Posted by: patenttranslator | February 21, 2013

Henny, Penny, The Rates Are Falling!

One day Henny Penny was scratching in the farmyard looking for something good to eat when, suddenly, something hit her on the head. “My goodness me!” she said. “The sky must be falling down. I must go and tell the king. …….

[Henny Penny is then followed by Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey, who were told by Foxy Loxy to follow him because he knew a shortcut].

….. So they all followed Foxy Loxy. He led them to the wood, and up to a dark hole, which was the door to his home. Inside his wife and five hungry children were waiting for him to bring home some dinner, and they were all eaten up by the hungry fox family.

[You can also read the whole Henny, Penny story, also known as the Chicken Little story, here].

Based on what I have been reading on translators’ blogs over the last few years, it is an evident truth that seems to be accepted by most translators that translation rates are falling. In the midst of a deep and seemingly interminable economic crisis (this would be the seventh year, with  seven more ahead of us?), it would be also a logical conclusion.

Different translators attribute this dire situation to different causes. Many blame the downward pressure on translation rates on machine translation, others point out that “portals for translators” such as pro Proz and GoTranslators result in an influx of new translators who may be translating from languages they don’t understand much into languages that they don’t know very well either subjects that are completely beyond their comprehension. Since these translators are extremely cheap, they do find work, perhaps unlike experienced and competent translators who were able to charge 3 to 10 times more than these unskilled and inexperienced people who I call “sub-prime”, “rogue”, or “zombie” translators, depending on the extent of their mental disorder.

According to one interpretation of what is going on in the translation industry, these would-be translators are thus driving out the best translators. But what does “driving out the best translators” mean? What happens to Saint Jeromes who have been driven out of their beloved profession?

Assuming that this premise is correct, which is possible, the “experienced and qualified translators” (at least in comparison to large numbers of those who are truly horrible) have three basic choices:

1. Find a new job (not very likely, as most of them can do well only one thing, namely translate), or starve to death (not very likely either, especially if they have been fattened up thanks to good rates in the past);

2. lower their rates, which I think many have been and are doing;

3. drop customers who no longer want to pay what they used to and find new ones who will be paying relatively high rates, even higher than what these “best translators” used to be able to command before “the rates started falling”.

It is also possible that some translators combine the strategies mentioned under items 2 and 3. They may lower the rates slightly to survive in the short term while looking for customers who are willing to pay better rates and gradually dropping those who pay less.

Many, of course, do nothing, other than bitterly complaining on blogs and in e-mails, which is probably not a very good strategy.

While it is probably true that, depending on your language and subject combination, the rates may be falling, we are also told from a number of sources that there is an acute shortage of experienced translators because the amount of specialized texts that need to be translated is growing exponentially, and this is something that cannot be handled with machine translations or by zombie translators.

The cognitive dissonance generated by these two conflicting premises (lack of experienced translators vs. falling rates being paid to them) is baffling.

How can something like this be possible? I think that one possible answer to this question is in what is often referred to as fragmentation of the translation industry.

There is really no “translation industry”, at least not in the sense of an “oil industry”, “construction industry” or other industries requiring expensive equipment and large amounts of investments. The only thing that the translation industry has in common with other industries is that it too needs experienced and well trained workers.

Nobody really knows how many people work in translation industry, if we want to call it that, and how much these people – translators and translation agencies big, small and tiny – make on a yearly basis. Studies are published on this subject every year to be sold to people who want to know “facts about the translation industry”, but these studies can cover only a small portion of the translation market and most of the numbers cited in these yearly statistics are very approximate estimates that may be wildly inaccurate. As Benjamin Disraeli, Mark Twain and Ronald Reagan used to say:”There are lies, damn lies, and statistics”.

The translation market is so incredibly fragmented that even the largest players will necessarily be able to service only a tiny percentage of the market. I think that translators should also keep in mind that 2 things are true about this market:

1. Some translators will always charge less than what you charge for your translation, regardless of how reasonable your rates are, for example those who live in countries where the cost of living may be much lower than where you live.

2. At the same time, some customers will pay more for your translation if you are able and willing to find them.

Especially if you are working mostly through translation brokers, middlemen, agencies, or “LSPs” if you will, you could probably instantly double your rate if you could find your own customers for your translations as many translators have done.

So it is really up to us whether we will follow Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey to Foxy Loxy’s den where we will be eaten up alive if we agree to accept rates that in spite of inflation (which is not really reflected at all in official statistics about inflation) seem to keep dropping like the pieces of sky that fell on Henny Penny’s head, or more recently on Central Russia, or instead use our heads to try to figure out what is really going on and whether the sky is really falling.

It may be that the sky is indeed falling in the crowded sectors of the translation industry where hapless translators who are working hard night and day to underbid each other will be gratefully gobbled up by the “translation industry”, while other translators who specialize in subjects that simply must be translated by highly experienced translators are doing just fine in in the vast reaches of the “translation industry” which has probably more fields and specialties than any other industry on this planet.


  1. Very interesting blog, for many readers this will be an eye-opener, I think. There is only one point where I have to disagree firmly: “Find a new job (not very likely, as most of them can do well only one thing, namely translate)”. This sounds rather unnecessarily insulting towards real translators. It also doesn’t reflect the reality, since a competent freelance translator has to have a bunch of skills. Linguistic and human qualities as well as good enterpreneurial skills.


  2. Well, it may not be true about you, but I’m afraid it is true about me.

    I tried different things but the only thing that I can do and make a living out of it at this point is translated.


    • All, right, maybe it is true about you. Still, a lot of translators – like me – come from other professions and one day, for whatever reason, decide they want to become a LSP (translator, interpreter, …). I myself don’t have a formal education as translator. Before I became one, I was a freelance analyst-programmer for about 15 years, and got disgusted by the mentality of the financial institutions I worked for (mainframe environments). This is even a good starting point for a freelance translator, as in such a case, he/she has already one important specialization. And as we all know, specialization is a must these days, also for translators.


    • You may be surprised at what you are capable of doing if you HAD to do something else. One of the greatest things about being human is our ability to adapt. You may have been unsuccessful thus far because you didn’t HAVE to do something else.

      I agree with Jan that your statement is insulting towards real translators (in fact, towards zombie translators as well but I don’t care about them, because they will certainly find something else to do badly once they are spewed out of the so called translation industry).


      • Abwords, you are assuming too many facts not in evidence.


        1. I am being insulting on purpose.

        2. I have done a lot of things in my life on three continents, probably more than you, but I have more fun and I am able to use my education and experience best being a freelance translator which is what I am doing now and intend to do in the future.


      • I fear that in your second point it is you who is assuming too many things – imagine that!!! You are not the only soul to have lived on three continents, speak more than one language fluently and do lots of things in life…
        I share a similar history and I too find this line of work to be the most captivating, interesting, and best for me – I was merely pointing out that when push comes to shove, most intelligent folks will manage to survive – although there might not be so much fun involved in that…

        I’m not quite sure why you would purposely mean to insult us your avid readers, but since I assumed too many things earlier, I’ll do it once more and assume you have your good reasons.


      • I have the same critical remarks as you, Abwords. “I am being insulting on purpose”? Oh well, never mind. Let’s indeed keep polite, even be gentle and assume that there is a good reason (well, one always finds reasons, doesn’t one?) for insulting one’s own readers.
        Anyways, in its own way, this blog comforts me in the idea that a really competent translator should never give in with the idea of working for low, or even lower, rates.


  3. “I’m not quite sure why you would purposely mean to insult us your avid readers, but since I assumed too many things earlier, I’ll do it once more and assume you have your good reasons.”

    I do indeed. It brings out the best and the worst in people, which makes for an interesting melange of comments on my blog.

    Nothing is more boring than bland blog posts that are followed by 5 comments, each of which says a variation of “Melanie, thank you so much for your post, I completely agree with you” (except when people say that about my posts, of course).

    And I don’t mean to insult you personally, just some readers, or readers in general, especially the lazy ones.

    Thank you for being an avid reader and I will try my best to make sure that you continue reading my silly posts even if you disagree with some of the things I am saying in them.


    I do try to be polite even when I am being insulting.


    • Fear not, it’s quite unlikely that I will post a “Melanie Response” to your blog because you tend to spur on intelligent discussion by your usually intelligent words — I hope you keep those up…
      I leave your post today un-insulted.

      Can I coin the “Melanie Response” phrase? 😉


      • Thank you so much.

        It will be my pleasure if you introduce “Melanie Response” into common parlance describing blog responses.


  4. Steve, isn’t it a nice way to feed one’s family like Foxy Loxy does?

    I read this morning someone introducing a discussion thread in a translator forum with the topic of “How do you market your services as a translator?” starting with the following words:

    “There is not a right place or a wrong place to market your services as a translator as different avenues work differently for different people. I am interested in hearing about the avenues (i.e., etc.) and/or methods (i.e. placing an ad in the newspaper, joining your local Chamber of Commerce etc.) that have worked for you and have increased your exposure/workload. Have you tried an unusual method that has given you results? If so, I encourage you to share your experience in the comments below.”

    I remember someone was asking for “practical advice” at Corinne McKay’s and dropped a line saying, “I thought about getting list of companies from proz and translatorscafe in order to send them my CV, but I rather know exactly which companies pay better and just send to them, not all. I guess nobody will share his success story, I mean, hard data that can really help a fellow translator. I understand the why though.” And the translator did that after Chris Durban had already pointed out: “If you are convinced that your work is high end but all your buyers are cheapskates, it’s time to pull yourself together and start targeting other market segments altogether.”

    You see, what some people mean with “practical advice” is some “short cuts.” Instead of doing one’s own research, some people expect “success stories” and “unusual methods.” That’s why they follow Foxy Loxy to his den. They wouldn’t realize that there are indeed “right and wrong places to market one’s services as a translator,” unless they got devoured by hungry foxes.

    As to your “find a new job (not very likely, as most of them can do well only one thing, namely translate),” I don’t find it an insult. I am also from another corner before I became a full time translator, but I know I wouldn’t quit translating that easily. What else can I do as an old retired salesman? Set up some fox dens for Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey, like the new one questioned by the following blog article?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You see, what some people mean with “practical advice” is some “short cuts.” Instead of doing one’s own research, some people expect “success stories” and “unusual methods.” That’s why they follow Foxy Loxy to his den. They wouldn’t realize that there are indeed “right and wrong places to market one’s services as a translator,” unless they got devoured by hungry foxes.

    Exactly, there are no shortcuts and you have to do your own homework.

    Otherwise Foxy Loxy and his numerous family members will devour you, i.e. you will be working for peanuts for the rest of your miserable life.

    That is what I am trying to say in this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You seem a nice guy, Steve, thanks a lot for the blog and the kind answers to comments. 😉


    • Thank you, you are so right!

      (Was that a tongue-in-cheek Melanie Response? I can’t see your face or body language).


      • LOL – well used 😉
        I think it was sincere.


      • Hi Steve,

        That was a tongue-in-cheek Melanie response, indeed (hence the emoticon).


  7. Another great post as usual! If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of not having enough high-paying work, you could always write a newsletter about translation (remember Bernie Bierman’s Translation News) because if people will shell out $500 for an advisory report to tell them that the sky is falling, I’m sure people would gladly buy a newsletter to hear the truth.
    The problem with new translators is that they let themselves be abused by some agencies (rates, deadlines, crazy hours, insane formatting requirements and instructions, abusive payment terms, etc.) and when new project managers encounter a seasoned translator they think we are being too demanding. They simply do not realize that agencies are reselling their product for a HUGE profit.
    Also, I’ll bet most clients do not know that despite the flashy professional websites, their translation projects are being farmed out to unknown entities at the cheapest rates possible. They are pay .25 a word for a translation, but only getting .05 a word for their money. A possible solution would be a site where clients/buyers of translation could go and rate agencies. If an agency can consistently produce good quality work at .10 a word, then so be it. But it will never happen!


  8. Hi Jeff:

    Bernie’s newsletter was very interesting but unfortunately it did not last very long. Bernie had a lot of inside information on the “translation industry” back in the nineties.

    I only have a lot of strong opinions based on my personal experience sans the inside information.

    Anyway, the era of newsletters is probably coming to an end since people got used to having free access to most things on the Internet.

    Let’s hope I never run out completely of translation work.

    Your comment about shelling out $500 for a report that says that the sky is falling is well placed here. I was indeed trying among other things to point out my take on a few minor discrepancies that may be contained in this report.




  10. Hi Steve, I enjoyed your remarks about how the short-cut mentality leads some people places that would be better off not going.
    As others have pointed out, it’s part of the low per-unit price trap: if you’re churning out work at unsustainable prices and using shreds of any remaining energy to complain about how “unfair” it is (and how unkind everybody else is for not providing a roadmap to the pot of gold), the whole thing leads nowhere.
    Whereas it needn’t *if you are in it for the long term*.
    @Jeff — I agree with you that many clients don’t realize the extent to which work being brokered by lots of intermediaries is simply farmed out to whoever’s free and cheap that day.
    But I doubt too many outfits are making huge profits (if you consult, e.g., Lionbridge’s accounts — as you can do online — you’ll see that they are under water big time and have been for years).
    On the contrary, you have lots of translation companies, big and small, flailing around, undercutting each other, feeling the heat (oh, and putting pressure on translators who haven’t taken the time to develop marketing skills of their own).
    My own experience is that good clients (of whom there are many) have been burned far too often by the cowboys out there and are prepared to pay good money (sometimes very good money) for excellent work.
    As I see it, all too often translators aren’t doing the hard work upfront (= truly mastering the subjects they claim to be able to translate).
    Stir into the equation their squeamishness about negotiating and you’re in Gullible Gulch — ruled by the Henny Pennies of this world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said. [Note: This is NOT a “Melanie-response” :)]


      • My suggestion would to call henceforth this kind of blissfully approving comment, which is otherwise completely meaningless, “Dear Melanie response”.


  11. “if you’re churning out work at unsustainable prices and using shreds of any remaining energy to complain about how “unfair” it is (and how unkind everybody else is for not providing a roadmap to the pot of gold)”

    Hi Chris:

    I have a feeling you are talking about this guy commenting on Corrine’s blog who calls himself lion something.

    Some lion he is indeed.

    I tried to point him in the right direction, and you spent a lot of time trying to explain what you thought about a possible solution to his problem to him, and instead of being grateful and trying to assess the advice he is now blaming you for his misery.

    It is a waste of time to try to talk to people like that.

    If you don’t show him a road map to the pot of gold, as you put it, RIGHT NOW!, and it better be a short one, you are a part of the worldwide conspiracy against him.

    And the poor guy is trying so hard with all of his mighty lion’s power! It just breaks my heart.

    I am assuming that this is a man as a woman would be probably unlikely to call herself lion something. Or perhaps be so obtuse.

    You know the song “In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight …”? (most people either absolutely love it or absolutely hate it).

    This lion will never wake up.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Well, when people are desperate (or very unhappy) they sometimes get cranky.


  13. Some timely and apposite observations. I too have observed on both the internet and in professional development classes that I used to deliver, that there is a tendency to complain about inequities, rather than to focus on potential solutions. Perhaps it’s what we do when we don’t know the answers to our problems.
    My own analyses suggest that there is a translation ‘industry’ and a translation ‘profession’. The ‘industry’ has boomed in the last couple of decades, whereas the ‘profession’ has been going backwards ever so slowly. As I see it, one of the hallmarks of a professional service is the close and confidential working relationship between the client and the professional to ensure the best possible outcomes.
    What I see today, is a disconnect between the client and the professional, at least in the case of translators working for agencies/middlemen/LSPs. In most professions and in most countries, touting professional services without being qualified yourself, is an offence. In my view, the ‘profession’ must start with distinguishing itself from the ‘industry’ and do so by setting strict international standards for entry into the profession and the right to practice (as CPA’s have done).
    It is a long-term and difficult strategy, but failing to do so is only going to make a bad problem worse. The ‘industry’ will continue to compete itself into a deep hole (both because of shrinking margins and because of deteriorating quality), and if we are not ready to be identified as the professionals that can rescue the client, the client is going to believe that we were part of the problem!
    Certified Practising Translators is what the world needs :-).


    • Well, Louise, I hope you don’t mind that I snipe in.

      An ideal remains an ideal. Communism has been betrayed by communists. The same is happening to the ranslation profession.

      What you are asking for would hurt those unqualified ones and those who live on their misery, i.e., some streetwalking sites and cheapskating agencies.

      As to your Certified Practicing Translators, what a good business issuing scarlet P or whatever-colored CPT badges it could be!

      When we say “the sun scorches…” in our native tongue without ending the sentence, it means something like “Rette sich, wer kann!” in German or “Спасайся, кто может!” in Russian. The translation profession seems to be in the same situation. It is irreversibly spoiled with TEnT, CAT, MT and the commoditization as well as the cyber pink sites.

      The only way out for those who are aware of the situation is to find their own ways individually. Nobody would care if anyone of us unwisely get devoured by Foxy Loxy and his family members.


    • “My own analyses suggest that there is a translation ‘industry’ and a translation ‘profession’. The ‘industry’ has boomed in the last couple of decades, whereas the ‘profession’ has been going backwards ever so slowly.”

      “Translation professionals” need to learn how to become at the same time “translation industrialists”, to use your terms.

      You can allow the industry to abuse you infinitely and indefinitely through the Internet, which is precisely what many lazy translators are doing, without giving a second thought to the idiocy of looking for work in places where too many of them are competing with each other who will offer the lowest rate. Or you can use the Internet to find clients who are interested in establishing a closer relationship with a translator because it is more effective and often also cheaper.

      For the active approach you need to be able to offer a little bit more than just the concept of “I can translate from X language to Y language”, and many translators are unable to formulate a concept that would make it possible to use the Internet for their advantage rather than being abused by it.

      But some translators can and are developing their own concepts of what “the translation” business should look like.

      Both models or concepts of “translation business” can coexist at the same time, because while “the translation industry” cannot function without translators, translators can function without “the translation industry”.


    • I agree with you, Louis. Although there are excellent translators out there who are not “certified” but have logged countless hours translating and perfecting their knowledge of their subject matters, and acquiring mastery in their craft through practice, I feel that having gone to the University’s Law School translation course that I attended for four years, perfecting my knowledge of law by taking courses in public, private, commercial, and comparative law, sitting for and passing tests and exams and finally obtaining my degree and certification, must certainly count for something in the eyes of a client and should be a differentiating factor.


      • Hi Nelida,
        You list your translation and other courses (and I really like the degree of specialization those courses indicate).
        But you then add “[all of these courses] must certainly count for something in the eyes of a client and should be a differentiating factor.”
        Either they are or they aren’t (“should be” is just translators talking to translators, isn’t it?). And I imagine they are a good differentiator for the type of clients you want, but am not at all certain that translator certification weighs more heavily than, say, law courses. Or the work you produce (assuming you practice the kind of “close and confidential working relationship” that Louis quite right emphasizes).


      • Well, it is not a requirement to have a degree in languages when you are a translator in US, unlike perhaps in some European countries where it is a de facto if not de iure requirement as most translators who work full time there do have such a degree.

        But when a patent lawyer calls me and asks “what are are qualifications to translate these patents for us”, I always start by saying that I have a master’s degree in Japanese and English studies, which pertains to my linguistic and theoretical qualifications, and that I have been translating Japanese patents into English for patent law firms for the last 25 years, which pertains to my practical qualifications and knowledge of the technical subjects.

        In fact, I believe that specialized education and study of a language on a university level for a number of years ending with a diploma does make a big difference, although some clients will just ask “so where did you pick up your languages?”


    • Louis, I was reading along, agreeing with almost everything you said… but then you went and plunked in:
      “In my view, the ‘profession’ must start with distinguishing itself from the ‘industry’ and do so by setting strict international standards for entry into the profession and the right to practice (as CPA’s have done).”
      Not only do I not see that happening any time soon, I don’t even think it is desirable. This even though I am a big supporter of professional associations, profesisonal translators and raising the profile of the profession as a whole, imagine that.
      Concrete points:
      – How, concretely, would you draw up your strict international standards?
      You may be aware of various academics, certifying body reps and mid- to low-end translation intermediaries who are hot on the heels of regional — and in some cases national — certification even as we chat on this blog: curiously (or not) full-time practicing translators tend to steer well clear of all this stuff.
      I certainly do, because I am very doubtful as to whether or how it will raise standards (too many vested interests; players are in a world of their own).
      Above all, I see faster and more efficient ways for sound professional translators to send the cowboys packing — although these rely on translators getting out of their current comfort zone.
      – How ever would you “impose” such standards?
      You might manage to regulate use of the word “certified” (although even that is not certain), but the market is simply too huge and too wide-ranging imo. Who would be your accrediting body? (Lots of room for abuse there.)
      Not to rain on the cert parade, but since most professional translators and virtually all good clients simply see no need for the certification racket (er, business) it is hard to imagine the idea gaining much traction.
      But all is not black:
      Translators who want to differentiate themselves from the competition already have a wide range of options. And from what I see, many of them are not doing a whole lot (hand-wringing doesn’t count). Example: hardly any translators or translation companies are remotely serious about signing their work, which is a free way (for specialists in particular) to get their name out and about.
      Example: client education initiatives and industry PR through professional associations can be extremely effective; we should be urging our associations to pick up the pace here.
      Example: Most freelance translators and many translation companies are pretty passive when it comes to marketing their services; either that or utterly uninspired (or utterly tacky, like the low-end folks you refer to). Marketing skills can be learned, and in the case of freelance translators they can be deployed when we pursue continuing education alongside potential clients, for example.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chris, when you sign your translations, do you include any information other than your name and the words “translated by”? And do you place your signature on every page as a header or footer, or just once at the beginning (or end) of the document?


  14. […] One day Henny Penny was scratching in the farmyard looking for something good to eat when, suddenly, something hit her on the head. "My goodness me!" she …  […]


  15. […] One day Henny Penny was scratching in the farmyard looking for something good to eat when, suddenly, something hit her on the head. "My goodness me!" she …  […]


  16. […] One day Henny Penny was scratching in the farmyard looking for something good to eat when, suddenly, something hit her on the head. "My goodness me!" she …  […]


  17. @Robin
    A couple of points about signing:
    – while both agencies/intermediaries and freelances can (and in my opinion *should*) be doing it, if you as a freelancer want to sign a job brokered by an agency you should sort this out up front. Curiously (or not) very few agencies/companies are prepared to sign their work. They will cite all sorts of “reasons” but the only real explanation I can find is that they are unable to guarantee their work. One company told me that it was prepared to sign as follows: Spanish text: José Martinez for [name of company] — which would follow the model of our photographer friends (why not?). But I haven’t seen them actually do so.
    It would be a good way to show confidence in the quality of the work they sell (and in their own added value).
    For the record, if a translation company wants to argue that so many translators worked on a project it can’t credit them all, well, I’m okay with that, too (for now). But in that case the company itself should be signing — and they don’t, do they? So the “this is a pastiche” argument is less than convincing.
    – as a freelancer working with direct clients, it’s far easier.
    You make this part of your T&C (not aggressively or arrogantly, simply “this is how I work”). And you remind clients that it is in their interest, of course (most will see this immediately once you point it out).
    Note that it’s not worth signing everything; sometimes not even appropriate. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that signing translations of websites is tricky since their dynamic nature means that within a very short time the content can be that produced by somebody else (and of a quality you don’t necessarily want your name associated with).
    But for published brochures/annual reports and the like, where there is (by law in most cases) a “credits” block listing those resp for layout, photos, printer, etc., you can easily insert, say: “English text: [your name]. You might also put your name + website, why not. Phone would be overkill here.
    To repeat: no need to sign everything you do (but if you never sign anything, that speaks volumes IMO).
    – putting your name in a footer (each page, not just first one in this case) could also be a good way to encourage people at your direct client’s premises who might need to contact you (to discuss a point, or make some changes) to to so. In that case, I’d have no problem indicating a phone number in this case.
    Your point is not to slip in a banner ad per footer, rather provide info so that *in this specific case* people who need to contact you or want to contact you can do so easily.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. @Chris

    In my field, there already is a requirement for “certified translations”, which must be signed by the translator who is certifying his work. I am asked to certify about a third of my translations. Some agencies put in their “Nondisclosure Agreement” a clause that specifies that the translator gives the agency the right to sign such translations on his behalf, although the person signing them would for example not even be able to read Japanese.

    Some individuals and agencies charge a higher rate for such translations, I only charge a small fee because feel that I am simply charging for the time it takes me to issue the certification as I try give my best to every translation, signed or not.

    If for example a patent lawyer wants to use a patent translation in court to argue “novelty” of another patent application or the lack thereof by comparing it to a translated document, it must be a translation that has been certified in this manner so that the translator is identified.

    Some companies insist that the certifying statement must include the words “under the penalty of perjury”, so that a translator who would mistranslate something on purpose (for example if he was told by the client to translate something in certain way) could be sued for perjury.

    So signing of translations is in fact a requirement in some fields.


    • I was going to ask you about how that works with patents, Steve. Thanks for the information.
      For certification by court-certified translators, signature (+ stamp) is also necessary, and I’ve often wondered about the role of agency aggregators who claim to provide this service. (There are horror stories — confirmed in at least one case here in Paris — of agencies insisting that court-certified translators provide letterhead to them; the certified translators then rubberstamp the work that has been produced by somebody else. This looks to me like a recipe for disaster, or at the very least some interesting lawsuits.)


  19. Very interesting article – thanks for the share.

    Here is what I see at our company: more experienced translators are able to hold firm to their rates in many cases because of the quality they bring. I would never have a new translator perform a patent or contract translation – the lower cost simply does not warrant the risk of a poor job. I believe the way in the future for very experienced translators (or those who want to be able to charge higher prices in the future) is to specialize in a high-demand field that requires quality work. You are not going to be able to compete with the newer translator who offers a fifth of your rate in many projects, but there are definitely project categories that warrant a higher rate for better quality.


  20. […] спрашивают, кого почитать. Если говорить о ставках (и не только), читайте умудрённого опытом патентного […]


  21. Henny Penny is then followed by Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey, who were told by Foxy Loxy

    LOL, I think you’ll have a bright future as a bestselling author if you change your current job …

    anyway, I entirely agree with many posters

    I myself was a plaintive voice, but I repented having done that

    rebranding, new strategies and almost doubled my rates: yes we can

    regards Mad poster


  22. oops, I forgot to present myself


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: