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Has anybody ever abandoned a language pair because it doesn't pay well enough?
Thread poster: Ben Harrison

Ben Harrison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:12
Member (2013)
German to English
Oct 28, 2014

Most of the work I get is in DE-EN, but I do get a reasonable amount of ES-EN work as well though, enough for me to consider it worthwhile to keep up reading the right kind of material in the source language, but given the lowball offers I keep getting for ES-EN (€0.06 per target word for financial texts?!) I'm wondering if it might be worth my while just concentrating on German where I know the money can be better.

It would seem a shame to let the time and effort put into learning Spanish go to waste, but it seems to make more sense putting all my efforts into German from now on if that's where the bigger rewards are. Has anybody else been in the same situation?


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Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:12
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
It makes sense Oct 28, 2014

Focusing on just one language has other advantages too - if you have two languages you have to do double the amount of language-related CPD for the same result. If you are fully booked with your better paying pair it makes perfect sense to drop the ES-EN.

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Texte Style
Local time: 12:12
French to English
Not in my case Oct 28, 2014

Not in my case in that I have never offered more than one combo.

Although I have often contemplated bringing one of my other languages up to scratch, simply for the love of language-learning,

Then I very nearly hand in a text with an obscure comprehension mistake that just dawns on me as I'm attaching the file,

And I think to myself, well aren't I glad my French is good enough to catch on to that level of subtlety.
The next thought to come rolling through my brain is, it'd take far too much time and effort to bring any of my other languages up to that level.

You can still advertise that you do ES, (to please those agencies who like to think they're getting two for the price of one when they work with a multilingual translator), but nobody can make you be available when a client offers you a Spanish text. If you're making more money with German, then you can simply tell your clients that your time costs the same whatever the source language, which will naturally eliminate the "cheaper" language.

And your Spanish can still come in useful on holidays!


[Edited at 2014-10-28 11:28 GMT]


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 12:12
English to Russian
+ ...
It may not pay now, but it will probably pay eventually Oct 28, 2014

I have a strong suspicion the prices for the ES-EN pair are kept low by excessive competition, mostly from the Hispanic community in the U.S. However, this is only true for a low to medium quality level. As you progress toward the true mastery, you'll see the competition gradually evaporate - in fact, top-class professionals are in short supply regardless of the language pair.

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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why? Oct 28, 2014

You can always "sopesar" and decide whether to accept an ES>EN job or not, at any given time.

"Cons" to abandon the pair:

- you will not practice it and since ES is your second language, you will largely forget it sooner than not.
- less likely to happen, but if at any given time you are short of work in your main pair, ES>EN may come to handy.
- last but not least, ES is a beautiful language (sorry, I know, I am biased).

The only "pro" to abandon it is to win the hearts of those agencies who strictly demand their translators must (not "aught to", but "must") have one active pair only. I do not think it is a good idea to try to collaborate with such "extremist" agencies.

[Edited at 2014-10-28 12:35 GMT]


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 15:42
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
My case Oct 28, 2014

I used to offer translation services from Malayalam to English and Hindi and Gujarati to English and Hindi. I have now given up these pairs and am concentrating on English to Hindi only, with occasional dabbling in the reverse direction.

The reason for giving up these pairs was not, however, price - I charge the same rate for all the language pairs I work in. In the case of Malayalam, the volume of work was too low to justify the time spent in keeping myself abreast of the language. In the case of Gujarati, the nature of work was uninteresting - mostly letters and personal documents.

Later, as my business in the English-Hindi pair picked up, I became fully occupied with the work in this pair and there was no time left for any other language combination.

So, if your language pair commands a large market place as English to Hindi does (and German to English would), there is a lot to say in favour of concentrating on this pair to the exclusion of all other pairs.

The main constraint every translator faces is time, and how you manage your time can make or break your business.


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Annie Estéphan  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:12
Member (2010)
English to French
+ ...
ES_CFR Oct 28, 2014

Yes, I used to offer Spanish to Canadian French translation services, I stopped offering it for a year, and then I started to offer it back again....

I stopped because I was and I am still really busy with my main language pair, English to Canadian French, but after my trip to Dominican Republic, I remembered how much I loved Spanish (much more than English, maybe because it is more similar to French, or more exotic since Canada is bilingual English-French) and I didn't want to forget it, so I decided to put it back just in case...and it gives me a reason not to forget it


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Paul Adie  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just go with the work flow Oct 29, 2014

My main pair is Spanish - English, and my agency rate is €0.06, but it's per source word, which makes a bit of a difference due to Spanish shrinking in English translation.

However, if you have better paid work and are fully booked with German, I would continue with that and just have Spanish on your CV and reject low-paying offers. I have other agencies that pay me €0.08 and direct clients that pay more.

I have to admit though that I do not work at full capacity all the time. I know that if I dropped my (already not very high) rates by a cent or two, I would be working like a dog, but then I ask myself - is it worth all the hassle? I prefer to work less and earn a little bit less than work all day, every day. That for you might mean doing the German and taking on the odd well-paying job from Spanish.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
. Oct 29, 2014

ProZ is continually bombarding us with poorly paid job offers from companies that think they, not we, should be setting prices. Because of this, it's easy to think that rates must be declining.

In my experience, there's still plenty of well paid Spanish to English work at way more than EUR 0.06. It's just that ProZ, and the internet as a whole, have made us more aware of the bottom feeders who have always existed.


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Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:12
English to Spanish
... Oct 29, 2014

philgoddard wrote:
It's just that ProZ, and the internet as a whole, have made us more aware of the bottom feeders who have always existed.


It is not just that we are more aware. Unfortunately, it is much worse than that, if we think about it.

ProZ, and sites like it, provide a perfect platform for bottom feeders to find cheap labor.

All those outsourcers have to do is post a job and wait for an avalanche of freelancers willing to work for very low rates.

These sites are true enablers of a bad situation. I am convinced that without their existence, things would be a whole lot better, rate-wise and quality-wise.

[Edited at 2014-10-29 17:52 GMT]


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SwissLocalizer
Switzerland
English to French
+ ...
Yes Oct 29, 2014

I abandoned Russian-to-French translation although Russian is my second language and I practice it every day. There are so many non native translators who can afford much lower rates than me, living in Switzerland. Most of the time quality is not a criterion. Cost of living here is so high that I think it is impossible to survive without local (direct) clients, meaning translating between 2 of our national languages (French, German, Italian).

[Редактировалось 2014-10-29 18:37 GMT]

[Редактировалось 2014-10-29 18:41 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:12
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
So what are we doing here? Oct 29, 2014

Miguel Carmona wrote:
...

ProZ, and sites like it, provide a perfect platform for bottom feeders to find cheap labor.
...

These sites are true enablers of a bad situation. I am convinced that without their existence, things would be a whole lot better, rate-wise and quality-wise.

[Edited at 2014-10-29 17:52 GMT]


OK, I get a lot more out of Proz.com than low-price job offers.
I actually get good ones.

And as recently as yesterday, I told an outsourcer that a) my rate is double what she was offering and b) I was too busy to take on her job, as other clients pay my asking rate. The job was posted on site for people to bid for, but she mailed me direct. There are a lot of 'invisible' well-paid jobs that nobody sees except the outsourcer and the translators who accept them.

I quite agree, though, it is unfortunate that the low rates are so much more visible.

To get back on topic - although in principle I have qualifications in French and German, I have simply never translated from French or German except pro bono. I am much better qualified in Danish, so I can compete better and earn more translating Danish to English.

I am getting more and more picky about Swedish and Norwegian too, partly because they pay less for me. On paper the word rates are the same as for Danish, but the effort required is greater, because I have to think twice and avoid false friends, while my Danish is more like a second native language.

I still work from Swedish and Norwegian for good clients who know what I can do and what I am not happy with - I would not give them up entirely.




[Edited at 2014-10-29 19:02 GMT]


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Me too Oct 29, 2014

Christine Andersen wrote:

OK, I get a lot more out of Proz.com than low-price job offers.
I actually get good ones.


I'm finding that ProZ is overtaking the ATA and ITI websites as a source of new customers. And while 70% of the job offers I get in this way are badly paid and/or inappropriate, many of the rest are quite good.


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Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:12
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Almost abandoned, but.... Oct 29, 2014

I work from EN/ES/DE >NL. In English/German > Dutch there is enough work, but Spanish > Dutch is close to none, that is to say, there are enough possibilities out there, but they refuse to pay my humble price. That is a real shame, because I consider Spanish the most beautifull language of all 4 of them (yes, even compared to my mother tongue).

The main reason I am a translator is because I love languages, and I love the job, but I have to live too, and when a language combination doesn't pay my bills, I have to look for other ways, that is reality, pure and simple.

Having said that, I still consider each Spanish job that comes in as a "golden present", and that is the reason I am still offering it.

So, almost, but....


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Carmen Swanwick-Roa  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:12
Member (2014)
Spanish to English
+ ...
More because the market is saturated Oct 30, 2014

I translate from ES and PT into EN and I would say that about 90% of my work is PT-EN because the ES-EN market is far more saturated. I used to offer FR-EN as well in the early days but found that I was getting no work in this language combination so I cut my losses. It has surprised me that I've had much more interest in my services since offering only PT/ES into EN, maybe I now seem like more of a specialist in Iberian languages rather than a jack-of-all-languages.

I do still try to keep up my French, mainly because I very occasionally work in Francophone countries and I don't want to have wasted all those years learning the intricacies of French grammar.


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