Wordworld quickly going kaputt (?!) and a possible warning to all
Thread poster: Bernhard Sulzer

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:12
English to German
+ ...
May 26, 2012

Hello.

I simply want to get your opinions, if that's possible.

Do you think there are a lot of translation clients (mostly companies, even big ones) who go through translation agencies that charge average rates (not too high) but get there work done by more and more translators who work for less and less money and are, unfortunately, doing that by using the proz.com job board?


In my own experience, it gets harder and harder to hold on to rates or even increase them except maybe for my faithful client base.

What are the consequences? It doesn't look good to me.
Is my/our "wordworld" going quickly kaputt?
Do good translations matter anymore? Because if they do, there had to be a lot of disappointed clients out there who are desperately looking to get their texts fixed by professionals?

Or is this an underbidding race to a big crash?

B


[Edited at 2012-05-26 18:40 GMT]


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 02:12
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
"Our" fault May 26, 2012

Perhaps you are right. But who's to blame? I blame those of us who underprice themselves when seeking for jobs and work cheaper for clients in certain regions of the world then for clients that paid us decent rates and still do.
But there is hope too. Standards of living are rising along the globe, and perhaps those days are soon over when they found translators for a few cents per word.


 

apk12  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:12
English to German
+ ...
Translations world travel for just 0.02, 0.01... May 26, 2012

0.02 USD for translation causes amazing laughing fit anyway - but for EN to DE? And now you even mention 0.01? wtf?

Why don't they search for providers for such a category on pages where they will have a huge chance to get what they pay for? The happy funny "I cann do itt!" Google Translate monkey - why here?


 

Agnes Lenkey  Identity Verified
German to Spanish
+ ...
I don't think this will change May 26, 2012

Hello Bernhard,

Maybe it is Saturday in the evening and people are too tired to respond or give their opinion...
Heinrich says it's our fault, but usually in life it is never the fault of just one.. at least there are two (or more) guilty players in a bad situation. I am quite new here (six months), and I must say that I loved the forums from the very first day and the possibility to get to know so many “nice fellows” and people who have so much more experience than me as freelancers or outsourcers or both. This is why it is so interesting and useful for me, and as well because working at home one is quite alone and happy to speak to others. But after the first month came my real shock (I actually had like a kind of physical attack) because of the job postings and the job system, it was so disappointing and puzzling to me… it was after my first month as a freelancer and it showed me that, like you say, things are really bad out there, so now I rarely read the job postings anymore. Weeks pass by and I do not read them, I concentrate all my efforts to get local clients who appreciate and pay for my work, and who are happy for the possibility of a direct contact. Heinrich says it might get better – I don’t think so. The only way it could get better would be the introduction of a decent minimum rate in order to be able to post a job, but I know that this would be very difficult to do, rates are different in Romania than in Spain or in the UK. All the other jobs could easily migrate to some other portal, if it was for me. So I am not very optimistic, although sometimes a good work is possible through ProZ, I am sure. But for the few ones it is not worth following this job board, I think, because "it brings you down". I will stick to the sometimes interesting KudoZ dialogues and the magnificent forums, which I love and which are really interesting, I think.

You say it gets harder and harder to maintain our rates – this is true for me too, even on a local basis. If my rates are between 0,08-0,12, nowadays I am forced to ask always in the lower segment of it, usually 0,09 and sometimes even 0,08. It is the only way I can get to work here in Spain. And we need to work, if not we would have to quit.

Have a nice evening all, best regards,

Agnes


 

Yves Champollion  Identity Verified
English to French
time of change May 26, 2012

I basically second everyone's view. My 2 cents: History is behind the whole process.

Most translation has turned into a transnational activity in the past (half) century. As opposed to other freelance knowledge workers, like lawyers or doctors, who still practice within one national framework and whose privileges are still well protected by centuries of lobbying.

One other factor is that the old one-to-one relation (translator/client, just like doctor/patient or lawyer/client) which was a healthy one, has turned into an infernal triangular relation (client-agency-translator). We're the lowest level in the food chain. So guess who gets eaten.

- YC


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:12
French to German
+ ...
... May 26, 2012

Yves Champollion wrote:

I basically second everyone's view. My 2 cents: History is behind the whole process.

Most translation has turned into a transnational activity in the past (half) century. As opposed to other freelance knowledge workers, like lawyers or doctors, who still practice within one national framework and whose privileges are still well protected by centuries of lobbying.

One other factor is that the old one-to-one relation (translator/client, just like doctor/patient or lawyer/client) which was a healthy one, has turned into an infernal triangular relation (client-agency-translator). We're the lowest level in the food chain. So guess who gets eaten.

- YC


I only can hope that the eaters have a good stomach and digest well.


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:12
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Collective "fault" May 27, 2012

I agree with everything said here. It's the translators who set the price...so I've heard.
However, there is/are always one/several translator/s who work for peanuts. Since there are 10,000s of translators - qualified or not - out there, these agencies simply take those who are cheap, not having any problems finding them.

Just recently I've experienced this myself. An agency I've worked for since last year suddenly asked me for a discount of 36 % based on a possible long-term collaboration with one of their clients. That was two months ago and I haven't heard anything from them since. I guess this means that they've found someone who either accepted the 36 % reduction (compared to what they've paid me for the first jobs) or works for even less.

The other problem, IMO, are the agencies that send out post-editing jobs and ask for the editor to then complete their existing TMs. Perhaps this will not happen "tomorrow", but the day will come when their TM is complete and polished. I guess we all know where that would leave the translators.icon_frown.gif

The only way, again IMO, out is that translators stop selling themselves short.icon_smile.gif


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not fit for purpose May 27, 2012

As I never tire of saying, if anyone thinks that simply joining proz.com means opening the gateway to job offers from clients ready and willing to pay the rates that translators would like to charge, then they are "backing a deuce".

Google monkeys aside, I think the problem lies more in the difficulty freelancers have in making the availbility of their (our) services known to potential clients. Most of the offers on proz and similar sites seem to be from agencies or other intermediaries who - somehow or other - don't seem to suffer the same disadvantage. They can offer the rates that the freelancer aspires to, then beat us down into accepting their price. However, other than by imitating the agencies and their modus operandi, or simply encouraging colleagues not to apply for exploitative projects, I can't really think of any easy way to tackle the problem.


 


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