Posted by: patenttranslator | December 22, 2010

The Mental Health Status of Some Translation Agency Operators Is Rapidly Deteriorating!

I received an e-mail from somebody at a translation agency this morning. Let’s call her Natasha (not her real name). The e-mail said:


We have a translation request, Slovak-EN, Words: 2835, Repetitions: 27%, Payment: 165 Eur., Topic: patent, chemical field.

What would be your earliest delivery date? Are you familiar with patents? How many have you translated up to now? Viele Grüße / Best Wishes.

My answer was:

Dear Natasha:
Is everything OK with you? Perhaps you should seek professional help.
If I called a plumber to fix my bathroom and told him how much I would be willing to pay for that, with an obligatory discount taken for repetitive work, don’t you think he would assume that I must be crazy?

Hope you get well soon.

I don’t know what Natasha (again, not her real name) looks like, but I imagine her as one of the many conflicted persons who are being treated by “Paul” (not his real name) on my favorite HBO TV show called “In Treatment”. Perhaps Natasha’s father never really showed any love to her, which was Sophie’s main problem (see video above). Or maybe she was traumatized by clients who are looking for really cheap translations? Her offer translates to about 7 cents a word in US dollars which is less than a half of the going rate of an experienced translator in this country. I was actually charging about 7 cents a word for European languages to English when I was starting out some 23 years ago. But even back then when I was a clueless beginner, both as far as the translation business and the technical terminology that is used in patents is concerned, I knew that only a really desperate person would swallow an obligatory ” discount for repetitions”. The kind of person who badly needs a few sessions of treatment with “Paul”, but could not afford a single one, of course, at such low rates. I should also mention that this is the second time this year that somebody asked me for a discount due to “repetitions” in patents, as I write in this post.

I am seriously addicted to the third year of HBO’s “In Treatment” series. The actors and actresses are incredibly good and the story lines are completely believable. It is amazing how much drama a good script writer can pack into a 30 minute dialogue between 2 people sitting in a shrink’s office. I can watch all the four segments with four different people being analyzed by “Paul” every week when they have a new episode.

Back to Natasha in a German speaking country in Europe. There are probably not too many Slovak to English translators in India where her rate could be acceptable. There are some Japanese and German to English translators in low cost countries like India, but I don’t know how well they know Japanese or German. I do know that their English is not good as I write in this post. So India is probably not an option for Natasha. Her best bet would be to try to find somebody in Slovakia. But Slovakia is not as inexpensive as it used to be since they adpoted Euro as their national currency two years ago. It may not be easy for Natasha to find somebody in Slovakia who actually knows this field and is really fluent in English.

The chances are that she will deliver garbage to her client. I will not be surprised if there is a request for translating a Slovak patent, chemistry, about 3 thousand words, in my e-mail again in the near future. If it shows up in my e-mail, it will probably be the same patent, although this time not from Natasha.

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