Posted by: patenttranslator | August 29, 2015

Split the American Translators Association in Two – an Update for 2015


Eleven years ago I received a letter from a fellow translator who lives in Florida. I checked on Google, he still lives there, although I’m not sure whether he is still a translator.

Many readers of my silly blog may not remember it, but before the invention of Twitter, the greatest invention since sliced bread (… wait, that would be Facebook … let’s make it the second greatest invention since slice bread), people used to write whole letters to each other, usually on several pages that were covered with complete sentences, without a single emoticon!

All they had in those ancient, backward times was bolding, italics, CAPS and exclamation points!

I kept the letter, which contained at least eight pages, though I have only seven of them; it looks like I lost the last page. The letter, that was sent to me along with a number of other America Translators Association members, was titled by the translator in Florida: “Split the ATA in Two.”

The gist of the letter was that ATA is unable to represent translators because it has a major conflict of interest. Here’s a quote from that old letter:

“I began a dialog with some of my colleagues, and in the process I came to an important realization: the ATA has no way to warn its members about fly-by-night and other marginal agencies that could take advantage of our good faith when we extend them credit. Then, as I began to think about why we couldn’t protect ourselves, it dawned on me: ATA groups not only language professionals, but also their principle employers – agencies – which is tantamount to an organization like the American Medical Association (AMA) including both doctors and insurance companies, whose interest, I’m sure everyone agrees, are diametrically opposed.

I did some research: the American Bar Association (ABA) doesn’t allow law firms to be members, only individual lawyers. The AMA doesn’t allow insurance companies or hospitals or private medical practices to be members, just doctors. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) doesn’t allow accounting firms to be members, just accountants. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) doesn’t allow movie producers to be members, just writers. (Unless, of course, the producers are also writers!) The National Writers Union, which represents freelance writers, doesn’t allow newspaper and magazine publishers to be members, just freelance writers. Ditto the Authors Guild.

And on the other side of the coin, the American Bankers Association doesn’t allow bankers to be members, just banks. And the American Insurance Association doesn’t allow insurance brokers to be members, just insurance companies.

I could go on, but in this respect, ATA is alone: it is the only group that is both a professional association and a trade association at the same time – the only “hybrid” of the two. Are we so different from the rest of the world that we shouldn’t follow their lead and separate out the profession from the trade? I think not. And isn’t our name the “American Translators Association,” not the “American Translation Company Association”? What company do you know translates? None: they hire the services of people who do.”

I obviously kept the letter (sans the last, lost page,) because I agreed with it. But I remember that I thought at the time that the letter would have no impact on ATA leadership. The content of the ATA Chronicle clearly indicated to me that the structure of the association is designed to protect for the most part the interests of translation agencies, which are indeed often diametrically opposed to the legitimate interests of those of us who are translators.

A few things have changed in more than a decade since the letter was written and then received by a number of ATA members, although it was never mentioned in the ATA Chronicle. Since I leaf through every single issue of the ATA Chronicle, (although only rarely do I find something worth reading in it,) I would remember if the letter was discussed in the Chronicle.

It is obvious to anybody who has eyes to see that the status of independent translators is much worse compared to the situation at the time when the letter was written. In comparison to a decade ago, translation agencies have become much more powerful.

They don’t even call themselves translation agencies, that perfectly legitimate name. (Temporary employment agencies still dare to call themselves temporary employment agencies, don’t they?) A few years ago they started calling themselves LSPs (as in Language Services Providers, as if translations were provided by translation brokers and not translators.)

The power that translation agencies (I don’t call them Language Services Providers because they are not that) would like to usurp over mere translators, i.e. people who translate for a living, or are trying to do so in so-called translation industry, has increased dramatically.

This power is evidenced by extremely demeaning and hostile “Non-Disclosure Agreements” that translation agencies try to force down the throats of hungry translators. These contracts, which nowadays don’t really have much to do with non-disclosure of confidential information of the agencies’ clients as was their original purpose, have expanded in the last decade from a couple of double spaced pages to somewhere between three to seven thousand words.

Some of these contracts include clauses that are simply incredible – to me, anyway.

One of these clauses stipulates that all intellectual property created while a translator is working on a project for a translation agency (usually called “Company” in these contracts) does not belong to the translator, or to the client who is paying for the translation. It belongs to the “Company.”

According to another clause, very popular these days in these fake “Non-Disclosures Agreements,” the translator must agree to pay “all reasonable attorney fees” should the translation agency decide in its wisdom to sue a hapless translator for any reason whatsoever.

More recent clauses in such contracts stipulate that representatives of the translation agency have the right to carry out unannounced “audits” of translator’s premises and business practices. (A warrant signed by a judge is presumably not needed for such a raid of a private residence of a translator as it is not specified in these contracts.)

According to yet another galling and equally illegal clause, translation agencies openly declare that they have the right to spy on translators’ computers through the Internet, ostensibly to “verify proper installation of security software.”

The advent of computer-assistant translation tools (CATs) is being misused by some translation agencies to deny translators payment for what are called in “translation industry” newspeak “fuzzy matches” and “full matches.”

Some translation agencies are trying to make translators jump through more and more hoops cleverly designed to put as much power in the hands of these translation agencies as possible.

If the translators want to have work from such agencies, they have to use an automated accounting system designed by the agency to delay payment of translators’ invoices and to shift the substantial amount of work required for managing translation projects and accounting procedures from the agency onto the translator. That is why some agencies no longer accept invoices from translators. Instead, online invoice forms must be filled in by translators, and they’re generally accepted only during a narrow time window toward the end of the month.

I could continue for quite a while describing the demands that translators who work in the so-called translation industry have been confronted with during the last decades or so since I received the letter that inspired me to write today’s post.

Fortunately, not all translation agencies subscribe to the feudalistic concept of the so called-translation industry, a concept in which the agency is Lord and Master and translators are serfs whose sacred duty is to work from darkness to darkness, without a single complaint, for the greater glory and much greater profit of the translation agency (otherwise they will be sued by agency’s lawyers and made to pay “reasonable attorney fees”.)

Many small translation agencies, I called them agencies with a human face, still value translators as professionals (often highly-educated and talented professionals) and treat them accordingly.

They understand that without these highly educated and talented professional individuals they’re nothing, because they simply don’t make money unless translators agree to work for them.

But even the good translation agencies have interests that are opposed to the interests of translators. Translators want to be paid as much as possible. Even agencies with a human face want to pay as little as possible to maximize their profit. Should they coexist in the same “association of translators” with translators who clearly have different interests?

The issues and questions that were asked in the letter that I received from a translator in Florida 11 years ago are now more pressing than ever. Eleven years ago, it was possible to suppress them by refusing their publication in a newsletter that is ostensible published for and by translators, not for and by translation agencies.

But as these questions continue to be asked daily by translators on social media, it will be much more difficult to leave them unanswered by ATA in the age of Facebook, Twitter and countless translators’ blogs.

Even if the 56th annual Conference of the American Translators Association, which will be held between November 4-7, 2015 in Miami, Florida, continues to ignore these fundamental problems and concentrates again mostly on “newbies and buddies” as the last conference did to help create a new generation of young, obedient translators, perfect for the so-called translation industry as old timers are quitting ATA membership in droves, the mounting anger of independent translators who are no longer willing to put up with the contemptuous and degrading treatment received at the hands of so-called translation industry will not go away.

This anger will not go away just because it continues to be ignored by the American Translators Association. On the contrary, the more ATA ignores legitimate problems of translators in the brave new world of so-called translation industry, the more it will be considered irrelevant by the same translators.

Here is to hoping that the American Translators Association will finally start addressing issues that were raised by a letter that I received 11 years ago from a translator in Florida.

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Responses

  1. The best ever article of yours, Steve. My respect!

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  2. Thank you so much, Rennie, but God willing, the best is yet to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, sure! So far, I meant. 🙂 I do believe in your creative powers, Steve, no matter how often I have seemed to oppose you. Trust me, it’s only been to provoke busier discussions, not to offend anybody.

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  4. Thanks. What was the name of the fellow translator who wrote that letter to you 11 years ago? It shouldn’t be a secret. It was ingenious of him to make such insightful observation about ATA so early in time. They are actually equally relevant to all translators’ associations in the world. Allegedly translators’, that is.

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  5. I know that he wanted to have his letter published under his name in the ATA Chronicle 11 years ago. That did not happen, so I am publishing an excerpt from it on my blog. Better late than never. What he said then is more relevant now than ever.

    But I don’t know whether he wants to have his name published at this point. Who knows, maybe he will find out about this post and comment on it under his name right here. That would be a nice denouement.

    Unless that happens, I don’t want to make his name public.

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  6. Don’t wait for the miracle to happen, challenge it.

    Anyway, nothing wrong if you cite the name of the author. It wasn’t a personal letter after all, but a ground-breaking set of ideas.

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  7. I knew you were gonna say that, Rennie, and here is my answer:

    I believe in the general concept of democracy, but my blog is a tin-pot dictatorship and I am the dictator.

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  8. OK.

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  9. We (AUSIT) had the same problem, Steve. We had a corporate membership category in our constitution for 26 years. Although rarely taken up, I was stunned to discover this when I joined. “Who on earth thought this was a good idea!)
    I agitated against this for years on on the grounds that you so eloquently explained in your essay, preparing several very detailed papers on the issue, citing examples of other, more successful professional institutes.

    We finally succeeded in having the category deleted at last year’s AGM. I’m not sure we would have been successful if the category had represented a substantial portion of the membership (and subscription income/commercial clout over translators), as is no doubt the case at the ATA.

    I believe it is the constant search for revenue that tempts ambitious but naive committee members to support such a ridiculous and counter-productive notion.

    I touched on this aspect in my blog: http://doubledutchtranslations.com/2013/04/29/03-the-vision-for-the-translation-profession/

    My Master’s thesis (MBA) dealt with the strategic issues facing industry associations, and I firmly believe that on of our our fundamental problems is that the ‘profession’ fails to differentiate itself from the ‘industry’. Having both the ‘profession’ and the ‘industry’ that exploits the ‘profession’ as members of the same association is clearly idiotic (to put it kindly 🙂

    BTW, you forgot to mention a well-regarded traditional emoticon: X X X X X

    Liked by 3 people

  10. “Having both the ‘profession’ and the ‘industry’ that exploits the ‘profession’ as members of the same association is clearly idiotic”.

    If Aussies could kick the bad habit, maybe we can do it too.

    Although I wonder whether they will be talking about it at all at the next ATA conference in about 3 months. My guess is that they will be instead teaching “newbies” how to write a resume that will get noticed by an “LSP”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The balance of power may already be out of kilter. Still, to change things, the profession needs to attend and make their numbers count, move a motion to run the shysters our of town. If nothing else, it will focus the attention of others

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am hoping that the issue of membership of translation agencies in an organization that ostensible promotes the interests of translators, not of translation agencies, will be finally discussed at the ATA Conference in Miami.

        http://www.atanet.org/conf/2015/sponsors.php

        Unless they mostly do yoga and Zumba and play silly games again instead of talking about important issues of our profession as they did last year.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Maybe it’s time for translators to take matters into their own hands and form their own trade organization that doesn’t include agencies?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Think ‘professional institute’ instead of trade organisation.
      You are a professional, providing a personal, professional service, not a trader (vendor..)

      Liked by 2 people

  12. This is happening already. In Germany, for instance, or in Australia and in a number of other countries, only translators can become members of their translators’ organization. IAPTI, which is only three years old, does not accept translation agencies among its members either.

    Or translators can start their own association. I believe that unless the ATA changes, it will become mostly an organization for newbies and agencies, if it is not that already.

    https://www.iapti.org/

    Liked by 1 person

  13. “Having both the ‘profession’ and the ‘industry’ that exploits the ‘profession’ as members of the same association is clearly idiotic”.

    Between the two clearly outlined antipodes: individual freelancers (‘profession’) and intermediaries (‘industry’), there are also:
    – translators with their own company who offer services only with the language(s) they command;
    – translators with their own company who have one or more employees hired under employment contract who offer services only with the languages they and their employees command (here belongs my boss’s firm, he translates from and into Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian, and we, his 2 employees, from and into English; we are located in Bulgaria, native lang: BG);

    So, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with translators registered under the Company Act. They can be regarded as fully qualified for membership in a translators’ union.

    The sheer idiocy is elsewhere: everyone who has registered a translation company – be it a translator or not – is trying to offer services with as many languages as possible possibly without employing a single translator. Those lengthy contracts Steve often mentions are not employment contracts. Yes, they do contain clauses which can only be included in empl. contracts, such as: checks, supervision, etc., but these do not automatically make them empl. contracts. I advised Steve to check with the American labor legislation, but he doesn’t seem willing to. It’s easier to complain rather than act, isn’t it?

    And those ‘corporate businesses’ /’trsl industry’ that are often discussed here and there? What actually are they? They commonly consist of a few people only, most often below 10. What industry are you talking about? All this idiotic ‘industry’ is based on huge databases of top-secret translators from all parts of the globe – freelancers (registered or not), translators with their own company (with or without a small database of top secret translators), other ‘industries’ with their own huge databases of top secret translators, and so on.

    Industry, ha-hah!

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    • How translators work in their profession is not the issue, this can take many forms. The importance is to recognise that some people are professional translators, and some people (working in the translation industry) are not. The latter are imposters if they fraudulently represent themselves as ‘language service providers’.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. True, the majority of the translation agencies are very small, or even tiny. I am a translation agency too and so are thousands of people who generally mostly translate themselves. I know that because I occasionally work for such translators. Although I mostly translate myself, I also work with other translators on projects that I cannot do myself, in which case I operate just like an agency. Right now for example there are four people working for me on such projects, one in Europe and three in this country.

    But then there are also huge translation agencies with many employees in so-called translation industry. It is a huge business and huge profits can be squeezed out from thousands of translators by some corporate players, see article below. These big companies represent are emblematic of what i refer to as so-called translation industry.

    http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20141116/PROFESSIONAL_SERVICES/141119882/the-transperfect-storm

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  15. “see article below. ”

    See IRS papers, Steve.

    We did some online research at the Bulgarian Revenue Services Agency. We checked the annual financial accounts of a few of the biggest Bulgarian agencies, the ones that win public procurement tenders. When applying, they claim they have their own human resources, and declare they will not use external workers or partners (subcontractors) for completion of a given project. Their financial accounts speak otherwise, however: almost all of their income comes from external (translation) services.

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  16. Steve, here’s some more reliable info about the number of TransPerfect’s employees:

    “Today, TransPerfect has over 800 full-time employees, a network of over 4,000 certified linguists and subject-area specialists, and over 50 offices in cities around the globe.”
    http://www.transperfectstaffing.com/Our_Company/history.html

    The article you referred me to, gives a slightly exaggerated number of employees: 3,700. Journalists often can’t distinguish an employee from an independent contractor.

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  17. Of course, you can’t believe what you read in a newspaper. TP does not have 3,700 thousand employees. Journalists these days are mostly stenographers, they don’t have enough knowledge or motivation to ask questions, you can just feed them your own propaganda and they will gladly write it down because they need human interest stories for their paper.

    I did it myself on two occasions when I contacted two newspapers, one in California and one in Virginia, with a press release. They in the end did write an article about my business for their paper, I was able to tell them whatever I wanted and they really asked only very basic questions because they did not know anything about translation.

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  18. “I was able to tell them whatever I wanted and they really asked only very basic questions because they did not know anything about translation.”

    Ditto with certification experts. They also don’t have enough knowledge. Only that, unlike journalists, certif. “experts” can’t be excused.

    See [My] Correspondence with Dr Peter Jonas, LICS, Austria, about EN 15038 – Sep 2014

    http://softisbg.com/rennies_blog/2014/09/correspondence-with-dr-peter-jonas-lics-austria-about-en-15038.html

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    • These standards are nothing but a marketing gimmick.

      Translation agencies use this gimmick because it works on people who know nothing about translation, which is the majority of their customers, and “the certifying bodies” use this gimmick because that is how they make money.

      They would certify a translation agency run by trained monkeys if the monkeys paid them the fee that they demand.

      Because my operation looks like just another agency, I sometime receive offers through Internet to become certified in this manner.

      The certifiers run the same kind of totally bogus, although perfectly legal operation as outfits issuing “PhD titles” through Internet. I receive offers from them through Internet as well.

      Every translator knows that a translation agency that advertises itself as “certified” uses a bogus claim and thus cannot be trusted.

      Customers don’t know it yet, but I have a feeling that they are beginning to catch on.

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  19. Superb! The contrast with other professional organizations/guilds has been staring us in the face all this time, but ATA still marches along as an inherently (and deeply) conflicted operation. . .As always, with this blog, I am today enlightened and swept away by another true Eureka moment!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Your flattering characterization of my humble blog made my day, Lucille! You are coming to Bordeaux next week, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alas, Steve, as I just conveyed to a Committee colleague, I’m geographically impaired and continent-bound, for now. With some luck, the obstacles that have precluded travel, for me, will lift within the year, and then perhaps I’ll have the privilege of meeting my idols and compatriots in person. . . “Humble” is the right adjective for you, in meantime, but both you and your top-banana blog are also wildly brag-worthy!!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I’m amazed to learn ATA has corporate membership. Crazy.

    There are associations for and of translation agencies in pretty much all parts of the world these days, and a quick search shows me there is a body in the US called “The Association of Language Companies”. You might object to the name, but that’s where corporates belong, not as members of the professional association of translators.

    Looking at the ATA bylaws, of the 8 (yes 8!) classes of members only “Active Members” can vote. Ie the professionally qualified T&I members the association was presumably originally set up for. So there you go, get some groundswell amongst Active Members, your proxies in place, and raise a motion at the AGM to remove the corporate membership category. Get the 2/3 majority needed to change the bylaws, and job done!

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  22. Thanks for your rational evaluation of the untenable status quo, Dennis, delivered all the way from New Zealand.

    I hope that translators follow your advice and after more than half a century finally prevail over the Stalinist powers that be at the 56th Annual Conference of the ATA in October.

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  23. “I hope that translators follow your advice …”

    Mission impossible. Most translators have their own agencies, that’s why ATA is infested with so-called corporate members. Similar situation here, in Bulgaria, only slightly worse.

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    • This is not a problem, Rennie, as long as the (appropriately qualified) translators join as individuals rather than as a corporation/business.
      He or she will, of course, have to comply with the professional institute’s code of ethics and conduct, which should cover standards of employment of fellow members (colleagues). If he or she does not, they should be expelled.

      A partner in an accounting firm is still a qualified accountant. He will be a member of his accounting institute (e.g. CPA), but his firm cannot be a member of the institute. His firm will no doubt be a member of the chamber of commerce or something similar.

      It’s all about clearly differentiating between professionals (i.e. physical persons who are appropriately qualified); and corporations, which are not. The latter are not persons (despite the crazy ruling of a high court in a faraway country I have heard about – trying hanging a corporation :-), and can therefore not be professionally qualified.

      It is as simple as that.

      Liked by 2 people

      • BTW, the accountant working for an accounting practice works directly with the client. The translator is deliberately kept away from the client.

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  24. I know, Loius, cf. my post on August 30, 2015, at 8:58 am above.

    And do YOU know the difference betw. an accountant with a firm and a translator with an agency?

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    • Yes I do. An accounting firm is a professional practice providing personal professional services. A translation agency is trading company buying and selling translations.

      An accountant working for an accounting practice is a partner or an employee (part of the firm). A translator working for an agency is a service provider (contractor) to the agency (usually referred to as a vendor). He or she is regarded as completely separate from the agency (mostly to reduce the cost of purchasing translation services, but also for taxation and liability reasons).

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Steve, the situation you describe could virtually be transposed to the UK by changing “ATA” for “ITI”, I think. It has been a matter of concern for a number of members for many years that individual translators and translation companies are supposed to coexist in an association.

    And a 7000-word NDA? I think I can beat that. I received what I think was headed a “Non-Disclosure Agreement” which ran to over 30 pages of pretty small print. I put it aside to read when I had time, although from a quick scan I believe it contained absolutely everything the agency wanted to communicate to its suppliers, including relatively minor things like page layouting and so on.

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  26. Somebody needs to write a post with the title “Split the ITI in Two!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • You don’t have to. As Dennis correctly says, “There are associations for and of translation agencies in pretty much all parts of the world these days, and a quick search shows me there is a body in the US called “The Association of Language Companies”.

      All you have to do, you, the members of translators’ unions or associations (I’m not one), is to make it clear that you will not tolerate members who present their colleagues’ translations as their own work before clients.

      The only problem here would be – given you introduced this natural, rightful rule – that your translators’ unions or associations or whatever could lose the majority of their membership. So, you wouldn’t do it, would you?

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      • It is better to have a smaller professional institute with the clear focus and mission of “protecting and advancing the interests of professional translators”, than a ‘divided house’ where neither one side not the other achieves anything.

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  27. This is not rocket science. There have been several examples over the years of corporate ATA members who were dedicated to ripping off translators and who,despite complaints, were never punished in any way by the ATA’s administration. I think one was eventually removed from the corporate list. In fact, some of the least trustworthy agencies are corporate members! When the Institute of Translation and Interpreting in the UK was formed some 25 years ago, I was deeply opposed to corporate membership but the directors were keen on it,due to the extra income it would bring in.

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    • louisvr: “It is better to have a smaller professional institute”

      Smaller, smaller, how much smaller? To trim it off agency-owners, you have to get Steve and yourself out first. 🙂

      louisvr again: “BTW, the accountant working for an accounting practice works directly with the client. The translator is deliberately kept away from the client”

      I was asking about the difference between TRANSLATORS with agencies. They work directly with clients. Or, do you mean they mostly work for other agencies which keep them away from the clients, as is the well-established practice in our deplorable “industry”?

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  28. In other words, they are much more interested in the extra income from people who are not translators than in protecting the interests of translators, which is supposed to be their job.

    Gosh, that reminds me of something …. what is it? … Oh, I know, isn’t this exactly how our government is treating the voters?

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Just because you don’t know how to find direct clients for yourself, or hire other people to do a job that you can’t do yourself, does not mean that you are a translator and I am not, Reneta-san.

    That’s not how things work, except perhaps in your mind.

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    • Steve, has it ever occurred to you that competition between agencies and individual translators is as impossible as competition between large hospitals and individual GP practices? How ever can you, an individual translator, compete with all those agencies that offer services in 20 (30, 50, 80+, all) languages?

      How do they offer “their” services? By relying on independent, self-employed “sub-contractors”, some of them also agency-owners like you, isn’t it? When you work for an agency, it’s the agency that boasts with “its” own high-quality services, and the clients say “Thank you” to the agency, not to you. No one cares who you are. You are viewed as a kind of burka-wearing, home-bound creature (ok, vendor or linguist). Your face would only be revealed if something goes wrong. Only then would you bear full responsibility by losing your fees and paying “all reasonable attorney fees”. You are a slave, Steve, a slave who’s trying to win his freedom by enslaving fellow translators, and advising others to do the same. No, thanks!

      You’re so confused that you can’t remember what you have written in your own post above:

      “But even the good translation agencies have interests that are opposed to the interests of translators. Translators want to be paid as much as possible. Even agencies with a human face want to pay as little as possible to maximize their profit. Should they coexist in the same “association of translators” with translators who clearly have different interests?”

      I was so happy when I read it, and I though, now Steve is going the right direction…

      Now back to the example of large hospitals and individual medical practitioners. You know, or can imagine, what it takes to run a large hospital with a good number of departments – building, staff, medical equipment, etc.

      That’s why the number of large hospitals is limited, unlike the number of “large” agencies which seems to be increasing at a post-rain-mushroom speed, although it has long exceed the healthy number (healthy for best practices).

      And you certainly know what it takes to run a “large” translation agency with a good number of languages – just long lists of top-secret, invisible, anonymous translators, “hired” under grossly illegal NDAs (hired, ha-ha!).

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    • I just received an email from a company called Mars Translations who not only claim to have ISO certification but also display the ATA logo on their website. They boast that they offer translations at US$0.06 per word! Their website gives no address or phone details, so who knows where they are located, perhaps on Mars?

      Liked by 1 person

      • As long as you pay the ATA piper, they don’t give a damn whether you are on Mars and how much you pay translators. You have every right to use their wonderful logo. After all, it’s just a marketing gimmick, just like the ISO or EN certification. And it’s of course much safer not to give out your address when you are running a scam.

        Liked by 1 person

  30. Well, then keep telling yourself, Rennie, that it is impossible to compete with agencies and don’t compete with them.

    I have been competing with them for about 25 years and intend to do so for as long as I can work.

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    • Of course, being an agency, you will compete with agencies.

      Because of the ever increasing number of agencies, however, the competition is getting fiercer every year, you know. This is not fair competition, actually. When everybody is offering everything, and advertising all kinds of high-quality services, clients don’t have any other choice than ask for a lower and lower price. In turn, agencies have to find cheaper and cheaper translators. This is a road to self-destruction both for translators and agencies. It’s detrimental to clients as well.

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      • This is nonsense. You are just trying to justify the fact that you are not doing anything yourself about the status quo by telling yourself that there is nothing you can do about it.

        Liked by 1 person

  31. “you are not doing anything”

    I am, Steve. You know, I am.

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  32. In case, you don’t know what I’m doing, here’s my blog: http://rennie.blog.bg/
    The problems in Bulgaria are much more serious than in the US or elsewhere.

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  33. A blog, (preferably a top-banana blog), is a good thing.

    A blog combined with actual resistance to so-called translation industry in the form of real competition is in my opinion even better.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Reblogged this on Translator Power and commented:
    Very good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  35. There is easy way to force ATA to do that. Hire and expensive lawyer from a good law firm, ask him to write letter to ATA do do this, otherwise we members will sue them for whatever the good lawyer can come up with and wait a little. I was trying to change ATA bylaws for several years, because they discriminated against associate members and ATA ignored me. When I hired expensive lawyer, he wrote one letter to them, and ATA changed the bylaws in 1997 within 3 months. It was worth every penny at that time.
    I will gladly contribute to this effort.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It rings a bell, I remember that you mentioned it at least two decades ago on Compuserve.

      How did it go, can you refresh my memory?

      Like

      • ATA board is a chicken litlle when they get a letter from expensive law firm, they were taken to the cleaners when Uncle Sam went after them, so with a good lawyer it will be like shooting a fish in the barrell. Email me privately and I will forward you the copy of the letter. I served the letter in person the ATA president at that time and many other people at ATA conference in 1997 (smile). It was fun.

        Like

  36. A possible way forward might be to send a letter to the Board signed by a few Active Members asking them to review the appropriateness of continuing to have a corporate membership category, setting out why you believe it to be incongruous with the purposes of the Association, with a view to the Board bringing a motion to abolish the category at the next AGM. Or alternatively explain why they believe it should remain.

    The Board is responsible to members and for managing the “affairs, business, and concerns” of the Association, so should feel obliged to respond.

    These are Association’s purposes by the way:
    1) to promote the recognition of the translation and interpreting professions;
    2) to promote the communication and dissemination of knowledge for the benefit of translators and interpreters;
    3) to formulate and maintain standards of professional ethics, practices, and competence;
    4) to stimulate and support the education of translators and interpreters;
    5) to provide a medium for cooperation with persons in allied professions; and
    6) to promote professional and social relations among its members.

    It’s hard to see how corporates parading ATA membership as a marketing strategy can be compatible with those objectives.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Rumor has it that a petition will be presented at the 56th ATA Conference in early October in Miami to abolish the corporate membership category as it is incongruous with the purposes of the ATA as Dennis fittingly put it.

    As a long-time ATA member in good standing, I just applied for voting member status. My application should be processed within two weeks.

    I would like to hereby ask all ATA members who feel, as I do, that the profession of a translator is separate and distinct from that of a translation agency operator and that the corporate membership of translation agencies is incompatible with the six association’s purposes above to SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR VOTING STATUS ASAP.

    It such a petition is in fact presented at the conference, let’s all vote for it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Dennis, feel free writing to the board. Been there, done that. It does not work, ad they do not give a xxxxx. My way works much faster.

    Like

  39. Steve, ATA also have lifetime old fart membership, which has voting rights, as long as you are member for 20+ years, and are old enough, you are eligible and it cost only $100 for old people (smile)

    Like

  40. Thanks for your advice, Radek, but I was mistaken about being an ATA member for more than 20 years. I joined the NCTA in Northern California in 1987, but I joined ATA only in 1997 or 1998, so I have to wait a few more years before I can claim my senior citizen discount from ATA.

    (But local grocery stores, hairdressers and other commercial establishments give me the discount without asking ….. I wonder what it means?)

    I am sending you a private e-mail to your aol address.

    Like

    • I responded privately. Call ATA headquarters, tell them you are terminal case (smile) and ask them to check their records, and see if you eligible for old fart.

      Like

  41. I e-mailed them to ask for a senior citizen discount last year, but they were right and I was wrong. I thought I joined the ASSOCIATION (of and for) TRANSLATION AGENCIES (hence ATA) in 1987, but I only joined in 1998. So I have to wait a few more years.

    Thanks for the letter, good stuff and good job, man!

    I am not going to do anything with it now, but I may use it in one of my silly posts one day, with your permission, of course.

    Like

    • I hear you. You have my permission to use it in whole or copy a part of it, as you can see fit. My feeling is that similar letter distributed at the conference just before the voting will surely help to improve the results (smile).
      I would also love to see your recent post reposted at LinkedIn Proz group, as it has nearly 60k members and most of the posts there sucks. If you post it there directly, it will get even more exposure and readers your excellent writing deserves.

      Like

  42. Thanks for permission to use your letter. I can’t post on my own on Proz. I think only paying members are allowed to do that and I have no intention of becoming one, although I registered with them about ten years ago to see what they would be like.

    Alas, it is just another greedy outfit that has been pushing down the rates for for translators for at least the last decade.

    But please feel free to repost this or any other post on my blog anywhere you want.

    Like

    • I was talking about LinkedIn.com and there is a group called professional Translators and Interpreters, which is big, has cca 60k members. The group is run by a Proz girl, Romina, but she is reasonable. LinkedIn has also ATA group but only about 5k members and monitored too much for my taste. You can post on Proz directly even as free member, but it is too much monitored

      Liked by 1 person

  43. louisvr: “How translators work in their profession is not the issue, this can take many forms.”

    Yes, that is the issue. A translator between German and English can manage projects only between German an English. Translators who “manage” projects in foreign languages they don’t speak, are no better than the imposters you rave against:

    louisvr: “The importance is to recognise that some people are professional translators, and some people (working in the translation industry) are not. The latter are imposters if they fraudulently represent themselves as ‘language service providers'”

    The importance, Louis, is to recognise that there isn’t a profession “translator per se”. I mean, the word “translator” is always linked to a specific pair of languages, e.g. I’m a translator between English and Bulgarian. Often, there may be more pairs, e.g. my boss is a translator between several languages: Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, English and Bulgarian.

    In addition to the issue of specific language(s), there’s the issue of specific area(s) of specialization, e.g. I’m a BG-EN-BG translator specialized in medical texts. I also accept texts in other areas, such as technical, business or law; however, I commonly decline texts with maritime terminology because I don’t understand them even in my native language (well, I have translated some maritime texts, but it goes too slowly; only when there were citations from conventions was it easy for me: just find & copy-paste from the original texts of conventions on the Internet; btw, that’s exactly what CAT tools can do instead of humans), and sometimes I decline texts in familiar areas for the same reason: too difficult for me to understand even in my native language.

    A professional translator shouldn’t take example from cheap scams who shout at the top of their voice: “Dear clients, OUR company offers all kinds of translation in any and all languages! OUR translators are carefully selected professionals, etc.” Actually, I can’t be sure who started first this mad shouting: the scams (the impostors) or the translators themselves who opened the first translation offices for complex services.

    Again: nothing wrong with complex services; it’s just their organization that’s wrong.

    Like

    • I’m sorry, I find your arguments a bit difficult to follow.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Please, ask a specific question or questions. Don’t hesitate to tell me what you don’t understand. Do you know that in ancient times a translator would be beaten if he said he couldn’t translate something – in any language? Sometimes beaten to death!

        This attitude to translators seems to be still alive. We recently read a newspaper article where a journalist had written: “Polyglots Needed for Government” The text of the paper article left no doubt that the government needed translators from and into several languages. We laughed when we read it; the bitter truth is, however, that governments certainly share the misconception of translators as polyglots. There was a case here with a court interpreter who was nearly fined for her refusal to interpret from and into a language she didn’t speak.

        So, most people see translation as a single activity done by polyglots. Just as accounts do the accounts, translators translate. But while an account can easily understand what a fellow account does, I, the BG-EN translator don’t understand and can’t understand what most of my fellow translators do in and from languages I don’t speak myself. Moreover, my closest fellow translators, between BG and EN like me, often don’t understand and can’t understand the medical texts I translate.

        Again, if you have any questions, ask me. You can also contact me at: rennie@softisbg.com. One has already done it, and we exchanged several very nice emails (not Steve).

        Like

      • Many years ago, a movie came out starring Shirley McClaine called “Woman Times Seven”. It was a series of short stories. In the first story, Shirley is dressed in some kind of air hostess uniform and is gliding between various delegates at some high-powered conference. She effortlessly interprets between pairs of delegates speaking a variety of languages, I seem to remember that Japanese was one of them. This is how John Q. Public views interpreters and Hollywood has gone out of its way to encourage their delusions! Lucky we have no capital punishment in the UK or that poor court interpreter who was required to interpret a language she did not know might have gone to the electric chair!

        Like

  44. “Just as accounts do the accounts, translators translate. But while an account can easily understand what a fellow account does”

    is to be read as

    “Just as accountants do the accounts, translators translate. But while an accountant can easily understand what a fellow accountant does”

    Sorry! 🙂

    Like

  45. “She effortlessly interprets between pairs of delegates speaking a variety of languages …. to the electric chair!”

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    Like

  46. This is the comment I left on Jeff Alfonso’s blog on the same subject:

    When I saw your post for the first time, I couldn’t help but think: “Here we go again…” You may be aware of the fact that the idea or restricting ATA to individual translators is not new and has been around since the very foundation of ATA. In fact, the “founding fathers,” one of whom was a personal friend of mine, considered and discussed having separate organizations for the two categories, but the idea was rejected every time it came up, for different reasons.

    First, we are stronger if we’re united and can speak on behalf of all stakeholders in the profession.

    Second, it is not easy to tell apart translators and owners of translation companies. Except for the purely commercial outfits managed by lawyers and businesspeople, the typical translation company is owned and managed by translators, usually successful ones who at one point became unable to handle the work flow and decided to farm out the overflow to trusted colleagues. Many working translators have incorporated for tax reasons. Would they qualify for ATA membership in an “individuals only” association?

    Note that, in order to hold office in ATA as a member of the Board, committee chair, or division administrator, you must be an active member, i.e., a translator, having passed a certification exam or peer review. During my 13 years on the Board, we always had one or two Board members who were also company owners (I was one of those), but the majority has always been “pure” freelancers. Currently there is only one translation company owner on the Board, who is, of course, also a translator. Thus being, any talk that the ATA Board represents the interests of company owners is pure nonsense.

    While in many issues translators and translation companies have diverging or opposing interests, we’re all part of the same industry and have much more interests in common. Being able to talk to the government or the media about language and translation issues with one voice lends more strength to our position. Even when we disagree on certain issues, it is better if we can discuss those within the same organization.

    Another important reason for keeping translation companies within ATA is that, in cases of ethics violations, ATA can do nothing against non-members, but can apply sanctions, up to expulsion, to its members.

    The solution to the real or imaginary “conflict of interests” between freelancers and translation companies is, in my opinion, to strengthen ATA’s Ethics Committee, which should consistently and fairly enforce our Bylaws and Code of Ethics and Professional Practice. We have the tools to resolve those conflicts. Let’s use them.

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  47. Gabe, I believe there are strong counterarguments to each point you raise.

    “First, we are stronger if we’re united and can speak on behalf of all stakeholders in the profession.”
    True. But the problem is the “united” part – how united can an organisation really be if it has membership categories with competing interests? Faced with an advocacy situation where the interests of individual translators and companies compete, how strong will the advocacy be? Also, there is nothing to stop a translators association and an association of translation companies working together when their interests align. It can even be perceived as a stronger advocacy position.

    “Second, it is not easy to tell apart translators and owners of translation companies.”
    So what? Professionally qualified translators are individuals and have a professional association to represent them. Companies are incorporated and can form and join an association of incorporated companies. An individual who is both a professionally qualified practicising translator and owner of an incorporated company can belong to either or both. Where is the issue? If that individual were to seek office in ATA it would be to represent the interests of individual translators, not incorporated companies.

    “Any talk that the ATA Board represents the interests of company owners is pure nonsense.”
    Hold on, the Board is there to represent the interests of all ATA members, which means they are supposed to and do represent the interests of their corporate members as much as their individual translator members, right? And you talk of your united front representing the interests of both translators and companies. It is precisely this need for the Board to juggle what you acknowledge as “diverging or opposing interests” on many issues that is the problem.

    The point you seem to be missing is that the Association was set up with the fundamental purpose of representing and promoting the interests of individual professional translators, not companies. The bylaws are crystal clear on that. It is still supposed to be the objective. The bylaws don’t say ATA is to represent “all stakeholders in the profession” at all. In pursuing that objective the Board has become sidetracked and is breaching at least the spirit of the very rules that are supposed to govern what it is and does.

    Don’t think that matters much? Two key issues facing freelancers right now that are hugely detrimental to the profession are low ball rate offers from agencies and the appalling terms some agencies expect translators to sign. This is something a translators association could be expected to be concerned about. But ask yourself how diligent a Board is likely to be in trying to stamp out those practices if it sees part of its role to also represent and protect the interests of translation agencies, who of course have every legal right to be doing those things. And if those agencies are also all potential members of the association …

    The danger is that in trying to be all things to all men the Association can get to a stage where it no longer successfully represents the interests of its translator members at all. I gather some consider that point may have been reached.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Unfortunately, in my long years of membership of the ATA (about 30) I have witnessed several instances of translation agencies who were corporate members of the ATA and who regularly fleeced and ripped off individual translators who were members. In at leas one case, the corporate member is a very big company. Absolutely nothing was done to protect the translators. As Dennis Brown says, it is very easy to distinguish between professional translators who are also corporations and those that are merely businesses, not run or owned by professional translators. There is no justification for corporate membership, genuine translators can all be members in their own right. And now that the ATA is so large and also holds accreditation examinations it can surely fund itself just from individual memberships.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Dennis,

      I don’t find your arguments convincing.

      “how united can an organisation really be if it has membership categories with competing interests?”
      Members of any organization have competing interests. I’m a competitor of my translation buddy; our interests may coincide in some instances, but clash in others. Each of the OPEC or NATO countries has its own interests in addition to the shared interests in defense of which those organizations were formed. The six “Purposes” of ATA as stated in its Bylaws and the 15 purposes stated in its Articles of Incorporation are in fact shared by its individual and corporate members.

      “An individual who is both a professionally qualified practicising translator and owner of an incorporated company can belong to either or both.”
      The only US translators’ organization I know that has no corporate members expressly states on their website that “The owners, managers, and representatives of translation agencies and bureaus are not eligible for membership in the Association.” I also find it preposterous to assume that an individual can forget about one of his/her identities as a member of one organization, and about the other one as a member of the other organization.

      “the Board is there to represent the interests of all ATA members”
      Correct. I should have said that “Any talk that the ATA Board represents the interests of company owners ONLY is pure nonsense.” And ATA boards have “juggled” the sometimes diverging or opposing interests of ATA members mostly successfully for over 50 years.

      “the Association was set up with the fundamental purpose of representing and promoting the interests of individual professional translators, not companies.”
      Some of the “founding fathers” were freelance translators, others were company owners. Nowhere is it stated in ATA’s Bylaws or Articles of Incorporation that the association should defend the interests of one membership category with the exclusion of others. The fact that, ‘in order to hold office in ATA as a member of the Board, committee chair, or division administrator, you must be an active member, i.e., a translator, having passed a certification exam or peer review,’ as I stated in my original post, ensures that the interests of individual translators are always represented.

      “Two key issues facing freelancers right now that are hugely detrimental to the profession are low ball rate offers from agencies and the appalling terms some agencies expect translators to sign.”
      True. And how do you propose to solve this problem with the parties in conflict belonging to different organizations?
      What clout would ATA, as an organization of individuals only, have against any individual translation agency or an agencies’ organization? Isn’t it more efficient to conduct the dialog within the same organization and, if one member violates the mutually accepted rules of the game, sanction this member as provided for in ATA’s Bylaws and Code of Ethics and Professional Practices?

      Like

      • I should like to give Gabe and Denis an example of what translators are up against. The other day, I agreed to take an editing job (something I don’t usually do) because I was hard up for work. I received confirmation from the agency in question and I wrote back to her and said I would do it for the next day and asked how much she was paying. Her response was to the effect that “the job has gone” but she would keep me in mind as she was sure she would have other work. I replied that I was not prepared to work for her since she had assigned a job to me and then decided to hand it over to someone else. I quote her response to this verbatim:”God you can’t get past this, that’s unbelievable! Do I owe you an explanation? I don’t think so. Jobs come and go in a heartbeat, I don’t have time to give an explanation every single time
        1) Because I don’t get an explanation myself from the client
        2) Because I don’t have the time
        So please do us both a favour and stop writing to me. I don’t have the time to tiptoe around my vendors who feel “betrayed” and “upset” whenever I turn down a job…. I’ve got many other things to you than to explain myself and you obviously you have plenty of time, lucky you!!!

        Good luck with finding a suitable client who does not disappoint you !

        Kind regards,

        That is the kind of insult that translators have to put up with.

        Josephine Bacon

        Like

  48. This has happened to me more than once. It’s called the “piranha pit.” The client, usually but not always an agency, sends out dozens of offers to different translators, and whoever gets back to them with an acceptable offer first, gets the job. The others may have had the impression that the offer was for them only, but in fact they were competing possibly with dozens of others. Frustrating and humiliating, but this seems to be the new paradigm. The question is: how do we discourage this practice? I don’t think that splitting the world’s largest translators’ association into mutually hostile fragments would do the job. Neither would attempting to boycott the culprits, which is also probably illegal. Exposing them and their unethical practices might work in the long run, but having a shared forum, where the differences can be trashed out, certainly helps.

    Like

    • ” Neither would attempting to boycott the culprits, which is also probably illegal.” Personal boycotts are not illegal and certainly not in the UK where there are masses of boycotters, such as the BDS movement who have driven companies into bankruptcy through sheer antisemitism. I totally agree with you about agencies who send out lots of demands to create a “feeding frenzy”, one can only hope that the person they finally settled for did a lousy job!

      Like

  49. If by “personal boycott” you mean boycott by a single person, it’s certainly not illegal; neither is it effective. What I meant was a call for boycott by all translators, which is both illegal and unlikely to be heeded.

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    • Alas “unlikely to be heeded” is probably the case. I certainly boycott certain large agencies that throw out those crumbs to translators and see who will be quickest to catch them, we all know which is the main culprit in this respect and there is another reason why I won’t work for them, they refuse to pay VAT and they are therefore breaking the law. A previous big agency did that and suddenly “disappeared”.

      Like

  50. As if the insult and humiliation from the woman whose reply I printed was not enough, there is some dodgy outfit that insists on a test translation and this is what they wrote to me (as if they could not look up my credentials for themselves, they are all over the Internet!).

    ” I am contacting you from XXXX in regards to the recent FR to EN translation test you submitted.

    Your test will be marked this week. However, to guarantee high quality translation and ensure that our clients only work with professional translators, we would like to learn more about your translation experiences. Please could you send us one of the following by the end of the week:

    1. Your CV
    2. Copy of your qualifications
    3. Your LinkedIn profile link
    4. Your Proz.com profile link
    5. Your online website
    6. Other proof of experience in translation

    If we do not hear from you by the end of the week, unfortunately we will reject your test. If we receive further information from you by the end of the week, your test will be marked on Friday.

    She also wrote “we will let you know whether you pass OR FAIL our translation test”, how polite! Why do some agencies treat translators as if they were bonded labor!

    Like

  51. Gabe, you pose an excellent question:
    “And how do you propose to solve this problem with the parties in conflict belonging to different organizations?”

    Well, without an inherent conflict of interest, ATA would have a very clear path to follow – do everything possible to promote the interests of individual translators. So it might:
    – Identify the types of terms and practices it considers inappropriate and publish this on its website and make it known to members. Translators could then respond to agencies saying their terms aren’t acceptable because they don’t meet ATA guidelines.
    – Draw up a set of acceptable terms/guidelines and publish this on the website so translators could say to agencies I would be happy to sign these terms that are sanctioned by ATA.
    – Highlight the unacceptable practices to the association of agencies and ask them to promote fair practices among their members.
    – Enter into discussions with that association to keep the pressure on.
    – Write to individual agencies saying their terms/practices don’t meet ATA’s guidelines and ask them to bring them into line.
    – Consider creating a blacklist of agencies who continue such practices.
    Etc, etc.

    Just ideas off the top of my head, and obviously not perfect. But the point is, it’s not hard to come up with ideas of what could be done if your sole focus is on doing what’s best for translators.

    I understand the appeal of trying to resolve things through discussion with everybody in the same organisation. And sure that can help. Sometimes it even works brilliantly. But it can also lead to paralysis, precisely due to those conflicting interests. Or if not paralysis, certainly a reluctance or inability to take decisive action.

    The proof is in the pudding, I guess. So, is ATA making headway in addressing the issues of most relevance to translators through discussion with everyone in the same tent? Has it taken decisive steps to combat the appalling practices we all know about, and can it point to what it has done?

    If the answer isn’t a definite yes, then you have to ask why not and if it wouldn’t be more effective without corporate membership and a simpler and unconflicted focus.

    Liked by 1 person

  52. Dennis,

    Almost all those things that you’re recommending are already being done or were done at one time. I assume that you have access to the Members Only section of the ATA website, although I was unable to find you in the ATA membership list.

    Model translation contract: https://www.atanet.org/business_practices/translation_agreement_guide.pdf; a similar model contract exists also for interpreters.

    ATA Code of Ethics and Professional Practice: http://www.atanet.org/governance/code_of_ethics.php.

    My article in the January 2005 issue of the ATA Chronicle describing how we solved disputes between translation buyers and providers during my term as Ethics Chair. It also recommends that those practices be resumed. They include the one you recommend: ‘Write to individual agencies saying their terms/practices don’t meet ATA’s guidelines and ask them to bring them into line.’ http://www.atanet.org/membersonly/switch.php?url=p_Chro_01_05_January_1.pdf&t=pdf. However, if such a letter is ignored by the culprit, ATA could do nothing more against a non-member, while it could apply sanctions to a member.

    Blacklisting violators would probably be illegal in the US.

    You can see that ATA is doing a lot to discourage unethical practices by translation buyers. Yes, it could do more, and many of us are pushing the Board toward more and more forceful action. But, while you cannot force an independent business to voluntarily refrain from engaging in actions that they perceive as advantageous for their business interests, you can negotiate with members of your organization to mutually agree on certain guidelines which, ultimately, should have a positive effect on everybody involved.

    Like

  53. In the end it is about first principles: a corporate LSP aims to reduce its cost of purchasing the service it sells (i.e. payments to translators) to an absolute minimum. Translators on the other hand want to maximise their income.

    These are fundamental commercial aims, diametrically opposed to one another. An association or professional institute that pretends to be able to defend and advance the interests of both parties is at best deluding itself, or has lost its way.

    Such an association or institute can best be compared with a cart that has a horse at both ends, pulling in opposite directions.

    The outcome is evident throughout the world: Few, if any, have succeeded in significantly advancing the interests of translators, and they have not even succeeded in protecting the key interests of translators, i.e. ensuring that the profession remains financially sustainable. Everything else is just noise.

    Indeed, professional translators who are members of institutes with such conflicting interests, are sabotaging their own future. They are providing a forum for corporate LSPs to influence their collective interests, or at the very least maintain an unsatisfactory status quo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Such an association or institute can best be compared with a cart that has a horse at both ends, pulling in opposite directions.”

      “Everything else is just noise.”

      Bravo, Louis!

      How can anybody not see that?

      Like

      • It is one of the many mysteries that have baffled me for years. Perhaps the Billy the bard was right: “there are none so blind as those who will not see”.

        It has been my experience that most cannot see the forest for the trees, as born out by many of the discussions on the internet.

        I often hear the lament that “the gummint” should do this or that, and no amount of explanations on my part; that the government of Australia is into DEREGULATION rather than REGULATION of commerce (as instructed by the US of A :-); or that government departments are is a major beneficiary of low interpreter/translator fees in Australia; is getting through.

        Fear (of unknown consequences) also plays an important role. Hell, we’d all be revolutionaries if there was no fear of possible consequences 🙂

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  54. Louis,

    First of all, it would be nice to have your full name.

    Second, the “conflict” about purchase price is inherent in any vendor/purchaser relationship. It’s not the only, and not even the most important factor in that relationship. And, at least in the US, a professional association of either vendors or purchasers would be prohibited from trying to affect prices in either direction. So much about “fundamental commercial aims, diametrically opposed to one another.”

    Like

    • My name and the name of my professional practice are readily available by clicking on my handle or going to my website: http://www.doubledutch.com.au.

      Nobody is suggesting that a professional institute should collude or needs for the purpose of fixing prices. Defending and advancing the professional and commercial interests of members can be achieved in many ways (I’ve written a master’s thesis on the subject).

      However, it cannot be achieved if the potential advancement of the interests of one group of members conflicts, or is likely to conflict, with the interests of another group of members.

      Like

  55. Louis your image of a cart being pulled in opposite directions is exquisite. I’m still laughing visualizing that!

    I doubt anyone could put the case more clearly or succinctly.

    Liked by 1 person

  56. “However, [defending and advancing the professional and commercial interests of members] cannot be achieved if the potential advancement of the interests of one group of members conflicts, or is likely to conflict, with the interests of another group of members.”

    As I said before, Every organization has members with conflicting interests. My translator colleagues are also my competitors. Often we have different and sometimes conflicting interests. Example: I translate mostly into English, which is not my mother tongue. Some of my native English-speaking colleagues may wish to restrict into-English translations to native speakers. Some certified translators would like to prohibit non-certified ones from entering the field. All this doesn’t prevent us from working together on other issues within the same organization.

    By the way, I’m puzzled: Neither you nor Dennis are members of ATA. What prompts you to propose such a radical measure as breaking up the association of which you’re not even members and about the activities of which you’re not well informed. It wouldn’t occur to me in my wildest dreams to propose reorganization, let alone breakup, of AUSIT or VZV. Am I missing something here?

    Like

    • I am not proposing anything; please check the record. I am merely participating in the debate and contributing my knowledge and experience for the benefit of my professional colleagues.

      Like

      • “An association or professional institute that pretends to be able to defend and advance the interests of both parties is at best deluding itself, or has lost its way.”

        The title of this blog is “Split the American Translators Association in Two.” You’re “participating in the debate” having clearly taken the side of this proposal. From what I can see from your posts, your “knowledge and experience” does not include knowledge of ATA’s history or its more recent actions to resolve the vendor-purchaser conflict within our industry. I suggest you educate yourself about what ATA is and what it has accomplished before opining about what course it should take in the future.

        Like

  57. But it’s so hard to refute your arguments … yours and those of the other guy in or near Australia too …. why can’t you two just keep your mouth shut.

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    • Dear Gabe
      the fact you like ATA the way it is now does not mean that ATA works for freelance translators as well as for you, who is an agency owner, if I remember correctly. I think that easiest way to solve this ATA problem will be the same way I did it in 1997 with ATA discrimination against associate members. Well written threatening letter from expensive law firm works like charm (smile).

      Steve, call me please, and lets lawyer up. Nice talk does not work with ATA.

      Like

      • Thanks for your suggestion, Radek.

        It might work, but I have been trying all my life to stay away from lawyers (with the exception of patent lawyers, my favorite people).

        In any case, you can use lawyers to sue people to drop an illegal clause, as you courageously did, but you can’t sue them to change the way they think.

        Unless the ATA decides on its own to start defending the interests of translators against those of the brokers, and these two groups clearly have interests that are often diametrically opposed, although the ATA has been pretending for decades that they are just one big happy family, the ATA will cease being relevant to actual translators (although it will still work perfectly for agencies and clueless newbies) and another association will eventually emerge and replace it.

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  58. “I suggest you educate yourself about what ATA is and what it has accomplished before opining about what course it should take in the future.”

    Which in English means: Just shut up! How dare you trying to analyze my talking points?

    Liked by 1 person

  59. Radek, I sold Accurapid in 2011, so I’m no longer an agency owner. And I’ve never been afraid of criticizing the ATA leadership. See my article in the ATA Chronicle mentioned above or my article in the April 2015 issue of the Translation Journal (http://translationjournal.net). But I do so based on facts as a member of 37 years, of which a Board member for 13 years working to make ATA more responsive to the needs of the working translator. I find statements such as “[u]nless the ATA decides on its own to start defending the interests of translators against those of brokers…” false and destructive, and I think it’s sad that you can’t offer a better remedy to the problems of ATA than to destroy it.

    Like

    • Dear Gabe, it is funny, it seems you are using the same arguments like in 1995-7, when I started to complain about ATA discriminating against associate members.
      Nothing happened because ATA cares only about ATA and getting as much money they can from anybody.
      ATA listen to its members only, when they have no other option.
      I am a practical and result oriented guy.
      I know from my own practical experience, when I hire expensive lawyer, I get results from ATA very quickly.
      I do not want to destroy ATA, but I want it to represent only translators.
      If fixing this problem will mean ATA will cease to exist, I hope I will not lose too much money from my membership fee (smile)

      Like

  60. “ATA cares only about ATA”

    which is to be expected, since ATA **is** its members.

    Your constant reference to lawyers reminds me of agency owner Walter Hartmann (no relation to former ATA president Dr. Nicholas Hartmann), who defrauded several translators in or around 1994. After due investigation, the Ethics Committee recommended his expulsion from ATA, which the Board approved, but the decision was reversed by then president Losa after Mr. Hartmann threatened ATA with a lawsuit. You were using the same tactics of intimidation, and ATA regretfully yielded to your threats, just as it did in the W. Hartmann case. Your case may have been just, but your method was as antidemocratic as Mr. Hartmann’s.

    BTW, I see that both you and Steve are now voting members. Congratulations! You could now join forces and establish certification into and/or from Czech, so that you can add the title “ATA Certified” to your credentials.

    Like

    • I don’t know about Radek, but I recently became a voting member of ATA for one reason only: so that I could vote that only translators would be eligible to join an association that, as its name says, is for translators, and so that corporate bodies such as agencies would not be eligible because they are obviously no more translators than for example The Burger King.

      I don’t translate to or from Czech, with the exception of an occasional letter, etc. Since I have never been asked by a client (by which I mean a direct client, rather than an agency broker) whether I am an ATA-certified translator or even an ATA member, I assume that none of my clients even knows that ATA exists. Therefore, there would be no reason for me to add the title “ATA Certified” to my credentials, especially since I do have real credentials.

      I think that you may have slightly overestimated the importance of ATA in the real world, as opposed to its imaginary importance in the cocoon of so-called translation industry.

      Now, if there were a Burger King certification for translators, I would give the matter of whether I should add this certification to my name some thought. Maybe it would be good for something.

      But forgive me if I say to you that based on what ATA is doing for translators and how unimportant it is in the real world, I have no interest of becoming certified by this august body.

      Like

      • Good luck to your quest of splitting ATA. Fortunately you’ll have to pursue this quest via the democratic process of voting, rather than threats and intimidation. And I trust our fellow voting ATA members will have the good sense of looking at the facts and not be guided by close-minded ideology in deciding on our association’s future.

        Like

    • Reality Czech:
      I run a free website with jobs for translators for many years and I posted over the years tens of thousands of ads looking for translators. Only twice I remember seeing the ads asked for ATA certification. Both of those ads were published in ATA Chronicle (smile)
      The ATA certification is basically a useless scam, extorting money from the novices by indirectly promising them more work. But as nobody cares about ATA certification, it does not happen.
      I would love to see if there is any real evidence that ATA certification brings more business, and if not, we will need to check ATA advertising to make sure they do not overpromise, as this would be a bit illegal (smile)

      Liked by 1 person

      • From what I’ve heard, it does lead to more business in some languages, such as Spanish, in which the certification is offered and in which there are many translators competing with each other.

        But you are right, it is basically a scam.

        Like

  61. “regretfully”

    I mean regrettably.

    Like

  62. “close-minded”

    Read: closed-minded. Also, where it reads “your case” it should read “your cause.” It’s time for me to bow out of this thread…

    Liked by 1 person

  63. “And I trust our fellow voting ATA members will have the good sense of looking at the facts and not be guided by close-minded ideology in deciding on our association’s future.”

    So do I.

    Unless, of course, there will be so many threats against and so much intimidation of ATA members who want to put forward a proposition to make only translators eligible for membership in American Translators Association that the proposition will not be even mentioned during the conference, let alone voted on.

    After all, that is what has been happening for the last few decades.

    Like

  64. […] are one big happy family? Well, not exactly, not really, not at all! As a commenter on my blog brilliantly put it in my previous post about the inherent conflict obvious in the pros and cons of the concept of corporate membership in an association of […]

    Like

  65. Posted on ATA List-serv first

    As you well tell us, this is not the first time.
    More than a decade later, the inherent conflict of interest is even greater
    and more public. It is tearing at the fabric of our wonderful ATA.
    Transperfect is not the only company out there hurting our profession. The
    UK Ministry of Justice ALS fiasco comes to mind as well as L-3 Titan or
    Hispanic Voices. I am frankly tired of some companies’ questionable, when
    not outright criminal, business practices. It infuriates me to have
    wonderful language companies lumped with and suffering because of them.
    Fortunately, language companies have created (from the ATA) their own
    Association of Language Companies (ALC) that represents their interests. Now
    that they are well established, it’s time to let them move out of the ATA
    parental home. ALC, not ATA, should police its ranks.

    I am all for timely amicable divorces, emphasis on timely. Even though the
    first couple of years after the separation may be somewhat tense, in due
    time both associations and their members will learn to accept and respect
    each other and collaborate here and there in support of one thing or
    another. This divorce will trickle down to ATA chapters and affiliates,
    which would be greatly beneficial to all concerned.

    In summary, my inclination is to eliminate the Corporate membership category
    since this group of vendors have competing and sometimes diametrically
    opposed interests to the other group of vendors (self-employed translators
    and interpreters) which are the vast majority of ATA members. Be warned that
    ignoring power dynamics and conflicts of interest is dangerous for any
    professional association. This cleaning up house will inevitably lead to a
    more focused and proactive ATA neither hindered nor afraid to defend the
    interests of its constituency. I anticipate some, though not
    unsurmountable, difficulties in redefining the ATA membership categories.
    There might be a need for adding to the current Active Member Category an
    exclusionary clause stating: “Active membership does not mean an owner,
    manager, or employee of a broker or a language services company or
    non-profit corporation.” There may also be a need to have a discussion
    regarding the institutional category. When and if the motion is presented at
    an ATA membership meeting, it should include the definitions for the new
    membership categories.

    Not having language companies and other types of institutions as members in
    ATA does not necessarily preclude them from sponsoring (yes, money),
    presenting or participating in any ATA conference, or other ATA events. In
    fact, we could hold the ATA conference close or in conjunction with the ALC
    conference.

    Finally, when the founding fathers created the United States they were very
    aware that slavery was in conflict with the country and society many of them
    wanted. However, it was allowing slavery or not severing the ties with the
    UK. ATA founding members were aware of the problem of allowing language
    companies in their midst but a flawed professional association is better
    than none. The United States has had many amendments to its constitution. So
    can ATA.

    Milena

    Liked by 2 people

  66. Good for you Milena! “Transperfect is not the only company out there hurting our profession. The
    UK Ministry of Justice ALS fiasco comes to mind as well as L-3 Titan or
    Hispanic Voices. ” You left out Lionbridge! When I came into the profession 55 years ago, there was just one large translation company in the world, in the UK. It was run by a couple of German refugees who specialist in German scientific translations and they got big through one huge deal they did – they won the contract to translate all of the material for Concord, French English of course. Subsequent owners of the company frittered away thousands on CAT, then in its infancy, very expensive and pretty useless, and the company eventually folded. But at least, in those days, people treated translators and interpreters with respect! I cannot BEAR the rudeness and lack of basic courtesy shown by these big companies to translators.

    Liked by 1 person

  67. Steven,

    I just wanted to post a comment on the Buddies welcome Newbies program. Our goal is not, actually, to help create a new generation of young, obedient translators. It is actually a complex service. At the conference, we try to connect newcomers to the Conference with old-timers who can give them a heads-up about how things work and help them navigate the waters more wisely. And the rest of the year, we provide a series of posts designed to help them keep their career moving forward without the near-catastrophes that many of us suffered. We talk about balancing work and life, adaptation vs. translation, how to find a place to study, how to keep your language sharp… And we are always open to topics that will help newcomers to the profession be alert and ready to be smart about their business dealings!

    Please check out our blog at http://www.atasavvynewcomer.org.

    And we’d love to have you be a buddy this year! Newbies are signing up! But no, it is not the focus of the conference. It is just something we do as good neighbors. Welcome newcomers, as good colleagues should.

    I’ll get back to my translation deadlines now, since they are looming!

    Helen Eby, the Savvy Newcomer and Buddies Welcome Newbies Team Leader. You can find me at heby@gauchati.com.

    Like

  68. Helen:

    Thank you for your comment.

    Maybe the Buddies system was not the main emphasis of the conference last year, but it certainly was the main focus of the video. Other than that, there was not much else in it, except for talk about yoga and Zumba, some silly chatter, a dumb joke … and that was pretty much it.As I said in my post, having watched the video, I am glad I did not go to the conference.

    I think it is a good idea for old timers to take new translators under their wings. But instead of talking only about neutral and uncontroversial subjects such as balancing work and life, adaptation vs. translation, how to find a place to study, or how to keep your language sharp, old timers should also explain to newbies the horrible status quo that has been relatively recently created by so-called translation industry with new tools that are used by many agencies to drive down rates, such as obligatory discounts for “fuzzy matches” and “full matches”, or with “editing” of machine translations, demeaning and illegal “Non-Disclosure Agreements”, the way translation agencies attempt to spy on translators through their computer, which is immoral to the extreme and completely illegal in most countries (with the exception of North Korea), the pressure that mega agencies are putting on rates by outsourcing translation to third world countries, the conflict of interest created when translation agencies are able to join an association that is supposed to be for translators rather than for brokers and many other important issues that are never ever even hinted at in the ATA Chronicle.

    Since the promotional video never mentioned these issues either, I assume that they were ignored at last year’s conference as well.

    I try to talk about things like that on my blog because I think that these issues are vital for our profession’s very survival.

    I believe that unless ATA starts addressing these problems, it will be relevant mostly or only to newbies within about a decade: hence the title of my most recent blog post (Will the ATA Survive the Year 2015?).

    Like

    • If your association has ‘industry/agency’ members, discussing such things would clearly be highly ‘inappropriate’………………..

      Liked by 1 person

      • Corporate membership of a ‘professional’ institute/association effectively muzzles any formal discussion of the corporate practices you listed above, quad erat demonstrandum.
        An excellent and effective business strategy, worth every penny (from a corporation’s point of view), and obviously a counter-productive strategy for the professional members.
        Remind me, whose institute/association is it?

        Liked by 1 person

  69. I am so glad that a combative spirit is being demonstrated here and the emperor’s want of clothing being descried. Bravo Steve and how nice to hear from Aussie and Kiwi friends, among others. This issue has depressed me so much that I basically gave up on the ATA.
    One point re “supporting” translators. If the ATA really gave a damn about translators interests they would have at the top of the agenda: keyboarding the exam FOR ALL. Certain ATA members tout certification after one’s name as branding. How the hell can you use “the brand” if you can’t take the exam because it is still being HANDWRITTEN? Would you ask an accountant to work with an abacus? A surgeon with twigs? A surveyor with a measuring rod? Personally, I have not written for three hours by HAND for 35 years! Pshaw. I am 63 years old and with every year that goes by, I can see that I will never have ATA certified after my name. Not because the exam isn’t easy (because for me in all my combinations it surely will be) but because the organization just can’t seem to do this. Meanwhile, hundreds of universities give exams in foreign languages. Why can’t the ATA GET IT TOGETHER TO DO SO?? *(“Oh, because people need to be able to access the internet during the exam.” That is a pile of horse droppings. If you can only pass the exam using the internet, you ain’t go what it takes, kiddo.)
    And maybe if there was a split, we could concentrate on getting THAT DONE. Petition? Yeah, man.Bring it on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane, if you want to know why the ATA certification exam is still being given on paper, read my article in the April issue of the Translation Journal (http://translationjournal.net/Featured-Article/why-is-the-american-translators-association-ata-s-certification-exam-still-being-given-on-paper.html).

      Like

      • Gabe, thank you for your contribution.

        I tried to read it but the article is so long that I had to return to my Japanese patent.

        Could you perhaps summarize what you are saying in your Translation Journal article? I am sure quite a few people would appreciate it.

        Like

      • Steve, I’ve cut and trimmed it several times over the past 10 years, but you can’t take out the specific facts and their documentation without affecting the credibility of the whole thing. Even so, I trust it’s easier to read through than a Japanese patent (if my experience with German patents is any indication of that).(;-)
        If you want it really short, here it is: In 2005, after systematic research and discussions, a Task Force of ATA proposed a computerized certification exam system, based on a system that had been in commercial operation for 10 years (that was in 2005). Convinced by complaints that had nothing to do with the quality or price of the system, the Board decided to reject the Task Force’s proposal, and go a different way, which cost ATA about ten times the estimated cost of the Task Force’s proposal and ultimately had to be abandoned because of technical difficulties.
        Short enough?

        Liked by 1 person

  70. decried, typo, my bad

    Like

  71. Gabe, I know all the hard work you put into that proposal that was,in the end, rejected. Everyone thanks you for that. It is a pity, really,that the Board did not have the foresight to go with that. That said, technology has moved ahead by leaps and bounds and should, today, not be as problematical. However, I find there are several issues with which I do ***not agree***. The main one is this: if you are taking a certification exam in translation, access to the Internet during the exam should not be necessary. If the exam takers do not have enough of the source language in their heads to do the exam with a little help from an dictionary (hard copy or disc), they should go back to their drawing boards (i.e. learn their source language better). But, my main point is this: I do not think I will be working by the time this problem is licked. And, it is a fact that the ATA touts certification as a brand, yet does not provide its members the tools for availing themselves of it. I can translate 500 words in hour but haven’t been able to translate 1,000 words in a legible hand at all for over 35 years. At this point the best the ATA could do for me is give me a discounted rate (for age) even though my 20 years membership was not continuous. But, alas, not even that is available….so…..

    Like

    • Jane,

      True, technology has evolved even since the time of the Task Force’s proposal. For example, wireless Internet was not as common then as it is now. But the main reason we decided to block Internet access was to make “new” certifications comparable with “old” ones. Also, when you test a candidate, it must be clear to you what you test for. Reading ability in the SL? Writing ability in the TL? Subject matter knowledge? Research skills? We were told by the Certification Committee that Internet research skills were not among the skills to be tested. Which means that the only difference between the CCE we proposed and the traditional exam would have been the use of the keyboard. This was to change eventually, and the conditions of the exam were to be brought closer to those in which translators actually work today. But Internet access is tricky, because you still want to prevent the candidate from contacting a buddy and asking for advice, or even having this buddy do the exam.

      Every decision involves a compromise, but the reason that was given for the rejection of the Task Force’s proposal had nothing to do with the technical solution agreed on by the TF and the Certification Committee. It was politically motivated, and what we got instead was a more expensive solution, which also proved to be technically flawed.

      Like

  72. The ATA may be alone in the USA in allowing corporate membership but there are many TRANSLATION associations in other countries (such as the UK) that allow it. I totally agree, it is a conflict of interest and as a founder member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (UK) I opposed it from the very beginning. If a dodgy agency wants to gain street cred the first thing it does is apply for corporate membership so it can use the logo on its website and generally pretend to be reliable. Some years ago, there was a massive scandal involving an agency in Washington DC that constantly scammed members and was a corporate member of the ATA. The company was actually prosecuted by the district attorney! This only bring the ATA into disrepute. In the UK, the Chartered Institute of Linguists actually set up their own translation company in competition with their own members!

    Like

  73. The ATA has two choices:

    1. Keep the corporate membership category as is in order to continue receiving financial contributions from translation agencies, in which case it will remain what it is now: ATA = Association of Translation Agencies.

    2. Abolish the corporate membership so that it could finally become what its official name says it is: ATA = American Translators Association.

    There is no third choice.

    Like

    • In response to Gabe, I took my accreditation exam in 1983, long before the internet, so I can understand the concerns of the examiners, but there is a simple solution. Set up the exam on your own computers that are NOT CONNECTED to the internet! It’s not rocket science.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Steve, your post about two choices for ATA is an excellent idea.
      Do I have your permission to use your idea and force ATA to decide on which air they want to sit from now on by amy means in my disposal (smile)? You know the old Czech proverb that with one butt you cannot sit on two chairs?

      Like

      • Sure. Good luck to you.

        Like

      • “For one thing, the problem when unethical translation agencies use the ATA logo to create the impression that they are treating translators in a responsible manner ”

        Most translation companies are translator-owned and are both ethical and responsible. For the few that are not, there is the Ethics Code and the Ethics Committee to deal with them. You didn’t answer my question: “How could ATA handle those companies if they were not members?”

        “an organization of translators does not need translation agencies to deal with translation agencies. Translators would be much better able to deal with them by themselves, within a real organization of and by translators”

        How could an ATA without corporate members deal with unethical agencies? You never answered this simple question. If translators are to deal with the bad apples themselves, they can do it now, and they could do it regardless of how ATA is organized.

        “The ATA as it exists today can hardly do much if anything against dozens of unethical agencies who rip off translators regularly while enthusiastically waving the ATA logo.”

        “Dozens,” even if it means, let’s say, six dozen = 72, would still be less than 10% of all corporate members. ATA could do even less against them if those agencies were not members. The fact that ATA’s Ethics Committee was AWOL for such a long time doesn’t mean that it has to be so. To remedy this situation (which, as I said before, is already being remedied), all it takes is for people who don’t like the status quo to run for office and then try to improve things from within, rather than bellyaching from the sidelines.

        Like

  74. None of my direct clients ever asked me whether I have the ATA certification, or even whether I am an ATA member.

    Maybe three translation agencies asked me in the last 28 years whether I have the ATA certification, but I got the job anyway each time even though my answer was negative. Even translation agencies understand that such a test is not terribly relevant.

    This certification is completely useless as far as I am concerned.

    Like

  75. I always have to have certification because I translate birth, marriage and death certificates on a regular basis, so ATA certification is very useful for me. However, when we worked for the Serious Organized Crime Agency, on a very secret case, we had to use their computers and all of the computers were stand alone and unconnected to the internet for security reasons, which a very useful lesson!

    Like

  76. 1. I issue my own certification. I have my own little embossing stamp from Office Depot, which says OFFICIAL TRANSLATION on it. It cost me 25 dollars many years ago. I charge 35 dollars for that. If the clients wants to have it even more official, I have my signature notarized at my bank (they do it for free for customers). I charge another 35 dollars for that. Most clients decide to go just with my OFFICIAL TRANSLATION stamp.

    2. Yes, I’ve been often wondering why they can’t give people who take the test computers that are not connected to Internet. One of the many mysteries of the Association of Translation Agencies, I suppose.

    Like

    • In the UK, there is no certification status, but agencies are allowed to certify translations, and now full ITI members are also allowed to certify. Of course, most translation agencies certify documents that they cannot read. Yours is an excellent idea, by the way, we always check the documents that we can read, which means most Latin-based alphabets as well as Russian, Greek Hebrew and Arabic and we won’t accept personal documents if we cannot read the originals (Chinese, Hangul, etc.) because we cannot certify that they are correct.

      Like

      • To go back to the original subject of this thread, I think we all agree that the problem with translation agencies is twofold: 1) the normal conflict between vendor and buyer that the vendor wants a higher price, while the buyer is interested in having the price as low as possible; and 2) the unethical behavior of some agencies, which don’t pay their translators or impose unreasonable terms of service.

        Neither of these two problems is solved or even ameliorated by kicking out all agencies from ATA. The second one would even be aggravated if agencies are not bound by an Ethics Code and cannot be punished when they violate it.

        The solution is not kicking out all agencies, but strengthening the Ethics Code and the Ethics Committee, which has been done in the past few years. We tried to address the first issue in the 1980s by publishing rate guidelines to tell especially novice translators what we considered to be reasonable rates for translation work. (I was one of the three members of the Rate Guidelines and Quantification Committee.) Although this action had been approved by ATA’s attorney, the FTC objected to such guidelines and initiated an antitrust investigation, which cost ATA a small fortune.

        The second issue was raised in an article of mine in the January 2005 issue of the ATA Chronicle, which can still be found at https://www.atanet.org/membersonly/switch.php?url=p_Chro_01_05_January_1.pdf&t=pdf, and addressed during my term on the Board. The current Ethics Code, although rules out ATA’s intervention in purely commercial disputes between members, allows such intervention when the dispute involves violation of the Ethics Code (which now obligates members “to define in advance by mutual agreement, and to abide by, the terms of all business transactions among ourselves and with others”); or the Bylaws. The Board also blocked the reappointment of the do-nothing Ethics Chair who, during six years of her term, did not process a single complaint and didn’t submit a single report on her actions as all committee chairs are required to do. The new Chair is committed to upholding the Code and the Bylaws and punishing any violators.

        How would ethics complaints be handled and resolved if ATA didn’t have corporate members?

        Like

  77. I only certify my own translations. I have been asked quite a few times to certify translations done by other translators, but I have never done so.

    Like

  78. “How would ethics complaints be handled and resolved if ATA didn’t have corporate members?”

    This is some extremely tortured logic.

    For one thing, the problem when unethical translation agencies use the ATA logo to create the impression that they are treating translators in a responsible manner (because they are corporate members of ATA) would not arise at all if the ATA did not have corporate members. This problem is caused by the category of non-translators who have the right to become corporate members if they pay a membership fee.

    Secondly, an organization of translators does not need translation agencies to deal with translation agencies. Translators would be much better able to deal with them by themselves, within a real organization of and by translators, which does not include corporate members who are in fact translation agencies. That is just common sense.

    The ATA as it exists today can hardly do much if anything against dozens of unethical agencies who rip off translators regularly while enthusiastically waving the ATA logo. ATA is much more interested in receiving money from these agencies than in ephemeral ethical issues.

    Let me quote your own comment proving just this point:

    “The Board also blocked the reappointment of the do-nothing Ethics Chair who, during six years of her term, did not process a single complaint and didn’t submit a single report on her actions as all committee chairs are required to do”.

    Six years is a long time to do absolutely nothing, except maybe at the Association of Translation Agencies, aka ATA.

    Like

    • “For one thing, the problem when unethical translation agencies use the ATA logo to create the impression that they are treating translators in a responsible manner ”

      Most translation companies are translator-owned and are both ethical and responsible. For the few that are not, there is the Ethics Code and the Ethics Committee to deal with them. You didn’t answer my question: “How could ATA handle those companies if they were not members?”

      “an organization of translators does not need translation agencies to deal with translation agencies. Translators would be much better able to deal with them by themselves, within a real organization of and by translators”

      How could an ATA without corporate members deal with unethical agencies? You never answered this simple question. If translators are to deal with the bad apples themselves, they can do it now, and they could do it regardless of how ATA is organized.

      “The ATA as it exists today can hardly do much if anything against dozens of unethical agencies who rip off translators regularly while enthusiastically waving the ATA logo.”

      “Dozens,” even if it means, let’s say, six dozen = 72, would still be less than 10% of all corporate members. ATA could do even less against them if those agencies were not members. The fact that ATA’s Ethics Committee was AWOL for such a long time doesn’t mean that it has to be so. To remedy this situation (which, as I said before, is already being remedied), all it takes is for people who don’t like the status quo to run for office and then try to improve things from within, rather than bellyaching from the sidelines.

      Like

  79. Steve, For some reason the blog placed my comments where it doesn’t belong. Can you possibly bring it down below your post?

    Like

  80. I know, WordPress does it to me too sometime because it assigns wrong sequential relationships or something.

    I’m afraid I can’t rearrange the order of comments, except by copying them and pasting them as the last comment, which would then appear as if they were my comments.

    I can try to do that, but do you really want me to do that?

    Like

    • I copied and pasted the post, and it now came out in the right place please just delete the first one. Thanks.

      Like

  81. “How could an ATA without corporate members deal with unethical agencies?”

    This is pointless, Gabe.

    You obviously see translators as powerless slaves completely dependent on agencies.

    I am just wasting my time trying to talk to you.

    Like

    • We both are, obviously.

      Like

      • My whole point was that they don’t deal with unethical agencies now, so why should not allowing corporate membership make any difference!

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  82. You can’t even talk about unethical agencies in an association that is run by corporate members. Their oppressive presence in such an association precludes a meaningful discussion when translators are too intimidated by them. It would make a big difference if only translators were allowed to be members of an organization for translators, and that is why corporate membership is not allowed in other professional associations, for instance of actors, lawyers, or accountants, or in translators’ associations in most countries, with the notable exception of US and UK.

    The ATA as it is now is very much part of the “translation industry”, the same “translation industry” that has done enormous damage to our profession in the last two decades or so, with generous assistance from the ATA, in exchange for generous financial contributions from the translation agencies. All you have to do is read the ATA Chronicle to see that the association has abandoned translators and is now in bed with the “translation industry”. There has not been a mention in the Chronicle of a single real issue that translators have for many years because the association is run by corporate members. One thing is certain: it is no longer an association of, for, and by translators.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t escape the sense of a parallel with corporate power in the politics of a certain country proudly (and loudly) proclaiming its democracy and the rule of law…….. just can’t put my finger on it.

      Like

  83. Three memorable quotes, in backward chronological order:

    1. “Agencies are translators”, ATA (Association of Translation Agencies, formerly American Translators Association), 2015.

    2. “Corporations are people”, Mitt Romney, unsuccessful presidential candidate, 2012.

    3. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” George Orwell, 1948.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Language as a weapon of mass destruction…………..

      Like

  84. Every translator, every time s/he is offered a job, has two options: to accept or to reject the job. If you don’t like the rate or if you don’t like the terms, or if you have to sign a one-paragraph or a 30-page NDA and you’d rather not, you simply don’t take the job. If you like the terms and they pay your rate, take the job. It’s that simple.
    Clearly there are agencies or LSPs (or whatever you want to call them or they want to call themselves) that offer less money and horrible conditions. And some of them thrive and have multimillion dollar sales (or so I hear). Why do they survive and thrive? Because individual translators say “Woe is me! I’m just a poor little translator. I have no clout! I am such a weak victim of such a nasty oppressor, and oh! What I plan to do is B&M on my blog. And because I know I’m right, I’m going rail against all the people that shoulda coulda fixed all that (especially Mommy, a.k.a. the ATA), cuz I can’t do anything about it myself. Why? Cuz I’m just a poor little translator. Part of the downtrodden masses. And that is why Mommy exists: to fix all those problems that besiege me. ”
    So from what I read, a bunch of people want to split the ATA up. I too have trouble with the concept of one association serving two masters with opposing goals. But Gabe asked the most appropriate question. We split the ATA up and then what? As soon as we split the ATA up are those LSPs going to say “Oh my gosh. The ATA threw us out. It’s time to make amends. Let’s make sure that we pay translators more and give them more time to do their work. And make sure we thank them for their work.”
    Let me re-phrase my first statement: Every time a job is offered to you, you can accept it or reject it. Someone here wrote something like “I took on an editing job (although it’s something I’m loathe to do and I never do!) except that I was hard up for work so I took it.” Well, you must have read the terms and conditions of the job. And you accepted it. So what’s your beef? You could just as easily have said “No! I do not work under those conditions!”
    Why do those nasty agencies survive and thrive? Because there are always one or two or three or fifty “translators” ready to take whatever comes down the pike at whatever rate someone wants to pay. Guess what? If none of us took those jobs — let me repeat that: if NONE OF US took those jobs, the agency would be stuck. They would be unable to deliver to their client. And guess what happens then? The client will go find someone else. Possibly another agency. And if that agency comes to us with the same lousy offer and we refuse it, that’s another agency that won’t be able to deliver.
    And if you, as an individual translator, have made yourself known, not in the blogosphere where B&M thrives, but you have made an effort to communicate with those ultimate clients who need the translation, they will eventually come to you. And then you will be respected and appreciated, and will be able to charge the rate you think is appropriate for the very difficult work that we do.
    The ATA is not Mommy. The ATA is an association of people who are in the language industry. People who have self-respect. People who believe that what they do is worthwhile and important, and should be paid at a fair rate. People who do not think that they are at the bottom of the totem pole, the lowest rung on the ladder, the end of the pecking order.
    It all starts with us. Without the translators (as several of you have pointed out in this blog) no translations get done. So when it comes to negotiating, we have the upper hand, we hold the better cards. So negotiate from strength. Live in abundance. Forget the cult of poverty! It’s not just boring, it’s also terminal.
    There’s more and more work out there every day. If there were no work to do, those agencies would not thrive. Don’t sit and wait for work to come to you. Go get it! Sitting around moping and playing the woe-is-me card will only leave you time to blog about what a lousy job Mommy is doing.

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