English-Spanish rates are just getting ridiculous
Thread poster: Cristina Golab

Cristina Golab  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:40
English to Spanish
+ ...
May 22, 2007

These are the rates an agency was offering me.

* Translation English into Spanish USD 0.024 per target word
* Translation Spanish into English USD 0.03 per target word
* Editing USD 0.01
* Proofreading USD 0.005 any language pair

That made me appreciate my current clients so much more. I just cannot believe those rates! I know the English-Spanish pair is a very common one, but that does not justify those extremely low rates.
I thanked the agency for contacting me, but I declined working with them. Not with those rates.
What it really uspets me is that I am sure someone will accept those rates and will help devaluing the language pair more and more.


Local time: 18:40
Portuguese to English
+ ...
gotten any emails? May 22, 2007

i wouldn't be surprised if someone sent you an email asking for the name of the company!


Richard Benham  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:40
German to English
+ ...
The problem is not just how common the pair is.... May 22, 2007

There are two issues here: the relationship between supply and demand (not just the available supply), and where the demand is coming from (as in from "rich" or "poor" countries). I suspect both factors may be working against you in EN>ES.

If my native language were Spanish, I would probably try to learn another source language as well as English.

Oh, and I have been offered similarly low rates (0.02 euro per word for DE>EN, or even 1 Indian rupee). So it is not necessarily your language pair that is the problem. There are some agencies out there that are just out to get your services as cheaply as they can.


Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:40
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Only one side of the story May 22, 2007

Hi Cristina,

This is apparently the lowest end of the market, which will continue to exist forever. That being said, we can all do something against a general downward trend (which I don't see, to be honest) by politely declining such "offers", as you actually did.

In my opinion, complaining about this situation is of no use whatsoever as this is only one of a large number of market segments. As you stated yourself, you've positioned yourself at a higher level. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the trivial but true statement that "you get what you pay for".



Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 12:40
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
I agree with Steffen, but not with Richard (at least not completely) May 22, 2007

Regarding Steffen's answer: The only solution to this would be for people all over the world to stop accepting such rates, but it's not going to happen. Not only is the SpEng pair extremely common, but it might be the one most flooded with non-professional translators because such a large segment of Latin America (not percentage-wise, but in sheer numbers) has a working understanding of English and feels that it can translate, which explains the astounding number of horrible translations that abound in the U.S. and in Latin America regarding this pair. Add to that the number of people that unethically accept any job, regardless of whether or not they have expertise in the field or can actually speak/write in the type of "Spanish" that is required, and you have a recipe for disaster. It's a perfect hit-and-run business. So Steffen is right: you reject those offers politely and move on. However, I do have to agree that there is somewhat of a downward trend in SpEng in the general market (and an annoying one,because agencies want more and more and pay less and less), which is why I stick to Deu>Eng for the most part, except for my long-time direct SpEng clients who appreciate the work I do.

Regarding Richard's answer: I actually have to disagree. I have done translation work for many large companies in Mexico (and other parts of Latin America), and while rates are not as high as, say, Deu>Eng in Germany, they are still pretty decent. .02/.03USD per word is REALLY pushing it.....wih the advent of outsourcing, some agencies simply love to bully people around (curiously enough -and not very surprisingly-, I've found that apparently a lot of agencies that pay low rates are also the ones that end up not paying for work!). Putting things into "rich" and "poor" country rates is oversimplifying, and definitely does not show a good understanding of economic situations and trends in Latin America. While most jobs are bound to not be paid as well, there is no standard ratio by which ALL job wages/rates are divided.


Local time: 05:40
English to Japanese
I take this issue seriously. May 23, 2007

Well, I feel the same way as Cristina does. That's frustrating for sure. In my language pair (Eng>Jpn), translation rates have also significantly dropped over the past few years. That said, this issue must be not only for the Eng>Spn pair but also for other language pairs.

We all know that agencies from China and India tend to offer ridiculously lower rates, which is somewhat understandable to me if their costs of living and other economic factors are considered. There's no way to stop them from offering such lower rates as we are supposed to live under a free economy system.

What makes this situation worse is that some agencies from Europe and US also try to take advantage of this situation; they are also following the downward price trend to compete with other agencies in their standpoint. In order for agencies to win a contract from their clients while securing their profit margin, they have to offer an attractive price to their clients, meaning that translators have to bear the burden, probably not equally. Agencies are in a better position than translators in terms of controlling market price. I don't think that this is merely a rich vs poor issue for that matter.

Some say that you, as a freelance translator, can make a decision about with whom you want to work by following your own rule. Others say that you should put yourself in the higher end of the market to avoid the price competition. But the thing is not that easy for every translator. There are always someone who accepts a job at a lower rate even if you think you are better qualified. Some compromise is called in this fierce competitive world. You just can't sit there with your impressive CV waiting for a job to come in.

There may not be an effective way to reverse this downward price trend at this moment, except that we all recognize that this is a serious issue to potentially prevents us from getting what we should really deserve from our hard work, and completely stop accepting a job at a lower rate. We'd rather focus on how we can raise our rates throughout the industry.


Cristina Golab wrote:
I thanked the agency for contacting me, but I declined working with them. Not with those rates.
What it really uspets me is that I am sure someone will accept those rates and will help devaluing the language pair more and more.


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English-Spanish rates are just getting ridiculous

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