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General strike against TRADOS and other expensive CAT tools
Thread poster: Thomas Johansson

Lutz Molderings  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:41
German to English
+ ...
... Feb 20, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:
Just because they CAN charge whatever price they want from us - and still get their products sold - doesn't mean the price is fair, just or reasonable. We are simply being used, and we should not accept that.



Translation is a business.
I am a translator competing with many other translators.
The smarter I am, the more money I will make.
I can make good investments that pay off quickly, I can make bad investments that are a waste of money.

SDL is company selling products and services.
SDL is competing with a multitude of other companies.
The smarter SDL is, the more customers they will have and the higher their profits will be.

Doing business is NOT ABOUT BEING FAIR.
I spend the winter months in communist Vietnam. Believe me, you don't want "FAIR" market conditions.

Doing business is about outsmarting the other and increasing your profits.

You think SDL Studio is too expensive? Don't buy it.

Trying to organise a strike with a tiny group of people who have most likely made up their minds about which CAT tool to use (if any) is pointless.

[Edited at 2011-02-20 02:02 GMT]


 

Sherey Gould  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:41
German to English
Boycotting MT/computer translation tools Feb 20, 2011

Tony M wrote:

I just boycott them altogether!


Tony, you said what I've been saying for years far more eloquently!
I always explain that the high amount of legal jobs I receive requires "very strict and meticulous personal attention to detail" (which is of course true) and hence I have never been in a position to "invest" in any such computer tool (esp. as regards the time needed to learn it).
Although I do have 75% direct clients so maybe in a better position to "negotiate" like that.
I will admit that especially with patents I do provide my own discounts because of the excessive repetition involved and I am obviously aware that a MT tool would do similar.
So guess I am boycotting *within* the limits and realities of the market!


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:41
French to English
+ ...
@Lutz Feb 20, 2011

Lutz, much of what you say is true: in a free market, within certain boundaries, whatever company has the right to produce whatever product it wants and sell it at whatever price it wants. If a particular company has produced a product that can increase translators' productivity and they can make a healthy profit from it while selling and marketing it within certain ethical boundaries, then good luck to them and I don't begrudge them their success or begrudge any translator the gain in productiv... See more
Lutz, much of what you say is true: in a free market, within certain boundaries, whatever company has the right to produce whatever product it wants and sell it at whatever price it wants. If a particular company has produced a product that can increase translators' productivity and they can make a healthy profit from it while selling and marketing it within certain ethical boundaries, then good luck to them and I don't begrudge them their success or begrudge any translator the gain in productivity that results.

However, we as translators also have a right (and arguably a duty) to reflect on our industry and to react to what we see-- rightly or wrongly-- as bad practices or a devaluing of public perception of our work. When it becomes de facto working practice to insist, for example, on an X% discount for a Y% fuzzy match as determined by some computer algorithm, aside from the negative perception that this perpatuates about how our time and expertise should be valued, which I admit is a slightly fluffy notion, it also propagates a factually false notion that the amount of work involved in a translation can be accurately calculated by a computer algorithm in this way, and that it should be a computer algorithm, not the translator, that determines the fair price of a particular piece of translation work.

Whilst I believe in the software vendor's right to sell their product at whatever price the market will allow them to, I also believe that I have a right and duty to foster an understanding of the factual truth of how translation works.
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Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:41
French to German
+ ...
Sure. Feb 20, 2011

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

And I don't think that I ever used the word "slavery" in this thread...



just independence... because you are independent already. You can set up any business model you like... I hope you can see that.


Thanks, Giovanni, for the clarification.
Altogether, I think that Neil has very valid points, which he sums up quite nicely in the conclusion of his most recent post:
Neil Coffey wrote:
Whilst I believe in the software vendor's right to sell their product at whatever price the market will allow them to, I also believe that I have a right and duty to foster an understanding of the factual truth of how translation works.


I would not be surprised at all if his understanding were very close to mine.

[Edited at 2011-02-20 06:40 GMT]


 

Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:41
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Logical conclusion Feb 20, 2011

Hi Thomas, see if you would like this. It is just as logical and consistent as your original post:



Let's call a strike against translators and other expensive linguists. Why the other day I asked a translator to translate for me into Italian an English novel I had bought in London, and he had the gall to tell me that the translation would cost me several thousand Euros. Completely absurd! I bought the English book for ten quid, why should the translation cost me more than that?

Which translators?
Any expensive translators.
As a pragmatic definition of "expensive translator", I suggest: Any translator who charges more than 10 euro for the translation of a book.


What do you think? Would a strike be justified?


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:41
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not really true.. Feb 20, 2011

I just thought I'd comment on these assessments and why --in my opinion of course-- they are not true:

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
a) First, CAT tools are not able to differentiate contextually the same sentence with a different meaning, which translators make directly without any difficulty.

Not really with the current state of technology. With my memoQ (and other tools can do the same), I can have different translations of the same sentence and the software will use one or the other depending on the sentences around it. Context information gets saved along with your translation.

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
b) Second, CAT tools require a much more comprehensive review, than if you translate the source text directly, because you do not know if the memory you got from the outsourcer is a good one or not. The time you save translating, is gone with the time you need to review.

Well, it would be the same thing if you were updating an old book for a customer without a CAT tool. You would need to spend a lot of time reading the old version and making notes on paper of the terms and expressions used. Today, very few people will pay you to retranslate a second version of a book from scratch, and on the other hand the CAT tool will make it really easy to find the terminology and approach in the old version and record it consistently for any future work, thus saving you lots of time in many senses.

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
c) CAT tools are totally inflexible in changing the style to provide a fluent reading in the target text, which is essential for understanding.

Not true anymore. Modern tools let you join and split source segments to accommodate the style you prefer.

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
d) Usually CAT tools are used by outsources that haven't invest a penny for you as argument to lower your rates. That is, work harder for less money. Dunno, I do not think this would be a good idea ...

Not true either. There are many good agencies our there who pay decent rates even if using a CAT tool. The issue is the rate, and the reduction of rates is just our responsibility for accepting the reductions. CAT tools don't have anything to do with that.

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
A CAT tool only makes sense to me, if you have steadily very repetitive texts that have been already verified over and over, or to update previously translated texts.

I do both kinds of work: rather repetitive things that are based on previous translations, and completely new jobs and texts. In both cases, my CAT tool helps me be very productive, gather and reuse terminology between projects, and improve consistency and quality, without sacrificing my ability to translate with the style I feel is correct for each case.

Just my two cents! I really think it makes sense to go to a quick course on some modern CAT tool and ask these questions yourself.

Take care!


 

Roy OConnor (X)
Local time: 09:41
German to English
Pure Darwinism Feb 20, 2011

It is time some of the ostriches amongst us took their heads out of the sand and had a good look around. In recent years globalisation and technological trends have altered translation work tremendously. Agencies have sprung up all over, reducing the amount of work available to translators from direct customers. Investment is crucial to stay competitive and it seems to me that a CAT tool is essential to be able to work efficiently.

Translation is not the cottage industry it once was
... See more
It is time some of the ostriches amongst us took their heads out of the sand and had a good look around. In recent years globalisation and technological trends have altered translation work tremendously. Agencies have sprung up all over, reducing the amount of work available to translators from direct customers. Investment is crucial to stay competitive and it seems to me that a CAT tool is essential to be able to work efficiently.

Translation is not the cottage industry it once was and it will become increasingly difficult to make a decent living as a translator. We can play Canute and moan about the prices of CAT tools and organise "strikes", but it will not hold back the tide in the long term. What is taking place is pure Darwinism with survival of the fittest.
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Adam Łobatiuk  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:41
Member (2009)
English to Polish
+ ...
@Neil Feb 20, 2011


However, we as translators also have a right (and arguably a duty) to reflect on our industry and to react to what we see-- rightly or wrongly-- as bad practices or a devaluing of public perception of our work. When it becomes de facto working practice to insist, for example, on an X% discount for a Y% fuzzy match as determined by some computer algorithm, aside from the negative perception that this perpatuates about how our time and expertise should be valued, which I admit is a slightly fluffy notion, it also propagates a factually false notion that the amount of work involved in a translation can be accurately calculated by a computer algorithm in this way, and that it should be a computer algorithm, not the translator, that determines the fair price of a particular piece of translation work.



The pricing of translations has always been arbitrary, unless someone is paid by the hour (and possibly monitored). Translators charge or are paid per source or target page (which can contain various amounts of characters), line, word or some other locally used units. Even if you specialize in a single field and use only one type of pricing, you'll still find some source texts more time-consuming than others. You just need some approximate metrics that work in the long run. And the same applies to CAT rates - for most people, CAT tools make work faster and easier, and agencies know that. They offer you more work that is easier and cheaper, but requires less effort. On average, this is the same as giving you less work that is more consuming but paid better. You earn the same money in the same time (on average).

@all
I bought my first copy of Trados 10 years ago, when I was still an employee in a not very rich country, and did some freelancing in the evenings. It was already the most popular CAT tool back then, at least in Poland, and I have always upgraded to newer versions. I've never found the purchases expensive, because they can pay off in a week. On the other hand, I'm still stuck with Office 2003 - the prices of the new versions are comparable with those of CAT tools, but the new versions don't add any value for me, so I'm not buying them.

I find it surprising that people who complain the most about CAT tools come from wealthy western countries and translate into languages that are the easiest to work with in CATs - if you had to to choose from several or about a dozen forms for every adjective, noun or verb like in Slavic languages, then you could really complain about fuzzy matches. When a single verb changes in an English sentence, Polish, Russian, or most other Slavic translators have to change endings in other words as well. Yet, somehow, I can't see them complaining here.


 

QUOI  Identity Verified

Chinese to English
+ ...
General strike against TRADOS and other expensive CAT tools Feb 20, 2011

Good title for a techno-thriller fiction.

 

Kay Barbara
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:41
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
Well said, Tomás! Feb 20, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I just thought I'd comment on these assessments and why --in my opinion of course-- they are not true:

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
a) First, CAT tools are not able to differentiate contextually the same sentence with a different meaning, which translators make directly without any difficulty.

Not really with the current state of technology. With my memoQ (and other tools can do the same), I can have different translations of the same sentence and the software will use one or the other depending on the sentences around it. Context information gets saved along with your translation.

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
b) Second, CAT tools require a much more comprehensive review, than if you translate the source text directly, because you do not know if the memory you got from the outsourcer is a good one or not. The time you save translating, is gone with the time you need to review.

Well, it would be the same thing if you were updating an old book for a customer without a CAT tool. You would need to spend a lot of time reading the old version and making notes on paper of the terms and expressions used. Today, very few people will pay you to retranslate a second version of a book from scratch, and on the other hand the CAT tool will make it really easy to find the terminology and approach in the old version and record it consistently for any future work, thus saving you lots of time in many senses.

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
c) CAT tools are totally inflexible in changing the style to provide a fluent reading in the target text, which is essential for understanding.

Not true anymore. Modern tools let you join and split source segments to accommodate the style you prefer.

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
d) Usually CAT tools are used by outsources that haven't invest a penny for you as argument to lower your rates. That is, work harder for less money. Dunno, I do not think this would be a good idea ...

Not true either. There are many good agencies our there who pay decent rates even if using a CAT tool. The issue is the rate, and the reduction of rates is just our responsibility for accepting the reductions. CAT tools don't have anything to do with that.

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
A CAT tool only makes sense to me, if you have steadily very repetitive texts that have been already verified over and over, or to update previously translated texts.

I do both kinds of work: rather repetitive things that are based on previous translations, and completely new jobs and texts. In both cases, my CAT tool helps me be very productive, gather and reuse terminology between projects, and improve consistency and quality, without sacrificing my ability to translate with the style I feel is correct for each case.

Just my two cents! I really think it makes sense to go to a quick course on some modern CAT tool and ask these questions yourself.

Take care!


I was about two write something along the same lines, my experiences are very similar to Tomás'.
I do think that Pablo is completely off the mark with his assessment of CAT tools. If you work in the "right" fields, know how to use them and don't sell yourself short, CAT tools can be a blessing in various aspects.

What upsets me about this thread is the sweeping generalisations about 'The One Market' (which seem to make their way into every other thread on ProZ) imposing discounts on translators and agencies bullying them. Some posters' statements sound to me like they see themselves as victims. However, as a freelancer you should be the one to set the rules. If you don't like CAT tools or they don't improve your productivity, don't buy or use them. If you use them, don't agree to idiotic discounts. If you can't stand your ground, maybe a change of career is overdue?

What I don't understand about this thread is, how would SDL learn that I stopped using their tool? I have paid my license for the software and I don't know whether they are interested in whether I actually use it. Therefore, a strike is pointless for me. Moreover, the OP's definition of "expensive" seems to be completly arbitrary and rather simplistic to me... It was weird to witness that a lot of subsequent posters jumped on the strike bandwagon regardless.

I think this thread lacks substance and has drifted of into the realm of rants...


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I'm with Tomás Feb 20, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
I am not, and will not, be on strike against tools that cost more than 100 euros, quite simply because developers also deserve to buy a car, feed their children, and enjoy a reasonably good wine a couple of times a year.


This was my first reaction too, when I saw this thread.

What does development of software cost?
http://www.blackducksoftware.com/open-source-roi-calculator


 

Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:41
Member (2010)
English to Polish
+ ...
@Riccardo Feb 20, 2011

Riccardo Schiaffino wrote:

Hi Thomas, see if you would like this. It is just as logical and consistent as your original post:

Let's call a strike against translators and other expensive linguists. Why the other day I asked a translator to translate for me into Italian an English novel I had bought in London, and he had the gall to tell me that the translation would cost me several thousand Euros. Completely absurd! I bought the English book for ten quid, why should the translation cost me more than that?

Which translators?
Any expensive translators.
As a pragmatic definition of "expensive translator", I suggest: Any translator who charges more than 10 euro for the translation of a book.

What do you think? Would a strike be justified?


excellent point


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:41
Member (2004)
English to Italian
sure... Feb 20, 2011

Neil Coffey wrote:


Whilst I believe in the software vendor's right to sell their product at whatever price the market will allow them to, I also believe that I have a right and duty to foster an understanding of the factual truth of how translation works.


a bit like Proz and low rates... why are you a member of a portal which doesn't foster the factual truth on rates and gives the impression that they are normal rates, discrediting our profession? A site which heavily promotes "expensive" CAT tools and encourage people to buy them?

I agree with you about educating the newcomers and the industry in general, but you are fighting windmills on here... I would also like to know how you go about educating the industry in general. Let's face it: most of the translation work goes through agencies and agencies use CAT tools to attract customers by giving them discounts. How do you stop them doing that? How do you educate and inform against this practice? Just curious...

[Edited at 2011-02-20 13:52 GMT]


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:41
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Forever... Feb 20, 2011

I use Wordfast. It's simpler, cheaper and I'm used to it. I'm always suspicious when a client insists I should buy TRADOS, why? This is also an aspect of free market: why should I pay three times more for something when I can get the same benefits using something cheaper?

Also, giving agencies commissions, talking to end-clients about how their tool is the best and the only one that can save them money... I'm sorry but even the free market has certain regulations, and monopoly goes
... See more
I use Wordfast. It's simpler, cheaper and I'm used to it. I'm always suspicious when a client insists I should buy TRADOS, why? This is also an aspect of free market: why should I pay three times more for something when I can get the same benefits using something cheaper?

Also, giving agencies commissions, talking to end-clients about how their tool is the best and the only one that can save them money... I'm sorry but even the free market has certain regulations, and monopoly goes against them. We have many tools that do the exact same thing, why should we just go for one?

'Doing business' we have the right to choose our business strategy and select tools with a better cost X benefit ratio.

Someone mentioned a computer is expensive than a pen. Of course, but a computer does more. When it comes to CAT Tools, we're talking about similar products with similar benefits, but extreme differences in price. Between many computers that can do the same thing, we have a wide range of different brands and prices.

We need a computer. But frankly, we don't get any clients saying you need to buy THIS green computer with THIS processor so I can work with you.

Certain clients have become vendors, and not in a very transparent way, which is not only a bad market practice but really unfair for us. When people mention "free market", "doing business" or "market demands" they forget that we are part of this market, therefore free to have our say, that we are part of the business. Ultimately, what the market demands is our expertise, there's no translation business without us.

'Market' is not a word that implies we have to abide to anything. We are a very important part of the market, so we can have our say too.


[Edited at 2011-02-20 15:45 GMT]
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Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:41
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
How Feb 20, 2011

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

Neil Coffey wrote:


Whilst I believe in the software vendor's right to sell their product at whatever price the market will allow them to, I also believe that I have a right and duty to foster an understanding of the factual truth of how translation works.


a bit like Proz and low rates... why are you a member of a portal which doesn't foster the factual truth on rates and gives the impression that they are normal rates, discrediting our profession? A site which heavily promotes "expensive" CAT tools and encourage people to buy them?

I agree with you about educating the newcomers and the industry in general, but you are fighting windmills on here... I would also like to know how you go about educating the industry in general. Let's face it: most of the translation work goes through agencies and agencies use CAT tools to attract customers by giving them discounts. How do you stop them doing that? How do you educate and inform against this practice? Just curious...

[Edited at 2011-02-20 13:52 GMT]


I actually take my time to explain to every client whenever any arrangement sounds unfair, I'm sure other translators do it too, if more of us do it things can be different. After all, it's our work they sell.

I've dropped clients who were abusing the "fuzzy match" discount policy, and in my experience they always come back - "the end client wants the translator to be you" - paying in my terms.

It might be easy to find people wanting to be translators - but is it easy to find a person who are 100% reliable, truthful and experienced to deliver constant quality? I wouldn't think so.


 
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