March 16, 2014

about translation, the most difficult work / part 3

Business (as many of our actions) bases on trust. Translations are usually bought based on trust. Translation buyers and sellers do not master tens of languages. (My team offers translations in thousands of language pairs.) We must take measures to justify trust:
  • Part of the value of a translation agency is given by the value of the translators whose services it sells. Choosing translators is a complex step that must be taken with such care that translations serve their purpose.
  • Once complete, translations are checked (more and more often) at least by an editor. When using several types of linguists, a valuable human resource strategy will result in high quality, useful services and good relationships.
  • Linguists must e.g. know their trade, follow correct procedures, and use compatible and advanced software.
Clients can choose from tens of thousands of translation agencies. Many of them are hard to find or have a poor website.

How could clients improve communication?

Clients can ask translation agencies to improve the communication between clients and linguists, e.g. by transmitting their specifications more accurately.
Clients can choose teams who communicate more respectfully, more clearly, and more pertinently, and who use better communication software.
Clients can choose translation agencies that know their industry and hire better linguists.
Clients can choose teams that master their languages. When they use the translations, they will at least avoid being laughed at.
Many people are impatient to use what they purchase and are reluctant to spend time reading instructions. I find video instructions more attractive and efficient. It is even more efficient to have somebody call the user. If the participants don't speak the same language, you can use a translator. Clients would communicate better with customers and everybody would appreciate translators more. The most compelling instructions are those given in person. If they are given at the client's premises they will be difficult to forget. Some clients pay rather little Translation prices vary with several factors and they vary a lot. Translators used to be paid USD 15+ per 100 words. Translators, agencies and buyers have being pushing translation prices towards zero. The closer the price is to USD 1 per 100 words, the more difficult it is to understand how translators can pay their taxes and expenses and have a profit. They probably have no profit. Service without a profit is slavery.



Dignified people serve better and bring more profit. How much should translations cost? Clients pay for the services of the agency and of the linguists. The agency's share of taxes, expenses and profit in a transaction must be much smaller than the linguists' share. I invite translators to express themselves:
  • Do you live in a country in which your taxes amount to 20% or 50% of your income?
  • Expenses vary e.g. with the profit. Translators' business expenses are usually not large. What expenses would you like us to discuss? If you live e.g. in Britain, you might invoke the high cost of living.
Many people buy e.g.
  • housing
  • land
  • water
  • food
  • gas
  • clothes
  • electrical energy
  • furniture
  • computers
  • telecommunication services
  • software
  • vehicles
  • oil
  • entertainment
  • hospitality services
  • medical services
  • legal services
  • maintenance services
How much would a family spend during the lifetime of the parents? In some countries they could do with USD 0.2-0.3 million, in others they spend millions. Many people work up to 48 weeks, i.e. up to 2,000 hours, every year. This number of hours is difficult to reach, especially by a translator. It is certainly difficult to sit so much, use several applications simultaneously, think intensely in two languages and type texts that amount to book after book. All these files must be healthy and compatible; all these documents must be readable and useful, follow the original content closely and meet a series of specific requests. Because other factors influence a translator's year, too, let's say that he works about 1,000 hours every year. He can process up to 0.4 million words in this time. (Well, there are several things to discuss here, too.) If he received USD 10 for every 100 words that he has to process, he'd earn USD 40 k per year. Of course his profit were much smaller. But this price is significantly higher than the global average price per processed word. Clients usually don't pay for every processed word, but for translated words, so a translator's profit is significantly smaller. Is this true, translators? How long is a translator's career? I doubt that people will usually ask for translators with an experience longer than 20 years. I suggest that you pay agencies more than USD 8 for every 100 words translated even into the language of the poorest countries. You see that this is a modest income.

Some clients pay late
I refer mainly to those who pay later than agreed. This is a form of disrespect. I behave respectfully, and communicate and act so that I can be respected. My team observe their obligations and perform excellently. I will not take disrespect, I publicize acts of undeserved disrespect and claim for damage when applicable. Some clients offer to pay later than 30 days from invoicing. Compare to many things that we buy! In many cases we must pay immediately or promptly or in a couple of weeks. So it is difficult to find a translator that accepts to be paid more than a month after delivery. This can mean two months after he started working. I would like clients to place orders if they have the translation fee and that amount remains in their account until they transfer it to us. Our linguists spend their time helping you and make efforts much harder than keeping an amount in one's account. I know no good reason to postpone paying for translations for a day subsequent to the day of delivery.

Few clients avoid paying
In rare cases, some people try to take advantage of our bad habit of allowing people to pay after they receive the files. We take measures to avoid taking orders from such people and sue them if they default.