing use of MT is a trend, not only in Japan but in other countries too (at least Taiwan/Hong Kong/mainland China [own experience]).


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:17
German to English
+ ...
Not new Mar 6, 2008

This type of stuff has been going on for well over 10 years. Just say no!

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
You said it all Mar 6, 2008

Irene Schlotter, Dipl.-Übers. wrote:
Very often re-translating is faster than proofing this type of text.


This sums the whole issue in a nutshell.
Nothing else actually needs to be said about it.


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ChrisGT  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:17
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
I guess I'm late... lol Mar 6, 2008

When I see that, I quote them an hourly rate also and I make sure that my hourly rate is as much as what it would cost them if I charged them per word (I average out what I earn per hour in translation). When they see that, they don't do it again... hehehe...

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