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Cheap outsourcing: Scandinavian Languages
Thread poster: Stephen Emm
Stephen Emm  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:57
French to English
+ ...
Jan 21, 2014

Hello everyone,

I translate a fair amount of Swedish and Norwegian material into English and have noticed over the last year or so that I am increasingly contacted by Indian agencies offering low rates.
I am puzzled by this for a number of reasons. Firstly, how are Indian agencies managing to pick up this work? Are Swedish/Norwegian companies outsourcing work directly to them or is it coming via other agencies?
Secondly, how are they finding translators to do this work? Sweden and Norway have very little in the way of a colonial legacy outside of Europe, so what sort of translators are working for them?
I guess that Scandinavian languages are not too difficult to learn for English speakers and there are plenty of English speakers in India, so perhaps Indian translators have taught themselves Swedish or worked over there and are translating into English.
Can anyone provide any answers on this?


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viking modena  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:57
Member (2012)
Swedish to Italian
+ ...
No surprise Jan 21, 2014

I'm not surprised at all, unfortunately. I happen almost daily to see translation offers from maybe Swedish or Danish into Italian managed by someone in America. I can hardly imagine that the American price is much cheaper than the European, but when it comes to India... or China, or even Eastern Europe, well, prices are lower than here, so you can understand that a big company or tr agency in Europe oursources there. The problem is how the Indian agencies get people in Europe to work for such low prices. If they have to pay taxes in Europe (as we do), I can hardly imagine that they can afford to work for a word price under 0,05-0,06 EUR, even for the easiest jobs that you do with closed eyes.

[Edited at 2014-01-21 16:42 GMT]


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 23:57
Chinese to English
Bad translators Jan 21, 2014

Stephen Emm wrote:

what sort of translators are working for them?

Bad translators.
A lot of Chinese translation is done in India by translators who have very poor language knowledge. I assume it's the same for Scandinavian languages. It's just price and the internet.


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Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
A word about the opposite direction Jan 21, 2014

Stephen Emm wrote:

Hello everyone,

I translate a fair amount of Swedish and Norwegian material into English and have noticed over the last year or so that I am increasingly contacted by Indian agencies offering low rates.
I am puzzled by this for a number of reasons. Firstly, how are Indian agencies managing to pick up this work? Are Swedish/Norwegian companies outsourcing work directly to them or is it coming via other agencies?
Secondly, how are they finding translators to do this work? Sweden and Norway have very little in the way of a colonial legacy outside of Europe, so what sort of translators are working for them?
I guess that Scandinavian languages are not too difficult to learn for English speakers and there are plenty of English speakers in India, so perhaps Indian translators have taught themselves Swedish or worked over there and are translating into English.
Can anyone provide any answers on this?



There's no problem finding Swedish translators. I certainly don't see the problem with Indian outsourcing either.

I presently have to deal with no less than two Swedish non-payers. One of them is the most blatantly dishonest agency I have seen in over 10 years. I have another Dutch one that's late about 2 - 3 months with a payment now.

Compare that to Indians I have worked with. 99% problem free. How ironic if this is just me!

And another thing, what is going on with US agencies? Now here's where I'm really starting to notice something worrying. Rates are approaching those that are most common for projects from Indian outsourcers and personally I note that the difference is most commonly only 1 - 2 USD cent.

I hope you appreciate this perspective as well, even though I'm largely unconcerned about Indian outsourcing.


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Stephen Emm  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:57
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No problem with Indian Agencies Jan 21, 2014

I have no problem with Indian or Chinese agencies and I have seen American agencies advertising very low rates for Scandinavian languages also. I just wondered were they got the "cheap" Scandinavian translators from considering that these languages are not widely spoken across the world.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:57
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Indians returning from Europe? Jan 21, 2014

Some time back I read that some families who had been in the UK for a couple of generations, but still had their connections with India intact, were moving back to the big cities in India, where they could get well-paid jobs and enjoy a higher standard of living than in the UK. They were also more at home with the religion and culture - but the young people, with British schooling and perhaps higher education, they were also well qualified for jobs with big international firms.

Another article about it here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-19992062

Here in Denmark the climate for immigrants is not as uncomfortable as it was ten or fifteen years ago, but they are still not everybody's favourite neighbours.

Some of the 'gæstarbejdere' from the 1960s and 70s did not intend to stay permanently, but never actually returned either.

Many of them were from Pakistan rather than India, but if they did 'go back', some of them would be able to translate into Scandinavian languages, at least after a fashion, and some perhaps even really well, depending on their education and qualifications.

I don't know, but it is a thought.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:57
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Well, they're contacting you, aren't they? Jan 21, 2014

Stephen Emm wrote:
I am increasingly contacted by Indian agencies offering low rates.

how are they finding translators to do this work?

I imagine they're expecting people like you to do the work. Of course you, as a pro translator, wouldn't think of doing it for the rates offered; but maybe some bored housewife or retiree, an unemployed person, a student, or someone with a full-time job who isn't quite making ends meet will be happy to. In a few cases, they might be able to make a half-decent job of it, encouraging even more work of this sort.

As long as everyone has the right to call themselves a translator, and free MT exists, I'm afraid we won't see a decline in such offers.


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Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
Plenty of Swedish translators Jan 21, 2014

Stephen Emm wrote:

I have no problem with Indian or Chinese agencies and I have seen American agencies advertising very low rates for Scandinavian languages also. I just wondered were they got the "cheap" Scandinavian translators from considering that these languages are not widely spoken across the world.


Like recently on the Job Board. There was an offer that even had 0.04 included in the title. When I entered to have a look, there were already 7 quotes.

In English to Swedish, there are plenty of translators who even advertise themselves as very cheap.

Hence, I'm sure that part of the answer lies in Swedes translating to English.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:57
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Freedom of choice Jan 21, 2014

Mark Benson wrote:

And another thing, what is going on with US agencies? Now here's where I'm really starting to notice something worrying. Rates are approaching those that are most common for projects from Indian outsourcers and personally I note that the difference is most commonly only 1 - 2 USD cent.


Low rates have been discussed many times, as you well know. It's up to the translator to accept or refuse these prices. As mentioned before, its the agency's prerogative to choose whoever they want to for a job. And some simply give preference to the lowest bidder.

The only thing to worry about is that translators accept these rates. And just because someone has quoted on a job post with low rates, doesn't necessarily mean that they've quoted within the price range stipulated by the outsourcer.

[Edited at 2014-01-21 21:06 GMT]


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viking modena  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:57
Member (2012)
Swedish to Italian
+ ...
Agree! Jan 21, 2014

And that's way there are agencies that keep searching "new" translators for the same combinations. Either they pay too little, or they do not pay at all!

By the way, I also saw a 0.03 USD/word job to be done on a week-end (due to amount of words and delivery terms) some days ago. They probably found somebody who did it, as the request didn't show up again. Poor translator, was my only thought.


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Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 01:57
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Danish-Russian:) Jan 21, 2014

I do not think, it has anything to do with Indians returning from Europe because I have also noticed the increase in demand from the Indian agencies in my Danish-Russian and Swedish-Russian pairs. It is a common trend, I am afraid. Hopefully, people will wake up soon and realize that although it is cheap, it does not mean, it is good.

I remember when we first came to Australia 4 years ago, nearly all local call centers were based in India, and it was extremely frustrating to talk to somebody with a heavy accent and limited English. People had started complaining, and eventually practically all major companies and banks have moved their call centers back to Australia.


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Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
100% disagree Jan 22, 2014

Thayenga wrote:

Mark Benson wrote:

And another thing, what is going on with US agencies? Now here's where I'm really starting to notice something worrying. Rates are approaching those that are most common for projects from Indian outsourcers and personally I note that the difference is most commonly only 1 - 2 USD cent.


Low rates have been discussed many times, as you well know. It's up to the translator to accept or refuse these prices. As mentioned before, its the agency's prerogative to choose whoever they want to for a job. And some simply give preference to the lowest bidder.

The only thing to worry about is that translators accept these rates. And just because someone has quoted on a job post with low rates, doesn't necessarily mean that they've quoted within the price range stipulated by the outsourcer.

[Edited at 2014-01-21 21:06 GMT]


I see nothing worrying neither in low rates as such, nor in translators accepting them. And I really have to apologize if my post has lead to such interpretations.

I mainly wanted to point out that when it comes to the classical 0.04, US agencies will soon have to be mentioned together with the Indian and Chinese ones.

My own understanding is that there are quite big US agencies that have developed less than most Indian and Chinese ones. I feel that it would be more interesting and fruitful to work with Chinese and Indian agencies than the cheap American ones, offering almost the same rate anyways.

However, I'm not sure how large a portion of your income can be based on this kind of rate if you want to live in Europe. It's very small, of course.

Anybody who can work for this kind of rate is highly dependent on volume, and that's why there's bound to be some Swedes in there trying to make it by adding SV - EN.

I don't doubt for a second that there will be translators translating from a language that's not their native language to one that's not their native language either. Finding a native speaker to translate EN - SV is really quite easy, though.

Then there are the Swedish expats who largely explain the very lowest rates in EN to SV. I'm talking about Swedes who find themselves in a foreign country where they speak mostly English, without enough to do to stay busy, who start a marketing campaign to sell translations @ 0.01 - 0.02 per word and maybe enjoy an occasional extra cup of coffee out thanks to it.

There are lots of individuals who hold other jobs and appear on the translation scene without really depending on an income from translation. I have long suspected this segment of being the very main source of 0.04 translations.

I probably have more to share in this topic, so you can expect me to be back. And I also wanted to note that I'm available to talk about anything related to Swedish translations off the board if anybody wants that.

[Edited at 2014-01-22 02:12 GMT]


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Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
You're definitely onto something Jan 22, 2014

Christine Andersen wrote:

Some time back I read that some families who had been in the UK for a couple of generations, but still had their connections with India intact, were moving back to the big cities in India, where they could get well-paid jobs and enjoy a higher standard of living than in the UK. They were also more at home with the religion and culture - but the young people, with British schooling and perhaps higher education, they were also well qualified for jobs with big international firms.

Another article about it here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-19992062

Here in Denmark the climate for immigrants is not as uncomfortable as it was ten or fifteen years ago, but they are still not everybody's favourite neighbours.

Some of the 'gæstarbejdere' from the 1960s and 70s did not intend to stay permanently, but never actually returned either.

Many of them were from Pakistan rather than India, but if they did 'go back', some of them would be able to translate into Scandinavian languages, at least after a fashion, and some perhaps even really well, depending on their education and qualifications.

I don't know, but it is a thought.


Christine,

First of all, I find this a great explanation. I know from KudoZ that there's at least one Swede around who has 'returned,' though he's from an entirely different continent and (and this is important to underline) has no relation whatsoever with low rates. But still!

Let's note that what's outsourced to India is mainly the outsourcing. If an Indian agency is good at finding the translators they need, searching globally on the Internet, then they're in business.

Lots of Swedish individuals have roots in countries where it might be lucrative to 'return' and go into freelance translation, even if it's at 0.04 per word. Somalia, Afghanistan etc.

They will have subject area specialization from their studies, at universities with quite good profiles. They will have international work experience. They will be fluent in at least two second languages.

I'm guessing many of them will not only find marketing themselves easy, but will do a good job too.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:57
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
They work for Indian companies Jan 22, 2014

The answer is quite simple: Indian agencies mostly work for Indian manufacturers with a global presence, and need their materials translated for exports to Europe. In these companies, most writing is done in English as the first language, and they don't quite understand that they cannot pay the same for English-Hindi than for English-Swedish. Or better said, many Indian translation agencies seem to beuncapable of explaining the difference.

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Karin Wagner
Local time: 16:57
Italian to German
+ ...
not only english Jan 22, 2014

I can understand your thoughts about expats and producers, but there must be also another reason.
Last Christmas I had a request for a huge Italian - German translation, very, very technical for a very very low price - from India. You needed to be native speaker, have Trados and be expert in the construction field - and to work during Christmas holydays... I refused even though there is not much work around at the moment, in Italy.

Fortunately I became another offer from an Italian agency for a reasonable price, it was for the same project. So, dear colleagues, let’s stay together and don't accept too low prices, if somehow possible.

I'm not a member of Proz.com jet, but if I look at the offers on the board, there is not much work neither for members than for others. It's curios but nevertheless the question board, also Italian -German, German Italian is always full.


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Cheap outsourcing: Scandinavian Languages

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