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Poll: Do you think a translator should charge extra when delivering the TM of a particular project?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 09:16
Jul 30, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think a translator should charge extra when delivering the TM of a particular project?".

This poll was originally submitted by INES Reisch. View the poll results »


Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:16
Hebrew to English
Don't work with cats, least for me...... Jul 30, 2012



Emin Arı  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:16
English to Turkish
+ ...
No as it is byproduct Jul 30, 2012

Well it is just a byproduct of main job and translator do not extra work to establish a TM. By the way any outsourcer can make a TM from any bilingual file(s), not a brain surgery!


Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:16
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Not really Jul 30, 2012

I use Trados a lot and, in the majority of instances, the customer provides me with a TM to use for concordance and checking legacy translation, as well as a termbase and other reference materials (press releases, catalogs, etc.), i.e. confidential and proprietary information, that they have prepared and maintained.
Even if I'm not asked to deliver the updated TM, I am asked to deliver a bilingual file, from which they can extract new and updated translation units. As Emin just stated, it's dead easy!

I really don't see how I can charge extra for the TM, when, in fact, it might contain proprietary information authored by others, anyway.

I think the borderline as to where the copyright lies in this particular case, at least, is very fuzzy and not worth pursuing since the customer and translator are both sharing and collaborating in the same project. In fact, the information they provide me makes my work easier. icon_smile.gif


Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:16
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
Other: would be nice Jul 30, 2012

But I can't imagine ever being able to negotiate those terms.

It does grate slightly that a company could potentially use your intellectual property time and time again to turn a profit without paying you for it.


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jul 30, 2012

I too am wary (pax Simon) of giving my TMs to anyone, expect perhaps very occasionally to personally trusted friend/colleagues. In general, I prefer not to go about dispensing my carefully-wrought pearls to what I imagine as a legion of hungry swine poised to plunder my lexical trough... I also hate it when clients send me TMs put together by others, which thankfully isn't often.

If a client ever wants a TM corresponding to a project, I make up a specific one for that particular case, but don't usually consider charging extra for it, since it involves negligible effort on my part.


Isabelle F. BRUCHER (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:16
English to French
+ ...
Plea Jul 30, 2012

I suppose the Asker is talking about new TM files, not legacy TM files, since it is probably harder to check how much you added to them (although...).

This TM file is worth money in the eyes of the customer, otherwise he wouldn't be asking for it:

1. It makes the customer save time, thus money, if he does not have to create the TM file himself.

2. It will allow the customer to ask further rebates on later translations, so it is worth money to him, no doubt.

3. It makes the customer independent from you, so it is worth money to you too.

4. In order to be able to provide him with a TM file, you had to invest in a (sometimes very expensive!) CAT tool. So this TM file DOES have a production cost, contrary to what was said earlier here!

I do not see why the translator cannot ask something in exchange for this.

It all depends what has been negotiated from the start.

Usually when the customer asks for a CAT tool to be used, that implies getting the TM file for free - or at least they try, so it is better to confirm this in the initial agreement.

If he hasn't asked for a CAT tool, then he is not entitled to the TM file. That's all.

For example, I once translated a website for a customer (agency) who had NOT asked for a CAT tool to be used. After I had delivered the translation (in MS Word), he subtly asked for the TM file in a later e-mail.

I just, plainly, IGNORED the e-mail.

And when the website had to be updated, a few months later (seasonal products), he turned to me and I got the job... and at a HIGHER RATE than the first time, on the ground that there were fewer words this time !!!!!

If I had given him my TM file, he might have chosen another translator and/or asked for a rebate on the basis of the TM file!

That being said, I have stopped using CAT tools as they make me lose time on the whole. They have been conceived by computer technicians who do not understand what translating is all about - and it is a very complex process indeed. Intermediaries are just using them to arrogantly demand rebates, that's all what they are really interested in...

Also, in some subject matters, CAT tools are NEVER used, because it is generally admitted that each word is important, it cannot be assumed that a same source word will always be translated the same way and it is too important that the translator pays full attention even to repeat words... So...

Guys, generally speaking, when a customer asks you a favour, at least, always try to get something in return. If he asks for it, it means it is worth something in his eyes!

If not for your own sake, at least for your colleagues' sake, because afterwards intermediaries will take it for granted!

Thank you very much.
For the rest of the profession...


Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
@Isabelle Jul 30, 2012

I do agree with you, but unfortunately most translators are simply not in a position to charge extra - they have no power with the agencies they work for, and they have generally signed agreements giving up every conceivable right.

Giving up copyright to the translated text is standard in this business anyway, so whether it is in Word format or Trados segments ultimately makes little difference.


Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:16
German to English
Couldn't agree more with Isabelle Jul 30, 2012

added: "with Isabelle"

Dear Isabelle,

Thank you for infringing upon my intellectual property rights by reading my mind and then writing down what I would have said better than I could have expressed it. (Regarding the main topic, that is: I don't personally have a problem with CAT even in a field where it is unusual.)

(By and large) sincerely,

[Edited at 2012-07-30 11:26 GMT]


Manescu Alexandra  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:16
Romanian to English
+ ...
question Jul 30, 2012

What is TM?


Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:16
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Translation memory Jul 30, 2012

TM = translation memory. If you translate using CAT tools such as wordfast of Trados, the program will create a translation memory containing the original fragments and your translation of these.

When an agency provides me with a TM, I don't lower my rates. When they ask me for the TM for a translation I have done for them, I don't charge extra. As mentioned before, it is very simple to extract a TM from a bilingual file anyway.


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:16
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
@ Alexandranow Jul 30, 2012

TM - Translation Mermory = an electronically created "dictionary".icon_smile.gif

A created TM file is - basically speaking - the translator's intellectual property.
Since the use of intellectual propery is usually linked to a fee, there's no reason why a translator should not charge extra when the client requests the TM file along with the translation.

As Isabel has pointed out, a request for the TM file to be delivered will bring some financial gain to the client, either in the form of reduced rates or even the creation MT text.

To back up the possible money value of a TM file for a client (in the worst case), here's what I've received the other day:

It was an offer for future collaboration from an agency. My rate was acceptedicon_smile.gif , but to the same email several documents were attached outlining what the agency expected from me.

One of these attachments displayed the reduced rates the agency was willing to pay (and expected me to accept) for full matches = 0.0% of the rate, 76 - 99 % matches =5 % of the inital rate, 66 - 75% matches = 10% etc.

Only matches that were less than 9% matches paid the full rate. And, of course, the agency expected the delivery of the edited TM file at no extra charge.

Perhaps I'm mistaken, but to me it seemed that all words exceeding a 9% match would be translated at my expense.


Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:16
English to Spanish
+ ...
No, who asks for the TM anyway? Jul 30, 2012

Clients requesting the translation memory file after a project is finished have become a rare sight. At least in my side of the pond.

@Thayenga, I don't think a TM can ever be a dictionary, but a glorified lexicon or glossary. Dictionaries contain definitions, TMs don't.icon_smile.gif

I am with the rest of my colleagues regarding the copyright issue. If I understand it correctly, a translation, being usually a work for hire, supposed the surrendering of our translator copyrights to the translation buyer, but that work for hire does not cover translation memories, glossaries or any other by-products. For that, the client must pay extra.

Having said that, I have a beef with the current copyright laws as the rights of translators as authors of a translation are not considered or become invisible. That's why I began not to sign work-for-hire agreements with direct clients. The translations are my own, warts and all, damn it.

For clients who don't care whether I use CAT tools or TM files, I keep those files and byproducts for myself, and to benefit the client in future projects.


Rita Utt  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:16
English to German
+ ...
No TM Jul 30, 2012

I think he should not give deliver any TMs.


Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:16
Member (2006)
German to English
No Jul 30, 2012

If you are assigned with translating a job specifically in a CAT tool, then why on earth should you expect more money for delivering the TM??

If they do not specify that you should use a CAT tool, then it may be different.

But seriously, has anyone heard of WinAlign, if you do refuse to deliver without expecting payment for it?

All you manage there is to loose a customer, and sorry, as for "infringing upon my intellectual property rights", you cant be serious, the source text did not originate from you ....

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