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Poll: Where do you think the future of translators lies?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

Guofei_LIN  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 18:51
Chinese
Machine translation Nov 5

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
And what do you think who created those machine translations? Who put the data in them?
Yes, human translators. So why a machine would be more reliable than human translators?
Machine has no human logic and professional calling either.

That's the kind of philosophical argument clients will never bother to enter into when faced with what they may dismiss (unjustly) as a biased sales pitch by a human translator.

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
Clients and end-clients have the ability to "sniff" professional and reliable human translators.

You think so?

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
The question is whether greediness will lead them to a "false machine world" or they will be smart enough to understand that excellence lies in professional calling (for example reviewing the translation more times, or when there is not enough context information then you make a phone call or you ask for further images concerning a new device to be able to give the best and most accurate translation for a part of the device etc.). When will a machine do this? Never.


There are savvy buyers of translation services such as the UN, but I don't think they can single-handedly save the industry.

For other clients, you can also blame the situation on 'greediness' of incompetent translators which leads a lot of them to mislead clients when competing for business, with the result that the general satisfaction with the quality of human translators is very low. Unless the translation industry can sort this out, I don't think clients, who are not professionals, are able to sort the things out for the translation industry. They will simply decamp. Some of them may rely on translation agencies to help them, and we all know how that turns out.

You may be right in believing that there are still clients who trust human translators for SOME of their translation needs, but their numbers are fast dwindling and when there are not enough jobs for human translators in the market, the quality of translation providers will also go down, it is a vicious cycle.


 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:51
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Professionals think differently Nov 5

Guofei_LIN wrote:

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
And what do you think who created those machine translations? Who put the data in them?
Yes, human translators. So why a machine would be more reliable than human translators?
Machine has no human logic and professional calling either.

That's the kind of philosophical argument clients will never bother to enter into when faced with what they may dismiss (unjustly) as a biased sales pitch by a human translator.

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
Clients and end-clients have the ability to "sniff" professional and reliable human translators.

You think so?

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
The question is whether greediness will lead them to a "false machine world" or they will be smart enough to understand that excellence lies in professional calling (for example reviewing the translation more times, or when there is not enough context information then you make a phone call or you ask for further images concerning a new device to be able to give the best and most accurate translation for a part of the device etc.). When will a machine do this? Never.


There are savvy buyers of translation services such as the UN, but I don't think they can single-handedly save the industry.

For other clients, you can also blame the situation on 'greediness' of incompetent translators which leads a lot of them to mislead clients when competing for business, with the result that the general satisfaction with the quality of human translators is very low. Unless the translation industry can sort this out, I don't think clients, who are not professionals, are able to sort the things out for the translation industry. They will simply decamp. Some of them may rely on translation agencies to help them, and we all know how that turns out.

You may be right in believing that there are still clients who trust human translators for SOME of their translation needs, but their numbers are fast dwindling and when there are not enough jobs for human translators in the market, the quality of translation providers will also go down, it is a vicious cycle.


This is your opinion. Me and many other professional translators think differently.
As I mentioned previously there are programmed hypes to "lead" the mass into accepting that machine translation is the future. The motive behind that is always money: they invested into machine translation.


 

Guofei_LIN  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 18:51
Chinese
Translation is business Nov 5

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
This is your opinion. Me and many other professional translators think differently.
As I mentioned previously there are programmed hypes to "lead" the mass into accepting that machine translation is the future. The motive behind that is always money: they invested into machine translation.

We are all in this business for money, it's just business, nothing wrong with that. The most important thing for human translators is to ask themselves if they can SUCCESSFULLY turn the tide. If not, better start thinking about a different future before it is too late. (I am one of those translators who have quit.)


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:51
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Agencies should use their judgment Nov 5

[quote]Guofei_LIN wrote:

..... 'greediness' of incompetent translators which leads a lot of them to mislead clients when competing for business, with the result that the general satisfaction with the quality of human translators is very low. Unless the translation industry can sort this out....


They can sort it our very simply by reading through and checking the work of their translators. That is surely a very basic role of any translation agency. But you seem to be unaware of it.

Very strange.

[Edited at 2019-11-05 13:03 GMT]


Katalin Szilárd
 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:51
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Hand-made and souls Nov 5

Guofei_LIN wrote:

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
Clients and end-clients have the ability to "sniff" professional and reliable human translators.

You think so?


Yes I think so.
There are many wealthy people who go to tailors to let their clothes hand-made.
Also many people appreciate human (!) hand-made stuffs, or hand-made food.
Not just wealthy but everyday people. Just as they sell and buy hand-made tables, etc.

Fortunately not that many people in this world are without souls.
Actually many people have souls in this world who don't want to live in a dystopian, dark and soulless world.


 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:51
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Wondering why you quitted? We don't know anything about you.... Nov 5

Guofei_LIN wrote:


We are all in this business for money, it's just business, nothing wrong with that. The most important thing for human translators is to ask themselves if they can SUCCESSFULLY turn the tide. If not, better start thinking about a different future before it is too late. (I am one of those translators who have quit.)


I don't know your expertise or experience in translation.

This is what I see this on your profile:

Guofei_LIN
NAATI accredited advanced translator E-C
Services Translation
Expertise Detailed fields not specified.
Experience Registered at ProZ.com: Sep 2016.
Bio No content specified



Profile last updated
Mar 6, 2018



[Edited at 2019-11-05 13:25 GMT]


 

Guofei_LIN  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 18:51
Chinese
Different reality Nov 5

Tom in London wrote:
They can sort it our very simply by reading through and checking the work of their translators. That is surely a very basic role of any translation agency. But you seem to be unaware of it.

Very strange.

[Edited at 2019-11-05 13:03 GMT]


Is that what is currently happening in the translation industry?


 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:51
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Present and future Nov 5

Guofei_LIN wrote:

Tom in London wrote:
They can sort it our very simply by reading through and checking the work of their translators. That is surely a very basic role of any translation agency. But you seem to be unaware of it.

Very strange.

[Edited at 2019-11-05 13:03 GMT]


Is that what is currently happening in the translation industry?


Good agencies are still able to detect good translators.
Enormous greed made many agencies step off this path and this is what is happening in the translation industry right now.
As I mentioned a few years ago only precious and real professional humans (!!) will be left in the industry, both in agencies and in translators.


 

Guofei_LIN  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 18:51
Chinese
My experience Nov 5

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
I don't know your expertise or experience in translation.

This is what I see this on your profile:

Guofei_LIN
NAATI accredited advanced translator E-C
Services Translation
Expertise Detailed fields not specified.
Experience Registered at ProZ.com: Sep 2016.
Bio
No content specified

Profile last updated
Mar 6, 2018


Guofei_LIN is not my real name. It is an online name based on the word 'linguaphile', which I transliterate into my native Chinese and then spell it in English to get a cool Chinese-sounding name. My real name is HE Li (HE is the surname). I'm certified by NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters Ltd., Australia http://www.naati.com.au ) as an advanced translator from English to Chinese. You can check this out on NAATI website, and while there, you will also find that I'm one of the five people (at least that was the case the last time I checked, maybe six months ago?) who are accredited at this level and in this direction.

I do not seek business through this forum so I didn't bother to provide more details in my profile, because I'm convinced that the rates offered here are not worth the trouble.

If, as you said, there are people who appreciate human hand-made stuff, then, by listing on the NAATI website as one of the top five choices, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect to receive one or two enquries from time to time from people who appreciate human translation quality? The truth is, I haven't received an enquiry for many months. The last time I received any enquiry was probably in 2018? (Yes, there are a few requests for translating driver licences, which do not count).

There are indeed people who appreciate the quality of translation I did for them. I worked for a very professional translation company for nearly 20 years (maybe 18 years?) and they showed appreciation for the quality of my service. The jobs they sent me accounted for 95% of my total translation business and kept me very busy until I stopped working for them early this year.

What I learned is that it takes time, years of time, for people to get to know you and trust you (Because there are times when clients, relying on some in-house bilingual people's opinions, would challenge your translation, and in these situations they (my agents) always stood by me because eventually I would be proven right and the clients' in-house guys wrong). But even professionals like themselves have to yield to market pressure and are unable to raise translation rates from the 1990s level, which means I have never seen a rate increase in these 20 years. (At approximately 12.82 USD per 100 English words at today's exchange rates, they are probably right when they, in answer to my request for raising rates, say that their rate is already higher than the current market level so they are unable to go higher).

I do not specialize for the simple reason that clients (or rather this one client) sent me all kinds of materials for translation, so I often found myself learning new things every week if not every day, and most of the newly acquired knowledge would find no use in future jobs. If only I could find enough work in a single specialized field, say, legal materials, I would have greatly improved my efficiency because I would not have to spend a lot of unpaid hours learning new things only to be discarded after the job was completed.

My daughter is graduating from university next month. She studies engineering in university and she has already received two offers (both are from Fortune 500 companies) before she even graduates. She starts on one job next month. Her starting salary as a new graduate is higher than what I can never hope to earn working as a translator at that depressed rate.

That's why I quit from that company early this year and am quiting from the translation industry altogether. I still hang on to my passion for language and love to talk to other language professionals, but I will not work as a translator any more.

Edited to fix the link to NAATI's website.

[Edited at 2019-11-05 20:56 GMT]


Sandra& Kenneth
 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Dutch to French
+ ...
Amazing story Nov 5

Guofei_LIN wrote:

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
I don't know your expertise or experience in translation.

This is what I see this on your profile:

Guofei_LIN
NAATI accredited advanced translator E-C
Services Translation
Expertise Detailed fields not specified.
Experience Registered at ProZ.com: Sep 2016.
Bio
No content specified

Profile last updated
Mar 6, 2018


Guofei_LIN is not my real name. It is an online name based on the word 'linguaphile', which I transliterate into my native Chinese and then spell it in English to get a cool Chinese-sounding name. My real name is HE Li (HE is the surname). I'm certified by NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters Ltd., Australia http://www.naati.com.au) as an advanced translator from English to Chinese. You can check this out on NAATI website, and while there, you will also find that I'm one of the five people (at least that was the case the last time I checked, maybe six months ago?) who are accredited at this level and in this direction.

I do not seek business through this forum so I didn't bother to provide more details in my profile, because I'm convinced that the rates offered here are not worth the trouble.

If, as you said, there are people who appreciate human hand-made stuff, then, by listing on the NAATI website as one of the top five choices, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect to receive one or two enquries from time to time from people who appreciate human translation quality? The truth is, I haven't received an enquiry for many months. The last time I received any enquiry was probably in 2018? (Yes, there are a few requests for translating driver licences, which do not count).

There are indeed people who appreciate the quality of translation I did for them. I worked for a very professional translation company for nearly 20 years (maybe 18 years?) and they showed appreciation for the quality of my service. The jobs they sent me accounted for 95% of my total translation business and kept me very busy until I stopped working for them early this year.

What I learned is that it takes time, years of time, for people to get to know you and trust you (Because there are times when clients, relying on some in-house bilingual people's opinions, would challenge your translation, and in these situations they always stood by me because eventually I would be proven right and the clients' in-house guys wrong). But even professionals like themselves have to yield to market pressure and are unable to raise translation rates from the 1990s level, which means I have never seen a rate increase in these 20 years. (At approximately 12.82 USD per 100 English words at today's exchange rates, they are probably right when they, in answer to my request for raising rates, say that their rate is already higher than the current market level so they are unable to go higher).

I do not specialize for the simple reason that clients (or rather this one client) sent me all kinds of materials for translation, so I often found myself learning new things every week if not every day, and most of the newly acquired knowledge would find no use in future jobs. If only I could find enough work in a single specialized field, say, legal materials, I would have greatly improved my efficiency because I would not have to spend a lot of unpaid hours learning new things only to be discarded after the job was completed.

My daughter is graduating from university next month. She studies engineering in university and she has already received two offers (both are from Fortune 500 companies) before she even graduates. She starts on one job next month. Her starting salary as a new graduate is higher than what I can never hope to earn working as a translator at that depressed rate.

That's why I quit from that company early this year and am quiting from the translation industry altogether. I still hang on to my passion for language and love to talk to other language professionals, but I will not work as a translator any more.

But if you don't work as a translator anymore, in which field do you currently work? You still need to make a living, don't you?


Katalin Szilárd
 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:51
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Wrong marketing Nov 5

Guofei_LIN wrote:

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
I don't know your expertise or experience in translation.

This is what I see this on your profile:

Guofei_LIN
NAATI accredited advanced translator E-C
Services Translation
Expertise Detailed fields not specified.
Experience Registered at ProZ.com: Sep 2016.
Bio
No content specified

Profile last updated
Mar 6, 2018


Guofei_LIN is not my real name. It is an online name based on the word 'linguaphile', which I transliterate into my native Chinese and then spell it in English to get a cool Chinese-sounding name. My real name is HE Li (HE is the surname). I'm certified by NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters Ltd., Australia http://www.naati.com.au) as an advanced translator from English to Chinese. You can check this out on NAATI website, and while there, you will also find that I'm one of the five people (at least that was the case the last time I checked, maybe six months ago?) who are accredited at this level and in this direction.

I do not seek business through this forum so I didn't bother to provide more details in my profile, because I'm convinced that the rates offered here are not worth the trouble.

If, as you said, there are people who appreciate human hand-made stuff, then, by listing on the NAATI website as one of the top five choices, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect to receive one or two enquries from time to time from people who appreciate human translation quality? The truth is, I haven't received an enquiry for many months. The last time I received any enquiry was probably in 2018? (Yes, there are a few requests for translating driver licences, which do not count).



I don't know NAATI that well to tell you the reason of that.
But many translators' authorities and associations have business interests in the translation industry (mainly in big translation agencies, softwares, CAT tools even machine translation), so you cannot expect them to send you jobs or job with high rates.
As far as I know there are only a very few such organizations that really defend translators' interests.
So if you are not new in this industry, you should know that
1) you have to specialize
2) you should do your own marketing: website, or on sites you trust.

[Edited at 2019-11-05 15:28 GMT]


 

Guofei_LIN  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 18:51
Chinese
Making a living and specialization/marketing Nov 5

David GAY wrote:
But if you don't work as a translator anymore, in which field do you currently work? You still need to make a living, don't you?


I guess each person has to make choices based on their own individual situation when deciding to leave the translation industry for greener pastures elsewhere. At this stage of my life (I'm turning 56 this week), I don't think it is advisable to start something new that entails picking up a totally new skill or getting new training. But for younger people (including my nephew), I strongly advise against translation as a career choice and if they are already in it, I advise them to quickly learn a new skill in another field, at least as a fallback plan.

I don't work in any field now. I have some rental income from three of the four properties that we own and I expect to receive pension from China in 4 years. I can probably receive a little pension here in Australia as well but I don't expect it to be a lot. My wife holds a regular job that brings in three times what I was earning as a translator in my best year. So instead of continuing in an unhappy, unfulfilling, under-appreciated job that is unrewarding in both monetary and all other terms, we (my wife and I) agree that I should give up the translation job and just be happy. Now I spend most of my time on reading books that I've always wanted to read but have never found time for and on learning language (English). My goal is to write a book.

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
I don't know NAATI that well to tell you the reason of that.
But many translators' authorities and associations have business interests in the translation industry (mainly in big translation agencies, softwares, CAT tools even machine translation), so you cannot expect them to send you jobs or job with high rates.
As far as I know there are only a very few such organizations that really defend translators' interests.
So if you are not new in this industry, you should know that
1) you have to specialize
2) you should do your own marketing: website, or on sites you trust.


NAATI is a not-for-profit company that is jointly owned by the nine governments of Australia. They are not involved in providing translation service and they do not send jobs to translators. They only provide certification to translators based on translators' education and exams. The idea is that potential clients in Australia/New Zealand/all over the world can consult the NAATI directory if they want to find certified (and supposedly the best) translators for their translation needs becasue all practising translators are listed there and are awarded a skill level (mine is advanced level for the English to Chinese direction. I also hold professional level certification for the Chinese to English direction, which is one level lower than advanced and there is much more competition).

There is a catch in each of the two remedies you offered with which to address translators' woes:

1) Specializing. For this you have to have enough work from either a single client in a single industry (I had a single client but they are a translation agency so they work in multiple industries, not in a single industry) or several clients all from the same industry. As an individual whose output capacity is limited by the fact that they only have 1,680 hours to sell each year, this makes it either impossible to manage or very precarious if you put all your eggs in a single client's basket.

2) Rates is the limiting factor for your second solution. If I was happy with the current market rate (between AUD20 to AUD25 per 100 English words here in Australia), which is THE SAME RATE AS 20 YEARS AGO or even lower, then I do not need to do marketing because I was already flooded with work from the translation agency that I was working for and I had also been approached by a few other agencies from here in Australia (and overseas) who indicated that they could keep me busy with a continuous flow of jobs, but then I would also be trapped in low income and afflicted by low morale problems (which may lead to long-term health problems). If, on the other hand, I raise my rates to what I believe is a fair rate that reflects the full value of my inputs as a professional (which includes years of education, continuous self-education, diligent research for each individual job, etc..), then I would be priced out of the market and no amount of marketing is going to help me there (Remember that, since you rely on marketing, you are basing your business model on continuously attracting and dealing with NEW clients who do not know you and who are unlikely to be prepared to pay higher than market rates - and we all know what the market rates are. If anything, you would be lucky if they do not ask you to provide a free service in the name of a lengthy test to prove you are up to the job.)

[Edited at 2019-11-06 05:20 GMT]


 

Guofei_LIN  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 18:51
Chinese
The paradox Nov 6

I would also like to point out the paradox of the belief that there are clients out there who have the ability to search out professionals and human translators while at the same time, when there is an official directory of translators glaringly available, the reason provided as regards to why those translators who are listed there as among the best translators and yet never or seldom hear from such quality-conscious clients is that they are not doing the right marketing. What happened to client... See more
I would also like to point out the paradox of the belief that there are clients out there who have the ability to search out professionals and human translators while at the same time, when there is an official directory of translators glaringly available, the reason provided as regards to why those translators who are listed there as among the best translators and yet never or seldom hear from such quality-conscious clients is that they are not doing the right marketing. What happened to clients' ability to sniff out professionals? All they need to do is a few click of the mouse, much easier than doing research on what toys to buy for their kids.

The truth is, clients do not spend more time reseaching for translators than they do on researching for what shoes to buy, where to go for the weekend, and what goes on sale in the local supermarket.
Collapse


 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:51
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Walls are built as barriers between high-end clients and best translators Nov 6

Guofei_LIN wrote:

I would also like to point out the paradox of the belief that there are clients out there who have the ability to search out professionals and human translators while at the same time, when there is an official directory of translators glaringly available, the reason provided as regards to why those translators who are listed there as among the best translators and yet never or seldom hear from such quality-conscious clients is that they are not doing the right marketing. What happened to clients' ability to sniff out professionals? All they need to do is a few click of the mouse, much easier than doing research on what toys to buy for their kids.

The truth is, clients do not spend more time reseaching for translators than they do on researching for what shoes to buy, where to go for the weekend, and what goes on sale in the local supermarket.



The truth is high-end clients are able to and they DO spend more time researching for translators...
That's why most really good translators have "to jump one wall after another recently....".


 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Dutch to French
+ ...
Specialization Nov 6

Specialization is key to success in the translation industry.
You can't be competitive in terms of prices and deadlines if you don't specialize.
I know the daily output of translator is 2500 words per day on average with a CAT.
I can translate 7 500 words per day or even a bit more without CAT, the reason being that I
specialize in legal and financial translation, so I don't have to look up each word in
the dictionary or elsewhere, which would be kind of a hell. I d
... See more
Specialization is key to success in the translation industry.
You can't be competitive in terms of prices and deadlines if you don't specialize.
I know the daily output of translator is 2500 words per day on average with a CAT.
I can translate 7 500 words per day or even a bit more without CAT, the reason being that I
specialize in legal and financial translation, so I don't have to look up each word in
the dictionary or elsewhere, which would be kind of a hell. I don't have to look for clients
because I work for specialized agencies. I'm competitive even though my prices are quite high
because I can deliver quality translations very quickly.

So if you want to be competitive, you have to specialize.
Translations agencies are still willing to pay high rates if you can work under tight deadlines.


[Modifié le 2019-11-06 09:18 GMT]

[Modifié le 2019-11-06 09:18 GMT]

[Modifié le 2019-11-06 09:20 GMT]
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Dan Lucas
 
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