Interpreting and rates
Thread poster: Williamson

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:46
Flemish to English
+ ...
Mar 29, 2004

Why is it that when you negotiate about the price of a translation assignment, there is always a bit of pennypinching going on.
When asked for a rate of an interpreting assignment, you can easily mention a price between 400 and 650-750 euros (AIIC-members) per day, per diems not included. No pennypinching or no "you are too expensive" here. I do not want to generalize too much, but experience has learnt that payment for interpreting assignments usually comes faster than for translation assignments.
Are interpreters the true estimated professionals?


[Edited at 2004-03-29 15:42]


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Atenea Acevedo  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:46
English to Spanish
+ ...
Fully agree Mar 29, 2004

Hi, Williamson,

Same experience here. My feeling is that, in my language combinations and in my country:

1. Many people THINK they speak English (second language taught at every school) and thus they THINK they can read it and then THINK anybody can be a translator (no training, no experience, no writing skills... it's just magically there). Many people cannot tell the difference between a bilingual secretary or an English teacher and a professional translator, unless you sit down with them and have a serious conversation.

2. Many people KNOW that speaking a language other than your own native tongue is not a piece of cake, let alone listening to it and conveying its true meaning in your own language. Should this make them realize that they themselves are not as skilled in the second language as they thought to look down on translators? Yes, of course. But somehow the oral abilities are regarded more highly. There's another element to it: most people freak when having to speak in public, so interpreters (especially when doing consecutive or escort) seem braver, more self-confident than most people (and I think we are!).

So yes, interpreting looks more professional to more people. And it's wrong. Now, even if this means there's no bargaining of rates, it doesn't imply that payment comes faster, not in my experience... I've had the same client for translation and interpreting and if the client is one of those you have to remind of the deadline for payment they won't change just because interpreting looks more professional.

Cheers,
Atenea


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italia  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:46
Italian to German
+ ...
you are so right! Mar 29, 2004

Hi! I could not agree more with what you have affirmed. Just the other day I sent my CV to an agency, just to learn that they would be very happy to accept my interpreting rates but unfortunately could not take me into consideration for translations as my rates in tha field were simply too high!
Once again that was pure evidence that people easily are willing to accept even high rates ( by the way my rates are really average and not too high both for interpreting and translation services)
How come this odd situation? I do not have any clue. Maybe anyone else has got an explanation for this phenomena:)))
This is also the reason why I hardly carry out translations for agencies but only for direct customers as they do not question my rates (at least so far:)))
Happy interpreting to all my colleagues!!!

[Edited at 2004-03-29 17:48]


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:46
Spanish to English
scarcity? Mar 30, 2004

I personally don't mind consecutive interpreting but simultaneous interpreting is just too nerve-racking. I also saw some other comments a while back that very few of the students in the translation schools want to specialize in interpreting.
So maybe that is the reason.


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mbc
Spain
Local time: 01:46
Spanish to English
+ ...
Scarcity, I agree Mar 30, 2004

I think Lesley´s right. There is just a smaller supply of interpreters. However, I think that stems from the fact that it´s harder to "fudge" interpreting. Sometimes people take on translation work that they are not qualified for or claim they can translate into their non-native language-- clients certainly end up paying for that but later down the road. If the interpreter makes too many mistakes it´s obvious right away.

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EdithK  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 01:46
Member
Gaelic to German
+ ...
Training and experience Apr 5, 2004

Highly professional conference interpreters have undergone very long and specialised training, have had to earn their credentials before becoming a member of e.g. aiic (only about 2500 members worldwide). If clients require professional simultaneous interpreting, and after having had *interpreters* who could not do the job properly but were cheap, and after having spent large sums on organising conferences but the communication was absolute inadequate (due to the self-proclaimed *interpreters*), they have learned to cherish the value of professionals. Consecutive interpreting is even much more strenuous than simultaneous, if done professionally, so I'm always surprised that people say ... well, consecutive I do but simultaneous .... Consecutive at US depositions is about the most nerve-recking experience possible. Unfortunately, the term *conference interpreter* is not protected, so everyone can call him/herself conference interpreter. Conference interpreting also includes preparation. So if you work for one day say for EU 750,--, if you are unlucky you have to prepare for 2 days in advance and work for 7 hours, if you are lucky, you know the topic, work for 2 hours and go home. So to sum up: Clients are prepared to pay very much more for good interpreters. If anyone wished to write to me on that subject, I'd welcome any comments. If I sound a bit haughty, please forgive me. But I have also lost jobs due to *cheap* interpreters but have got many clients back after the fact as *you get what you pay*. And be asssured, also interpreting clients are sometimes very slow payers.

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:46
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Amen Apr 7, 2004

EdithK wrote:

Consecutive interpreting is even much more strenuous than simultaneous, if done professionally, so I'm always surprised that people say ... well, consecutive I do but simultaneous .... Consecutive at US depositions is about the most nerve-recking experience possible.


You can say that again. Short-term memory is much easier to work with than note-taking and active synthesis.

Prompt payment may also be due to the contracts signed and the prompt payment terms advocated by some professional organizations.


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jsfisher
French to English
Also a market phenomenon Apr 9, 2004

I think there is also a market phenomeon going on here.

Translation, because of the internet, has genuinely become globalized. That gives agencies a enormous and highly fluid labor pool to call on. So, simply by supply and demand, this tends to drive prices down. The truly global supply of labor is enormous.

Interpreters, on the other hand, have to be on location. So people hiring interpreters are drawing from a much smaller labor pool. It's prohibitive to just fly someone in from anywhere in the world, because they happen to have the expertise. This keeps supply down and fees up.

(Something which bears this point out, I think: I spoke with a friend who did translation 15 years ago in San Francisco, from French to English. He earned .08 USD/word. There was no pool of internet based labor to drawn on those days. They needed people in San Francisco who knew French. Now .08 USD/word remains a common rate. But there's been plenty of inflation and increases in wages in the intervening period, at least in the U.S. Wages have just effectively gone way down for translation, I think, because of the globalization of the market.)


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:16
English to Tamil
+ ...
Here in India the situation seems to be the reverse Apr 10, 2004

I am able to command higher prices for translation than for interpreting. For translation I offer to come to the client's place and do the work. For this I charge Rs.600 per hour (1 Euro=Rs.55). Even though this sum seems to be low for people from Europe or the USA, this is a very good rate in India and per day of 8 hours, one earns Rs.4800/ whereas Rs.20,000 is a very good monthly salary around here.
But when it comes to the question of interpreting, people are not ready to pay this amount. They want to haggle and offer Rs.3000 for 8 hours. One outsourcer offered just Rs.600 per day of 8 hours!
This too is due to supply and demand. In Chennai we have Alliance Francaise as well as Goethe Institut and a final year student will just jump at earning some Rs.1000 per day. Where I score is when it comes to the question of interpreting for the visiting engineering experts and here my rates are reluctantly paid. Well, no complaints. I get enough translation jobs and I can afford to pick and choose.
One more reason for the low interpreting rate is because English is being spoken by more and more non-English foreigners and in that case, the local host dispenses with our services. If at all he employs an interpreter it is just to assist the visitor with his English. And he does not want to shell out much money for this purpose.
Regards,
N.Raghavan

[Edited at 2004-04-10 14:51]


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EdithK  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 01:46
Member
Gaelic to German
+ ...
Line of argumentation Apr 12, 2004

[quote]Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
In Chennai we have Alliance Francaise as well as Goethe Institut and a final year student will just jump at earning some Rs.1000 per day. Where I score is when it comes to the question of interpreting for the visiting engineering experts and here my rates are reluctantly paid. Well, no complaints. I get enough translation jobs and I can afford to pick and choose.

So more reason to argue for PROFESSIONAL interpreters.


[Edited at 2004-04-12 12:28]


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