Paying the translator: We should all move to India
Thread poster: Sam Berner

Sam Berner  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 00:38
Member (2003)
English to Arabic
+ ...
May 12, 2004

This is text from the home-page of a translation agency in one of the European countries:

"Our translators are fully qualified and carefully selected – yet most of them live in countries with lower living costs.
The result: you pay less for your translations and you get a better job! "

As someone who has lived in one of those "lower living costs" country, I find this text very discriminatory. I cannot see the logic that allows two people, doing the same job equally well and having the same qualifications, to be paid differently simply because they live in different countries. Even if you are immoral enough to do it as a business, you should not adertise it.. it is called "sweatshops" in my lingo.

Sam Berner

PS. My bery good agent always says "Pay peanuts, you get monkeys to do the job".


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alexandra123
Local time: 16:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
I agree May 12, 2004

Most companies and foreign NGO's working in "developing" countries say they work on a budget and therefore cannot pay the high rates that a translator, for example, in the US would charge. That is one of the reasons they decide to hire "locals" to do the job. Normally "local translators" do charge less as a general rule in order to stay competitive with other "locals". But the international organizations still have a tough time paying the prices they (the translators) ask for and say they are "too expensive". That is what I was told by an NGO here in the country where I live. (I charged them the equivalent of USD 0.02 per translated word) still it was too expensive for them when they had to pay the equivalent $ 294.00. It also took me about half a year to get that money. So basically, in some cases, it is not only cheaper for them...even if it is cheaper they do not pay.

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xxxBrandis
Local time: 16:38
English to German
+ ...
you should consider yourself lucky May 12, 2004

Sam Berner wrote:

This is text from the home-page of a translation agency in one of the European countries:

"Our translators are fully qualified and carefully selected – yet most of them live in countries with lower living costs.
The result: you pay less for your translations and you get a better job! "

As someone who has lived in one of those "lower living costs" country, I find this text very discriminatory. I cannot see the logic that allows two people, doing the same job equally well and having the same qualifications, to be paid differently simply because they live in different countries. Even if you are immoral enough to do it as a business, you should not adertise it.. it is called "sweatshops" in my lingo.

Sam Berner

PS. My bery good agent always says "Pay peanuts, you get monkeys to do the job".
HI!you should consider yourself lucky. A few Autralian outsourcers pay as big as USD0.03 per source word. Hell where is the difference.
Regards,
Brandis


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Sabry Hameed  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 16:38
Member (2004)
English to Arabic
+ ...
I think we better move to USA May 12, 2004

I totally agree, but you should change it to USA ibstead of India. Here is the evidence
http://www.proz.com/job/54683

Sabry


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:38
Dutch to English
+ ...
May 12, 2004



[Edited at 2004-06-13 15:19]


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Ruxi
German to Romanian
+ ...
Let's clear things up May 12, 2004

Expensive does not always mean high quality.There are may cases when you can buy a better object at lower price.
I think international translation agencies should have the same prices for all translators, of course considering some facts like language, field, a.s.o.
It is true that if you want for example a translation in Albanian or Somali you may find lower prices in the very countries (Albania or Somalia)than in US or UK. People in the poor countries have to live and there is a competition there too.
There are prices stated in each country.
The quality may also be higher in the country of language you need for the translation, because there are the native speakers.
Even if they live in poor countries and the prices stated there are lower, it does not mean the quality is not good.
There is also another aspect. Prices are made by the market and everybody has to decide wether : higher prices and less clients, or lower prices and more clients, for the same quality.
A translator can not change the quality of his work according to prices in a period of time.He is the same.
Prices differ according to different aspects.
In times when there is much need of a language peer, prices raise automatically and viceversa and it has nothing to do with quality of the service.
I think you got the point now.The problem is not as simple as you said.
I did not understand the quote you have given from that agency. It's really not clear what they meant and what they wanted to do with it.
It may be like this: the agency has for example two translators for a language peer, say Albanian. One lives in UK where the agency is, the other one lives in Albania. They have different prices, so that the person who needs the translation can choose. He may pay less for a translation made in Albania which may be better (native speaker), or a higher price for the other one.
Still quality is not given by the price, they may be both very good translators.It is only that the one living in Albania has a lower price (according to the prices stated in that country), although the agency should offer for the translator in Albania the same conditions, that is, the same price.
A good agency may say this is the price for Albanian translation and ofering to both translators the same medium price.Everybody will then be happy.


Ruxi


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Pablo Roufogalis
Colombia
Local time: 09:38
English to Spanish
Demand and Supply May 12, 2004

At the end it is a matter of demand and supply.

Yes, I believe that you can get quality translations and pay very little. There are too many talented people living in poor countries where a dollar goes a long way.

But I also believe that there's a huge risk involved, and eventually customers settle for a higher price if the results are certain.

It may take a while and the equilibrium point may be too low for some but that is the way the system works.


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Jan Szelepcsenyi, PhD  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 16:38
German to Slovak
+ ...
Life and scissors... May 12, 2004

To have a complet idea about the situation in the "less developed countries" you need to take in account, that on one side our taxes are lower than in EU, but on the other side all prices are constantly increasing with the reasoning: We have to adapt our prices to the price level of the EU... Quite clever, isn´t it?

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pascie  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:38
English to French
+ ...
Here is a fact very interesting May 13, 2004

I have posted over a week ago an ad for my daughter in law, who was looking either for a translator from English > Sanscript or for the original text in Sanscript. I have of course nothing to do with this but received numerous answers from translators in India. Believe me or not but the rates they ask for is US$ 0.10, which is to me completely right though a lot of Indian companies look for translators at the upmost of 0.02 or 0.03.
This shows that translation has nothing to do, pertaining to the very low rates, with the outsourcing country level of living.
I thought this may be interesting to consider.
Pascie


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Judy Yeaton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:38
Czech to English
+ ...
Supporting evidence May 14, 2004

[quote]pascie wrote:

... received numerous answers from translators in India. Believe me or not but the rates they ask for is US$ 0.10, which is to me completely right though a lot of Indian companies look for translators at the upmost of 0.02 or 0.03.

It's similar here in the Czech Republic: agencies pay the minimum, and translators take it. Freelancers with the confidence to approach US or West European agencies are asking the going rate (about US$ 0.10) - and there are good reasons, even if the cost of bread is lower here. Software generally costs the same as in the States, books (=dictionaries) are comparatively expensive, Internet ditto, collecting may be more difficult from an overseas agency, waiting times for payment are longer,... Most clients in the CR obviously can't tell whether they've bought a good into-foreign translation or not, from the language on their websites. As this changes, I'd expect rates for good translators to rise, even for the domestic market. - Judy Yeaton


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:38
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It doesn't really follow May 16, 2004

This doesn't really hold water. If it did, exotic languages like Vietnamese, Khmer or certain African dialects would be dirt-cheap, and they are not.

The means of production has to be taken into account. Where it is almost impossible to afford a computer, you are not going to find a translator on every corner, and the ones who have made the capital outlay to get into the market over the long term (read, not working out of cybercafés) will have taken the outlay into consideration.

It is also next to impossible to expect to survive on minority markets alone: no matter how low you bring down the price, demand may never go up. A certain competitivity on other fronts, or a running other concern, would be indispensable. Pricing is not the only consideration.


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ExcelTrans
French to English
+ ...
Lower Rates Phenomenon May 22, 2004

[quote]Sam Berner wrote:
\"Our translators are fully qualified and carefully selected – yet most of them live in countries with lower living costs.
The result: you pay less for your translations and you get a better job! \"

As someone who has lived in one of those \"lower living costs\" country, I find this text very discriminatory. I cannot see the logic that allows two people, doing the same job equally well and having the same qualifications, to be paid differently simply because they live in different countries. Even if you are immoral enough to do it as a business, you should not adertise it.. it is called \"sweatshops\" in my lingo.

Sam Berner

Hmm, quite interesting, but haven’t we treaded this path before. It’s quite amusing that we so often co-relate lower rates with the “lower-living-costs” countries. We have a large number of translators – good & efficient translators – on our suppliers list living right here in the heart of New York City who are more than willing to charge at par with those living in the so-called “lower-living-costs” countries. These translators living right here in the USA, in fact, charge anywhere between 2 to 4 cents for most of the European languages. So, we believe it has got nothing to do with the living costs, but one’s own evaluation of one’s requirements, and mind you, it has got nothing to do with one’s capabilities. Because we have had the not-so-good experience of having our translations done by translators in USA and Canada, who charge phenomenal rates and boast of excellent translation abilities, however, lack even the very basic translation skills.

As quoted very well by pascie:

“This shows that translation has nothing to do, pertaining to the very low rates, with the outsourcing country level of living.”


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rafael martin calvo
Switzerland
Local time: 16:38
Portuguese to Spanish
+ ...
...and richer countries (a light drama) Jun 9, 2004

So, if any of you living in the so-called developed countries is amazed at the rates you have to settle for (or else you often don’t get the job), imagine that you were living in Switzerland... now, that's a gas.

As a Spanish native, I know that in Spain is pointless to ask for more than 0.08 – 0.1 € /word as a freelance. I won’t bother to mention what you get when working for most agencies; it would make everyone blush… Now, check the prices of any Swiss translation agency, or even the “recommended” official rates of the ASTTI. Easily twice as much… Here, even when the agency keeps its share, the translator still gets good wages. The problem is that one doesn’t get a whole lotta work from a country the size of this one, especially if you (like me) only translate from one of its FOUR official languages.

So, sooner or later you have to look for work outside… out there, if you know what I mean. But one cannot charge outside what one charges here… it’d be Carrollian, Kafkian, MarcelDuchampian, and they would just basically laugh in your face. So, for the outside market, you end up lowering your rates in the hopes of having a snowflake chance in hell when competing with the rest (yeah, we don’t compete, we bid… and perspire to meet the deadlines, gau?).

And you (me), poor Spanish guy you (me), think that 0.08/word is not so bad after all, and smile… Only that then, you take the bicycle (car?, not me), ride to the supermarket, and have a look at the prices. In your head, you think back of the rates you are bidding with. What follows is that you hold back the tears, look at your wife (who is beautiful and gets better paid than you while working in a shoe store), take a frozen pizza, and think of teaching your three cats to type, and the difference between an acronym, a translation unit, and a ball of toilet paper… Thank god we've got a wonderful garden, and veggies are never to be missed.

I don’t know if you’ve been able to follow through. It’s maybe not so important. I just had to tell someone…


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Stefan Kopp
Malaysia
Local time: 21:38
English to German
Asia is not the worst idea Jun 17, 2004

I find it quite amazing that an agency pays different prices for translators, only because they are living in different countries. I could imagine that these translators agree on a different wage (see the difference between Argentina and Switzerland), but a general price discrimination based on country of origin seems quite bizarre.
Nevertheless, the idea about moving to India (or other Asian countries) is quite considerable. Due to the Internet the market is international and here you mentioned that “even” Indian translators charge nearly European fees. But the cost of living is considerably lower. Careful: perhaps the real living expenses if you like to have a European standard might be even higher, but taxes and all monopoly fees (like prescription medicine etc.) are much lower. So if you can earn the same money wherever you are, you should (e.g. as a Spaniard) not choose to live in the most expensive country you can find, but in a reasonable cheap one. Reasonable means, that you would need a decent Internet connection, a decent financial and political system (so Argentina or Haiti might not be the best choice now), a decent mail system (for shipping of your eBay purchases etc.) etc.
Thailand, for instance, is incredibly cheap and incredibly advanced in all respects a European translator might be concerned. And there are many more countries around, even the Dominican Republic, although here the electricity system might need another 10 years to function properly.
Then you still can charge European fees if you wish and have the clients, but live much better than in Europe. Well you might have to give up going to the theatre or the opera and it might take some days to get your favorite beststellers delivered, but the weather is better, the beach is around the corner and everybody will envy you.

Stefan


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