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Reminder to all members: Don't undervalue yourself when quoting!
Thread poster: Dylan Jan Hartmann

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:23
Chinese to English
The reason I think this isn't quite right May 17

Daniel Frisano wrote: ...please tell me where I am wrong

...but God forbid somebody translating for $0.04 a word... outrageous!

Your point about free markets is well-taken, but I do think there's a problem with that price point, in particular for translation into English and among European languages.

The problem is this: it seems to fall between two stools. These days, automatic translation is really quite OK - you can use it for quite a lot of situations in which you want to get the gist of something.

If you need something better than rough gist, you're going to need a professional. And professionals can't live at a price point which is too low. (Of course I'm generalising, but I don't think outrageously.) If you pay a human translator 0.04, then they can't be a professional (i.e. someone who makes a living from translation) living in a language-relevant country. And I'm afraid my opinion is that if you get your translation done by e.g. a student or a non-native speaker living in a low-cost country, then you have no guarantee that you will get better results than just plugging your document into Google Translate. If you think that you can get a better result, then you've been fooled.

It's a bit like buying a second-hand car, I suppose. It's always possible that you'll find a bargain for under a thousand quid, but there are no guarantees, and you are most likely to get a rubbish old banger. Given that rubbish old bangers are given away for free over the internet these days, I find this low-paid segment slightly fishy.

(Having said that, I spent some time in that segment myself. I did it as I was breaking into the industry, on my way to a more stable price level, at which I could maintain a decent income. For me, it was effectively "trainee rates".)

There will, of course, be some exceptions to the generalisation above. But I think customers deserve to know this information. As most customers are not in our industry, they genuinely don't know; the clearest bit of information they get about what we do is the price signal.


Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:23
English to Italian
"This is the kind of reminder that EVERYONE in our industry needs!" - Your words May 18

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

Then we should also inform those translation agencies and clients who seem to hold a similar perception...

The difference with how Australian agencies treat you is remarkable. Now, working as a certified translator in Australia where agencies only hire certified translators, all agencies offer very high rates and treat translators professionally with high esteem. International agencies are a mixed bunch, some are good, most are like sweatshops!

Yeah, well, good for you, but since your appeal was aimed at every single translator, worldwide, I think that's something you should take into account as well. It's not just translators who devalue themselves, but several clients give them a big "helping" hand in that...

Personally, I am accredited with my national association, but I can tell you that no client/agency has ever rolled out a red carpet before me because of that... (or even just said: "Since you already passed a translation test to get accredited, we're losing ours").


Lian Pang  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:23
Member (Mar 2018)
English to Chinese
+ ...
lol May 19

Tom in London wrote:

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

....they need quality for their own economic purposes, like selling products. And I also think that the quality market segment is growing overall.

When we laugh at very bad translations, such as this one:


- we're laughing at a cheap, poor-quality translation of the instructions for what is probably a cheap, poor-quality product.

There will always be cheap translators for poor-quality products. They're probably becoming cheaper and cheaper.

But not all products are cheap and poor quality. There are high quality products that require translations of the very highest quality.

Once at a sushi place, I was was browsing the menu when suddenly noticed a wok called "chicken with chicken with chicken"

Guess what I ordered that day


jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:23
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
The assumption May 19

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:

I tend to assume that the majority of the translation community are highly skilled and educated and that only the minority may be questionable. That's why I shared this!

Your assumption might be true to your language pair but might not be true to mine.

I just proofread a file translated by someone who is almost done with her master's degree in translation. It is a 300 word file. Guess what, I had to make 20 corrections.

And this case is not an exceptional one.

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