Virtual conference for freelancers session (2010): Trends and factors affecting rates in the translation industry

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Katarina Lindve  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 21:46
Member (2008)
English to Swedish
+ ...
You get what you pay - or? How do we make the point that translation is not only about language? Sep 30, 2010

I started in this business with proofreading, reviewing and correcting translations - where my background as a journalist served me well. I did, however, become more and more frustrated with the level of the translations and went back to University for a Master Degree in Translation. I found that I had the best of foundations from my year as a journalist but that I learnt something new every day regarding translation and taking responsibility as a translator, arguing as the expert on translation for the point of the reader. My problem is that I am constantly approached by companies not wanting to pay properly as there is always other people, not translators rather people with language skills, who agree to work for nothing. Proofreading for USD5/hour is one example! And of course, I also has to compete with individuals not paying taxes on their incomes. I wish there were some way of setting a limit as to what salary a company here on www.proz.com could offer - or a warning for extremely low salaries.

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Eli_Buch
Local time: 21:46
English
Sometimes, translation costs more than the actual creation of the data Sep 30, 2010

I know that a work well done deserves to be paid correctly, but did you know that in some cases the cost of the translation is actually higher than the initial costs of the creation (research and writing) of the document?
In such cases, no wonder the client will be astonished to see the costs and will certainly want to reduce them.
For the sake of clarity: I'm talking about documents "Made in Europe", by local (European) Law practitioners and translated by European translators, so actually a translator will sometimes chrage as much as a Lawyer...
Sure, it's not always the case, but it happens quite often.


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Traducendo Co. Ltd
Malta
Local time: 21:46
Member (2008)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Balancing translation costs and translation value Sep 30, 2010

I think that the actual rate trend has been caused by agencies.
The profit of translation agencies is sometime so big that represent more than the half of the translation price. This distorted the market and pushed clients to look for freelancers and try to pay them less and less.
My idea is that there should be some sort of deontological regulation of profits among translation agencies and an education to good translation among clients.
Is to say, we cannot let translation agencies ask for 18 euro cents the word to clients and then pay translators 6 euro cents or even less. And we have to explain clients that if they want to pay 4 euro cents the word for a translation, then they cannot pretend to have a perfect translation.
I think it will be long, but we have to work on this direction.


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Ariel Valerio
Philippines
Local time: 04:46
English to Tagalog
Maintaining quality translation in the local languages difficult in "globalized" industry Sep 30, 2010

I have been translating clinical trial documents for the past five years until I encountered proz.com online and another website that caters to translators. In the other website, I found out that the "top grosser" is someone who owns a small company based in Makati -- the commercial center of the Philippines -- and simply farms out his translation jobs to unwary hands. The circle of translators in the Philippines is small and those who can deliver quality translation know each other well. This guy has no record whatsoever of translations done in the previous years or even literary works to prove any qualification at all. The point is this: how does one maintain quality translation when the "globalized" industry cannot identify those who are qualified and those who are not to handle translation jobs?

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Alexandra Cox  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:46
French to English
+ ...
Sort of ties in with lindve's comment Sep 30, 2010

Different clients have different perceptions regarding what translation involves. Some clients (or end clients of clients) are writers themselves and understand the aims of a piece of effectively written text - whatever the aim may be in their particular case. Others (arguably the majority of) - for example, corporate clients just want to have a text that gets their message across, and if it's in bland jargonese - therefore slightly "easier" from a translator's point of view - TMs etc. can be used, turnover is faster - then that's fine, of course. The trouble is, clients who don't quite understand what writing involves hear of a rate set for a "straightforward" text, created using a TM, and expect to pay the same rate for a text where more "creative effort" - and consequently time spent on it - is required on the part of the translator.

[Edited at 2010-09-30 14:46 GMT]


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sdtpowell
Local time: 20:46
French to English
The value of frank discussion Sep 30, 2010

Negotiating rates is certainly tricky. The difficulty is in establishing an initial relationship to enable the client to gauge the value, i.e. quality, of your work and your reliability as a supplier, and the translator to ascertain whether the client is one with whom they can work comfortably and professionally (in addition to determining whether the proposed fee and terms are acceptable). Offering an initial discount (against early payment) sometimes helps but it must be clearly stated at the outset that the goal is to agree a professional rate. I have been fortunate in forging relationships with certain clients that enable us to discuss rates openly. I would suggest that an early email or call suggesting a discussion of rates, deadlines and payment terms might be welcomed by some potential clients. The negotiation process itself can be a useful gauge of the likelihood of a positive working relationship. I would add that I usually take the prevailing 'market rate' and add a percentage above this to represent my experience and specific skills. This said, I recognize the need for flexibility and the differing needs of my clients. A translation for comprehension will not require the work and time needed polishing a translation for publication and the fee should reflect this.

[Edited at 2010-09-30 14:02 GMT]


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Marie-Claire Beckx  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:46
Member (2009)
German to French
+ ...
How good translation work is being valued Sep 30, 2010

After having started my own translatation office I found that the translation world is changing very rapidly. The most difficult part is to make clients understand that even if there are TM systems available all over the world, automatized translation does not replace man/woman-made translations. The time spent on a good translation is always worth it and after some start-up difficulties I found clients who understood that paying several times bad translations is not really a good deal. Of course, the turnover is faster and it is a matter of agreeing on a sensible time-scale to get the job done properly. What I avoid now is to take too much on my plate. I prefer to say 'no' when the conditions of time or money are too short-sighted. It is good to have a worldwide community for translators to communicate about how the translation world is moving in the next decades. It is worth the while to get connected and updated on new ways of translation.

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Oleksandr Myslivets  Identity Verified
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
QUESTION Sep 30, 2010

Question. What are the criteria to make a decision that the translator is suitable or not suitable? I am sure that in the first place there is still the use the specific CAT-tool. Everybody knows which one! While it is more reasonable to handle file formats to work with. And the translator skills are irrelevant. This is followed by price / performance ratio. At that the highest quality of translation is meant by itself. I emphasize the highest quality in general but and not specific quality of the translation of the specific translator. And in last place - value for money is. Your comments?

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gringobr  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:46
Portuguese to English
+ ...
CAT tools Sep 30, 2010

Do these really help? I have never used them, I did try one a bit and found it was more of a hindrance than a help
I can type fast, have 3 monitors on my computer so can research on one, while working on another. I can do 10,000 words or more of top quality translations per day.. I find it hard to see how a CAT tool can improve on that
Comments please...


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Sara Bollati  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 09:46
Italian to English
+ ...
You get what you pay - or? How do we make the point that translation is not only about language? Sep 30, 2010

lindve wrote:

I started in this business with proofreading, reviewing and correcting translations - where my background as a journalist served me well. I did, however, become more and more frustrated with the level of the translations and went back to University for a Master Degree in Translation. I found that I had the best of foundations from my year as a journalist but that I learnt something new every day regarding translation and taking responsibility as a translator, arguing as the expert on translation for the point of the reader. My problem is that I am constantly approached by companies not wanting to pay properly as there is always other people, not translators rather people with language skills, who agree to work for nothing. Proofreading for USD5/hour is one example! And of course, I also has to compete with individuals not paying taxes on their incomes. I wish there were some way of setting a limit as to what salary a company here on www.proz.com could offer - or a warning for extremely low salaries.


Absolutely. As a translator or interpreter you are a professional. why should you and your work not be respected as such? do we cut corners when we require a lawyer or an accountant? can we get good work and not pay for it? can we get out of a sticky situation by using such professionals' expertise and expect not to adequately reward their work and effort? answer is no. nonetheless it seems to me that translators are not respected as professionals. and this comes from the fact that there are people out there cutting corners, getting work done for free or next to nothing by people who are not even qualified and are happy to have some ready cash in hand and do not care about the level of damage this creates to our profession.

[Edited at 2010-09-30 22:43 GMT]


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 03:46
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
My productivity improvement Oct 1, 2010

gringobr wrote:

Do these really help? I have never used them, I did try one a bit and found it was more of a hindrance than a help
I can type fast, have 3 monitors on my computer so can research on one, while working on another. I can do 10,000 words or more of top quality translations per day.. I find it hard to see how a CAT tool can improve on that
Comments please...

I met with declining translation rates but I recovered my income level by using efficient CAT tools cleverly (work more in less time). This tactic is learned out of mass production industry. I wonder how our jobs become a mass production business: will translation working style change due to declining price level?

Soonthon Lupkitaro


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:46
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
feedback to Katalin and Nancy on their comments on MT Oct 15, 2010

Both of you mentioned the testing of MT. Nancy specifically said Google Translate, and Katalin hinted toward the MT available on the web. As I mentioned in the MT panel at this conference, it is not the non-customizable MT technologies like these which are successful. It is always the customizable (eg, usually paid) technologies which are well trained, organized and implemented which have provided successful results. There are many, many MT systems and paid software for FR > EN, and a range of tools for Japanese > EN which can be used. As for Hungarian, it is much more limited ( English-Hungarian MT : MetaMorpho ; Hungarian-English MT using GenPar from searching). See that panel session on the details of that topic from the freelancers point of view, and I also provide a MT for freelancers webinar on ProZ that was just completed this week.

Great overall discussion on the topic of rates. Thanks to all for your opinions.


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Madeleine Chevassus  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:46
Member (2010)
English to French
what about competition with south countries? Oct 16, 2010

I am new in this business, I don't yet use CAT tools.

I need to make money rather quickly to fund my new PC, softwares and training sessions.
Moreover I'll have to pay a 24% tax as Auto-Entrepreneur (investment is not deductible).
Also I would like the rates in Euro to be taken in account!

I noticed very low prices offered by "agencies" in India, Russia etc.(example: $0.04 per word or less).

It is very difficult to accept such prices which are far under minimum rate according to proz average, or SFT (French Translators union).

When I quote if I indicate $0.09 - 0.15 - and of course I lack also experience - I am not selected.

Thanks for your help





[Edited at 2010-10-16 11:50 GMT]


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Madeleine Chevassus  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:46
Member (2010)
English to French
what about competition with south countries? Oct 16, 2010

I am new in this business, I don't yet use CAT tools.

I need to make money rather quickly to fund my new PC, softwares and training sessions.
Moreover I'll have to pay a 24% tax as Auto-Entrepreneur.
Also I would like the rates in Euro to be taken in account!

I noticed very low prices offered by "agencies" in India, Russia etc.(example: $0.04 per word or less).

It is very difficult to accept such prices which are far under minimum rate according to proz average, or SFT (French Translators union).



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Janis Abens  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 22:46
Swedish to English
+ ...
CAT tools Oct 30, 2011

I agree... but only sometimes, MDBs (phrases and sentences) that will never match a future phase or TDBs (words) that will only frustrate are a waste of time... othertimes, properly trimmed, they save my day.
Voice recognition software is a close second. Physically retyping words more than a couple of hundred times in a lifetime is a lifetime of suffering...


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Virtual conference for freelancers session (2010): Trends and factors affecting rates in the translation industry

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