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Toxic Translation: A Twelve-Step Program for Self-Injuring Translators
Thread poster: Susan Welsh

Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:51
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Apr 24, 2010

Terrific article:
http://provenwrite.wordpress.com/about/twelve-step-program-for-self-injuring-translators/

For a sample: "3. Prepare to receive a truth of the universe in nine words: Translation rates are dropping because translators accept low rates."

PS - In case international readers don't know,the 12-step program is the Alcoholics Anonymous program for recovering alcoholics and other addicts.

[Edited at 2010-04-24 16:12 GMT]


 

oxygen4u
Portugal
Local time: 00:51
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Thanks a lot! Apr 24, 2010

Thank you so much Susan! It's a great article.icon_smile.gif

 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 02:51
Turkish to English
+ ...
Not how markets work Apr 24, 2010

Susan Welsh wrote:

Terrific article:
http://provenwrite.wordpress.com/about/twelve-step-program-for-self-injuring-translators/

For a sample: "3. Prepare to receive a truth of the universe in nine words: Translation rates are dropping because translators accept low rates."


Unfortunately that quote reveals a profound misunderstanding of the way markets work.


 

lexical  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:51
Portuguese to English
Agree with Tim... Apr 24, 2010

...and more. The blog not only reveals "a profound misunderstanding of the way markets work" but also of the translation market as a whole. The writer appears to be a sad and bitter person, which is evident from the frequent use of extreme language. There's no lesson to be learned from that blog in my view.

 

Cetacea  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 01:51
English to German
+ ...
Thank you, Susan! Apr 24, 2010

Great article. Very well written (what "extreme language", I wonder...), and unfortunately very true. Of course, it might hurt to admit that...

 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:51
French to German
+ ...
With Susan and Cetacea Apr 24, 2010

Cetacea wrote:

Great article. Very well written (what "extreme language", I wonder...), and unfortunately very true. Of course, it might hurt to admit that...


And it hurts too to fight for getting rates lower than e. g. the psychological threshold of 0.10 EUR when some agents pay 0.15 to 0.20 EUR without discussing. Of course, these are rather rare cases - but the agencies in question have been on the market for decades.

[Edited at 2010-04-24 18:54 GMT]


 

lexical  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:51
Portuguese to English
You don't recognise the extreme language? Apr 24, 2010

Let me give you a few examples:

"Low-payers are the abyssopelagic feeders of the sea of translation. Do not hesitate to send them back to filter the ooze whence they came."

"If you are truly living on Kibbles ‘n Bits, cannot pay the rent, or are slipping your child thinly diluted Elmer’s glue because it’s cheaper than milk, you have an excellent excuse to accept offensive working conditions and insulting wages." [I find this comment about feeding diluted glue to one's children extremely offensive and unnecessary].

"Don’t use the real misery of others to disguise the fact that you couldn’t locate your self-respect with a Sherpa guide and GPS."

I won't go on because I think this person is probably sick and needs help. I believe it is actually possible - however strongly one feels - to have an intelligent discussion about the state of the translation market without resorting to these emotional, almost childish - and without doubt, extreme - arguments.

[Edited at 2010-04-24 19:14 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:51
French to German
+ ...
OT: How different interpretations can be... Apr 24, 2010

AFAIAC, the extreme (let's put it that way) language used in this post is clearly to be understood as black humor - nothing more, nothing less. And the author gives the tone of their post quite from the beginning.

As an example (point 2):

Make a searching and fearless inventory of the times you have found yourself saying “I might as well take this job for $0.0000000006 per word; if I don’t, someone else will!” or “A client who pays regularly at 8,275 days is still better than one who doesn’t pay at all!” or “Agencies are a business like any other; it’s only natural that they try to make as much money as possible.”

(my emphasis)...


 

lexical  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:51
Portuguese to English
Black humour or not... Apr 24, 2010

...I hope most decent people would not think that sneering at other families who earn less than they do and implying that they feed their children on dog biscuits and glue is amusing. I thought this kind of careless, hurtful snobbishness had been exploded in the 1960s.

It isn't clever, and it isn't witty.

Personally, I don't think the fact that the author is (perhaps) having difficulty obtaining regular work as a translator is any excuse for this kind of personal invective. I'm sorry, but I find it sick.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 00:51
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Thanks, Susan! Apr 24, 2010

Great article...

 

Brian Young  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:51
Danish to English
A good article, with enough black humor to dull the pain Apr 24, 2010

I certainly did not find anything offensive in that article. And I agree, just say NO to slave wages.
But this practice happens in many areas. I have seen it happen in the so called "Arts & Crafts" field. It used to be possible for very capable artisans to make top quality products, and sell them for a good price. Now that market is flooded by thousands of retired people who have decided to make some "craft", and sell it in their spare time, competing with real artisans who are trying to make a living at it.
And so it is with translation. It is obvious that there are many people who are doing what I would call "translation by proxy", taking on a job that they are not qualified to do, and then soliciting answers, sometimes by the dozens, on Proz. And the answers accepted are often wrong. It is painfully obvious, from the questions posted, that many who call themselves translators, have only a basic knowledge of their source language.

And as far as "Markets" go: The idea of "markets" is a fairytale that was concocted to explain to the working class why they should be willing to drop their drawers, grab their ankles, and take whatever comes. If the so called "marketplace" ever worked, it might (might?) have been in remote country villages, in open markets in the square, amongst people who were pretty much equals. The so called market place in the modern world is a total fabrication, a myth to accompany feudalism's bastard child, the one we call capitalism.


 

Claudio LR
Local time: 01:51
Member (2007)
English to Italian
+ ...
Yes, just a sad and bitter person... Apr 24, 2010

As Tim Drayton and lexical said, this person is just having a hard time finding decent clients and rates...
The problem is definitely not the fact that translators accept low rates, as some people keep on saying on this website, but the fact that, as a comment to the article pointed out, many end clients cannot assess the quality of the translations they receive (or sometimes simply do not take the time and resources needed).
Fortunately there still are clients able and willing to check quality and excellent translators earning a very good living...


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:51
French to German
+ ...
The point is... Apr 25, 2010

that in today's world, partially shaped by corporatese, NLP-like methods and PC talk, one cannot basically say/write anything without taking the risk of "offending" in some way one reader out of 10. And then, there is the context in which this weblog post was written (I am making a reference to the other posts of the blog).

@ Claudio LR: it seems that the ASTTI at least sees accepting low rates as a problem, else it would not have issued its minimum rates and tariffs recommendation.

[Edited at 2010-04-25 05:40 GMT]


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 02:51
Turkish to English
+ ...
Supply and demand Apr 25, 2010

Claudio LR wrote:

As Tim Drayton and lexical said, this person is just having a hard time finding decent clients and rates...
The problem is definitely not the fact that translators accept low rates, as some people keep on saying on this website, but the fact that, as a comment to the article pointed out, many end clients cannot assess the quality of the translations they receive (or sometimes simply do not take the time and resources needed).
Fortunately there still are clients able and willing to check quality and excellent translators earning a very good living...


That was not really my point. I am also having a hard time finding decent clients and rates. However, in a market in which demand for translation exceeded the supply of a translators, if one particular translator lowered their rates, they would soon be inundated with work and there would still be plenty left for the others. I think that the situation has mainly to do with the balance between supply and demand in the market than individual translators 'letting the side down'.


 

Claudio LR
Local time: 01:51
Member (2007)
English to Italian
+ ...
We all agree on the problem but not on its main cause... Apr 25, 2010

Tim Drayton wrote:

Claudio LR wrote:

As Tim Drayton and lexical said, this person is just having a hard time finding decent clients and rates...
The problem is definitely not the fact that translators accept low rates, as some people keep on saying on this website, but the fact that, as a comment to the article pointed out, many end clients cannot assess the quality of the translations they receive (or sometimes simply do not take the time and resources needed).
Fortunately there still are clients able and willing to check quality and excellent translators earning a very good living...


That was not really my point. I am also having a hard time finding decent clients and rates. However, in a market in which demand for translation exceeded the supply of a translators, if one particular translator lowered their rates, they would soon be inundated with work and there would still be plenty left for the others. I think that the situation has mainly to do with the balance between supply and demand in the market than individual translators 'letting the side down'.



Hi Tim, I think it's not as simple as that. There are clients and specialised agencies looking for highly specialised translators and having a hard time finding any. And they are ready to pay rates which for example exceed by a wide margin the average proz.com rates (as you can find in the statistics of the website). Yet they are flooded with applications from people with weak or no specialisation (and who sometimes believe they are experts...). So believe me, even if the market is opaque (because many translation are not checked by the end clients), demand for highly specialised translators still exceeds the supply. And it would be even more so, and prices would go even higher if more clients and agencies were able to check the quality of specialised translators.

@Laurent: ASTTI are merely indicative or "suggested" (there is no minimum rate). Having said this, everybody recognise that there is tension on rates. What everyone does not agree on is the reason. Some believe the main reason is translators accepting low rates, others (like me) believe a good deal of the problem is shortage of highly specialised translators on the one hand and clients not being able or sometimes not taking the time to check the quality of their translators (which creates the so called "adverse selection", you cannot check the quality or you have a hard time finding highly specialised translators, so you take the least expensive, at least you'll spend less..., and then the best translators avoid you and you end up working with the worst...)

[Modificato alle 2010-04-25 13:58 GMT]


 
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Toxic Translation: A Twelve-Step Program for Self-Injuring Translators

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