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What's going on in FR->EN?
Thread poster: Terry Richards

Terry Richards
France
Local time: 05:32
French to English
+ ...
Feb 1

As the title says, what's going on in FR->EN translation? My question is based on two disturbing trends I have noticed:

1) On a personal level, I have just had my worst month in the 12 years I have been in business. In fact, it was so bad that I have deferred the few invoices I have until next month. So, in January I had essentially no income at all.

2) On a more global level, the number of Kudoz questions in this pair has dried up to a mere trickle. I am seeing 3 or 4 questions a day when there used to be dozens. I don't know if Kudoz question volume is a reliable indicator for the state of the market but it has seemed to be reasonably accurate in the past.

So, is it just me or has there been a noticeable slump in the market? Is there a similar trend in other pairs?


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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Work does seem to be low on the ground but... Feb 4

French-English has its own special problems. It has turned into an 'anyone and everyone can translate it' pair. It's apparently so easy peasy that you don't even have to be a native speaker of either language. And because it appears to be so easy (after all, a lot of French looks like English, right?), many who have had French in secondary school or a course or two at university seem to feel that they too can translate it professionally. After all, how hard can it be? The upshot is that virtually any Fr-En job posted on Proz in virtually any field is stormed by eager beavers no matter how ridiculously low the imposed rates are. Seeing 50 or more "bidders" is not uncommon for the fields "everyone" can do: tourism, marketing, law, finance, business, etc. Given the large number of jobs posted, either for a supposed specific job or just as a cattle call to see who's available at low rates, many agencies must now have a database full of low-cost French-English translators they can tap into.
So for actual professional Fr-En translators who charge rates that were once considered normal, there is indeed not a lot of work around in French-English translation. Imo, it's 'le nivellement par le bas' any way you look at it.


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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:32
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Well, well, well Feb 4

When you see certain people answering Kudoz questions when they are well-established and have loads of Kudoz points, you know something's going on. It tells you quite a lot, doesn't it?

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:32
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Hmm... Feb 4

Terry Richards wrote:
1) On a personal level, I have just had my worst month in the 12 years I have been in business. In fact, it was so bad that I have deferred the few invoices I have until next month. So, in January I had essentially no income at all.

Sorry to hear that, Terry, as it certainly sounds extreme. But is it a continuing downward trend, or just a bad month? I think we've probably all suffered from those - I certainly have. But although I'm getting more offers at ridiculous rates, I'm also getting more work every month, and a bigger proportion of it has been in translation these last few months, rather than monolingual English revision. So many clients disappear, and then all of a sudden they're back and demanding more of your time than you've got. Do you have even a half-good reason to contact some of your sleeping ones? Maybe think about giving them an honest but timely bit of feedback on the Blue Board? Get them thinking about you and they might find they need you.

2) On a more global level, the number of Kudoz questions in this pair has dried up to a mere trickle. I am seeing 3 or 4 questions a day when there used to be dozens. I don't know if Kudoz question volume is a reliable indicator for the state of the market but it has seemed to be reasonably accurate in the past.

Is that so? I rarely go there nowadays but I was under the impression that there were vast numbers of stupidly simple questions requiring us to be "walking dictionaries", posted by the ones writeaway is referring to.


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Rowsie  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:32
Member (2012)
French to English
Thank goodness! I though it must be me! Feb 5

Thank you so much for confirming that this is widespread - I also had an awful January and so far have translated a stupendous 302 words in February! Been translating since 1991 and never experienced this before On the bright side the school holidays are coming up, which usually opens the floodgates as it seems all translator mums stop for the duration ...

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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 05:32
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@All Feb 5

@Writeaway

It might well be true that FR->EN is overloaded with translators (some less professional than others) but that, I would think, would just drive down the rates rather than reducing the amount of work available. If there is the same amount of work available and it is being taken by "cheaper" translators, you would expect an increase in Kudoz questions rather than a decrease.

@Josephine

I'm not quite sure I follow your logic. I didn't say anything about the number (or quality) of people answering, merely that the number of questions has noticeably diminished. I guess that a smaller number of questions might increase the number of answers per question but I'm far from convinced.

@Sheila

It's an ongoing trend. Among other things, I track a sliding 12-month of my income which automatically accounts for seasonal variations and smooths out the effects of unusually good or bad months. This trend line dropped for the first 3 months of last year, stayed pretty much flat for the next two quarters and has been in free-fall since last November. I haven't kept records of Kudoz but my overall impression is that it has followed a similar trend.

I know what you mean about the quality of Kudoz questions but, in fact, it's the low-quality ones that seem to have gone away. The few that are appearing seem to be much more genuine questions which need considerable discussion to come up with a "good" answer.

@Rowsie

There is some comfort in knowing that it's not just you, but that is actually a bad thing! If it was just you, or just me, then we could something about it. If it's a general decline in the market, it's hard to know what to do.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:32
Member (2008)
French to English
An unusual month Feb 5

Terry Richards wrote:

As the title says, what's going on in FR->EN translation?


I thankfully had two main clients who kept me afloat in January. But it was certainly a strange month - I didn't get a single inquiry from anyone else all month, which is most unusual.


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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:32
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Business as usual Feb 5

Here it's been business as usual.

I'm actually having to turn down work because I'm in danger of exceeding the threshold for the autoentrepreneur status if I carry on. I only avoided it last year because of not working for a while after an operation that went badly!


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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:32
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
@ Terry Feb 5

Well, I think I might have confused you as I didn't explain myself well. I lately saw certain people -and more than 1 person- who have thousands of Kudoz points answering questions when, normally, they would just have put an agree or neutral or disagree. However, this might have been not only for FR>EN but for IT>EN, GR>EN too if not other language pairs. When people have work, they do not have time to bother about Kudoz and far less about answering questions themselves, so when I saw them answering lately and consistently so, I wondered why. The fact that there is some kind of slump explains it all. At least, that is how I see it. I hope it is clearer at least now.

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Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 05:32
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Not everyone thinks the same way Feb 5

Josephine Cassar wrote:

When people have work, they do not have time to bother about Kudoz and far less about answering questions themselves, ...



Hi Josephine,

It's interesting what you are writing. Actually recently I read the below post of "Mair A-W (PhD)" and I agree with him:

https://www.proz.com/forum/certified_pro_network/319795-a_new_"best_match"_option_for_sorting_directory_results_is_being_explored-page3.html#2708216

Bests,
Katalin

[Edited at 2018-02-05 14:25 GMT]


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mroed
Local time: 05:32
Italian to German
+ ...
reasons? Feb 5

Terry Richards wrote:

As the title says, what's going on in FR->EN translation? My question is based on two disturbing trends I have noticed:

...

So, is it just me or has there been a noticeable slump in the market? Is there a similar trend in other pairs?


Fortunately I have a few really good clients which keep me go. But I've also noticed a certain decline, but only recently.

Do have any explanation for this?


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 05:32
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Josephene Feb 5

You may have a point but it's far from clear. You can't get "thousands of Kudoz points" without answering a lot of questions so the people you are seeing must be active a lot. An agree or disagree doesn't get you any points. Maybe they are just more visible when there are less questions?

Anyway, I think it's the number of questions rather than the answers that is a reasonable indicator for the state of the market. I don't want to get side-tracked into the motivations of people that answer Kudoz questions, no matter how interesting that might be.


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Rowsie  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:32
Member (2012)
French to English
Have to agree with Josephne Feb 5

When I am really busy (which I usually am) I rarely pop up to answer KudoZ questions, but when I'm fed up, bored and can't find anything else to do other than housework (eek!) I do browse through and answer when I can ... so yes the number of KudoZ answers, in my case anyway, is a pretty good indicator that the work flow has dried up!

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
I imagine that nothing's going on Feb 5

It's hard to see aggregate demand for translation from French suddenly nosediving.

Demand for the individual translator, however, will always ebb and flow. Think busses.

As sole traders, we don't have exposure to enough customers to ensure an entirely steady flow of work or reliably identify any general market trends. Certainly there's no logical reason why the market should suddenly dry up.

Tempting as it is to blame "the market", I think the answer to your current drought lies in a combination of statistics and your personal circumstances, and if you've had plenty of work before then you will again!


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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:32
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
We're all different Feb 5

I don't bother with Kudoz or Forums when I'm working but when I'm free, I bother to take a look. I had seen that but I didn't agree. I just cannot be bothered when I'm working. In fact, I disabled Kudoz notifications to be able to concentrate and so that my email box does not get filed with numerous emails which I can check myself when I wish. The disadvantage (or maybe advantage) is that I do not get notifications when a question in my language pairs crops up but that does not bother me at all.

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