Off topic: Translation labourers
Thread poster: Radim Rozumek

Radim Rozumek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 10:24
Member (2011)
English to Czech
May 15

Translation agencies turn creative people - translators - into labourers.

I don't remember the old times (actually I do, but I wasn't in the business that days) but I believe that today's translation agencies victimize translators. Instead of finding clear, nice, smooth, natural text solutions, the translators just "lay words" to meet their deadlines. 50% of my workload is proofreading, editing, QMing, whatever, and I see that even highly qualified translators provide poor output. I understand, it is not easy to compete with a vast pool of students, au pairs, self-appointed translators (I am one of them) and Indian language factories whose rates are often very low...

Other factor affecting quality is a volume requested. I was asked to translated 12,000 words over the weekend - speaking nothing of my willingness to sacrifice my family time - I am simply not able to provide quality translation in the volume of 4,000 words per day. There are definitely ones who are, I saw even 5,000 w/day, but my proofreading statistics shows that there are not many of them...

I bought Trados Studio for not exactly low price. To be able to meet my customers' needs, I bought also Wordfast, and memoQ. Considering my "local translation rates" (Czech Republic) it was a solid investment. And my advantage? Lower prices! - because "there are a lot of fuzzies" (that actually don't work overmuch in CS). The only advantage is for the agencies as they can offer lower prices to gain more clients but the discount is actually taken from pockets of the translators who "cleverly invested"! The agencies keep their commissions untouched...

I would really like to sit quietly in my chair and think in peace to create a nice piece of language that would attract and please the readers as the works of old masters did - the days are probably gone...

rr


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:24
Member (2008)
Italian to English
What I do May 15

Radim Rozumek wrote:

...finding clear, nice, smooth, natural text solutions....create a nice piece of language that would attract and please the readers...

the days are probably gone...


No, they're not. This is exactly what I do. Just finished my 5th rewrite of my translation of a poorly written, but seriously intentioned Italian document that deserved a lot of time to be spent on it. At last it's ready to be delivered to the client (a good agency that appreciates the effort I put into my work, and that gives me interesting documents to work on)

As for Trados: don't you know that its main purpose is to enable agencies to obtain TMs from you so that they will pay you (and others) less and less, and less and less, less and less?

[Edited at 2018-05-15 08:53 GMT]


 

Daniel Frisano
Monaco
Local time: 10:24
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Yeah, it's outrageous, egregious and preposterous May 15

Radim Rozumek wrote:

I was asked to translated 12,000 words over the weekend.



I wish it happened every Friday. By Monday morning you're done, then you can have four and a half days totally free, and still log 50k a month. Working 11-12 days tops out of 30. Hard living, huh?

[Edited at 2018-05-15 09:20 GMT]


 

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Change of the per-word paradigm May 15

Radim Rozumek wrote:

Other factor affecting quality is a volume requested. I was asked to translated 12,000 words over the weekend - speaking nothing of my willingness to sacrifice my family time - I am simply not able to provide quality translation in the volume of 4,000 words per day. There are definitely ones who are, I saw even 5,000 w/day, but my proofreading statistics shows that there are not many of them...

I bought Trados Studio for not exactly low price. To be able to meet my customers' needs, I bought also Wordfast, and memoQ. Considering my "local translation rates" (Czech Republic) it was a solid investment. And my advantage? Lower prices! - because "there are a lot of fuzzies" (that actually don't work overmuch in CS). The only advantage is for the agencies as they can offer lower prices to gain more clients but the discount is actually taken from pockets of the translators who "cleverly invested"! The agencies keep their commissions untouched...



One great thing about being in the translation industry is that we can witness first hand how productivity improves with new tech.

However, as technology gains more of a foothold and MT improves, the 'per-word' paradigm becomes more and more meaningless.

Your 12k job, for example, if it had a large percentage of fuzzies, you might be finished in no time whatsoever! Giving discounts for fuzzies is a slight resolution but I think the way things are moving, we will be better charging per hour spent working rather than per word. There is absolutely no argument against agencies asking for fuzzy discount. Fuzzy matches are auto-propagated! Asking for full-payment for jobs completed with CAT tools is a bit greedy.

In the end, it's our time that matters and we should be reassessing the value of each of our "hours".


 

Radim Rozumek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 10:24
Member (2011)
English to Czech
TOPIC STARTER
I understand your point. May 15

[/quote]

I wish it happened every Friday. By Monday morning you're done, then you can have four and a half days totally free, and still log 50k a month. Working 11-12 days tops out of 30. Hard living, huh?

[Edited at 2018-05-15 09:20 GMT] [/quote]

Well, you speak about "easy money" - I speak about translation quality. Anyway, do you have kids? I do, and he attends school and the only time I can spend with my son is the weekend - and it is precious to me beyond "easy life".

I can as well boost my speed occasionally but it is not the way to provide the best quality.


 

Daniel Frisano
Monaco
Local time: 10:24
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
? May 15

Radim Rozumek wrote:

Well, you speak about "easy money"



Who said anything about money? That is never the point.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Ahem May 15

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:
There is absolutely no argument against agencies asking for fuzzy discount. Fuzzy matches are auto-propagated! Asking for full-payment for jobs completed with CAT tools is a bit greedy.


Oh yes there is!

For one thing, fuzzy matches often take longer than translating from scratch.

For another, well, all the usual arguments about plumbers. And Hitler.

And, hello, the Six Million Dollar Man lecturing others about being greedy?!


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:24
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Ha ha May 15

Chris S wrote:
...the Six Million Dollar Man...


icon_smile.gif


 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 03:24
German to English
+ ...
customers can ask for all kinds of things.... May 16

.... but that doesn't mean they will get it. You describe a scenario where a customer dictates how much they will pay you, how long you will spend on a project, and even what tools you will use to produce the product. In what profession would that be accepted? I have an accountant. He tells me his fee and in what time line he can have it done. I do the same with my clients. You mentioned quality. That is one reason for it. Both my ethics and my reputation depend on produce reliable, quality work, and I can't do that if I don't take the time that is needed. It would also be silly to use tools I don't need and which might slow me down or compromise quality, if the nature of the work does not call for it.

Why accept such requests? When my clients contact me, I tell them whether I can do the work, after asking for details where applicable, what my fee is, and by when it can be done. There are times when an end client may find himself in a truly urgent situation because of something that has happened. But if an agency has an "urgent" situation because they have competed against other translation companies based on time and cheapness, I definitely don't want to help them out, because those they are competing against are potential clients for me as well. If a translation company values quality, I don't want to help undermine it..


 

Lian Pang  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:24
Member (Mar 2018)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Why so many CAT tools ? May 16

Radim Rozumek wrote:

I bought Trados Studio for not exactly low price. To be able to meet my customers' needs, I bought also Wordfast, and memoQ.



That's probably more than 1500 dollars. Why exactly would you buy so many softwares ?

Personally I think one software would be more than enough.


 

Lian Pang  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:24
Member (Mar 2018)
English to Chinese
+ ...
lol May 16

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:

Your 12k job, for example, if it had a large percentage of fuzzies, you might be finished in no time whatsoever! Giving discounts for fuzzies is a slight resolution but I think the way things are moving, we will be better charging per hour spent working rather than per word. There is absolutely no argument against agencies asking for fuzzy discount. Fuzzy matches are auto-propagated! Asking for full-payment for jobs completed with CAT tools is a bit greedy.



Hmm. Interesting.
Say i get a 100% match for a simple text " Clean the room." But the original is in military context, while present file is in household service context. Since I don't give a heck and don't charge for it, let's just leave it as it is.

10 days later, customer review comes through :

" Ordered home security service, a maid showed up instead. 1/10 will not hire again. "


Just a poorly written example, but you get my point.


 

Radim Rozumek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 10:24
Member (2011)
English to Czech
TOPIC STARTER
Competition May 16

[... I don't know how to insert those nice white boxes...]

Well, the thing is that Czech translator pool is kind of overwhelmed (in relation to demand) and we need to "fight" for every order (at least my experience), forced to making compromises in terms of rates, speed, tools, services offered, etc. Unfortunately, this all affects the quality...

I earn money to live, I do not live to earn money! Some of you are able to process 60, 90, and even 136 thousand words in a month - is it possible to raise a child, please wife, clean house, feed dog, weed garden and meet friends, and still translate 100,000 words of outstanding quality? - wow, not for me! To be fair, that particular person is very praised by his clients - so no offense against him!

Concerning the greediness asking better prices for fuzzy matches - well, it is sometimes really harder to deal with fuzzies than translate from scratch, especially for languages using different word order, declension system, etc. I admit that paying for 10,000 numbers that are untouched is nonsense but asking 50% discount for 74% fuzzies that are completely useless is the second thing. Also, an investment is supposed to bring money. If you buy better drill, you expect higher productivity, thus higher income. If you buy better cab, you raise prices to pay leasing. If you buy CAT tool, you need to lower rates and the benefits hardly cover the loses, it only keeps you in business...

These are just my points of view, apparently many people disagree. It was just a sigh, that my work is no longer creative, almost authoring, but rather chasing for penny. I apologise to those who are still masters of words, but as I said, I proofread...


 

Lian Pang  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:24
Member (Mar 2018)
English to Chinese
+ ...
quoting May 16

Radim Rozumek wrote:

... I don't know how to insert those nice white boxes.



Press "quote" button at the lower right corner of a comment.

or use [quote] blablablablabla [ / quote] tags.

[Edited at 2018-05-16 11:19 GMT]


 

Radim Rozumek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 10:24
Member (2011)
English to Czech
TOPIC STARTER
quoting May 16

Lian Pang wrote:

Press "quote" button at the lower right corner of a comment.


I tried - and failed... Now I can see the reason so hopefuly this works.

Thank you

[Edited at 2018-05-16 17:40 GMT]


 


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