Off topic: 2012 China Translation Industry Annual Report
Thread poster: Jean-Marie Le Ray

Jean-Marie Le Ray  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:37
Member
Italian to French
+ ...
Feb 14, 2013

Hello,

I'm sorry, I don't speak Chinese at all, but this is the only forum where to ask my question:



On December 6, 2012, the Translators Association of China (TAC) celebrated its 30th anniversary in Beijing. For the occasion it released the 2012 Report on China’s Language Services Industry, according to TAC Vice President Guo Xiaoyong the first authority industry report released by the Chinese translation industry since the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949. It is intended to serve as a reference for the “scientific planning” of the language services industry in China.

But according to this very official report, the revenue generated by the language services industry in 2011 was $20 billion (125 billion yuan), up 26% from 2010.

In terms of jobs, this translates (no pun intended) to 1.2 million employees active in the language services industry, including 640,000 translators (53.8% of the total).

The forecasts for 2015 expect revenues to more than double, to reach $42 billion (260 billion yuan) for 2 million jobs.



http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/3734/1/What-are-language-services-really-worth-in-today's-global-market?

Now I leave you the place, but my question is: anyone here knows about this report?

During the conference, the first part of a two-volume annual report on China's translation industry was issued to attendees, so it looks very official, but what do you think about these figures? Are they overestimated, "exaggerated" as Renato Beninatto said?

Thank you so much if at the end of your discussion, someone can kindly contact me by mail and tell me what will come out on this matter.

Jean-Marie


 

Liangdu  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:37
Chinese to English
+ ...
There are three kinds of lies: Feb 14, 2013

"lies, damned lies, and statistics."

 

Lucy Hill  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:37
Member (2007)
Chinese to English
+ ...
Glamming it up Feb 14, 2013

Have no real idea, but out of a population of almost 2 billion, 1.2 million language industry employees may not be totally absurd. It is, however, clearly a very miscellaneous, approximated grouping - possibly including any form of tour guide, ad hoc interpreter, or just employees who sometimes have to translate texts in the course of their duties. Pride and glorified job descriptions/titles are a bit of a common trait in China (in my experience/opinion), though often because Chinese phrases can translate as very wordy and grand if done so literally...

An example: a friend I know running a 2-person IT company (partnership?) with her husband in its second year, signed off her emails as the CFO...

But yes, very interesting point, and as always, extremely hard to verify.

I don't actually find this at odds with any other form of statistical compilation in any country though, it just takes a different shape.

E.g. 87% of women agree (from a poll of 53 women) in the small print at the foot of the screen on a cosmetics advert claiming the product gives a glossier finish. In a past life I have been the "telephone researcher" carrying out similar kinds of anonymous poll, where respondents who have agreed to take part in a survey after sampling the product in return for a free gift or voucher of some kind are bombarded for 15 minutes with a series of similarly nebulous statements, asking whether they completely agree, slightly agree, agree, disagree, slightly disagree or completely disagree... They just want it over and done with so they say any old thing, usually in the "agree" spectrum to cut the questioner short when reeling off the choices for the nth time. And these statistics are used in a serious capacity!!

I leave you to draw your own conclusions...

All the best


 

Jean-Marie Le Ray  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:37
Member
Italian to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Maybe The Truth Lies Somewhere In Between Feb 14, 2013

Since you answer me in English, let me give you my point of view.

I understand very well all the arguments (statistics are lies by nature, the figure of number of translators is clearly a catch-all...), but for me there are still (large) outstanding issues:

1. Only the report (I guess it was written in Chinese and not translated) could give us details on how it was really done, and this is what it would be interesting to know. So is anyone of you has the opportunity to get this report?

2. Also, I’ve done many searches on the Net to try to get some more information, and I found this paper: http://pub1.chinadaily.com.cn/cdpdf/cndy/download.shtml?c=63448


“On average, translators are paid only 60 yuan ($9.6) to 80 yuan per 1,000 Chinese characters, which means the young translators struggle to make a living.”
“Science and technology translation requires one’s high proficiency in science knowledge and language, but people with such skills usually choose other occupations other than translator, because the importance of translation is minimized in China,” said Zhao Wenli, deputy secretary-general of the Science and Technology Translators’ Association of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


So how is it possible to get for 2011 a revenue generated by the language services industry at $20 billion (125 billion yuan), up 26% from 2010, with such a low rates!?

3. The forecasts for 2015 expect revenues to more than double, to reach $42 billion (260 billion yuan), but Common Sense Advisory projects just barely $5 billion more ($47.3 billion) for the entire global market. What’s wrong with this picture?

So it’s clear that some figures are exaggerated, but such differences must be explained otherwise. I rather think that the truth lies somewhere in between.

4. The thing that makes me think most about all this matter is that it is a highly political issue! Have you clicked these links?

http://www.china.org.cn/arts/National_Translation_Conference/2012-12/03/content_27297680.htm
http://en.chinagate.cn/2012-12/06/content_27333037.htm

I can’t believe that this two-volumes report (!) is just for propaganda. There is clearly an element of propaganda, but I see also in this story a turning point in the way the Chinese authorities want to tackle the problem, with a strong political will at the highest level to make things happen. Now than China is quickly becoming the world's first commercial power, I think they understand that languages are at the heart of this expansion ...

So really, is anyone of you has the opportunity to get this report?

Jean-Marie

[Modificato alle 2013-02-14 11:22 GMT]


 

Donglai Lou  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:37
Member (2002)
English to Chinese
+ ...
A few points Feb 14, 2013

1. there are a lot of doubts on this report as it doesn't describe its methodology in details. In China, quite a lot academicians come to figues like these from their own empirical knowledge or even imagination rather than conducting field surveys or investigation.
2. it is said that the report covers not only the translation and localization industry but also all of the other language service industries, such as foreign language education, CAT and MT. this might explain why the figure has been inflated so much.
3. the so-called average prices just reflect part of the low-end market. there are also clients willing to offer rates of up to USD 200 per thousand words or even higher for good quality works. Unfortunately, scarce could be the word to describe the population of professionally qualified translators.
4. The quoted rates in the report have remained unchanged for 15 years, but the average income has sextupled.

I have a scanned copy of this report (Chinese) but haven't had a close look. but I don't think it is for propaganda purpose.



[Edited at 2013-02-14 13:18 GMT]


 

Liu Xiaoyu
China
Local time: 13:37
English to Chinese
+ ...
我赞成东来的话! Feb 14, 2013

东来的英文很典雅。

[Edited at 2013-02-14 14:09 GMT]


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:37
Chinese to English
Surely exaggerated Feb 14, 2013

The amount of translation going on in this country (China) is huge, but the vast majority of it happens in-house: trading companies doing their own translation. I can't believe that the language services industry makes anything like that amount of money.

The institution that this comes from is not an industry association as we know them. Chinese industry associations are political, and are government-supported. They are often the instrument through which the government imposes its industrial policy.

Fairly obviously, this industry association got a nice fat new grant last year, used it to do this survey, and brought back exaggerated figures to bolster its chances of getting more grants next year.

But while surveys like this aren't exactly trustworthy, they're not useless, either. If the Association continues to write their reports, you can see trends emerging from year to year.

The government taking an increased interest in the industry will likely be a mixed blessing. It might mean that more money flows in. But it might also mean a takeover by state-owned firms. That won't be a positive development. Mind you, almost anything would be better than the state of the industry today - it really is a mess at the moment.


 

ysun  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:37
English to Chinese
+ ...
"60 yuan ($9.6) to 80 yuan per 1,000 Chinese characters" Feb 15, 2013

Jean-Marie Le Ray wrote:

2. Also, I’ve done many searches on the Net to try to get some more information, and I found this paper: http://pub1.chinadaily.com.cn/cdpdf/cndy/download.shtml?c=63448


“On average, translators are paid only 60 yuan ($9.6) to 80 yuan per 1,000 Chinese characters, which means the young translators struggle to make a living.”
“Science and technology translation requires one’s high proficiency in science knowledge and language, but people with such skills usually choose other occupations other than translator, because the importance of translation is minimized in China,” said Zhao Wenli, deputy secretary-general of the Science and Technology Translators’ Association of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


So how is it possible to get for 2011 a revenue generated by the language services industry at $20 billion (125 billion yuan), up 26% from 2010, with such a low rates!?

A lot of translators in China have been complaining about the low rates. There might be a few clients in China, who are "willing to offer rates of up to USD 200 per thousand words or even higher", but to most of the translators in China, the story would sound like “One Thousand and One Nights”.


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:37
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Throw it into your gabbage can Feb 16, 2013

Totally a piece of junk.

 

ysun  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:37
English to Chinese
+ ...
最高人民法院法官廉价做贡献 Feb 16, 2013

Even a Chinese Supreme Court judge has been translating at 60 to 80 yuan per 1,000 Chinese characters.

http://www.legaldaily.com.cn/zmbm/content/2011-08/23/content_2895982.htm?node=20351
何帆:翻译1000个字,远比写1000个字要难。按照国内目前的稿酬和译酬标准,1000个字的原创最多可能实现千字千元,但翻译的报酬一直维持在1000字60元至80元,至少从经济角度,对译者肯定是没有任何诱惑力的。

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/何帆


 

J.H. Wang
China
Local time: 13:37
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
总的来说,中国对于翻译尚未形成正确的认识 Feb 17, 2013

ysun wrote:

Even a Chinese Supreme Court judge has been translating at 60 to 80 yuan per 1,000 Chinese characters.

http://www.legaldaily.com.cn/zmbm/content/2011-08/23/content_2895982.htm?node=20351
何帆:翻译1000个字,远比写1000个字要难。按照国内目前的稿酬和译酬标准,1000个字的原创最多可能实现千字千元,但翻译的报酬一直维持在1000字60元至80元,至少从经济角度,对译者肯定是没有任何诱惑力的。

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/何帆



搞翻译的人应该算是高端人才了,不过,接受的却是农民工的待遇。这里并没有歧视农民工的意思。

个人以为,就现在的状况而言,翻译搞不好,中国要振兴文化是有难度的。

[Edited at 2013-02-17 05:18 GMT]


 

ysun  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:37
English to Chinese
+ ...
正视现实 Feb 17, 2013

J.H. Wang wrote:

搞翻译的人应该算是高端人才了,不过,接受的却是农民工的待遇。这里并没有歧视农民工的意思。

个人以为,就现在的状况而言,翻译搞不好,中国要振兴文化是有难度的。

[Edited at 2013-02-17 05:18 GMT]

中国翻译行业的现实就是如此。有的人总是企图掩盖这种现实。如果不敢正视现实,如何才能解决问题?
有关部门应该修改现行的稿酬和译酬标准,少开那种不解决任何问题的神仙会,少发那种不切实际的报告。


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:37
Chinese to English
Things are getting better Feb 18, 2013

ysun wrote:

Even a Chinese Supreme Court judge has been translating at 60 to 80 yuan per 1,000 Chinese characters.


This sort of thing is very common. But in the big translation markets of Beijing and Shanghai there is improvement. I took a job from a Shanghai government authority last year, and my rates are fairly high. In Beijing, from what I can tell, RMB 500 per 1000 characters is the standard rate these days for high-quality C-E translation (500 to the translator, don't know what the agencies are taking on top of that).

But where I live, in Xiamen, anything over about 150 has people staring at you as if you're crazy. And Xiamen's not a small city - it's coastal, prosperous... So there's a long way to go.


 

ysun  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:37
English to Chinese
+ ...
It's still low Feb 18, 2013

Phil Hand wrote:

I took a job from a Shanghai government authority last year, and my rates are fairly high. In Beijing, from what I can tell, RMB 500 per 1000 characters is the standard rate these days for high-quality C-E translation (500 to the translator, don't know what the agencies are taking on top of that).

I would never accept such a low rate!


 

Shiya Luo  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:37
English to Chinese
+ ...
I'm willing to pay... but Feb 18, 2013

ysun wrote:
A lot of translators in China have been complaining about the low rates. There might be a few clients in China, who are "willing to offer rates of up to USD 200 per thousand words or even higher", but to most of the translators in China, the story would sound like “One Thousand and One Nights”.

I get emails from Chinese agencies offering $0.06/source word every week, I wonder how much they're paying their translators.


 


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