tonybaldwin | blog

non compos mentis

Rambling thoughts on Trends in Translation

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There are current trends in the translation industry that are, as said in Brasil “enchendo meu saco demais”.
They are annoying me to no end.

In general, I am speaking of dealing with translation agencies.
They are demanding more and wanting to pay less.
They want discounts for repeated words in a document.
They want the translator to waste time filling out numerous online forms just to be able
to submit an invoice, and, now, I have agencies asking me to fill out forms to document
any terminology research I do during a translation.
They want to dictate rates, including dictating discounts.
They want to dictate payment terms and deadlines.
They want to dictate what tools I use.
They want us to surrender our translation memories and glossaries.
They want to pay ridiculously low rates.
These agencies seem to forget:
1) I’m not your employee. I am my own boss, as a freelancer, and I provide you a service.
This means:
I decide what price I will work for and what services I provide.
If you don’t want to pay my rate, you can find someone else.
I have the right to modify my rates based on project parameters.
Yes, that means I will charge more for pdf files of photocopies of handwritten heiroglyphic chicken scratch.
I reserve the right to modify my rates for other reasons, as well.
That means, no, I will not work for you for the same right I gave you three years ago,
I don’t care what your database or online system says. Update it.
If you issue a PO agreeing to my rate, then, you will pay my rate. Your PO is binding.
If you request additional services once the PO is issued and the rate agreed, I have every right to either a) refuse to provide those additional services, or, b) demand additional fees and an updated PO.
I determine what the final charges are. I am providing the service.
I don’t care what Trados says. My word count stands.
There are NO discounts, if I have not authorized them.
I don’t authorize discounts unless I miss a deadline. (That has happened twice in my entire career).
I decide when payment is due. If you don’t make payment on time, you will pay late fees as I determine.
I have every right to determine what tools I use, so long as I provide the end-product the client needs.
Unless you provide a specific tool, you have no right to demand that I use it.
I don’t want to use your tools. I have my own, thank you.
They work fine. In fact, they work better than yours.

2) Filling out your forms and crap takes time. I will charge for that time, and you will pay, or I won’t waste my time with that crap.
When I deliver a product, I also send an invoice. If you accept the product, the invoice is binding, and due within 30 days.
I don’t care about your online invoicing system. I have my own invoicing system; It’s called “I send you an invoice
with my work; You pay said invoice within 30 days or pay late fees.”
3) Creating translation memories and glossaries takes time. That is work. If you want to benefit from this work,
then, they must pay for it. I will not work at substandard rates and delivery glossaries and translation memories for free.
Forget about it.

4) I am a highly educated, knowledgeable professional. The resources I use cost money. I have bills to pay. I deliver your project on time. You must pay me on time.

Another phenomena I am noting with ever increasing frequency is that agencies are simply sending less work, or, at least, fewer complete translations, and more “only the parts in highlighted in yellow need translated” translations, and/or more revision work.
Do you know why? Because we gave them our TMs and glossaries, so now they are running new texts through their CAT tool or machine translation tool, and “don’t need us”.
This is why they send us revision work, and not new translations.
Very bad revision work, they send.
As a result, I have decided to double my hourly revision rate.
It’s cheaper to hire me to do the original translation.
Revision work gives me headaches.
Just this past week I did a revision for an agency.
The document was for a client of theirs for whom I have been doing all the translations for three years.
It was clear, in this case, that they ran the document through their CAT with MY TMs accepting something like 50% match (accounted for nearly a third of the new text), and then sent it
to a non-native speaker, likely in some third-world country working for sweatshop rates, or ran it through
Babelfish or some nonsense, to translate the remainder, and then sent this “translation” to me for
revision. After what I charged for all the time it took to fix the mess they had made, they would have been much better off simply to send the original text to me for translation. Heck, I ended up re-translating over half of it, as it is.

Understand, I worked as a painting contractor for a number of years.
I understand how contract work is supposed to function.
You ask me for an estimate, you hire my services, you pay for my services according to the contract.
Sure, you can clearly set parameters for what services you wish, and, I can decide if I wish to provide them or not. If I don’t or won’t provide the service you want, hire someone else. Don’t hire
me based on the services I provide, and then attempt to modify them.
I am free to choose what tools I use.
If you request additional services once a contract is signed, I have the right to modify the contract or refuse these additional services.
The original contract is still binding, unless we agree to modify it.
Yes, the contract is binding. You don’t get to decide after a product is delivered that you want to alter the
terms of the contract, unless we mutually agree to modify it.
You must pay when payment is due, or you owe me, according to the terms of the contract.

I provide top-notch translations, and I offer very, very reasonable rates, in most cases below industry
averages, because I have lower overhead and better productivity due to the FREE/Open Source tools that I use.
I provide them quickly, because my tools grant me additional efficiency, as well, that your Windows crap
can’t handle, being resource hogs, unstable, and prone to crashes and viruses, etc.
You want my services at my rates, I will use the tools I choose.
The rate I gave you IS MY BEST RATE!!
No, I can’t work for less, or I would have offered you a lower rate.
Don’t haggle. Pay my rate or find someone else.
The likelihood of you finding someone else with my qualifications working at my rate or less is very slim.
No. You can not dispute my invoice because I didn’t invoice based on your Trados word count.
I already told you, my word count stands. You accepted the translation and delivered it to your client,
my invoice is binding.
Pay my invoice…and the late fees.

Now, and this is significant, I also run an agency, in addition to my own freelance work.
I apply these principles.
I hire a contractor to provide a service.
I hire qualified, professionals. These folks deserve to be paid professional rates.
So long as you can provide the end product, the tools you use are your own business.
Sure, I may ask you to sign an NDA or contractor agreement. If you don’t like the terms, we
can negotiate, or I’ll find someone else.
You decide what your rate is. If I don’t want to pay it, I’ll find someone else.
Once you’ve delivered a project, I owe you the fee I agreed to pay.
I will pay that fee, on time (usually within 48 hours, but guaranteed within 45 days).
If I’m late in payment, I will pay a late fee. That’s fair.
I’ve never paid late.
I send you a PO and that PO is binding.
I don’t ask for discounts unless you’ve missed the deadline or failed to deliver the product AS SPECIFIED in the PO, and, in that case,
this is agreed before the project is assigned, and documented on the PO.
I never ask you to set your rates globally. You have every right to determine your
rates on a per-project basis, as appropriate to the subject matter, file formats, and requested
target product.
If I ask you for your glossary or TM, I will pay you for it. Those are valuable items.
Clearly, with those items, I can do some stuff for myself rather than send it to you.
I can generate a TM from the text you provide me and the original source text, anyway, using
tools I have here (bitext2tmx), so, in general, I won’t ask for yours. I can make my own.
Sure, I will run a new text through these TMs, then send you the original text
and the partially translated new text and ask you to translate the remainder, and proofread the existing translation, but, I will pay you for it, as you determine is appropriate.

Anyway, I’ve got work to do…enough rambling…
I know, this is poorly organized. That’s why I call it rambling.


Written by tonybaldwin

April 9, 2008 at 11:05 am

Posted in translation

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