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Quote requested for 1.5 million words in 15 days.
Thread poster: John Rawlins

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 2, 2009

I have just received an email from a Proz member in India asking me to quote on a project involving the translation of 1.5 million words from Spanish to English in just 15 days. The enclosed sample text was very technical.

I politely declined to participate.

Perhaps I am both unimaginative and unambitious, but I simply can't imagine the logistics of managing such a project and maintaining even a resemblance of quality. Surely, this must involve a minimum of 50 translators and proof-readers working full-time.

Am I missing something?



[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-09-02 13:48 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:11
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Lack of knowledge? Sep 2, 2009

John Rawlins wrote:
Am I missing something?

In my opinion the problem is the lack of knowledge of translation on the part of the person who asked you. It is simply impossible that one person can take care of the whole project (even if 90% of the translation was in a translation memory already). If the text has never been translated before, it could easily take 30-40 people. This is the kind of job for a large translation agency with a big database and a very idle team...

I reckon no agency can ask you as a freelance translator to fork out the pay of 30 people until you get paid?


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
Got it Also Sep 2, 2009

I did not bother to decline, just deleted it. I never cease wondering how or whether such business ever gets done. All I know is that my own business gets done. Plus, it's from India. There's nothing wrong with India except it's a bit far for me to go over and strangle them if they don't pay.

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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:11
Member (2005)
English to Japanese
+ ...
Similar Experience Sep 2, 2009

John Rawlins wrote:

I have just received an email from a Proz member in India asking me to quote on a project involving the translation of 1.5 million words from Spanish to English in just 15 days. The enclosed sample text was very technical.

I politely declined to participate.

Perhaps I am both unimaginative and unambitious, but I simply can't imagine the logistics of managing such a project and maintaining even a resemblance of quality. Surely, this must involve a minimum of 50 translators and proof-readers working full-time.

Am I missing something?



[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-09-02 13:48 GMT]


I got three or four inquiries from the same agency located in India (I don't know if it is the same agency you're talking about), but they asked me to handle 50,000 words in 5 days from Eng-Jap in the field of chemistry. I haven't seen the sample text, since I know that it's impossible to handle 10,000 words/day even if 90% of the work is in the translation memory like Tomas pointed out. So I just ignored the inquiry, since that agency had a bad reputation on Proz as non-payer plus the rate was like 0.02, way below my standard. I wonder if those PMs are aware that one translator can handle 10,000 words a day. And they never mentioned about any CAT tools, so I guess the job must be done without using any translation memory.


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Andreas Nieckele  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:11
English to Portuguese
They probably expect a machine translation Sep 2, 2009

Judging by the monstrous word counts, the short deadlines and the atrocious rates, I guess they at least imagine that the hired translator will just run it through MT and then perform a quick edit to fix only the most obvious errors...

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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:11
German to English
Editing alone would take a few weeks Sep 2, 2009

Even in the unlikely event all translators were using the exact same terminology and translating repeated phrases exactly, editing/checking 1.5 million words would take 15 days, assuming an editing rate of 1000 words/hour and a 10-hour working day (unlikely). This is overhead that can't be avoided, no matter the number of translators involved (and would increase exponentially, depending on the number of translators).

The end client has no concept of translation, and the agency involved has no concept of quality, much less project management.

I wouldn't be be surprised if this gets broken up among several agencies, each wanting 150,000 words in X number of days (15 -n) for 2 cents/word.


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Taña Dalglish
Jamaica
Local time: 17:11
Member (2008)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Eerily similar - and I can only imagine the rate offered? Sep 2, 2009

John Rawlins wrote: I have just received an email from a Proz member in India asking me to quote on a project involving the translation of 1.5 million words from Spanish to English in just 15 days. The enclosed sample text was very technical
.

This is eerily similar to another one which is discussed as length here, and the very same time frame: http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/144223-proz_quotation_requests_a_waste_of_time.html

Let me guess what they offered? (0.02 cents)!

Very strange indeed.

Warm regards to all.


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lukane  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't get me started... Sep 2, 2009

... on Indian agencies! But in all fairness, I have received offers for USD 0.02 from agencies in the US as well.

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sivtufte  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 00:11
English to Norwegian (Bokmal)
+ ...
They need not be just Indian to have monsterrous wordcounts... Sep 2, 2009

I've had agencies in ex Latvia send me repeative requests for wordcounts, like 11k + 3k + 2.5k, whom they expected delivered the same evening. As I explain to them, this is impossible to overcome. I might get the WC up if I had a team, but alone? No way. (I also work part time)

Rushing a job lowers quality too, so I can't see the logic in why they insist on pushing horrible jobs on to us. I'm actually responsible for the accurancy to my work, and I hate short deadlines because I feel it affects the outcome of my work.

Still I feel extremely sorry for those who work under such conditions, because some most definitely are underpaid and overloaded with jobs like this. Being stone cold and not accepting low payments will (hopefully) make it easier for translators worldwide to get a decent job for a decent rate.


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Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:11
English to German
+ ...
You did the right thing! You are a true professional! Sep 2, 2009

John Rawlins wrote:

I politely declined to participate.


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Henrik Pipoyan  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:11
Member (2004)
English to Armenian
Use the same tactics Sep 2, 2009

Demand prepayment in cash to be paid in 15 minutes. If they can do that than you're sure to handle 1.5 million words in 15 days.

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toniawind
Local time: 19:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nice... Sep 2, 2009

Henrik Pipoyan wrote:

Demand prepayment in cash to be paid in 15 minutes. If they can do that than you're sure to handle 1.5 million words in 15 days.


I totally agree with you, Henrik. I doubt that they will jump at the chance to send payment in minutes...

It never ceases to amaze me how clueless some people are (agencies, mainly) when it comes to word counts and delivery deadlines.

I mean, even a first-rate translator glued to his/her chair translating 24/7 (minus a few minutes a day for food, sleep, general hygiene and bathroom breaks) can only put out so many thousand words per day of high-quality work.

I have experienced some terrible high-volume rush projects (and lived to tell the tale). On one particular project, in addition to insisting on a ridiculous turn-around time for the large project, the agency kept e-mailing me every half hour or so "just to see if I would be able to deliver earlier than planned".

I really have no patience with these types of agencies...especially when they are trying to get a 10,000-word technical translation done for $0.02-0.03 a word by first thing in the morning. Ugh. It really is a little disheartening....

Tonia


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xxxAguas de Mar
I wonder if the are really clueless Sep 3, 2009

toniawind wrote:
It never ceases to amaze me how clueless some people are (agencies, mainly) when it comes to word counts and delivery deadlines.

Tonia


This type of offer has always sounded to me like the "Nigeria scam" of the translation field. I have yet to hear of a happy ending for such projects.


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José Carlos Ribeiro  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:11
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Words of a wise person Sep 3, 2009

Thank you all for your enlightening posts!
I was told, once upon a time, that a good deal is only good when it's good for both parties.
Luckily, in my almost 15 years as a freelance translator, I had one (just one) client who failed to pay me for the last job I did for him. And he was splitting a job he was unable to cope with alone.
I try do adhere to the "good deal" idea as much as possible, and "politely refuse" or simply "delete" job offers which I judge to fall far from that class.
By the way, ANYTHING below 4 EURO cents/word is ignored.
I am convinced I'll never get rich translating, but I am very seldom idle (luckily).


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:11
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
It's 150 days just for editing (10,000 per day) Sep 3, 2009

For editing, you would need

10,000 words per day x 150 days (one hundred and fifty days).
More than 150 days if the text is pre-translated with MT.

For translation + editing + proofreading etc you will need 10 translators working exclusively on a project like this for approxinately 50 days and the editors working simultaneously... best case scenario with 10 translators and 5 editors would be 2 months.

Nevertheless, these are usually not serious proposals.


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