Rates for academic (sociological) translation?
Thread poster: Karen Vincent-Jones

Karen Vincent-Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:35
French to English
+ ...
Jun 6, 2012

I have been asked to translate a Brazilian sociology journal by one of the editors, for whom I have alrady translated stand-alone articles. The articles are in Brazilian Portuguese, apart from 2 written in Spanish.
There are a dozen articles of varying lengths, and the total word count is approximately 70,000.
My normal translation rate is 0.07 GBP/0.09 EUR per 1,000 words for Portuguese, and 0.06 GBP/0.08 EUR for Spanish, although I offer discounts for large projects (over 10,000). This is a very large project!
The work is very specialised, and requires a grounding in sociological theory at high level. This is not a problem as I am a former academic, but in conjunction with the large volume, I am wondering how much to charge.
The institution has a translation budget, but I do not know how much it is.
Any advice from people with experience of academic translation would be welcome.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:35
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Same as usual Jun 6, 2012

Karen Vincent-Jones wrote:

I have been asked to translate a Brazilian sociology journal by one of the editors, for whom I have alrady translated stand-alone articles. The articles are in Brazilian Portuguese, apart from 2 written in Spanish.
There are a dozen articles of varying lengths, and the total word count is approximately 70,000.
My normal translation rate is 0.07 GBP/0.09 EUR per 1,000 words for Portuguese, and 0.06 GBP/0.08 EUR for Spanish, although I offer discounts for large projects (over 10,000). This is a very large project!
The work is very specialised, and requires a grounding in sociological theory at high level. This is not a problem as I am a former academic, but in conjunction with the large volume, I am wondering how much to charge.
The institution has a translation budget, but I do not know how much it is.
Any advice from people with experience of academic translation would be welcome.


I do a lot of academic translation and since it is usually very exacting, I apply my highest rate, sometimes with a volume discount but always emphasising the primary importance of quality and the need to produce dignified text that can be published in peer-reviewed journals. This is demanding (but deeply satisfying) work that cannot be done on the cheap and requires intensive consultation with the Authors.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 15:35
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
With Tom Jun 6, 2012

I agree with Tom. I would definitely charge your maximum rate for this.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:35
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Why a volume discount? Jun 6, 2012

Is it repetitive to the extent that you will be able to speed up considerably after a while? Is there a long lead time, enabling you to slot in higher paying smaller jobs?

If so, there might be room for a volume discount if you think it's necessary to win the job, but only after you have delivered and been paid for the work up to the point where you can be mega-fast. Otherwise, what happens if you translate the first part and the rest of the job then gets cancelled? The client benefits, at your expense.

If each article is reasonably different (or in different source languages, in your case), then will there actually be a substantial time saving between the first 1000 words and the nth 1000 words? If not, why give a discount? One hour of work is one hour of work, after all.

And if you're going to be devoting most of your working hours to this project, why give a discount when the time could (possibly, even probably) have been filled with better-paying work?

Sheila


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
How badly do you want it? Jun 6, 2012

My basic rates are similar to yours, but I am prepared to do academic translation at 50% my normal rate for large volumes if I like the subject and the deadline is flexible enough so that I can fit in my usual clients (who are usually in a hurry).

I don't like Sociology much so I wouldn't go that far in this case, but if it was BIO or education I might. At the end of the day, you decide how low you can go. I know that the universities and research groups are strapped for cash right now so I also take that into account, but none of my academic clients has complained about my rates so far anyway.

And I don't care if anyone else thinks my rates are low or I'm underselling myself - as my mother used to say, "enough is as good as a feast"...

[Edited at 2012-06-06 17:08 GMT]


 

Rafael Mondini Bueno  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:35
English to Portuguese
Highest rate it is Jun 6, 2012

I absolutely agree with Tom. I usually do a lot academic translations too, mostly in this field, but the other way around (EN>PT). It is a very demanding job for a bunch of reasons, like:
- very specific terminology;
- the relativity of the issue of "repetitions" in this kind of text (it might be a repetition in the source language, but not in the target one);
- authors in this area love to cite works from areas that have nothing to do with sociology, so sometimes you have to be very versatile;
- the oftentimes cryptic language in which sociologists, anthropologists and political scientists tend to write, specially when communicating in Portuguese; and
- the most important aspect of it all in my opinion, you have to be VERY careful when choosing a translation solution for the apparently most insignificant words in the text - they may contradict the entire stance the author associates him/herself to.

So, I think that charging anything less than your highest rate would not be fair to the ammount of work you would be required to do.


 


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