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General strike against TRADOS and other expensive CAT tools
Thread poster: Thomas Johansson
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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:01
German to Spanish
+ ...
General strike against TRADOS and other expensive CAT tools" Feb 20, 2011

[quote]Pablo Bouvier wrote:

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:
Perfect matches does not mean precise translations. It just means you
have translated three identical sentences in the same order before.


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:
Anyway, you should invest (understand lose) your time in reviewing meticulously what has been done before. That is, reinventing the wheel...


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:
Changing style is not so easy as only to join or split two or more sentences. Sometimes, you will need to not only to join or tu split a sentence, but to change the order of the text too, and repetitions and matches will be lost.



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:
They are many bad agencies too out there do not pay decent rates, even if you do not use a CAT tool. And they are by far more of such kind of agencies as good agencies. As translators we are discussing about low rates since the dawn of time or even before, but I agree that to accept this is only our responsibility too.


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.

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
I am sorry, but I began to use CAT tools since the very beginning of them (with Alpnet TTS Joust) as PM by Alpnet Interlingua Barcelona, I followed using Wordfast at the time of the translatorsaurus, I flirted then with DéjáVu X and MemoQ, and now I am using Trados 2009 at a friend's agency.

So, without without attempting to be a nerd (because there are always unknown or new things to me), I believe I know the development of CAT tools from the very beginning till now and the actual performance they may provide quite well. I probably may need a refresher course, but for sure not on this issue...




Take care!


[Edited at 2011-02-20 16:36 GMT]


 

Tony M
France
Local time: 06:01
Member
French to English
+ ...
Agencies Feb 20, 2011

As far as I have seen, no-one so far seems to have mentioned what to me seems rather blindingly obvious: over and above any valid and honourable technical reasons for using CAT, agencies love it because it means they can earn more money!

Agencies are competing for business, so they want to offer customers the lowest rates possible; and of course translators are eager to charge the highest rates possible; what comes in between is the agency's commission, which is clearly under
... See more
As far as I have seen, no-one so far seems to have mentioned what to me seems rather blindingly obvious: over and above any valid and honourable technical reasons for using CAT, agencies love it because it means they can earn more money!

Agencies are competing for business, so they want to offer customers the lowest rates possible; and of course translators are eager to charge the highest rates possible; what comes in between is the agency's commission, which is clearly under pressure from both sides.

Now CAT enables agencies to charge their end customers on a straight 'per word' rate, but to pay their translators on the basis of the various repetitions etc. — thereby increasing their margin!

Some of them are actually quite brazen about this, it's certainly no secret.

With specific regard to Trados, it's easy to see why it is being pushed, when you consider the vested interests involved...
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Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:01
French to German
+ ...
I am not sure... Feb 20, 2011

Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak) wrote:

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


that comparing humans and machines is a good starting point. However, it shows how much talking and thinking in terms of costs (mainly or exclusively) is widespread.

[Edited at 2011-02-20 17:57 GMT]


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:01
French to English
+ ...
Metrics... Feb 20, 2011

Adam Łobatiuk wrote:
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.


I completely agree: like probably everyone here, I price my translations according to some simple, practical metric, be it on the basis of factors that take into account the type of material or just from establishing an "average rate that works in the long run" for each of my direct clients, taking into account the familiarity I build up with their material which brings additional productivity.

But what I'm saying is I don't believe that a CAT tool's percentage match algorithm should automatically be assumed to be the correct metric and the ony by which we *have* to abide.

Of course, if you have a relationship with a particular agency where that metric does work for you, then that's excellent.

[Edited at 2011-02-20 17:56 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:01
French to German
+ ...
What agencies should be... Feb 20, 2011

Tony M wrote:
(.../...)

Agencies are competing for business, so they want to offer customers the lowest rates possible; and of course translators are eager to charge the highest rates possible; what comes in between is the agency's commission, which is clearly under pressure from both sides.(.../...)


What agencies should be... headhunters, impresarios and the like in the same way as in the show business. In this hypothesis, a commission around 10% would be enough: let the "artist" perform and get a commission because the show was really good.

But to start with such a business model, agencies should stop anonymising translators... which is what they currently do in too many cases IMVHO.


 

Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:01
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Interesting division of camps Feb 20, 2011

What I find interesting is that those translators who complain most about agencies' greed in using CAT tools and "oppressed" translators due to lower rates for 100% matches etc. tend to be translators that hardly ever use those tools or not use them at all. In many cases, the very negative opinions about CAT tools and related factors are based on prejudice or misunderstandings instead of experience, such as the one below that comes up in a similar form in almost every discussion on the values of... See more
What I find interesting is that those translators who complain most about agencies' greed in using CAT tools and "oppressed" translators due to lower rates for 100% matches etc. tend to be translators that hardly ever use those tools or not use them at all. In many cases, the very negative opinions about CAT tools and related factors are based on prejudice or misunderstandings instead of experience, such as the one below that comes up in a similar form in almost every discussion on the values of CAT tools:

Wordeffect wrote:
That a and the get counted as repetitions so don't need to be paid for is completely farcical and I wouldn't dream of working for any client who has that mentality.


In other words, it seems to me that most translators complaining about CAT tools never really used CAT tools long and intensively enough to truly experience the benefits.

Sure, I have lost time occasionally due to some problem with the CAT software, but I think altogether I lost more time due to some problem with Word or some other program. And not all problems that surface inside a CAT tool are actually caused by that CAT tool. For me, CAT tools are an incredible time and work saver.

Generally, translators that use their CAT tools for pretty much all translations seem to know the advantages (both in work time and income) from experience. If the investment into a CAT tool wouldn't pay off, all these translators (me included) would not spend their money on useless tools that only benefit the translation agencies. We're not idiots, after all!

Saying that, I don't want to imply that translators NOT using CAT tools are not business savvy. It's obvious that translators with certain specializations profit more from CAT tools than others, and as long as your own bottom line is what you like it to be - perfect! And my bottom line is much, much better with than without a CAT tool and I work much less for the same amount of money, "discounts" (or whatever you want to call it) included. For me, it's a win-win situation for agency, end-client and translator.


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 ...


On what statistics do you base your statement "usually CAT tools are used by outsources that haven't invest a penny for you as argument to lower your rates"?
I'm sure there are some agencies out there that operate like that, but at least in my experience, these are the exception and you don't have to work for them. The agencies I work for that request the use of a CAT tool invest heavily in acquiring clients that bring in huge revenues (and with that large translations projects), offering desktop publishing, programming and all sorts of value-added services and treat their translators as valued collaborators not servants. In many cases, it's their end-clients who request lower rates for 100% matches/repetitions as any international company with a localization department/team is well educated regarding translation technologies. They sometimes also dictate the specific CAT tool. Without some kind of price reduction for texts that are largely identical to the previous version, they wouldn't be able to have all their manuals translated twice a year into 10 or 20 different languages.

Tony M. wrote:
As far as I have seen, no-one so far seems to have mentioned what to me seems rather blindingly obvious: over and above any valid and honourable technical reasons for using CAT, agencies love it because it means they can earn more money!

Why are you condemning agencies for doing what every business - translators included - is trying to do, namely earn more money? Why is this a less honorable reason than any other? And in most cases, it's not necessarily the agencies that earn more money as they have to pass on those savings to their end-clients. It's a very competitive world for agencies.



[Edited at 2011-02-20 18:50 GMT]
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Tony M
France
Local time: 06:01
Member
French to English
+ ...
Hang on a mo... Feb 20, 2011

Heike Behl, Ph.D. wrote:
What I find interesting is that those translators who complain most about agencies' greed in using CAT tools ... tend to be translators that hardly ever use those tools or not use them at all.


I slightly take exception to that remark, Heike!

I have been using Wordfast since the very early days, initially the free version, and when I saw that I was using it for 'serious' work, I thought it only right and proper to buy a license and pay for it.

So my observations are based on (bitter?) experience...

And in most cases, it's not necessarily the agencies that earn more money as they have to pass on those savings to their end-clients.


Because I know from inside knowledge just how cynical some agencies can be, and I don't think it should be their rôle as mere 'middlemen' to dictate what we as the actual 'producers' should or should not charge in order to make a decent living.

Remember, most of us could manage quite well without agencies, while without us, the agencies woudn't have a leg to stand on — that's why I think it is very much a case of "the tail wagging the dog"


 

Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:01
Member (2010)
English to Polish
+ ...
@Laurent Feb 20, 2011

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak) wrote:

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. (...)
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


that comparing humans and machines is a good starting point. However, it shows how much talking and thinking in terms of costs (mainly or exclusively) is widespread.

[Edited at 2011-02-20 17:57 GMT]


I don't see the difference. Behind every device and software, there is a human being.
I could go on strike against a device or software that doesn't work. I don't like TRADOS so I haven't bought it.
I bought another CAT Tool, which works fine and has paid back long ago, so why should I be on strike.
Ewa

[Edited at 2011-02-20 20:59 GMT]


 

Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:01
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Theories Feb 20, 2011

Tony M wrote:
Agencies are competing for business, so they want to offer customers the lowest rates possible; and of course translators are eager to charge the highest rates possible; what comes in between is the agency's commission, which is clearly under pressure from both sides.

Now CAT enables agencies to charge their end customers on a straight 'per word' rate, but to pay their translators on the basis of the various repetitions etc. — thereby increasing their margin!


Yeah, right... "Agencies have to offer the lowest rates possible, so they increase their margin!"

Does every conspiration theory have to defy logic?

Considering that the prices are freely negotiable, if a given agency wants to pay less its translators, all it has to do is... refuse to pay more, obviously. No special tricks and devious CAT machinations are necessary.

Moreover, most jobs are calculated per source words, so no matter what intricate calculation schemes are applied by the agency, the translator sees the total amount for the project anyway. If that figure is way below his expectations, how could he be possibly "tricked" into accepting it?


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:01
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
From what I've seen... Feb 20, 2011

Many agencies show their pricing policies on their websites. It's very clear that most of them charge per word, with no discounts of any kind - so they only pay translators less to maximize their profits. Fair enough, who doesn't wanna profit more?

Even when they do offer some discount based on repetition, there is something to consider: an agency wants to get as many clients as they can and they have no limitations in that sense. As for the translators, there's only so much we can
... See more
Many agencies show their pricing policies on their websites. It's very clear that most of them charge per word, with no discounts of any kind - so they only pay translators less to maximize their profits. Fair enough, who doesn't wanna profit more?

Even when they do offer some discount based on repetition, there is something to consider: an agency wants to get as many clients as they can and they have no limitations in that sense. As for the translators, there's only so much we can do, so we cannot maximize our profits by taking more and more work.

They sell our work - and are generally advertising how they only work with "high quality" people. It's only fair that service providers would get together and try to stop/minimize pratices that are detrimental to them in the long run.

If many agencies get together to try to enforce their terms on others, I don't see why we cannot do the same. After all, it's a business strategy too.
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Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:01
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
@Heike Feb 20, 2011

I think there might be a misunderstanding on your part. I don't think anyone is criticizing CAT Tools (I use Wordfast and couldn't live without it!) but the fact that one specific CAT Tool is being forced down our throats. There are several CAT Tools that essentially do the same thing, and we should be entitled to choose the one we wanna use.

It's not about the tools, it's about ONE tool.

We all need to have computers, but no one's telling me which computer to buy.
... See more
I think there might be a misunderstanding on your part. I don't think anyone is criticizing CAT Tools (I use Wordfast and couldn't live without it!) but the fact that one specific CAT Tool is being forced down our throats. There are several CAT Tools that essentially do the same thing, and we should be entitled to choose the one we wanna use.

It's not about the tools, it's about ONE tool.

We all need to have computers, but no one's telling me which computer to buy.

You gotta consider how much time you will save X how many hours of work it'll take you to pay for the CAT Tool X how much time and money you'll have to invest on being able to use it X how much faster you will get.

In my case, they are helpful but do not represent much of an investment in terms of speed because in the areas I work with, repetitions do not occur very often. So buying an overpriced tool wouldn't help.

If you take that into consideration, it'll seem that there are simpler, more cost-effective alternatives out there - did someone mention a free tool?
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Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 23:01
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
on Ricardo's story 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?



Funny story, Riccardo.

Let's straighten out the analogy a little.

Assume:

(1) You are required to buy the translation.

---(a) The English version is not an option (perhaps you cannot read English, or perhaps the English version only exists in a few rare and unavailable exemplars).

---(b) You are required to get the translation (perhaps you're a student and your course requires you to read the book, for some reason).

(2) The fees of all available translator are excessively high

---They charge, say, 2-10 times more than reasonable (depending on what you think is a reasonable hourly income for a translator).


In this case, wouldn't you think there is something strange and unfair going on here?

Whether a STRIKE would be feasible in this sort of situation and how it would be implemented, I don't know, but obviously something wrong is going on and, if possible, you and others (like your fellow-students) should better take some sort of action in this situation.


 

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 23:01
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
prices Feb 20, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:

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




I think this very question ("What does development of software cost?") is at the very core of the issue here and one of the essential ones that we should focus on.

And with regard to this particular issue, one thing I see, at least, is that there are several good CAT tools available on the market for free or at very low prices. Therefore, I am not sure how TRADOS and other expensive CAT tools can justify their high prices in terms of real underlying development costs.

As someone said, we are part of the market (whether you call it a matter of capitalism or Darwinism), and if we for instance do believe that prices are too high, we can and have a right to make our voices heard on the market about that issue. That's also "just the way capitalism works" and "the survival of the fittest" (or whatever some people call it).

Of course, if you are among those who do not think prices are too high, or if you don't feel pushed by the market into buying unreasonably expensive tools, then I understand if you don't feel any reason to take action. Feel free, go on being ripped off while telling yourself that you're in fact just being business savvy.

[Edited at 2011-02-20 22:34 GMT]


 

Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:01
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Good is not good enough... Feb 20, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:

And with regard to this particular issue, one thing I see, at least, is that there are several good CAT tools available on the market for free or at very low prices. Therefore, I am not sure how TRADOS and other expensive CAT tools can justify their high prices in terms of real underlying development costs.


The only problem is that those free or low-price tools cannot really replace the expensive ones in terms of functionality. Please note that this means both functionality on the translator's side and on the agency/end-client side - both are equally important! On the other hand, those packages that do provide similar set of features (and there are more than one, so competition does work here), tend to have similar prices.

As much as I know about companies, they are as adverse to spending money as anyone else. If, for example, a large multinational software house could save on Trados Enterprise (or whatever it is called now) licenses and cover all its localization needs with Omega, I am certain they would.

It's the same with OpenOffice (now LibraOffice) and MS Office. On the surface they provide the same set of features, yet many who tried the former decide to buy the latter.

To take the translator's analogy further:

"There are translators who charge 0.02 cent per word. Are you sure you can justify the rate of 0.15 for some others? After all, the sustenance costs must be quite similar: the cheap ones eat about as much as the expensive ones! They all wear one set of clothes, drive one car at a time! Let us call a strike against excessive and unjustified prices! All translators should charge 0.02!"


 
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