Flat Rate for Back Translation
Thread poster: Dr. Bettina Meissner

Dr. Bettina Meissner
Germany
Local time: 15:22
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
May 12, 2011

Hi,

I've started working with a new company based in the US and was offered a back translation for the first time. For some stupid reason I didn't convert the currency to see what I was really paid (little bit tired that day), and now I think it was a very bad offer, unless it has something to do with this "back translation" - is this supposed to be more simple to do and therefore paid worse?

To speak in numbers: 170 repeat, 570 gold, 1720 fuzzy and 2969 new words, all for 215 USD.
Languages: GER - ENG, Subject: Medical

I think that's a VERY flat rate!

Any comments (except that I've been stupid enough to accept this job?


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Sonia Hill
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:22
Italian to English
Seems very low May 12, 2011

I've always been paid my standard rate for back translation. It has to be more literal than a normal translation, but it's also important to be very precise so I can't see any reason for paying at a lower rate.

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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 15:22
English to Russian
+ ...
Nothing to do with backtranslation May 12, 2011

Backtranslation has its own specifics, but it isn't supposed to be any cheaper than regular translation. However, I think I know the company you are talking about... a very big one, with a computerized invoice upload system, recently banned from posting jobs on ProZ. If this is the one, they've recently embarked on a serious cost-cutting campaign, and are trying to pay as little as they can get away with. As a result, they are mostly using inexperienced translators (non-native ones, too!), and the translations they send me for proofreading/editing have lately become so poor that I had to raise my proofreading rate by 50% to offset the increase in actual time spent fixing them.
Just say no and insist on rates commensurate with your skill.


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philgoddard
United States
German to English
+ ...
Agree with Sonia May 12, 2011

It's low, and you shouldn't be charging any less for back translation. But these things happen. I wish I had a dollar for every time I put down the phone and said to myself: Why on EARTH did I say yes to that job?

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Dr. Bettina Meissner
Germany
Local time: 15:22
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You're right Anton... May 12, 2011

It is this company! I wasn't aware of that background and I'm not yet very experienced with companies.....there system seems to work.

'll have to make sure for the future that I don't go below a reasonable tariff (and that I get more sleep!)


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:22
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Bettina May 12, 2011

Bettina Meissner wrote:
To speak in numbers: 170 repeat, 570 gold, 1720 fuzzy and 2969 new words, all for 215 USD. ... I think that's a VERY flat rate!


1. The phrase "flat rate" does not refer to how low the rate is. A flat rate is a rate that is not calculated, and is usually a round figure.

2. Gold and fuzzy is not relevant to a back-translation because one has to stick closely to what the original translator did, regardless of the fuzziness of the match. This means that your actual word count is 5429. So you're getting paid USD 0.04 per word.

3. Even if the client had paid in EUR, do you think EUR 0.04 per word is an acceptable rate?


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:22
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
To give you some idea May 12, 2011

My lowest possible charge for this project (to an agency) would be $651.48 and $1085.80 for a private company, but it may be more depending on the difficulty. The only "fuzzies" I recognize are the ones that cling to my socks.

[Edited at 2011-05-12 20:48 GMT]


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Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:22
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
What Sonia said May 13, 2011

Sonia Atkinson wrote:

I've always been paid my standard rate for back translation. It has to be more literal than a normal translation, but it's also important to be very precise so I can't see any reason for paying at a lower rate.


The agencies I'm working with offer the same rates for back translations as for any other.
Like Jeff I'd have charged more than twice that. Sounds like one of those "Hey we're always looking for translators to sign up to our low-cost websites." The doctor says - stay away from such riff raff.


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Mustafa Mahmoud  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 16:22
Member (2014)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Back translation rate Jul 31, 2015

Hello folks,
Now is that time to wake up this thread after 4 years of digital hibernation

I have a client who asked me to translate a 200-word text. But they also asked for back translation.

Should I charge more for the back translation, and how much to charge relevant to my translation rate

Thanks!
Mustafa


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:22
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Change the same as for forward translation Aug 1, 2015

Mustafa Mahmoud wrote:
I have a client who asked me to translate a 200-word text. But they also asked for back translation. ... Should I charge more for the back translation, and how much to charge relevant to my translation rate?


Since you don't know how many words there will be in the forward translation (in order to calculate the rate for the back-translation based on the "source" word count), simply calculate the back translation's rate on the original source word count. In other words, if the client wants both forward and back translation of 200 words, charge for 400 words.

Samuel


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 15:22
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Different translators should do the straight translation and the back translation Aug 1, 2015

Mustafa Mahmoud wrote:
...
I have a client who asked me to translate a 200-word text. But they also asked for back translation.

Should I charge more for the back translation, and how much to charge relevant to my translation rate

Thanks!
Mustafa


I am not sure I have misunderstood, but the translator who did the first translation should NOT do the back translation. It is important that the 'back translator' has not seen the original source text. Then the result of the back translation can be compared with it, to see whether there are any significant differences, and if so, where they arose. This does not work if the same translator does both translations.

As far as payment goes, I am always paid normal to high rates for back translation. The clients I do it for take it very seriously, and pay at the higher end of the scale.

One job was even cancelled because the client had sent me the original source text by accident! Even though I had not actually opened the file, she found another translator on that occasion, because we could not prove that her error made no difference.


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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:22
Member (2009)
English to Russian
+ ...
You need to know the purpose of this assignment. Aug 2, 2015

Always ask the client about the exact purpose of any back translation. I think most of similar assignments are useless, when a client only orders it to check the quality of the translated text. Back translation only makes sense when you work on a marketing copy and provide several options for a slogan (so that the client could see the difference in wording). As for me, I am happy to provide back translation for my marketing translation, but I always politely refuse to undertake any other types of back translation.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 15:22
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Surveys and medical questionnaires Aug 2, 2015

Most of the back translatons I do are surveys and medical questionnaires, where it s important to distinguish between frequency and severity of symptoms, for instance, or different types and patterns of symptoms.


Here it is important that sometimes intimate subjects are appropriately and correctly described, and that the scales from mild to severe etc. are correctly understood, as they can skew results and invalidate the survey if the translation does not reflect the researchers' intentions.

You can never be 100% sure, but this is one way of looking for errors.


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