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The Joy of Being a Translator?
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:31
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aug 9, 2015

Last week, I got to do a couple of very interesting translations in which I had the opportunity to be very creative and I had plenty of time to think about the words and expressions I wanted to use. This reminded me of how much I enjoy translating.

I love translation, but I hate how the industry of translation is becoming commoditized by forcing translators to work on isolated translation segments without the ability to create a comprehensive translation, forcing translators to race against the clock or against each other, forcing us to alter our translations and the way we translate for the sake of a computer system or automated translation portal that is ultimately used to pay us less money.

The daily influx of new translation start-ups that constantly attempt to instill the erroneous idea into the public consciousness that translation can be done increasingly faster and cheaper by taking advantage of the supposed massive hoards of heretofore untapped cave-dwelling linguists who are constantly shackled to their computer screens or cell phones and are champing at the bit to translate any document for any amount of credits, units, crusts of bread, wampum or other such designation ingeniously created to mask the paltry remuneration they will receive once the Earth completes one full rotation around the Sun.

I wonder if any of them ask an experienced translator if their idea is viable before they launch, or if it is just assumed that translators will flock to them like proverbial sheep to the slaughterhouse or mythical lemmings jumping off a cliff?

It seems as though more and more importance is being given and time is being spent on the future re-usability of a translation - moving tags around and merging segments, etc. so that 2% of the translation can be re-used (meaning at no cost) in the future rather than on the translation project being sold to the client in the present.

All of this sucks the joy out of the profession and turns us into replaceable and mindless robots and galley slaves slogging away at random context-less sentences flashed across a dull and emotionless computer screen.

With all these investors throwing millions of dollars at various types of crowdsourced endeavors (including beyond the translation world), I wonder if another dot.com bubble is coming once people start to see the wizard behind the curtain?



[Edited at 2015-08-10 13:48 GMT]


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Tell the retailers and manufacturers when you come across a poor translation Aug 9, 2015

Many manufacturers and retailers may not even be aware when poor translations are included with their products, so why don\'t we tell them when we come across it? It\'s easier than ever to find out how to contact them.

That\'s what I did after finding the following in an English translation to a fire extinguisher bought in Aldi:

\"Declined of the manner of tightening different screws have to be used.\" and
\"The normal fixing stuff is not be packed.\"

I e-mailed both Aldi and the manufacturer.

None of the safety instructions had been translated at all, so I added this comment: \"Fire safety in Germany is reserved for fluent German speakers, apparently.\"

We may often not know which action is taken, but I think they should be made aware that people notice this.

\"Hoarding\" translations sounds like an innovative, new concept. With all that\'s going on, I wouldn\'t be surprised to see that too one day, even though I guess only a few people, will do that, no hordes.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:31
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You're too late: Aug 9, 2015

http://www.tmmarketplace.com/treasure.htm

If there's a way for a non-translator to make money off of the translation "industry", chances are they've already found it.

Clients should be aware that some people who use CAT tools may be selling your private documents to the general public. This violation of the implied covenant of confidentiality (and possible copyright law) hurts everyone.

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

"Hoarding" translations sounds like an innovative, new concept. With all that's going on, I wouldn't be surprised to see that too one day, even though I guess only a few people, will do that, no hordes.


[Edited at 2015-08-10 13:27 GMT]


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Gad Kohenov  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 11:31
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Well said. Aug 9, 2015

Everything you say is true Jeff. The question is how to fight against these \"improvements\"?
Each of us is working individually. And by yourself you can rant as much as you want. It will not change anything. In order to create a change we have to act as one body, not as individuals. There should be a body of veterans translators who have principles they stick by. Such as \"no more fuzzy payment for fuzzy words\". CAT is only the name of a domestic animal\". etc. etc. Trying to win bids in a world of \"best prices\" is an illusion.
If all the good translators will strike for 2 weeks (after coordinating the move) companies will begin to understand that we mean business. If not the next strike will be longer. Prices should never be below a threshold. Otherwise we will be destroying it for others as well as for ourselves.
Real translators know how difficult it is to master a language. Are you going to agree to work for a pittance? You better find another profession. you have to show that you respect yourselves, otherwise no one will respect you in this ultra-capitalistic world. In every other profession there are strikes. You don\'t get anything without them. The least we can do is try. Next thing you are going to hear of \"the new crash\" and that we have to accept lower prices per source word. These are all cock and bull stories meant to give you a smaller part of the pie when you do all the hard work! Some of us think that they do right by accepting lower price for the time being, aiming at rising their prices later. Forget it! The moment you aske for a rise, the customer looks for the next patsy! Enough with being patsies! Those who don\'t pay you what your work is worth don\'t respect you. And those who don\'t respect you deserve the work of amateurs!
Remember we are not \"upgraded typists\". Globalization turned translation into a necessary profession.
United we stand,divided we fall!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:31
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No need for a strike, just a permanent boycott on bottom feeders Aug 9, 2015

Gad Kohenov wrote:

If all the good translators will strike for 2 weeks (after coordinating the move) companies will begin to understand that we mean business. If not the next strike will be longer. Prices should never be below a threshold. Otherwise we will be destroying it for others as well as for ourselves.
Globalization turned translation into a necessary profession.
United we stand,divided we fall!


I state it clearly:

It\'s my way or the highway. The highway will take you to the next town. My way will lead you to accomplishing your goal. If my way - for any reason (e.g. other language pair, subject specialty) - can\'t get your needs fulfilled, I promise that I\'ll try my best to point you to another one that will.

My way has a price tag attached to it. If it includes any financial costs, I\'ll give you options to save on these, however without changing the net price of my translation services. I have no interest in providing financial services, I\'m not good at that.

On the other hand, my way includes uncompromising quality. If I am not sure that I can deliver anything with a fully satisfactory or better quality, I won\'t do it. After I have accepted and delivered an assignment, if any reasonable defect is found there, I will fix it immediately at no charge.

If you want it done for your price and on your terms, different from mine, you are obviously free to assign the job to anyone who accepts them - not me. If you are not happy with the outcome, you will be welcome to have me redo it... my way!


In a nutshell, I force them to make their intent explicit. If they want it good, I\'ll do it my way; if they want it cheaper, get someone else. No point in wasting time, haggling over price and terms.

The joy of being a translator? It\'s in not regretting any job I\'ve taken, and afterwards in not regretting any job I\'ve done.
Some jobs are fun, others are interesting.
Like a dentist friend told me, her workspace, i.e. the patient\'s mouth, may smell fresh of mouthwash or stink like a bubbling cesspool. Either way, she\'ll always do a spotless dental job there.


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 16:31
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Continual improvements Aug 9, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

All of this sucks the joy out of the profession and turns us into replaceable and mindless robots and galley slaves slogging away at random context-less sentences flashed across a dull and emotionless computer screen.


My joy as a translator is the opportunity of continual improvement (a borrowed term from the quality management system standards). I need to be alert of latest movements in the language industry and act not to be behind.
Yet, the clients and business owners are moving into lowering the income of translators. This permanent issue needs to be handled collectively among translators.

Soonthon L.


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 10:31
Member
Catalan to English
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I heard it different a good while back Aug 10, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

http://www.tmmarketplace.com/treasure.htm

If there\'s a way for a non-translator to make money off of the translation \"industry\", chances are they\'ve already found it.


There's loads of money to be made in the translation business.

Provided you're not actually the translator.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:31
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What happens when someone designs a computer system that Aug 10, 2015

takes common words like (the, and, or) and considers them as unpaid matches or repetitions? People have given in to the notion of discounts for sentence matches, so why not repetitions at the word level too? What happens when someone designs a computer system that times how long it takes you to translate each sentence and pays you accordingly? What happens when someone designs a computer system that compares your translation to a machine translation/TM and only pays you for the words that change? What happens when someone designs a computer system that chops a document up into 2000 pieces and sends each one to a different crowdsourced translator resulting in the instant translation of a 100,000 word project? What happens when someone designs a computer system that pays two-three translators pennies to verify a machine translation sentence by sentence and only kicks out the "bad" translations to be "post edited"?

The madness has only just begun.

It seems as though more and more importance is being given and time is being spent on the future re-usability of a translation - moving tags around and merging segments, etc. so that 2% of the translation can be re-used (meaning at no cost) in the future rather than on the translation project being sold to the client in the present.

And then in ten years once the public catches on to what is really happening (once they see the wizard behind the curtain), they will start advertising the old model as a sudden new virtue: "Our translators are hand-picked for each individual project. We never use crowdsourcing. We will never share your personal documents with the world through cloud-based TM sharing systems. We recognize that translation is a skill that takes... We take our time and the results show. We give our translators the time and freedom they need to create a translation that..."

With all these investors throwing millions of dollars at various types of crowdsourced endeavors (including beyond the translation world), I wonder if another dot.com bubble is coming?

[Edited at 2015-08-10 13:35 GMT]


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Already happening Aug 10, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
What happens when someone designs a computer system that chops a document up into 2000 pieces and sends each one to a different crowdsourced translator resulting in the instant translation of a 100,000 word project?


You're too late on this one. This is already happening, notably on a platform that frequently posts new jobs on Proz and which generously pay $0.05 per word for competing with others about who can translate the largest number of words first. It's free-for-all, except that they require you to go through a one-hour webinar first. Only then do you discover how little they pay. When I confronted them about the poor rate, they said that most of the translations they receive are low quality (no wonder for that rate), and that they are trying to select the best translators for their corporate clients. But that's a Catch-22, as many good translators will never start working for $0.05, so they continue with the bad ones for a low pay while being aware they get bad quality. Some of their jobs even require you to reproduce the original document formatting in an online editor for no additional payment.

No matter how ridiculous this is, they seem to be able to find people willing to do this.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:31
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I think you're right. Aug 10, 2015

And where are all the translation associations in all of this?

Andy Watkinson wrote:

There's loads of money to be made in the translation business.

Provided you're not actually the translator.


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Same as in the food industry Aug 10, 2015

Andy Watkinson wrote:

There's loads of money to be made in the translation business.

Provided you're not actually the translator.


Much the same principle applies to being cattle in the food industry.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:31
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Never Aug 10, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

...... I hate how the industry of translation is becoming commoditized by forcing translators to work on isolated translation segments without the ability to create a comprehensive translation.....


I've never had that experience. I always do complete translations. The work of translating gives me a deep sense of fulfilment that I find difficult to explain: to see the target language emerging out of the source language, like the sun coming up in the morning....

Maybe it's because I don't use any CAT tools that I never get asked to do any of that horrible-sounding work others are describing here. It seems that if you say you use a CAT tool, agencies think they can give a TM to several different translators and break up a big job into small bits. Is that how it works?

[Edited at 2015-08-10 13:59 GMT]


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Not quite Aug 10, 2015

Tom in London wrote:

Maybe it's because I don't use any CAT tools that I never get asked to do any of that horrible-sounding work others are describing here. It seems that if you say you use a CAT tool, agencies think they can give a TM to several different translators and break up a big job into small bits. Is that how it works?


Nothing to do with your having CAT tools. The agencies that do these things have their own CAT applications that run in browsers. Any translator on their books can decide to start those translations and do as much or little work as he or she wants, for example just the easy segments, and they don't have to translate the segments in any given order. You just choose what you want to do like you pick fruit and veg on a market. They claim they fix inconsistencies in a quality assurance step, but one would have to see an example of what they deliver the clients to know if that works. Their CAT tool will give you suggestions, just as any other CAT tool, and their rule is that if a term appears in a term base then you must use that even if it's wrong.

Maybe some agencies break large translations up for CAT tools, but that's not what I referred to.

I'll tell you the name of the agency directly, as that's not allowed here.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:31
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Thanks Aug 10, 2015

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

I'll tell you the name of the agency directly, as that's not allowed here.


Thanks Thomas - that place sounds like a nightmare.


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Nightmare Aug 10, 2015

Tom in London wrote:
That place sounds like a nightmare.


In any case, whereas I was willing to give it a try before I knew how little they paid, I've never translated a word for them. They seem to pay quickly, but a pittance is a pittance even if paid quickly.

I've supplied two other translations to two different agencies that used each their own, online CAT tool. One of the jobs was to finish translating some 1000 words or so in documents about a mobile phone application that had already been partially translated. At the other agency, I had the document to myself.

In both these cases, the rates were reasonable, and the partial translation was helped by quite good suggestions. That agency even paid almost in a flash.

Although it's not ideal to work in others' tools, I can accept it as long as the rate is reasonable, and they pay on time.


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