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Doesn't anybody realize how lucky we are? Or is it just me?
Thread poster: Daniel Frisano

Daniel Frisano
Monaco
Local time: 04:33
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Dec 7, 2016

I still remember the old days with dial-up modems, it took forever to do some research and the resources were unbelievably scarce (or rather, they are unbelievably abundant today).

I still remember immersing myself in technical dictionaries at the library and taking tons of written notes, or even physically travelling to the client's facilities to get some reference material.

Hell, I still remember having to TYPE my work and send it to the client by regular mail (yes, there was such a thing).

All considered, doing 1000 words a day was considered acceptable. Maybe not a great day, but acceptable.

Now if you are just a bit organized you can at least quadruple that output, and rates certainly have not gone down. Perhaps they have grown a bit slower than inflation, but come one, in terms of real purchasing power we can make at least three times than we did a generation ago.

Any old timers out there? Or new timers wondering how it was a couple of geological eras ago?


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 06:33
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Rates have gone down. But throughput has increased as well Dec 7, 2016

Daniel Frisano wrote:
rates certainly have not gone down


I was there when we all used dial-up modems, though I was too young to do any serious translation work.

From what I hear, per-word rates have actually gone down. A lot.

We can translate a lot more words per hour though.

Does it all equal out? Depends on who you ask.


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Kelly S
Ireland
Local time: 03:33
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Me too! Dec 7, 2016

Remember having several dictionaries piled high for several topics. Kids didn't need stairs to get to bed!
-correcting things manually on paper (paper? what's that?, you say!).

Did a thesis on a dial-up modem that took numerous attempts to transfer due to the size of the graphs-can still hear the tune of the dial-up!
Life's a beach!


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Daniel Frisano
Monaco
Local time: 04:33
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
trrrr ppppiiii trrrr ... Dec 7, 2016

Kelly S wrote:

... can still hear the tune of the dial-up!



trrrr ppppiiii trrrr ... aaarghhh


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Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:33
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
exactly: Dec 7, 2016

Daniel Frisano wrote:
trrrr ppppiiii trrrr ... aaarghhh


Here you have it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsNaR6FRuO0

But who knows, perhaps the business would be better off with people still being involved like you were ("immersing myself in technical dictionaries at the library and taking tons of written notes, or even physically travelling to the client's facilities to get some reference material etc."), although I cannot imagine running an old fashioned type writer...


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:33
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
We've never had it so good Dec 7, 2016

Daniel Frisano wrote:
I still remember the old days with dial-up modems, it took forever to do some research and the resources were unbelievably scarce (or rather, they are unbelievably abundant today).

Indeed. I remember when "internet resources" meant using gopher on JANET and ARPANET.

When I think back, for example to the days of waiting for half an hour for the fax machine to slowly disgorge a run of shiny coated paper that would have often have to be cut manually, then held down with something so that it didn't curl up into a roll, I am struck by how much easier things have become in so many respects.

It's up to us to make full use of the resources and tools available to use today. If we do it well, we will work efficiently on the projects we capture, doing more in less time and boosting revenues.

The corollary is that we should be very careful before accepting jobs that depress our efficiency - hand-written notes, image PDFs, "tag soup" documents and the like. I'm happy to let others take that work.

Regards
Dan


[Edited at 2016-12-07 11:45 GMT]


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:33
Member (2014)
English to German
I do remember that time, Dec 7, 2016

but not as a translator.

But looking at the situation now, there have been many more trying to capitalise and get their share of the professional translator's pennies...


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jlrsnyder  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:33
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Multiple libraries at my fingertips Dec 7, 2016

In the course of completing one translation, I have often consulted multiple sources which I would never expect to find in the collection of a single library. Before so many documents became accessible through the Internet, I would have had to physically travel from library to library to consult the documents, or wait for them to be delivered to me through inter-library loan. Not only has access to the documents themselves improved, but the searching methods have changed as well. With Google, I can find obscure phrases buried in a text that I could never find by relying on the index alone.

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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:33
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
But the market is far larger... Dec 7, 2016

Gabriele Demuth wrote:
But looking at the situation now, there have been many more trying to capitalise and get their share of the professional translator's pennies...

On the other hand, trade has grown tremendously and so has the demand for translation!

Dan


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:33
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Then most translators should be filthy rich... Dec 7, 2016

Daniel Frisano wrote:

All considered, doing 1000 words a day was considered acceptable. Maybe not a great day, but acceptable.

Now if you are just a bit organized you can at least quadruple that output, and rates certainly have not gone down. Perhaps they have grown a bit slower than inflation, but come one, in terms of real purchasing power we can make at least three times than we did a generation ago.


As per subject. If that was the case, then "translators" should be filthy rich nowadays. And even if you actually took into consideration different situations (which obviously do exist), even those who were barely scraping by back then should be making a very good income by now. Basically, every single translator should be well off... but I somehow doubt that's the case. And you don't need to go far to realize that: just look at the rates/"budgets" published 99% of the time on the job board here. Someone does work at those ludicrous rates...


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Daniel Frisano
Monaco
Local time: 04:33
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Shift Dec 7, 2016

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

... then "translators" should be filthy rich nowadays.



Perhaps not filthy rich, but certainly comfortable like a good dentist or lawyer. Not my case, BTW, but why not think in that direction? Sometimes all it takes is a shift in perspective.


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:33
Member (2014)
English to German
That's what I meant! Dec 7, 2016

Daniel Frisano wrote:

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

... then "translators" should be filthy rich nowadays.



Perhaps not filthy rich, but certainly comfortable like a good dentist or lawyer. Not my case, BTW, but why not think in that direction? Sometimes all it takes is a shift in perspective.


...but most are not, so how come?


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Daniel Frisano
Monaco
Local time: 04:33
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Skills Dec 7, 2016

Gabriele Demuth wrote:

...but most are not, so how come?


Because for some reason, whenever a dentist or a lawyer (or even a plumber) charge whatever they feel like charging, we shut up and pay, knowing we would be never be able to get their high-skilled services otherwise, whereas we probably don't think of ourselves as highly-skilled service providers - at least not enough.


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Pete in Finland
Finland
Local time: 05:33
English to Finnish
+ ...
An old-timer Dec 7, 2016

I, too, remember the old days with dial-up modems and paper dictionaries. I even remember the older-still days of electric typewriters - and the ancient days of mechanical typewriters! The Internet was a real revolution.

As for rates, they have actually decreased. I have records starting from 1986, when I started out as a freelance translator. In terms of income, my best year ever was 1995! Today, I cannot make the same amount of money - at least, I would have to work day and night, without any free time or holidays to make it.

Of course, this is just my personal experience, and it may not apply to other translators and other markets (I live and work in Finland).

Those were the days!


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
Wrong approach Dec 7, 2016

Daniel Frisano wrote:

I still remember the old days with dial-up modems, it took forever to do some research and the resources were unbelievably scarce (or rather, they are unbelievably abundant today).

I still remember immersing myself in technical dictionaries at the library and taking tons of written notes, or even physically travelling to the client's facilities to get some reference material.

Hell, I still remember having to TYPE my work and send it to the client by regular mail (yes, there was such a thing).

All considered, doing 1000 words a day was considered acceptable. Maybe not a great day, but acceptable.

Now if you are just a bit organized you can at least quadruple that output, and rates certainly have not gone down. Perhaps they have grown a bit slower than inflation, but come one, in terms of real purchasing power we can make at least three times than we did a generation ago.

Any old timers out there? Or new timers wondering how it was a couple of geological eras ago?


I do remember those times with a sweet sense of nostalgia, like a treasure to be looked at from time to time to gain some wisdom. I do find some swagger in your almost-funny statement “a couple of geological eras ago?” Don't worry, you'll turn 60 someday.


Back to brass tacks. Many translators, old and new, are fascinated by the overabundance of resources and the speed of communications and rendering of translations. Some facts first:

a) Typing speed is still 40-90 words per minute
b) Translation memories and online glossaries (or databases like Linguee) are still just for consulting, as the translator has to write the translation herself
c) Computers still reboot in 30-120 seconds, just like 25 years ago
d) Some translators might do 3000 to 5000 words a day, but those are spurts, not everyday constants, and several variables enter into those numbers, not just software tools
e) Rates go up and down all the time, but they aren't operating in a bubble. A little knowledge of macroeconomics can help understand those movements
f) We may have Wikipedia (which is struggling to survive), online glossaries and millions of pages in reference materials, yet we still live with 24-hour days and that limits the number of choices to read and consult

We write translations for a living; some of us make a comfortable living, but many of us are not in the profession to make loads of money or monetize every word we write.


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