Don’t be a Shark

On a translators’ forum, a colleague recently expressed some doubt about his own rates and the respect we as translators get from clients, after an agency told him that his rates were too high. The response from the group was unanimous: stick to your guns. His rates were fine, if a little low in fact.

In translation as in life, there are bullies and pushovers, and then there are those who Continue reading

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Promises Don’t Pay the Bills

Occasionally, translators are contacted by new clients who, after getting a quote, ask for a discount simply on the basis that they are a new client and that, so they claim, there will be more work to come. Nice try.

There is no incentive there for a sole trader for the obvious reasons that 1) a discount effectively means a direct reduction of our personal income; and 2) the promise of future work may never materialise – whether it is a genuine promise in the first place or not. Besides, Continue reading

How Much is Your Work Worth?

A small art publisher recently asked for my rate while warning me that they didn’t have the budget of a large company. Such a query can be translated as: “we’d love to have our books translated but can’t afford it”.

While translators may show some flexibility with regards to rates or other terms, it goes without saying that we can Continue reading

Machine Translation Gone Wrong – Again

Happy New Year to all!

As 2016 has started with large projects to work on, I have not had time to think much about a post for this week. Instead, you may wish to read this article, which shows how relying on machine translation is very dangerous indeed. Continue reading

Mirror, Mirror

If you’ve ever seen a poor-quality translation, did you think: “the translator who did this is rubbish” or “this company can’t even hire a decent translator”?

Memes with the message “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur” have been doing the rounds on social media, and everyone Continue reading

Commodity Translators vs Service Translators

The translation agencies’ race to the bottom – endlessly undercutting each other’s rates and claiming to provide the best for less – has led many new starters and less confident translators to accept unsustainable rates, creating two increasingly apparent categories: the “commodity translators” (slaves who translate for agencies or clients unwilling to pay decent rates) and the “service translators” (business-aware linguists who work primarily with direct clients for reasonable rates and who do more than just Continue reading

Crowdsourcing: the Secret to a Motley Translation

While crowdsourcing may seem like a conveniently cheap approach to translation, it is symptomatic of a misconception of translation as an exact science and generates a text as variegated as the crowd that produces it. Continue reading

Cutting Corners is Risky Business

Being accredited to provide certified translations, I regularly receive requests to translate birth certificates and similar documents. Occasionally someone will ask whether they could translate it themselves (because they have A-level French) and I could then just correct it and certify it for them. Unfortunately, fixing a DIY translation takes much longer than doing it right first time; so if the idea is to save money, it is unlikely to work. Continue reading

How Much?!

On a translators’ community website, someone has left a poor review on another translator’s page for non-payment of a €3 invoice for subcontracted work, despite much chasing. What is ridiculous isn’t so much the chasing of such a tiny amount; it is the amount itself. It is a sure sign that someone somewhere doesn’t know what they’re doing. Continue reading

That Doesn’t Break Three Legs to a Duck

If you hire an amateur “translator” who speaks French like a Spanish cow, your audience could feel like a hen that has found a knife, leaving you in the cabbages while the crook runs away in the English fashion.

Puzzled?

Idioms make languages colourful and interesting. When using them, we don’t think about what they say literally but non-native speakers hearing them for the first time will Continue reading

ProZ and Cons

Clients who are unsure what a reasonable fee for translation is will likely look online and find average rates on translators’ platforms such as ProZ.com or Translators’ Café. Unfortunately, these websites have their limitations despite their best efforts and should be taken with a (generous) pinch of salt.

First, these platforms are open to Continue reading

Technology in Translation

I have been quite busy lately, with little time to write a blog post for this week. However, here is an excellent article on technology in translation that you may like to read: Why So Many Translators Hate Translation Technology.

For clarification as to what CAT tools are, please see my post on the topic: The Translator’s Little Helpers.