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Poll: In which rate range would you include your average per word translation rate? (in €)
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
SITE STAFF
May 4, 2011

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "In which rate range would you include your average per word translation rate? (in €)".

This poll was originally submitted by Nicole Blanc. View the poll results »



 

David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 19:00
German to English
+ ...
Don't do words May 4, 2011

I only charge per line, and god (delete and enter appropriate deity or absence thereof i f appropriate) knows what it is in words

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other May 4, 2011

Does "rate" mean:
a) the rate I would LIKE to get?
b) the rate I set as basic before engaging in the customary unseemly haggling?
c) the rates I usually end up working for?

"Officially" I am currently in the top bracket so far, but in "the real world" I often end up taking on jobs that fall into the second category given (can't remember if it was 4-7 cents/wd.; I do find it annoying not being able to backspace on this site without losing what you've typed in...).... See more
Does "rate" mean:
a) the rate I would LIKE to get?
b) the rate I set as basic before engaging in the customary unseemly haggling?
c) the rates I usually end up working for?

"Officially" I am currently in the top bracket so far, but in "the real world" I often end up taking on jobs that fall into the second category given (can't remember if it was 4-7 cents/wd.; I do find it annoying not being able to backspace on this site without losing what you've typed in...).

I will often accept or offer lower rates if I think the job will be interesting or has a relaxed, flexible deadline, like a book I'm doing now. Which reminds me, why am I wasting time here... ???
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Paul Adie  Identity Verified
Germany
Spanish to English
+ ...
Transparency of rates. May 4, 2011

And here we go again with rates. To be perfectly honest, I think translators should be more honest about their rates and as such, here are mine in euros:

Agency rate: 0.07 - 0.10
Direct client rate: 0.09 - 0.14

The minimum rate applies to Spanish > English translations which are easy to understand. No fiddling with formats, just a plain, simple Word file and no chasing up native speakers to find out what the writer's meaning was. Texts which require more research
... See more
And here we go again with rates. To be perfectly honest, I think translators should be more honest about their rates and as such, here are mine in euros:

Agency rate: 0.07 - 0.10
Direct client rate: 0.09 - 0.14

The minimum rate applies to Spanish > English translations which are easy to understand. No fiddling with formats, just a plain, simple Word file and no chasing up native speakers to find out what the writer's meaning was. Texts which require more research (legal and medical for me) are charged at higher rates. I may charge more than the rates stated above due to urgency, a particular specialisation or having to consult with natives or specialists.

I'm sick of translation agencies paying peanuts and then charging the end client at least double without adding any benefits. Of course, not all of them work like this, but it is a reality in our sector. So instead of rushing around trying to create a silk purse out of a sow's ear and being paid a miserable rate, I prefer to charge a decent rate. I find this works out for the best in the end: the end client wants high quality, agencies/clients who know your work are willing to wait until you are available, weekend work comes with a surcharge, etc.

Is what I consider decent too low? Is it too high? I really have no clue as so many translators are unwilling to reveal their rates. Wouldn't it be better to share such information rather than conceal it and have a constant mania about it?

Happy translating!

Paul.
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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:00
Member
German to English
+ ...
Interesting May 4, 2011

David Wright wrote:

I only charge per line, and god (delete and enter appropriate deity or absence thereof i f appropriate) knows what it is in words


Just out of curiosity, where are your clients, David? I work for agencies all over Europe and haven't been asked for a line rate in years!

Personally, my average rate falls between two options, so I answered the more optimistic one. I'm slightly dismayed by the results of the poll thus far, though. There are a lot of people out there working for very low rates ... but I guess we knew that.


 

Fiona Gilbert Riley  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Language pairs, specialities May 4, 2011

These, among other things, will affect "average rates".

 

isabel murillo  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
Literary/Books translation, nothing to do with this! May 4, 2011

I consider myself not a "technical" translator but a books translator: I mainly translate fiction and non fiction books from English to Spanish.

And although I work for the most reputed publishing houses in Spain, and although I have nearly 20 years of experience as a translator, and although I have translated around 200 titles, some of them from authors reputed worldwide... the fact is that the rates for the literary translation in Spain have nothing to do with a charge per word.
... See more
I consider myself not a "technical" translator but a books translator: I mainly translate fiction and non fiction books from English to Spanish.

And although I work for the most reputed publishing houses in Spain, and although I have nearly 20 years of experience as a translator, and although I have translated around 200 titles, some of them from authors reputed worldwide... the fact is that the rates for the literary translation in Spain have nothing to do with a charge per word.

Current maximum maximum rates, for a translator with my background, are 12 euros / 1800 characters; however the standard rates I perceive are 11 euros /2100 characters. (With characters I mean characters+spaces in a Word file).

I don't dare to translate this to the standard word rate that applies to the technical translations... I am afraid I would die ipso facto!

For tell you the truth, I can't envision a way to solve this tremendeous gap. We are all translators, and everybody faces his/her own particular challenges. I assure you one thing: doing a quality translation of a book is not easy at all! To understand the feelings and nuances of the author, his style and his characters is tricky, at best.

well... just my five cents on a very busy day!
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Benoit HUPIN (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:00
English to French
+ ...
Fair rates for a heavily taxed country May 4, 2011

Agency : 0.09 - 0.12 € per word
Direct : 0.16 - 0.20 € per word

Those rates considerably narrow my geographical market (France, Germany, Scandinavia, Australia).
I almost don't work for the UK or the US where rates proposed are what we could call third-world rates. One should also take into account that the real net share for translator (after taxes and social contributions) is roughly 50 % of the invoiced amount in France. All in all, I am not so expensive...


 

Linda Bijl
Netherlands
Local time: 19:00
French to Dutch
+ ...
Stop working for these rates May 4, 2011

When I started working in the translation industry (about 4 years ago) translators in "common languages" wouldn't work for less than € 0.10 per word. Translators in mjore exotic languages, charged way more than this. I am shocked to see that so many translators only get paid € 0.04 to € 0.07 per word. I know it has been said a lot, but if you do this, eventually it will be impossible to gain a decent living as a translator. I have only been a full time freelance translator since last year,... See more
When I started working in the translation industry (about 4 years ago) translators in "common languages" wouldn't work for less than € 0.10 per word. Translators in mjore exotic languages, charged way more than this. I am shocked to see that so many translators only get paid € 0.04 to € 0.07 per word. I know it has been said a lot, but if you do this, eventually it will be impossible to gain a decent living as a translator. I have only been a full time freelance translator since last year, but I think you really shouldn't work for these low rates!Collapse


 

Paul Adie  Identity Verified
Germany
Spanish to English
+ ...
Happy to see this. May 4, 2011

I'm happy to see translators actually discussing rates, not saying things like "I'd charge double that", "oh, I charge more than that" or "I think that's far too low". I think we need to lose our embarrassment of talking about specific rates. Indeed, I think I may have to raise mine, a very nice thought!

Happy translating,

Paul.


 

Amandine Added  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:00
Member (2010)
English to French
+ ...
Between two so I choose the biggest May 4, 2011

I must admit, rates seem to be a real battlefield, it depends on the subject, the country, the client....
This poll tends to show that our work is, in most cases, undervalued.
As for me, I admit I do some humanitarian translation so in this cas I cut the rate but usually, it is between €0.06/word and 0.08/word with agencies and I do not have direct clients to this day (working hard on this).


[Edited at 2011-05-04 09:54 GMT]


 

B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:00
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
How informative is this poll? May 4, 2011

I think that this is fairly meaningless unless the rates are correlated with other information:
* Language pair
* Specialist field
* Qualifications and experience
* Competence generally and in specialist field

Sadly there are translators whose output is little better than machine translation, many of whom work into a target language that they might claim is their mother tongue, but that clearly isn't. There are also those who imagine that they can pick a spec
... See more
I think that this is fairly meaningless unless the rates are correlated with other information:
* Language pair
* Specialist field
* Qualifications and experience
* Competence generally and in specialist field

Sadly there are translators whose output is little better than machine translation, many of whom work into a target language that they might claim is their mother tongue, but that clearly isn't. There are also those who imagine that they can pick a specialist area of which they have zero experience and working knowledge and muddle their way through without even investing in a single specialist dictionary or trying to study the field they have chosen to parachute into. The above should consider themselves lucky to get even the lowest rates in the poll.

On the other hand, there are highly skilled and competent translators with working experience of specialist areas, who read widely in their area, attend and work hard at learning from conferences and training events and who deliver accurate translations, which could have been written by a professional in that field. They deserve to be in the top category.

BDF

[Edited at 2011-05-04 10:04 GMT]
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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 20:00
Turkish to English
+ ...
Source or target? May 4, 2011

I work in a pair with an expansion of about 55% from source to target word count, so the question is meaningless unless this point is specified.

 

Sandra Petch
Local time: 19:00
French to English
+ ...
Why are literary translators so poorly paid? May 4, 2011

isabel murillo wrote:

I don't dare to translate this to the standard word rate that applies to the technical translations... I am afraid I would die ipso facto!



I will never understand why literary translators are so poorly paid. Can anyone suggest a reason?

Recently the author of a technical work requested me as the translator and I had to reluctantly decline as the publisher was paying a third of my rate.

Having taken part in a literary translation competition for the fun of it, I appreciate what a difficult job literary translation is and cannot for the life in me comprehend why it isn't better paid.


 

Caroline Riera-Darsalia  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:00
Turkish to French
+ ...
evet :) May 4, 2011

Tim Drayton wrote:

I work in a pair with an expansion of about 55% from source to target word count, so the question is meaningless unless this point is specified.



I guess, the expansion in TR > FR may sometimes be higher than for TR > EN, I understand you very well, Tim!

Unfortunately, some people don't consider this fact at all when they charge pro source word. Some project managers don't know that Turkish is an agglunative language (!!!), some probably know but do as if they don't know

Anyway, good agencies finally accept fare rates... I don't have so many direct customers but usually I had good experiences: they understand better, probably because the direct dialogue we have with them is a bit different.

I'm rewriting my website since we are creating a cooperative translation office with 3 other colleagues. 2 of them work on Turkish > French of French > Turkish, our common profile: http://www.proz.com/profile/1398853. In the new version, we will give more information about the characteristics of our language pairs and we decided for example to mention clearly why the rates we apply for TR > FR and FR > TR are a bit different...

In my opinion, as translators working in such pairs, we should communicate much more about this kind of specificities!!!


 
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Poll: In which rate range would you include your average per word translation rate? (in €)

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