Posted by: patenttranslator | December 18, 2015

So Now I Know How Much They Want to Pay Us

When I came home yesterday from the bookstore where I buy recently published books on sale, (mostly mystery and suspense – I bought three of them this time and I already started reading “Poison Flower” by Thomas Perry – great read!), I saw that I had a message in my voicemail from somebody who was offering me “a copy editing opportunity” and urging me to call her back.

Copy editing opportunity? What is this about? I wondered. I don’t copy edit, except for editing my own translations and those of the people who work for me. I’m a translator and that means that I translate, mostly Japanese, German and French patents. I suspected that something weird was going on, but curiosity got the better of me and I called the number anyway.

It turned out that the person who called worked for a brand new translation agency that sells, or is trying to sell, post-processed machine translations to its customers. Although the message that initially caused my confusion was about a “copy editing opportunity”, the young lady wanted to see if I would be interested in working as a post-editor of machine translations for them. She said that these machine translations would be already post-processed (although she called it “edited”) by another translator, and that I would be doing the final post-processing, which she called it “copy editing”.

Copy editing of post-processed machine translation? What a strange way to put it. Not exactly an honest way either. Copy editing normally refers to editing documents, mostly for style, if these documents had been written by humans and were to be published. But how do you add correct style to something that was originally vomited up by a machine and thus may make no sense whatsoever?

I figured that they probably just didn’t want to call it “post-processing” because this particular activity has a terrible reputation among translators.

The person who left a message told me that she was very pleased that I called her back, especially since, as she put it, “I was qualified” for several languages. That kind of pleased me too, although I wasn’t quite sure how exactly she was able to determine that I was qualified for post-editing of machine pseudo-translations. Maybe because it’s not that difficult to be qualified for something like that?

“But you would be paid both for changed words and for non-changed words”

So, out of curiosity, I asked her how much would this “copy editing” pay. Well, the editor would be paid one (1) cent a word, said the young lady … but then she quickly added, “But you would be paid both for changed words and for unchanged words” to sweeten the deal. (Wow! How generous of them. They would pay me 1 penny even for the words that I only have to read and compare to the original text, even if I don’t have to change them!)

A slight pause in our communication ensued as I was quickly running calculations in my head.

When I edit my own translations or those of other translators, my typical speed is about 1,500 words an hour. Even though those are very good translations and all I have to do is look for typos, make sure that the numbers match the numbers in the original language and nothing was omitted, sometime I am slowed down by something in the translation that doesn’t seem to make sense and I have to go back to the original text and read it carefully to make sure that I understand both the original and the translation correctly.

And sometimes I still have to look things up either in online or in print dictionaries, in Google definitions or data, and look at the text of similar patents, which slows me down even more.

About 1,500 words is in my experience is a good speed when editing texts translated by highly experienced translators

If I were to edit machine-mistranslations that were post-edited by some unfortunate human who is willing to work for one cent a word (unless this poor human is paid only half a cent a word and the remuneration of the final “copy editor” is doubled in view of the importance of his task), I would probably be able to “copy-edit” about 500 words an hour to whip the text into some kind of shape that would make some kind of sense because I would have to be going back and forth all the time between the original text and the twice post-processed miracle of translation technology.

Let’s be generous and assume that I would be able to “copy-edit” about 700 words per hour. That would mean that my hourly wage would be seven dollars an hour.

After the awkward pause caused by the greedy calculations performed at breakneck speed in my head, I told the agency recruiter that I wasn’t interested in the job and I ended the conversation.

Since the Federal minimum wage in the United States is $7.25, except for states where it’s higher than that, that translator hunter was offering work to me for her outfit for less than minimum wage.

Less than minimum wage was what a company offering post-edited machine translations to clients was willing to pay an experienced translator who has a degree in Japanese studies and who has been translating patents and other technical documents for almost three decades.

The ATA (American Translators Association) Chronicle has been publishing articles celebrating the progress of post processing of machine translation for many years now. Not once has it published an article that would question the premise behind the logic and usefulness of this fatally flawed approach to intellectual activities represented in this case by translating and writing. This, to me, clearly demonstrates to what extent the ATA is controlled at this point by “the translation industry”.

To say something critical on the pages of the ATA Chronicle about the ways in which the “translation industry” is trying to use machine translation, a very useful tool for translators and non-translators alike, namely to do away with human translators as much as possible and turn them into underpaid, post-processing factotums so that some translation agencies could make a killing in this manner is simply unthinkable. The probability of something like this occurring under the current ATA leadership is about as high as the probability that we will see a North Korean citizen who doesn’t uncontrollably sob and cry during a televised funeral of the latest North Korean leader under the current leadership of North Korea. That is how perfectly “the translation industry” controls the ATA and its Chronicle at this time, which calls itself “The Voice of Interpreters and Translators”.

Only the party line is allowed for analysis of current attempts to turn translators into post processors of machine translations – ALL RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!

The only interpretation of attempts to use machine translation in order to turn translators into post-processors that is allowed by the only people who matter in the ATA (corporate translation agencies) is that post-editing and post-processing of machine translation is totally, absolutely and definitely the way to follow translation agencies into the glorious future of what used to be called translation technology, and is now called language technology. If you raise any objection at all based on your experience as a translator and simple logic, you will be immediately called “a Luddite”.

Who gives a damn about the poor human translators who are expected to work for one penny a word, possibly even less? Not the ATA, that’s for sure.

There are two articles celebrating the progress achieved in current techniques for post-editing of machine translations in the current issue of the ATA Chronicle. One of them, titled “PEMT Yourself” (which to me sounds very much like “Go and F*CK Yourself!”), begins as follows:

“It’s very common to hear translators complain about having to work on projects involving post-editing machine translation (PEMT), which tend to pay a lower per-word rate compared to human translation.”

The article is written by William Cassemiro, a Brazilian who is introduced to us as somebody who “began his career as a translator of technical manuals and who now serves on the board of directors of the Brazilian Translators and Interpreters Association.”

Having read the introductory segment, I only skimmed it quickly. Here is a sampling of the article’s subtitles:

IT’S HUMAN NATURE TO FEAR THE UNKNOWN

WILL MACHINE TRANSLATION FORCE US TO BECOME PROOFREADERS?

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

I am guessing that Mr. Cassemiro is not working for one penny a word for translation agencies as a post-processing conscript attempting to resuscitate sentences butchered beyond any recognition by computers with algorithms. Based on the subtitles in his article, especially the last one, it’s much more likely that he oversees a stable of miserably paid indentured servants who work in this manner for him.

The second article analyzing post-processing of machine translations in a similar manner in the current Chronicle issue, called “Beyond Post-Editing: Advances in Interactive Translation Environments”, was written by Spence Green, who is introduced to translators as “a provider of interactive translation system who has a PhD in computer science from Stanford University and a BS in computer engineering from the University of Virginia.”

I’ll go out on the limb here and guess again that he is probably not one of the post-processing slaves (will they now be called copy editors?) forced to work for a penny to create something that make sense out of MT detritus. Since the introduction doesn’t say anything about his linguistic prowess, I will guess again that he doesn’t know a foreign language, at least not well enough to translate anything from or into it. You don’t need to be a translator to write for the Chronicle. You just have to be saying the kind of things that are allowed to be published by The Voice of Interpreters and Translators.

This article was actually a little bit more interesting because it analyses the history of machine translation and of human-machine interaction. But I just scanned it again as I don’t really care about things like whether “an adaptive MT product will likely bring a deeper level of MT integration to Trados”, especially when it’s presented from the viewpoint of non-translators who have a tiny conflict of interest when they are promoting and selling system based on what I consider to be a deeply flawed approach to human thinking and translation.

Machine translation can be used as a liberating tool – or as a tool to dig your own grave

Machine translation is indeed a marvelous, liberating tool. It liberates and reveals the meaning of words that used to be hidden in foreign languages for most people until machine translation appeared on the scene already several decades ago. Some of the meaning hidden in a foreign language can be revealed to people who don’t speak that language with a few clicks of the mouse by a machine translation program, generally for free.

But machine translation is not, and never really will be, a replacement for human translation. Because machine translation, or pseudo-translation if you will, always results in more or less important mistranslations, it is extremely unreliable and can only be used for materials that aren’t very important.

And sometimes it makes no sense at all, which is why “the translation industry” needs to ensure the cooperation of translators willing “to copy-edit” words that have been produced by non-thinking and non-feeling computers that basically only understand one thing: how to run calculations at a very high speed.

When “the translation industry” is telling translators that post-editing, copy-editing, or whatever else they may try to call it in the future, of machine translation is an important tool that every translator should add to his or her arsenal of tools, they are saying this because they know that without our cooperation, they won’t be able to make any money from their greedy schemes of how machine translation should be used. And the ATA Chronicle thus becomes a handy medium for “the translation industry”, has been for a number of years now.

I agree that machine translation is an excellent tool. I use this tool all the time. Unlike a couple of decades ago when all I had at my disposal were obsolete dictionaries, machine translations of patents, available for free on several websites, give me the gist of the meaning of the material that I am translating with a few mouse clicks.

But that’s all it is, and for translations that really matter, such as those on which most professional translators toil for a living, that’s all this tool ever really will be.

The reason why “it’s very common to hear translators complain about having to work on projects involving post-editing machine translation (PEMT), which tend to pay a lower per-word rate”, as the article in the current issue of the ATA Chronicle put it, is that most translators realize that the greediest and most unscrupulous sector of “the translation industry” is trying to turn this very useful tool into a tool that a certain segment of “the translation industry” is trying to use to force translators to dig their own grave with.

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Responses

  1. Sobering reading indeed. Also kind of surprising that the agency in question would think that they could get any US-based translator to do work for seven bucks an hour. Hard to believe that even a raw beginner would accept such pay. Maybe they should look to India or Bangladesh instead.

    Liked by 2 people

    • To bring this conversation back to the material of the original post, I now think that it was William whom I heard speak at a session of the one and only ATA Conference that I attended in San Francisco back in 2007. He spoke before a standing-room only crowd in one of the larger conference venues. I remember him being very enthusiastic about the capacities of machine translation and accessing the labor of Brazilian translators in remote areas of that nation (whom he undoubtedly paid a pittance). I guess that he (or his ideological ally and fellow countryman) represented, and represents, the wave of the future in translation.

      As regards suggestions for future directions to combat the dark forces pervading our profession, I would suggest that evolution rather than revolution is called for. In practice, this would mean the creation and sustenance of organizations that represent the real interests of freelancers rather than those of the unholy alliance of large agencies, CAT purveyors, and profiteering websites. So, for example, an organization with a high entrance bar (along the lines of the AIIC) and also a website that limits membership to proven professional translators, rather than one that opens the floodgates for anyone and his brother to present themselves as “professional translators.”

      The “nasty side” of such a movement would be placing front and center the dreck that passes for professional translation and calling out the large agencies on their unprofessional and unethical practices.

      The idea here is that eventually there would be a two-tiered “translation industry,” comprising a large mass of paraprofessionals and a smaller elite of truly qualified professionals with their own stamp of professional identity and associated websites.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Steve, like you, I thought “PEMT Yourself!” sounded like a rude curse (actually, come to think of it, “Go f*** yourself” is perhaps less insulting).

    Besides trying to talk us into swallowing the PEMT line — with its consequent starvation wages — the ATA Chronicle issue also urged us to do free work for Translators without Borders (which, as you recently pointed out, takes work away from local translators in developing countries). After all this, what money is even left on the table to take, as we are exhorted in “Don’t Leave Money You’re Owed on the Table”?

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Exactly, Cathrine.

    But since in the same issue of “The Voice of Interpreters and Translators”, they published one article that tried to make us ashamed of getting paid anything at all for our work, while they also included two articles encouraging us to go and “PEMT ourselves”, which tends to pay 1 cent a word and thus the work would not be completely without any compensation, I suppose you could call it a progress, (for the ATA, anyway).

    1 cent is better than nothing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Steve, an interesting article. I wouldn’t do MT postediting either. But have you ever tried submitting a critical article along these lines to the ATA Chronicle? How do you _know_ they would not publish it?

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    • Have they ever published a critical article along these lines?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Has anybody ever sent one? How do we know?

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      • We know that they never published a critical article so far. I would be surprised if nobody ever sent anything like that to them, but of course, all we know is that nothing critical of machine translation was ever published by “The Voice of Translators and Interpreters.

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  5. I’m seeing this a lot lately. Instead of paying one person well, the idea is to try and save money by paying two people very poorly and hope to get the same result because person 1 knows that his/her work will be checked by person 2 and person 2 will correct any mistakes in order to show that he/she is better than person 1…

    Liked by 3 people

  6. At least two out of three of these article sub-headings could have come straight out of Animal Farm or 1984.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sadly, you are mistaken, Jane.

    ATA has only your best interests at heart. It wants you to work as a post-processor because human translators’ days are numbered. If it means working for 1 cent a word processing MT detritus, so be it. It is better than 0 cents a word, which is what Translators without Compensation want to pay you.

    In the end, your eyes will be finally open and you too will come to love the ATA, Jane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I’ll continue resisting. 😀 By allowing articles like the one you describe, they are basically advocating Post-editing Mental Tension. So, it is that time again, where I have to consider whether to renew my membership…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I am facing the same dilemma, year after year.

    (No smiley face).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll continue resisting, and I won’t stop smiling either. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The “re-branding” the nomenclature scam is very common in the unscrupulous corners of the business world. Whenever one has completely trashed the reputation of some activity, term, or service, instead of re-evaluating the validity of the business model, they just re-brand it. Coupled with the tendency of people to go trash diving (only this bin has no bottom, and the divers are the “trash” which is another man’s gold) after any new shiny thing, this scam might even work for a while — and then they will move on to the next.

    The calculation about the wage-equivalent is even more dire when you consider that most “copy-editors” are not employees. Not only does it mean that there is no guaranteed 40-hour work week and no labor law to protect the “copy-editors”, they will has to pay their own taxes (but for this income level there are probably no taxes in the US, in other countries this may be different), for medical insurance (which anyone doing PEMT is advised to get for the cognitive damage this activity is likely to cause), and incur all business-related costs. And we haven’t talked putting roof over your head and food on your family’s table yet.
    Anyone who will accept those terms won’t last long anyway

    The Zombie apocalypse won’t be caused by a virus or a parasite (well, not a traditional in-your-brain parasite at least), but by brain-rotting activities like PEMT.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Editing a translation is like giving a second opinion as a doctor/lawyer/accountant. It shouldn’t be provided to anyone but a known, qualified and respected professional colleague.
    Anyone who does, undermines his/her own professional future.

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  12. Right, but it’s not editing, or proofreading, or “copy editing” what “the translation industry” is doing. Instead, as Jeff put it in a previous comment:

    “I’m seeing this a lot lately. Instead of paying one person well, the idea is to try and save money by paying two people very poorly and hope to get the same result because person 1 knows that his/her work will be checked by person 2 and person 2 will correct any mistakes in order to show that he/she is better than person 1…”

    The inmates are in charge of the asylum. Their greed is so blinding that you simply have to call them crazy.

    I feel sorry for their customers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A bit of ‘divide and rule’ perhaps.

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    • This concept draws some inspiration (and logistics) from the concept behind crowdsourcing (re-branded as Smart Crowd, Wisdom of the Crowd, and more), which basically sells the idea that when the resources of a large enough group are pulled together, it can solve anything and everything.

      Nevermind centuries of humankind that completely disprove this notion. In a more layman terms it means that when taken at face value (and this is how it is sold), a group of 10-graders can solve, for example, the type of mathematical problems that are baffling the math community for decades.
      Why waste time and money on mathematicians, and their professional processes when you can offer 1 Dollar to million people and get some kind of result by dinner.

      This is in a nutshell what the translation brokers are selling to their clients (some of whom are not really clients in a traditional sense, but more of a business partner).
      An industry of greed and mediocrity (and more often than not, not even that).

      Liked by 3 people

      • Well Shai, one could go one step further and say that the approach basically equals the so-called infinite monkey theorem, which states that if a certain mammal with a smaller than human brain volume hits the keyboard for an infinite period of time, it must unavoidably create the works of W. Shakespeare, no less.

        As the corresponding Wikipedia article says: “Variants of the theorem include multiple and even infinitely many typists …”. That is to say, you throw more monkeys at the same problem, and still get Shakespeare, but in less time, isn’t that brilliant?

        So, pay peanuts to get monkeys to write the works of … WHAT?

        I think I have a peanut allergy :-]

        Liked by 1 person

      • https://patenttranslator.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/the-thousand-monkeys-theorem-and-marketing-techniques-for-freelance-translators/

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      • I like you take on it, Olaf (and Steve).
        However, I’m afraid that the concept of infinity and probability is lost on tenth graders, so without the work of real mathematicians, statisticians, and physicists, the infinite monkey theorem wouldn’t have even come to light.

        And without Shakespeare, there was no reason to try and reverse engineer his work based on the concept of probability.

        And this is another important distinction to make: Theorists and applied practitioners think very differently. Theories are important, but in practical terms there is infinity (except for stupidity and greed).

        Happy Holidays!

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      • Sorry, correction to my previous comment:
        “There is *no* infinity.”

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  13. Great post, Shai!

    I love the comparison you made with school-students eager to solve complex math problems baffling the math community for decades.

    And this is a good one, too: “Why waste time and money on mathematicians, and their professional processes when you can offer 1 Dollar to million people and get some kind of result by dinner.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Exactly.

      All you have to do with post-processing of machine translations is fix a few words.

      Which is very similar to post-processing of equations, since all you have to do is fix a few numbers.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Here’s something I’d endorse: “When I went to school, math mostly meant arithmetic and drills: doing hundreds of repetitive problems that had no connection to anything in our lives. There was no beauty we could see, no tie-ins with practical concerns, no fun puzzles, no sense of exploration, and no over-arching theory to tie it all together. It just seemed like arbitrary busy work grownups wanted us to do.

    And it gradually got harder and harder. When something is (a) hard, (b) not fun, and (c) doles out very few rewards, most people abandon it as soon as they can. They learn that after some grade they no longer have to take math classes, so they don’t. They decide “I’m not a math person,” and they abandon the subject for the rest of their lives.

    That proclamation “I’m not a math person,” which society encourages us to make—”figure out what sort of person you are and be that”—is deadly, because once someone says it or thinks it, being bad at math is part of his identity. To suggest to a “not a math person” that he could be good at it or even like it is like suggesting to a Conservative that he will one day be a Liberal or telling a Rolling Stones fan that his favorite genre of music will one day be Disco.”
    From: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-so-many-people-hate-mathematics

    I’ve noticed that people who are not good at math despise it rather than just hate it. Similar with languages. Why toil and moil to study? Better register a translation firm and start making money NOW. How? The rules are simple. 1st, employ a few people (NOT translators); 2nd, invest in fraudulent advertising (“Our company HAS oodles of translators”) 3rd, never EVER allow contact between a client and translator.

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  15. Any comments?

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  16. Do you think I’m wrong? Or right? What do you think about the rules in translation industry? Silence is not an answer. It’s a heavy stone, as Manowar put it in 1988 when their song Heart of Steel was released: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_C5hoFk9Co

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  17. The ‘industry’ is not the/our concern. It only exists and thrives because the ‘profession’ is willing to prostitute itself and work for them (it is easier than building a professional practice built on a good reputation). Very similar to another, very old profession I’ve heard about, though I admit that desperation may play a major and ‘useful’ role, as it does in most crapitalistic systems.
    The answer is not to fix the ‘industry’ (Don Quixote tried that somewhat discredited strategy), but to fix the ‘profession instead’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have always wanted to say that myself, but considered it unladylike, but what the heck, things have gone to hell and a hand-basket! We are paid less than prostitutes. I hear the girlfriend experience can set one for 6 months. Translators have prostituted themselves, although highly educated and capable. When the technology increases, so do rates in other professions, so I have no idea what happened here. We should charge extra for MT edits because they are so hard to read and make sense of, especially for the sciences.

      Funny how non-translators think online translation tools are only used by guys trying to pick up women to impress them.

      The point of education is to not end up being a stripper, but I see that they are purchasing houses and all life has to offer, despite what popel think of their profession, and we, who sat through school and boring lectures and all that, make the corporations what they are, are struggling because the profession has no self respect. Others respect us but what happened to respect yourself? Nothing is possible without self respect, and yes, prostitutes have plenty of it, believe me.

      Also, in my area, I noticed the really cheap Asian massage places close after offering really cheap massages, becasue they cannot possibly stay in business. Is that what will happen here? What happened to our power?

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  18. I agree with you, Louis. And we could start by fixing our “professional” associations to make them represent translators instead of representing the industry. Are you guys trying to do that in Australia?

    I am asking because as far as I know, nobody is trying to do that here within the ATA, which at this point is still an important association in the US, although its importance is waning as the importance of the industry in the ATA is growing all the time.

    All you have to do is read the ATA Chronicle to know that what I am saying is the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’ve been able to convince the members of our institute to amend our constitution by deleting the corporate membership category. To be fair, we did not have any corporate members as far as a I know. However, I considered it important to raise awareness that we are a ‘professional institute’, not a ‘trade’ or ‘industry association’, and to remove the temptation of turning it into the latter for financial reasons, or simply out of ignorance.

      It is an association of professionals, i.e. appropriately qualified PEOPLE/PERSONS.
      I understand that in some countries even corporations are people, so in those countries, change may be difficult.

      I suggest your best option is to establish a professional institute from scratch, with membership restricted to APPROPRIATELY QUALIFIED PRACTITIONERS (PHYSICAL PERSONS) only.
      In my view, a university education in any field would be a minimum entry requirement (with exceptions for special cases made by a panel of senior member practitioners.

      This would allow you to focus on developing the necessary strategies for protecting and advancing the interests of translators, without being stymied by corporate members whose interests in some of the most critical areas (professional standards, professional fees, ethics and professional conduct, etc.) are diametrically opposed.

      Why anybody would want to pay for membership of an organisation that does not (and cannot) advance the professional interests of the translators (because these interests clash with those of the corporate members), is a complete mystery to me. Maybe I’m not smart enough to understand 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  19. “Why anybody would want to pay for membership of an organisation that does not (and cannot) advance the professional interests of the translators (because these interests clash with those of the corporate members), is a complete mystery to me.”

    I think that the main reason for that is that there is no other association here. So newbies are joining automatically, while many old-timers are leaving.

    The only alternative to joining ATA is to join an organization overseas, such as IAPTI, which was what I did last year.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I appreciate your ideas as to how professional associations should be reorganized in order to better protect professional translators. However, as long as translation agencies go on using anonymous translators, professional translators will remain unprotected. You just can’t fight the invisible.

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  21. “These databases contain names of school teachers and university lecturers. Most of them are just names. They will hardly see any materials for translation. Ironically, they do not even want to see such materials. They have sold their names to the agencies, and that’s all.

    Another type of names on the databases are of translators who are professionals in other fields, such as medicine, engineering or law. They are competent in both their professional field and a foreign language. Often, however, they do not have the necessary formal certificates to prove their language competence; therefore, they prefer to stay in the shade.

    The overwhelming majority of translators on the databases, however, are a category that is hard to determine. This category comprises the most diverse, as well as the most vulnerable, mass of translators: people of low income, unemployed, students, mothers on maternity leave, pensioners, etc., all of whom eager to translate at incredibly low price.

    If someone thinks one can compete with staffless, hollow agencies armed with translators’ databases, one is sadly mistaken.”

    From the article “Translation Agencies Hamper the Freedom of Competition” by Harry Stojan: http://www.softisbg.com/my_first_blog/2014/11/agenciite-za-prevodi-ogranichavat-svobodata-na-konkurencijata.html

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  22. Talking, writing and reading about the well-document problems of translators may well channel and relieve frustrations with the status quo, but solving the problems requires a focus on potential solutions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have signalled our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Commission for Protection of Competition, the Parliament, the President, the Prime Ministers, the translators’ associations (taken over by agencies, similarly to yours).

      What have YOU done?

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  23. Mine is not an agency; it’s a professional practice, Rennie.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I know, Louis. What I don’t know is why you, an engineer, have become a translator. This is not a promotion in any way.

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    • Most of my career was as a CEO of several Australian companies, so my engineering skills slowly atrophied. When I turned fifty in the early nineties, I went back to university and completed an MBA in my spare time. However, I came to the realise that commercial ethics were in steep decline (quick profits became the mantra) and I sought a more civilised and less stressful occupation.

      Languages have always been a keen interest (I am fluent and reasonably articulate in four, though I only translate into English).

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Most of us here are about or over 60, and quite a few have turned 70. Is there anybody below 35? It’s the young who commonly make the upheavals.

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    • Yes, I am. I am gen Y and I stick to my guns when it comes to pricing and I do not give my info to any old database for a 1 cent per word bs translation. I do not play that. The problem is, the ATA has sold its soul…

      Liked by 1 person

      • ATA did sell its soul to the devil, which is to say “the translation industry”, for 12 silver coins.

        The ATA Chronicle, which advertises itself as “The Voice of Translators and Interpreters” has become a handy propaganda tool of the “translation industry”. All you have to do is read a few articles in it to see that it really is now “The Voice of the Translation Industry”.

        What I don’t understand is why nobody is saying anything about it.

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  26. […] Many new startups are jumping at the chance to exploit human translators in this manner, and more will do so in the future. As I wrote in another post, a brand new translation agency called last month to offer me a chance at… […]

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  27. I too was offered such a “copy editing opportunity” over the phone a few days ago, from a company calling itself translate.com. I didn’t wait long enough for the young woman to tell me what kind of rate she was offering before making it clear that I wasn’t interested in doing any PEMT work of any kind. I was about to tell her to remove me from her call list when she hung up on me. Wow — such professionalism!

    Just for fun, I visited the translate.com website, only to learn what they’re hawking to prospective clients is “People-Powered Translations”! Under that headline are the words:

    “Although machine translations have changed the way the world communicates, no amount of artificial intelligence can compete with the highly vetted and Professional Human Translators at Translate.com”

    Uh huh.

    The introductory clause in the above sentence was the ONLY mention of machine translation on their entire home page. Yet all they had to offer this particular “Professional Human Translator” (The way they use the term makes it sound like some kind of circus act!) was post-editing work.

    Sounds to me like grounds for a truth-in-advertising inquiry by the FCC.

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  28. That’s the one that called me too.

    I generally don’t mention agencies by name on my blog, but I am not going to prevent commenters from doing that.

    I will complete the sentence that you cite from their website:

    “Although machine translations have changed the way the world communicates, no amount of artificial intelligence can compete with the highly vetted and Professional Human Translators at Translate.com” ….. who we want to pay 1 cent per word to fix machine translation detritus…

    Yuppeee!!!

    Like

    • Amen to that! Why can’t the corporation get that? Or, they do and just feed off the IV we are supplying. I wish we can somehow cut the cord. I am fed up being more educated than anyone else in the room and being paid less and others acting as if I do not matter, while I do the work. What bullshit.

      Like

  29. […] times I was offered the princely sum of 1 cent a word, as I wrote in a post titled So Now I Know How Much They Want to Pay Us a little over a year […]

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  30. […] It was a woman from a translation agency who was offering me a “copy editing job”. When I called her back out of curiosity, I discovered that what she was really offering was post-edi… […]

    Like

  31. […] The last time I was contacted by a translation agency to become a machine translation “copy editor” I was offered the princely sum of 1 cent per word for “copy editing” of machine translat… […]

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