Translators are gluttons for punishment. They keep begging me to abuse them, and they will not take “no” for an answer.
Most days I have to delete at least a dozen résumés from my inbox that scream at me, “I am a translator, please, please, abuse me!”
These translators signal their eagerness in no uncertain terms to me in formulations copied and well established especially, although not exclusively, in résumés of newbie translators whose first language is not English.
Here is a short sample of a few of them.
- I work well under pressure
You do? Is that why you became a freelance translator? To work well under pressure?
That’s funny, personally, I got into my present line of work to escape pressure, to get out of the rat race and quit it for good.
But you enjoy this kind of abuse of human beings by other human beings?
And what does working well under pressure mean … does it mean that you can translate 5,000 or more words per day on impossible to meet, do-or-die deadlines? If that is the case, most brokers of translation and translation services, calling themselves “Language Services Providers” nowadays (ha, ha, ha) would probably try to lower your rates, would they not? If you can translate twice as many words as most other translators, it’s only fair that your rate should be only half of what other translators are paid!
Personally, I don’t work well under pressure. I thrive when I have enough time to do a good job, and I catch more mistakes when I have enough time—mine as well as those of other translators—when I am rested and have plenty of time to do a thorough job.
I sometimes have no choice but to translate 5,000 words a day. But if I have to do that, I charge a higher rate, at least 40% higher, because working like a robot gives me a terrible headache in the evening and I can’t sustain such a suicidal pace for more than a few days.
- My rate is negotiable
You don’t say! How negotiable is your rate, my dear newbie? Can it be negotiated down to 0 (zero) cents per word or per hour?
After all, it’s such fun to translate! It’s a blast and you love it so much because it is the coolest thing in the universe. Special “translation platforms and marketplaces” have been and are being developed as I am writing these words (also called blind auction sites), where translators fight over who will offer less for a translation job in order to land a crummy job from an anonymous client.
Some people are making a lot of money from this lovely and ingenious design, but it’s not the translators who do the heavy lifting and underpaid work, that’s for sure.
- I am a proficient Trados user
Remember how wonderful “translation technology tools”, also called Computer-Assisted Tools, and Trados in particular, were first sold to translators by the “translation industry” with the promise that they could double or triple the number of words translated per day, and the same tools were then used by the same “translation industry” to negotiate rates paid to translators down by about 30% on average in the last decade or so on the basis of a criminal scheme called “full matches” or “fuzzy matches”, i.e. words regurgitated by a computer program to be flagged as reused, identical or similar words deserving only a fraction of the nominal rate of reimbursement?
This ingenious and highly profitable abuse of human beings, which is nothing more and nothing less than an illegal wage theft scheme, is well established now in the “translation industry”.
If your rate is negotiable and you love translating so much, how about if you are charged for the privilege of working for a new kind of “translation marketplace” instead of being paid peanuts?
Would that work too?
This kind of double dipping would definitely work for “Language Services Providers” – people who buy and sell translations, wholesale and retail.
It’s probably coming to us in a new, improved, enhanced and perfected version of the “translation industry”.
- I would love to be a member of you team
What team is that? There is no team, my dear newbie. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out here in the wonderful freelance universe.
When every other translator is a competitor, that means that there are no teams in our wonderful freelance universe, only circular firing squads.
I used to be on a team, but that was more than three decades ago when I was an employee.
And I tried my best to be a good team member: I called in sick only twice in three years when I was an employee.
Incidentally, don’t tell anybody, but I did not really get sick on those two days I called in sick. There were these two girls that I wanted to show around San Francisco, one was from Austria, and the other one from Japan, so I had to take a day off.
But it was worth it because I married the second one. Our children should be really grateful if they ever find out why I called in sick one fateful day 32 years ago when I was a team member.
But I am digressing again.
I was willing to be a team member employee because in exchange for being a good team member, I got a few things from my employer that were customarily offered to good employees in America back then (30 years ago) and that probably are no longer being offered presently, things like:
I received health insurance paid by my employer, including dental care insurance. I also had life insurance (although I did not really need it because I had no family), vacation time, more money if I had to work on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays, and every year my salary was increased by a small but significant amount because that was how employers used to reward good team members back then.
What will be your reward, my dear newbie, for being a good team member?
Your reward will be that an “LSP” may send you another job at some point … unless another member of a circular firing squad of translators offers to do the same job for a little less.
It is interesting to me that no matter how desperate the people looking for work as translators may be, so far I have not received a single offer from a volunteer for the ultimate abuse and punishment for and aspiring translator: to post-process machine translation for a living. Even people who may be living a hardscrabble life in an impoverished country seem to understand that this kind of abuse of humans by other humans who use machines to inflict torture is something that should probably only exist in Dante’s seven circle of hell (or maybe the ninth circle of hell), but not in real life.