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Low cost translations vs. professional service
Thread poster: Pablo Bouvier

Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:39
German to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 4, 2009

Do you think "low cost translations" are compatible with a "professional service"?
Please, add your real name and take the poll at www.doodle.com/pfugx6zhgxtetfp4
Thanx in advance!


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:39
English to German
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A question Nov 5, 2009

Shouldn't it read "amateur translations" instead of "low cost"? I know excellent translators who are offering their services at rates that make me shake my head.

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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:39
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Low cost translations vs. professional service Nov 5, 2009

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Shouldn't it read "amateur translations" instead of "low cost"? I know excellent translators who are offering their services at rates that make me shake my head.



Hi, Nicole: With low cost translations I was not thinking about amateur translations, but rather about the agencies or translators that offer low cost translations as a professional service. The idea came to my mind having observed that one of the advertizing slogans (a counter-productive one, in my way of seeing) was precisely this: cheap translations, inexpensive translations, low cost translations, etc. I believe that urgency and low prices are scolded with professionalism and quality, but obviously this is only my way of thinking.

[Editado a las 2009-11-05 03:17 GMT]


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Subhankar Chakrabarty  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 11:09
Member (2009)
English to Bengali
+ ...
Professional Vs Low Cost / Amateur translations Nov 5, 2009

Yes, 'amateur' is a better word of course. Actually, real freelancers (who work mostly as individual only) can offer low cost translation service. However, depending upon the background and experience of the person he/she may provide quality translations. So be it low cost/amateur it does not necessarily mean that the quality will not be at par with the professionals.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:39
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Absolutely // Not at all Nov 5, 2009

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
Do you think "low cost translations" are compatible with a "professional service"?


Yes. No. What do you mean? How do you define "low cost translation" and, more importantly, what do you mean by "compatible"?

Obviously there is a threshold at which translations are done too cheaply to achieve the quality required by the client's needs, but above that threshold everything is possible.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:39
French to German
+ ...
Low-cost vs. professional Nov 5, 2009

Pablo Bouvier wrote:

Do you think "low cost translations" are compatible with a "professional service"?
Please, add your real name and take the poll at www.doodle.com/pfugx6zhgxtetfp4
Thanx in advance!


Hi Pablo,
if your question is "Would you offer your professional services at the price of low-cost translations?", my answer is clearly a big NO. Some clients tend to think that adapting e.g. the layout of a 20-pages PowerPoint file has to be included in a rather common rate of e.g. 0.08 euros/SW ex VAT, while I think that I cannot afford to spend X minutes or Y hours on the formatting "for free". The aforementioned price would be for a "budget translation", but not for the full service package (meaning the layout adaptation) even if it remains a "professional service". This to the contrary, and if some colleagues offer the previously defined full service package (in a pure and perfect competition hypothesis) as a professional service at the price of what I call a "budget translation", I would see them as low-cost providers even if they remain professional (registered translators, no quality issues, using legally purchased software and so on).

[Edited at 2009-11-05 11:12 GMT]


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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:39
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Low cost translations vs. professional service Nov 5, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
Do you think "low cost translations" are compatible with a "professional service"?


Yes. No. What do you mean? How do you define "low cost translation" and, more importantly, what do you mean by "compatible"?

Obviously there is a threshold at which translations are done too cheaply to achieve the quality required by the client's needs, but above that threshold everything is possible.



Hi, Samuel: May be, I have not explained myself correctly. Obviously, it is possible to offer an acceptable service at a low price. But, I believe that there are rather exceptional cases. To what I refer exactly it is to the offer of professional services very near to the cost or, especially, to offers by intermediaries at the minimal price of what the translator should cash.

I believe it is quite clear that if an agency offers prices for 0,05 euros - 0,06 euros per word (real case that can be searched at Internet) to the clients, the translator probably will have to work to 0,025 - 0,030 euros per word. As for compatible, I refer to if this is simply possible. I imagine that there exist certain costs restrictions below which it is almost impossible to offer something more than a translation realized by an automatic translator...

[Editado a las 2009-11-05 11:19 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:39
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Delivering what the client needs Nov 5, 2009

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
As for compatible, I refer to if this is simply possible. I imagine that there exist certain costs restrictions below which it is almost impossible to offer something more than a translation realized by an automatic translator.


A good agent will determine what his client's needs are, and procure a translation that fulfills that need. If a poor translation is what the client needs, then a poor translation is what he may get, and at a low price too. The point is that the agent must be skilled enough to determine his client's needs and know what price would generally be asked for translations that would fulfill those needs.

The problem is that some agents don't care about the client's needs and simply act to deliver a generic translation as cheaply as possible. A good agent will tell his client if the client's expectations are too high or if his needs warrant a more expensive translation.

So yes, low-cost translations can well be compatible with professional service, but I wonder how often it happens.


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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:39
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Low cost translations vs. professional service Nov 5, 2009

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

Pablo Bouvier wrote:

Do you think "low cost translations" are compatible with a "professional service"?
Please, add your real name and take the poll at www.doodle.com/pfugx6zhgxtetfp4
Thanx in advance!


Hi Pablo,
if your question is "Would you offer your professional services at the price of low-cost translations?", my answer is clearly a big NO. Some clients tend to think that adapting e.g. the layout of a 20-pages PowerPoint file has to be included in a rather common rate of e.g. 0.08 euros/SW ex VAT, while I think that I cannot afford to spend X minutes or Y hours on the formatting "for free". The aforementioned price would be for a "budget translation", but not for the full service package (meaning the layout adaptation) even if it remains a "professional service". This to the contrary, and if some colleagues offer the previously defined full service package (in a pure and perfect competition hypothesis) as a professional service at the price of what I call a "budget translation", I would see them as low-cost providers even if they remain professional (registered translators, no quality issues, using legally purchased software and so on).

[Edited at 2009-11-05 11:12 GMT]


Hi, Laurent: You are right in that I should re-formulate the survey more correctly. But, once done, I believe that it would only cause more confusion. It is not a question of personalizing (not to know what every translator will do), but simply of investigating if professionals services with an acceptable quality can be offered at cheap prices. As I said to Samuel too, I imagine that there exist certain costs restrictions below which it is almost impossible to offer something more than a translation realized by an automatic translator...

In the meantime, I believe Samuel has been right in the target. It depends on clients needs. But, I was referring to those who commercialize cheap translations of indiscriminate form, as I have specified before in my answer to Nicole.

[Editado a las 2009-11-05 11:44 GMT]


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FrenchPhD  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:39
French to English
+ ...
It takes all kinds to make the world go 'round Nov 5, 2009

I think there is a place for both types of service, depending on what the client needs.

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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:39
French to German
+ ...
Yes Nov 5, 2009

Pablo Bouvier wrote:

Hi, Laurent: You are right in that I should re-formulate the survey more correctly. But, once done, I believe that it would only cause more confusion.


Your reply to Samuel has clarified the matter so far.


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WordSwitch
Local time: 06:39
French to English
Money talks Nov 22, 2009

Sorry to be such a pessimist with my first post on these forums, BUT.....

Translation clients are increasingly driven by money rather than quality. This is certainly the case for many firms in France. Translations are often ordered by an office worker with no knowledge of the target language, and work of questionable quality is often accepted just because it "looks" right.

This leaves a niche for unscrupulous "translators" to cash in, and means we all have to drop our prices, or lose out!

When does pride give way to the need to make a living?


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:39
French to German
+ ...
Seriously... Nov 23, 2009

WordSwitch wrote:
This leaves a niche for unscrupulous "translators" to cash in, and means we all have to drop our prices, or lose out!

When does pride give way to the need to make a living?



I am a pessimist too, or rather a realist, but I would rather work part-time (e.g. for baking pizze from 06:00 PM to 11:30 PM, you name it... and that's an acknowledgement to the job of all pizzaioli, not anything else) than to sell my translations cheaper in order to compete with some bottom-feeders.
I can explain this point of view because I started working in another field than translation (not pizza baking, though) and am neither ashamed to admit it, nor am I reluctant to put my arms up to the elbow in dirt to get things done. So what's the big deal? This is what professionalism is all about, isn't it?

And what would you say about the English home page of the IATPI? - cf. http://www.aipti.org/eng/

Or about the article displayed here? http://www.aipti.org/eng/articles/art1-globalization-gone-awry-the-rice-for-intellect-mindset.html

[Edited at 2009-11-23 06:56 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:39
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The threshold Nov 23, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:
Obviously there is a threshold at which translations are done too cheaply to achieve the quality required by the client's needs, but above that threshold everything is possible.


Definitely, Samuel.

My informal observation is that the threshold is somewhere close to half the average market rate for good professional translation rates in that language pair, considering everyday business (i.e. not particularly specialized) material.

The interesting point is that e-globalization tends to create a chasm, a void around that threshold, because barely above acceptable quality translators know they can charge more, and translation clients know they can get the same quality for less.

Below that threshold, it's often foolish to pay for translation work, as free automatic translation will not be measurably worse.

Between that threshold and the average rate I mentioned, it's some kind of a lottery. A very promising beginner might be found at the lower end. Meanwhile a time-proven incomentent translator may have winged it for long enough to be in the mid-range already. A translator's physical location, i.e. their cost of living, may have some influence there, and nowhere else. These and many other variables make it a matter of luck (for the client) to find a bargain; the higher they go there, the better their odds will be.


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Audra deFalco
United States
Local time: 01:39
Italian to English
+ ...
I don't necessary see the correlation Dec 7, 2009

I don't necessarily see low cost service as being sub-par. Of course, there are exceptions. In an increasingly competitive translation world, sometimes a price edge will obviously give you a leg up. I'm not talking rock bottom pricing here, but it does give you a competitive edge. Someone who has a high volume of consistent work that they're good at doesn't have to charge so much to make money.

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