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Lower rates for translating into English?
Thread poster: markj
markj
German to English
+ ...
Mar 22, 2006

I was recently told by an agency PM that translators translating into English, i.e. native English speakers, are generally paid lower rates than those translating out of English, due to the fact that there is apparently an abundance of them. Can anyone confirm this? I would have thought the opposite would be true if anything.

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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:03
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Not my experience! Mar 22, 2006

But I find that blanket statements of this nature are generally the signal of the customer trying to pull a fast one (isn't that a blanket statement, too?).
I work out of Italian and I know I earn more than my long-suffering Italian native-speaker colleagues because there is a huge supply of them and far lower supply of RELIABLE Italian to English translators.
This may not be the case for other combinations, but let's see what the others say.
Angela

markj wrote:

I was recently told by an agency PM that translators translating into English, i.e. native English speakers, are generally paid lower rates than those translating out of English, due to the fact that there is apparently an abundance of them. Can anyone confirm this? I would have thought the opposite would be true if anything.


[Edited at 2006-03-22 18:07]


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Sarah McGrane Gonzalez
Local time: 12:03
Spanish to English
Don't believe it Mar 22, 2006

I agree with Angela on this one. I have a lot of Spanish colleagues working as translators and they find it much harder to get a steady stream of work at reasonable prices than I do simply due to the fact that there is not the same quantity of work and more competition for the work that exists.

Furthermore, in Europe students tend to learn English from a very young age whereas in the UK in Ireland most start at secondary level resulting in a higher number of potential linguists at a higher level.

In conclusion on a personal note I would not be very pleased if a colleague of mine was earning more for English to Spanish than Spanish to English just because I have the "misfortune" of being an English native speaker.

Differences in rates do reflect the supply and demand in the market but English speakers are definitely not at a disadvantage and nor should they be!!

Stick to your guns!

Sarah


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Jennifer Baker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:03
Member (2004)
Italian to English
Agree with Angela Mar 22, 2006

I definitely agree with Angela's comments. There's a real glut of English>Italian translators here in Italy, which makes for lower rates. Maybe it depends if you are working with outsourcers from a country speaking the source language, as opposed to the target language...

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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:03
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not true! Mar 22, 2006

Hi Mark,

I translate into English and I have been busier than ever. My language combinations are: Dutch-English and Spanish to English.

I get so much work Dutch-English that I have to cut down on taking Spanish - English.

Have a great day!
Lucinda


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:03
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Oh yes it is! Mar 22, 2006

Well, it is here, anyway.
In my experience, agencies in the U.K. pay higher rates for translation English to Russian than Russian for English. And this applies to other languages too. I have in front of me a list of rates paid by a certain agency, which pays anything from 7 to 20% more for translations out of English than translations into. And this is the general practice here.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:03
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
It all depends where you live Mar 22, 2006

My opinion - and experience - on the matter is that native English speakers are not valued too highly in the UK. Well, it sounds as if that stands to reason. However, there are not all that many people in the UK who are good at their own language. The level of English I saw among 17-year-olds whom I was teaching, with a view to their passing the Scottish Higher Grade (university entrance exam in English) , was, on the whole, rather lower than I would originally have expected.

However, as soon as you go and live in another country, as a native speaker of English, you are highly valued.

In Germany at least, it is the case that many Germans have grown up with English, as a kind of second language, but their English never sounds perfect at the higher levels, i.e. the level required for translation. Therefore they value native speakers of English greatly. Accordingly, the rate of pay is good, as well.

Astrid


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:03
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Uhm - interesting Mar 22, 2006

But with most of us working by email, what difference does it make?
I have zilch English customers, but it's not to do with rates - it's to do with the fact that they prefer to use UK residents, believing that those of us who live abroad lose our grip on the English language....
Angela


Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:


However, as soon as you go and live in another country, as a native speaker of English, you are highly valued.
Astrid


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:03
German to English
Another silly myth Mar 22, 2006

Angela Arnone wrote:it's to do with the fact that they prefer to use UK residents, believing that those of us who live abroad lose our grip on the English language....
Angela


I really don't know how this myth can be sustained any longer, as it certainly flies in the face of the evidence. For German->English finance, for example, there are more top-flight translators living in non-English speaking countries than in English-speaking countries. I suppose it's the sort of thing that ignorant project managers like to assert, and that gullible customers fall for.

Back to the original question:

My experience is that English native-speakers living in the country of the *source* text language can generally obtain better prices than

a) non-native English speaking translators in that country who are translating *from* English; and
b) English native-speakers living in e.g. the UK, Ireland or the US.

That's based on experience with German, though, a different rules may apply in Italy - they normally do.....

Robin


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:03
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Couldn't agree more Mar 22, 2006

AFA rates are concerned ... well Italy is a case apart (as you rightly surmise, Robin) ... we IT- EN natives earn peanuts compared to colleagues in other English-speaking countries, by all accounts, although I have noticed that US rates appear to have aligned (downward, naturally) with Italy.
Naturally, most It-En work is generated in Italy and that means customers want to pay Italian rates. It goes without saying that En-It translations work the other way!
Angela



RobinB wrote:
I suppose it's the sort of thing that ignorant project managers like to assert, and that gullible customers fall for.

Back to the original question:

My experience is that English native-speakers living in the country of the *source* text language can generally obtain better prices than

a) non-native English speaking translators in that country who are translating *from* English; and
b) English native-speakers living in e.g. the UK, Ireland or the US.

That's based on experience with German, though, a different rules may apply in Italy - they normally do.....

Robin


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:03
Italian to English
Are you sure about where work is generated? Mar 22, 2006



Angela Arnone wrote:

Naturally, most It-En work is generated in Italy and that means customers want to pay Italian rates.



Hi Angela,

Since we in Italy have had to start compiling "studi di settore" (statistical returns) for the local tax authorities every year, I can't help noticing that the proportion of my income earned abroad has been rising steadily. I take this to be a sign that globalisation is working, at least for me, particularly since the new customers are generally higher-end.

Nor can I really agree with you about there being such a thing as "Italian" rates (as opposed to "Italian expectations"). There are low rates and there are high rates. I have Italian customers who pay me more generously than some of my customers in the USA or UK, for example, for reasons that have everything to do with the nature of the texts involved and nothing at all to do with where they are resident.

FWIW

Giles



[Edited at 2006-03-22 21:26]

[Edited at 2006-03-22 21:26]


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:03
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
I think we've touched on this before, Giles Mar 22, 2006

And I'm afraid I'm not able to say the same as you (I wish I could) - either about where my work comes from or the rates on offer.

My income from abroad has risen but it is certainly way below 10% of my earnings, so in that respect there has been progress, but not enough to jump with joy about.

Following your generous and welcome advice in the past, I have tried to up rates for Italian customers, but success is limited - the low payers have gone and are being replaced with slightly higher payers, but still lagging behind what you have suggested to me privately as being decent minimum rates.

Nevertheless, I get resounding silence to any approach I make to agencies abroad, except for people wanting to pay what Giles aptly calls "Italian expectations". I have 3-4 high payers abroad but they generate very few jobs (although they always come back so I suppose them to be satisfied with my work). So globalisation is around, but like the mills of God, turns exceeding slow.

But as Giles says, the type of expertise offered has a great deal of influence. I suspect that not being a financial/legal/wine/medical sector specialist has a huge impact on my earning capacity across the map.

At best, the customer will confirm one job and I never hear from them again (of course this could be because my work is rubbish...) or they laugh in my face and don't even confirm the one job.

This is also the experience of many of our It-En counterparts - at least the people I am in contact with.
So, I can only speak from my experience and that of the people I'm in regular contact with.

I'm sorry if I made a blanket statement about what is my own perception and experience, and thanks to Giles for his input - I'm pleased that someone out there has a more positive market situation than my own. It means there's hope for me too.

BTW, I would be curious to know where Italian source text is being generated outside of Italy and in what sectors - but perhaps that would be getting off topic.
Angela





Giles Watson wrote:

Hi Angela,

Since we in Italy have had to start compiling "studi di settore" (statistical returns) for the local tax authorities every year, I can't help noticing that the proportion of my income earned abroad has been rising steadily. I take this to be a sign that globalisation is working, at least for me, particularly since the new customers are generally higher-end.

Nor can I really agree with you about there being such a thing as "Italian" rates (as opposed to "Italian expectations"). There are low rates and there are high rates. I have Italian customers who pay me more generously than some of my customers in the USA or UK, for example, for reasons that have everything to do with the nature of the texts involved and nothing at all to do with where they are resident.

FWIW

Giles



[Edited at 2006-03-22 21:26]

[Edited at 2006-03-22 21:26]


[Edited at 2006-03-22 22:05]


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:03
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
but not from English into Italian Mar 22, 2006

Jack Doughty wrote:

Well, it is here, anyway.
In my experience, agencies in the U.K. pay higher rates for translation English to Russian than Russian for English. And this applies to other languages too. I have in front of me a list of rates paid by a certain agency, which pays anything from 7 to 20% more for translations out of English than translations into. And this is the general practice here.


trust me Jack



Angio


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:03
Italian to English
Italian source text Mar 23, 2006

Angela Arnone wrote:

I'm sorry if I made a blanket statement about what is my own perception and experience, and thanks to Giles for his input - I'm pleased that someone out there has a more positive market situation than my own. It means there's hope for me too.

BTW, I would be curious to know where Italian source text is being generated outside of Italy and in what sectors - but perhaps that would be getting off topic.
Angela



Hi Angela,

No problem.

In most cases, the source text is commissioned from writers resident in Italy by principals - often publishers - based abroad. The sectors in my case are usually wine, art, history or journalism. Currently, I'm engaged on projects of this nature for customers in the US and Holland.

FWIW

Giles


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:03
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Market forces, market schmorces Mar 23, 2006

markj wrote:
I was recently told by an agency PM that translators translating into English, i.e. native English speakers, are generally paid lower rates than those translating out of English, due to the fact that there is apparently an abundance of them.


As with all things, market forces dictate the price. If that agency wants to pay less for one language combination because they believe it to be "more common", then they can if they want to. You can decide not to work for them, if you want to.


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