Rates for poetry translation
Thread poster: Carol Gullidge

Carol Gullidge  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:01
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Nov 5, 2009

Hi,

Does anybody know what is a reasonable rate to charge for translating poetry (Spanish-English)?

I have been asked to translate just under 60 lines of poetry. It's fairly straightforward, and the lines are generally quite short, but it does need to rhyme - which of course adds considerably to the complexity of the task.

I'd like to take on this project, but I have no idea how to go about providing a quote. I understand from previous forums that poetry is usually charged by the line, but can find nowhere that actually specifies a rate. Maybe I missed something?

Thanks in advance,

Carol


 

The Misha
Local time: 17:01
Russian to English
+ ...
What makes you think you can translate poetry? Nov 6, 2009

Do you write it yourself? I don't think anyone translates poetry as a source of income. It's a labor of love, mostly. I should know, I've done it myself. Never got paid though.

 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Time Nov 6, 2009

I think any project like that would deserve a time rate, it takes a lot of thought, a lot of going back and looking at it again and making changes. I do not think we can use word volume criteria on poetry, it can be very challenging and of course the challenges can vary quite a bit.

If I were you I would explain things like that, give your time rate but do not allow your arm to be twisted to give an up-front quote. You could try to estimate a "range" with sufficient latitude.


 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:01
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, time rate Nov 6, 2009

I did quite a lot of this last year (song lyrics, to be more precise). They had to scan and rhyme. I have written poems myself. I found they varied very considerably in difficulty.
I think a time basis is the only sensible way.


 

Carol Gullidge  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:01
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What makes you think you can write poetry? Nov 6, 2009

The Misha wrote:

Do you write it yourself? I don't think anyone translates poetry as a source of income. It's a labor of love, mostly. I should know, I've done it myself. Never got paid though.


Indeed, it sounds very presumptuous! However, I have written some poetry - including one poem that won a cash prize. But, on this occasion, the client contacted me through my ProZ profile. Presumably she liked what she saw in my Portfolio, and I'm not going to argue with that, however terrifying the prospect of actually translating poetry may be. I for one am never totally satisfied even with an ordinary literary (or otherwise) translation, let alone poetry. So please don't think that I'm undertaking this task lightly! Or that I have ideas above my station! I'm all too aware at least some of the difficulties that this challenge is fraught with, having studied and practised it during my MA studies.

Having said all that, this was a job proposition, and I'd prefer not to see it as a "labour of love" from the start - even if that should eventually prove to be the case.

[Edited at 2009-11-06 09:13 GMT]


 

urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:01
German to English
+ ...
search previous threads Nov 6, 2009

See reference in earlier discussion:
http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/145709-charges_for_translating_poetry.html


 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:01
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Labor of love – could you explain? Nov 6, 2009

The Misha wrote:

Do you write it yourself? I don't think anyone translates poetry as a source of income. It's a labor of love, mostly. I should know, I've done it myself. Never got paid though.


Hi The Misha,

Could you expand on that, please? What exactly do you mean by "I don't think anyone translates poetry as a source of income"? Do you mean "I don't think anyone translates poetry and derives an income from it"? Or do you mean "I don't think anyone translates poetry with the primary motivation of deriving an income from it"? Or do you mean something else?

Should translating poetry be considered fundamentally different from writing poetry? Why?
Should translating (and writing) poetry be considered fundamentally different from translating (and writing) other forms of literature? Why?

The Misha wrote:
It's a labor of love, mostly. I should know, I've done it myself. Never got paid though.

Carol was asking for hints on pricing (and possibly other best practices in this area). Would you describe your experience as the best practice? Or rather as a compromise? Or do you consider promoting translated poetry/literature a mission that requires sacrifices from the translator – sacrifices that would not leave room for working professionally full time (and being paid professionally) as a translator of poetry alone?

From "labor of love" immediately the word "amateur" springs to my mind (which stems from the French word "aimer = to love"). answers.com defines amateur in several ways; the first one being "A person who engages in an art, science, study, or athletic activity as a pastime rather than as a profession". Do you think that this approach is necessary for translating poetry? Please note that the amateur/professional distinction has strictly nothing to do with the quality of the work per se – I am just focusing on the "Money matters" part (as that is what Carol asked about).

Kind regards,
Attila


[Edited at 2009-11-06 09:57 GMT]


 

The Misha
Local time: 17:01
Russian to English
+ ...
What I meant is there are easier - and more lucrative ways Nov 6, 2009

to make a buck. Hardly anyone, IMHO, sets out to translate poetry, or write it for that matter, with a firm intent of making a living out of it. I'll be happy to reconsider if someone proves me wrong.

 

solange trad
Portuguese
+ ...
Suggested rates in the UK Nov 6, 2009

In the UK, The Translators Association, which is part of The Society of Authors, suggests minimum rates for translation, including poetry. You can see these and learn more about The Society, here:

http://www.societyofauthors.org/information-and-news/rates-and-guidelines

Best wishes,

Solange


 

Carol Gullidge  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:01
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
UK poetry translation rates Nov 6, 2009

solange trad wrote:

In the UK, The Translators Association, which is part of The Society of Authors, suggests minimum rates for translation, including poetry. You can see these and learn more about The Society, here:

http://www.societyofauthors.org/information-and-news/rates-and-guidelines

Best wishes,

Solange



Thanks so much Solange (and also the person who sent me the same link privately). This is exactly the sort of information I was looking for, and, for some reason, had found it so hard to find.

Best wishes,

Carol


 

Carol Gullidge  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:01
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
what makes you think you can translate poetry Nov 6, 2009

The Misha wrote:

Do you write it yourself? I don't think anyone translates poetry as a source of income. It's a labor of love, mostly. I should know, I've done it myself. Never got paid though.


I'm intrigued to know why you never got paid for your poetry translation. Any particular reason that I need to be aware of?

Many thanks,

Carol


 

Carol Gullidge  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:01
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
search previous threads Nov 6, 2009



Many thanks urbom, for this link. I'm sorry I omitted you when thanking the other 2 - quite accidental I assure you. You have to forgive me, as this is the 1st time I've posted a thread, and haven't quite got the hang of it yet. For instance, I not only failed miserably to find the previous thread, but am also incapable of posting this as a "direct link" for some reason.

Anyway, between you, I have the information I was looking for.

Cheers,

Carol

[Edited at 2009-11-06 22:12 GMT]


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:01
English to German
+ ...
Song lyrics Nov 7, 2009

I once translated lyrics for a US rap singer for her concerts in Germany. The job came from an agency - I charged 150% of my regular rate.

 


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