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

Advertisements

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

Give the Cream to Those who Want it Most

Out of the blue, a Toronto-based artist contacted me, asking whether my MA dissertation (on J. M. W. Turner and the Industrial Revolution) was available for purchase. Who would have thought! The artist is currently doing some research on Turner and found my details in the Association of Art Historians’ member directory.

While my translation services are irrelevant in this case, this anecdote illustrates that translators are everywhere, even where you might 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

Working with a Specialist

Depending on your text, there may be times when any good generalist translator can handle it. However, it is worth thinking long term. Is this just a one-off or could you need translation services again? If the latter, you obviously want to go back to the same professional next time if possible, so it may be a better idea to find a language partner who specialises in your field right from the start in case more demanding documents Continue reading

Housewife with a Good Italian Dictionary? You’re Hired!

There are myths and clichés about many professions. Here are some common ones regarding translation.

Anyone who speaks more than one language can be a translator.

Even a bilingual person is not necessarily a skilled translator, let alone someone with an A-level only. If all you need is to get the gist of what the document says, such a person may be able to give you a rough idea of what it is about, but if you need an accurate and reliable translation, I suggest you Continue reading

Finding Your Secret Helpers

Translators, like fairy folk, are quietly concealed amidst the wilderness of human civilisation. Yet they are everywhere, ready to shake their magic wand at any text you wish, transmogrifying it into the wonderful language of your choice on demand. And if you know where to look and manage to catch one, they have the alluring power to connect you to many rich and beautiful lands… So where do you find these marvellous creatures? Continue reading

One Translator May Hide Many More…

Translators may be sole traders but they do not work alone. Far from it! Thanks to CPD events, conferences, professional institutes, networking events and of course the internet, translators meet and stay in regular contact with fellow linguists who work in the same or different language pairs and in a range of specialist areas.

This makes the one translator you may know a very valuable contact indeed. Whatever language combination you need, your linguist will Continue reading