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Rates for PEMT - large project
Thread poster: Gabriella Alberti

Gabriella Alberti  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:16
Member (2015)
English to Italian
+ ...
Nov 6, 2017

Hi everybody,

As part of a recruitment process for a Program Manager role, I was asked to provide a presentation about a possible translation project scenario.

The "possible" project details are: 2 million words into 6 languages with a 2 months' turnaround time.
I was given the list of languages and the budget (for each language specifically and then the total cost). The content is product titles and product description for an online retailer. Files are in excel format and CAT tool is Trados.

As a former project manager, if this request came in real life, I would say a big no to the client, trying to educate them that such amounts can't be covered in the specified timeframe if we want to assure quality (even if I split the wordcount into many translators, there would be no time to have the whole thing proofread by a single proofreader to assure consistency and quality).

I have then thought about PEMT, however I absolutely have no experience with it, aside a basic understanding of what it is, what it takes and how it works.

Mainly, I would like to ask experienced post-editors if they could help me understand the process in detail: what are the usual steps, and above all, the costs. In fact, as part of the scenario, I also have to calculate costs and margins (to be split between "external", i.e. freelancers, and "internal", i.e. PM and engineering hours).

Any help would be much appreciated!

Thank you in advance guys!

[Edited at 2017-11-06 16:02 GMT]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:16
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I charge the same rate for PEMT Nov 6, 2017

Machine translation is available to the translator for free. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason not to charge your full rate.

All the other buzzwords are just meant to confuse you.

[Edited at 2017-11-06 16:11 GMT]


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Gabriella Alberti  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:16
Member (2015)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Translation or proofreading rate? Nov 6, 2017

LegalTransform wrote:

Machine translation is available to the translator for free. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason not to charge your full rate.

All the other buzzwords are just meant to confuse you.

[Edited at 2017-11-06 16:11 GMT]


Can I ask you if you mean you still charge your full translation rate, or are you talking about proofreading rate?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
PEMT is translation by another name Nov 6, 2017

LegalTransform wrote:
Machine translation is available to the translator for free. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason not to charge your full rate.

All the other buzzwords are just meant to confuse you.

Very true . However, I can see it might be justifiablet to reduce your normal rate by a very small percentage if this particular project were to be implemented in the best way possible. If termbases were set up, monitored and added to during the project life-cycle, so that the most relevant jargon terms were automatically proposed rather than the ones that GT might pick (seemingly at random), then there might be a very slight saving in the translator's time.

But that slight time saving isn't going to happen when there's no time being spent on managing the project, i.e. coordinating the work of so many translators.


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 16:16
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Aren't we missing the point? Nov 6, 2017

The OP isn't talking about a freelance translator's perspective, she's talking about managing such a project.

I can't offer anything on that front either, but I can say that from my experience working with a hotel/flight booking website, a sort of automated translation process can be very effective if much of the text follows some sort of regular logic. In my case it might be a description of amenities, fees or check-in information.

I don't know the inner workings of that system, but I believe it's a sort of fragment assembly on steroids, with automated translation recognizing similar previous translations, identifying differing parts and substituting them based on other parts of the TM or termbase. It's actually pretty good most of the time, but requires a lot of existing TM entries, a consistent source text, and presumably a set of well-designed AT parameters.

Also, I do get paid in full for the AT segments.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:16
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No, full translation rate Nov 7, 2017

Like I said, MT is available for free, so there is absolutely no reason to give a discount at all.


Gabriella Alberti wrote:


LegalTransform wrote:

Machine translation is available to the translator for free. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason not to charge your full rate.

All the other buzzwords are just meant to confuse you.

[Edited at 2017-11-06 16:11 GMT]


Can I ask you if you mean you still charge your full translation rate, or are you talking about proofreading rate?


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Hans Lenting  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Member (2006)
German to Dutch
+ ...
PEMT or not to PEMT Nov 7, 2017

Yesterday I received this request:

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 09.34.54

I thought: "Product descriptions, so probably a lot of different terms that have to be researched and confirmed first."

Then I saw what they where offering:

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 09.35.13

So I placed this Italian agency on the spam list.


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Gabriella Alberti  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:16
Member (2015)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That's helpful to know Nov 7, 2017

Hans Lenting wrote:

Yesterday I received this request:

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 09.34.54

I thought: "Product descriptions, so probably a lot of different terms that have to be researched and confirmed first."

Then I saw what they where offering:

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 09.35.13

So I placed this Italian agency on the spam list.


From what I understand then, and please bear in mind I absolutely have no experience with PEMT therefore mine is - first of all - a study on the matter, agencies will usually recruit post-editors willing to work at proofreading rate, in order to cut costs.
To be really honest with you, this is what I thought too (otherwise, why would PEMT be cheaper, as many agencies claim?). Although, I also thought a good compromise would be to raise the rate to 0.035/0.04 - so still around proofreading costs, but not as much as a full translation rate (if we think basic translation rate of 0.06/0.07 per source word).
Of course I understand it really depends on the subject matter, and how the MT engine can be calibrated/customised for the domain requirements.

Product description is exactly what the "possible project scenario" entails, so for me it's important to know this type of subject matter is not really feasible in PEMT. Neither is a "split the wordcount it into bazillions translators and proofreaders" because there would be no way this project could go well.

I'm starting to think the agency I'm preparing this for is not expecting anything more than a "sorry, not possible" answer, which is what, as a former PM, I would say - should I receive a request like this from a real client. So maybe I shouldn't be searching for solutions at all.


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Hans Lenting  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Member (2006)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Catalogues/web sites with product description are the most difficult to translate Nov 7, 2017

Gabriella Alberti wrote:

Product description is exactly what the "possible project scenario" entails, so for me it's important to know this type of subject matter is not really feasible in PEMT.


This is not possible. MT systems perform a little better when segments contain a lot of context. Translating isolated product descriptions is already hard and boring for humans, it's still impossible for MT systems.

BTW: A reasonable price per word for a human translation would be in the range of 0.16 - 0.22 €.

Personally, I don't accept translation jobs for catalogues/web sites (any more). Just because prospects often want to see how difficult these are ... (Which is in some way understandable, since they are dealing with their products on a daily basis. So for them it's all a piece of cake ).


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:16
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
The big risk is... Nov 7, 2017

Gabriella Alberti wrote:
The content is product titles and product description for an online retailer. Files are in excel format and CAT tool is Trados.


The big risk is that translators considering this project will stare themselves blind at the fact that this is PEMT, and forget the project description: product titles and product descriptions, guys! And no context (no pictures). Any thinking translator should quote at least three to five times his normal rate.

Here's something like what the translator may be in for (random screengrab from Amazon):
product description

It took me almost 10 minutes to translate this 56-word text, even though I used Google Translate. I had to look up 3 terms in dictionaries (installed dictionaries, no paper), and google for one term that wasn't in any of my dictionaries to figure out how to make up a translation for it (had to visit a number of pages to figure it out). And... I think this was an easy one.

Here are the changes I made to the Google Translate translation (I tried to deviate from the machine translation as little as possible, even if it meant getting an inelegant translation):
product description2

(even if I split the wordcount into many translators, there would be no time to have the whole thing proofread by a single proofreader to assure consistency and quality).


Yeah, if the products are all like the one above, it would take 50 translators per language, at 250 words per hour, plus 5 proofreaders per language, assuming you can get them to work on this project full time for 2 months. Consistency would not be so important for this type of job.

I have then thought about PEMT, however I absolutely have no experience with it, aside a basic understanding of what it is, what it takes and how it works.


Using Google Translate speeds up my translation by about 20-30% for short full sentences (one line long) and long full sentences (longer than four lines long), and by about 30-50% for medium-length sentences (two to four lines long), but only if the material is familiar and if the source text is well written. Product titles and descriptions are not suitable for machine translation. The fact that I had used Google Translate in the above example may have increased my speed by about 5% (i.e. it would have taken me 20-30 seconds longer if I hadn't used Google Translate).

Mainly, I would like to ask experienced post-editors if they could help me understand the process in detail...


Despite the existence of this forum, I have not yet seen any "experienced post-editors" post on it. The best you can hope for are comments from ordinary translators who regularly use machine translation during non-PEMT type jobs.


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:16
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Should not happen, but it does... Nov 7, 2017

Gabriella Alberti wrote:

Product description is exactly what the "possible project scenario" entails, so for me it's important to know this type of subject matter is not really feasible in PEMT. Neither is a "split the wordcount it into bazillions translators and proofreaders" because there would be no way this project could go well.

I'm starting to think the agency I'm preparing this for is not expecting anything more than a "sorry, not possible" answer, which is what, as a former PM, I would say - should I receive a request like this from a real client. So maybe I shouldn't be searching for solutions at all.


AFAIK, some agencies and end clients actually use PEMT in conjunction with the "split the wordcount into bazillions translators" approach...

Personally, I did PEMT on a couple occasions (technical copy) then stopped altogether, as I believe it's not really worth it. In case of technical and repetitive texts and a well trained MT engine, then PEMT might be a viable approach, but rather than setting a per word rate, I think a per hour rate would be much more fair (same as with editing), possibly together with the indication of a realistic hourly output.

I agree with Samuel that MT is not really well suited for product descriptions, especially because there usually are strings made up of disconnected terms, product names, etc. also belonging to very different fields (e.g. clothing, IT, food, games, DIY, pet accessories, etc.) that can be very easily mistranslated by a MT engine.


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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:16
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Now you're talking! Nov 7, 2017

Gabriella Alberti wrote:

I'm starting to think the agency I'm preparing this for is not expecting anything more than a "sorry, not possible" answer, which is what, as a former PM, I would say - should I receive a request like this from a real client. So maybe I shouldn't be searching for solutions at all.


If they think it's possible, you might want to run in the opposite direction very fast.

I would tell them "of course it's possible. We simply tell the sales team to adjust the deadline to something realistic and Bob's your uncle."


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:16
English to Spanish
+ ...
The fly in the ointment Nov 7, 2017

What I consider the main problem in your recruiter's set of proposed details for a project to be managed is the timeframe: 2 months.

PEMT or not, MT or not, regardless of what software tool is being used, two months (60 days) is an impossible timeframe to even consider. Of course a client would say that nothing should be impossible to a professional of your stature, etc. but that's simply adulation and manipulation.

I would take myself out of the running on that project manager position (I was a senior project manager once) because the conditions are impossible and unworkable.

Assuming the requester/client/recruiter asks, so, what is a reasonable timeframe? then we could talk with them about the process of translation and how long it takes for each step, not skimping on anything. Whether it's rush or not, or whether the client wants to be the first to market this product line is irrelevant. If they can't prepare useful information to accompany their products, they shouldn't be in that business.

We translators forget sometimes that we can push back and demand the necessary time to accomplish the job. That's one way to apply our experience with our own translation projects to come up with reasonable time periods to get the job done, not imposed from outside by someone with poor or faulty knowledge of the translation process.

A corollary question: you can ask the client/requester/recruiter How long did your staff spend writing all these product descriptions in English (or whatever the source language is)? I'm pretty sure it took them far longer than 2 months.


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Gabriella Alberti  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:16
Member (2015)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agreed Nov 7, 2017

Mario Chavez wrote:

What I consider the main problem in your recruiter's set of proposed details for a project to be managed is the timeframe: 2 months.

PEMT or not, MT or not, regardless of what software tool is being used, two months (60 days) is an impossible timeframe to even consider. Of course a client would say that nothing should be impossible to a professional of your stature, etc. but that's simply adulation and manipulation.

I would take myself out of the running on that project manager position (I was a senior project manager once) because the conditions are impossible and unworkable.



I absolutely agree with you, in fact, what I think I'm going to do is provide catastrofic scenarios entailing PEMT, wordcount split into many translatoors/proofreaders and then stress how important it is to educate the client and propose a realistic turnaround time, which would allow the agency to keep the client in the long run based on their satisfaction for "our" quality translations


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Gabriella Alberti  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:16
Member (2015)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for the detailed examples/explanations Nov 7, 2017

Samuel Murray wrote:

Yeah, if the products are all like the one above, it would take 50 translators per language, at 250 words per hour, plus 5 proofreaders per language, assuming you can get them to work on this project full time for 2 months. Consistency would not be so important for this type of job.


I understand, however I still believe the agency would not be okay with me just providing this "possible" solution, knowing quality would be a risk. I mean, I wouldn't even present such solution at all - unless I do it like: look, we could do like this and risk quality OR... we could educate the client and tell them it's impossible in that timeframe.

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for the significant help you've given me with your detailed explanation and examples! Really appreciated!


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