Posted by: patenttranslator | January 6, 2018

Another Self-Serving and Useless Resolution of the American Translators Association

At its 58th Annual Conference, held in Washington, DC, on October 25-28, 2017, the 10,000-member American Translators Association adopted the following resolution with 87% of the votes cast:

“Whereas translators and interpreters are committed to promoting and facilitating communication and understanding between peoples, be it resolved that we, members of the American Translators Association, strongly oppose all forms of discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, country of origin, or sexual orientation, as well as all forms of expression of and incitement to xenophobia, racial hatred, and religious intolerance, and strongly favor welcoming qualified immigrants who, with their skills and knowledge, contribute to the wealth of our country or seek refuge here from war or persecution.”

It’s immensely gratifying (isn’t it?) that ATA is opposing “all forms of discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, country of origin, or sexual orientation, as well as all forms of expression of and incitement to xenophobia, racial hatred, and religious intolerance, and strongly favors welcoming qualified immigrants”.

Or could it be that this resolution is in fact just another useless and empty proclamation that almost nobody will read and that will not do anything to help a single refugee or immigrant?

Since most decent people are against all kinds of discrimination, which probably includes translators, I see the resolution cited at the beginning of my post today mostly as a useless, empty, self-serving and hypocritical gesture that is not very likely to help anybody.

Most associations of stamp collectors and mushroom pickers, or of professional dog groomers, or of cat fanciers are probably also against xenophobia, racial hatred, and religious intolerance. But for some reason they don’t seem to feel the urgent need to issue lofty resolutions on these subjects.

Instead, they publicly express their opinions on issues that have a direct impact on problems concerning their members, issues like declining monetary values of stamp collections, the health of mushrooms in our forests, information on treatment of ear infections of our dogs and on how to best help stray cats.

Why is the American Translators Association not following their example, which it could do by issuing a resolution that actually means something to its members?

What this translator and 10,000 other members of ATA would dearly like to know is what ATA’s positions are on issues directly affecting our work and lives.

Issues such as the ones that I will now dare to mention below, albeit only very briefly, because there are many issues that impact the lives of translators on which ATA does not seem to have any position whatsoever.

I am convinced that if ATA found the courage to take a position on any of the issues briefly mentioned below, and preferably more than just one such issue, it would be greatly appreciated by the 10,000 members of ATA and that many more translators would likely join the association.

The fact that the words 10,000 members have been frequently thrown around by ATA for a decade or two probably means that the association is not growing because it is losing its old members who are qualified, educated and experienced translators. The association now manages to survive by growing its membership base mostly thanks to newbies.

Most translators don’t care about ATA’s rhetorical positions on issues that it can’t influence much, facile positions that look good on paper, while they cost ATA absolutely nothing. Instead of ATA’s position on discrimination against new immigrants and refugees, I think most translators would like to know ATA’s position on issues that we struggle with every day in our work.

Does ATA have an official position for instance on the following three issues:

  1. Why are the rates paid by the translation industry to translators falling, and what can translators do about it?

In the last two or three decades, rates paid to translators have been steadily falling courtesy of so-called translation industry, as the translation industry has been and still is outsourcing its translations to low-cost countries where important and highly complicated translations of complex documents are often done by translators who are extremely cheap, but who lack the education, skills and experience required to work as competent professionals, and who have to use machine translations to hide the fact that they don’t really understand the information in the source language and are not really fluent in their target language either.

The result of this approach is of course garbage that is sold by the translation industry to clients as real translation, which gives a bad name to all of us.

Why is it that there has not been a single article analyzing the causes of this development, very unfortunate for hard-working translators, in the ATA Chronicle, the official publication of the American Translators Association?

  1. What is the general position of ATA on machine translation?

Why is it that ATA, as far I know, has no official position on what machine translation is and what it is not? Shouldn’t it have a position on an issue that is much more important to us, translators, than for example “racial hatred and religious intolerance”, something that ATA feels so strongly about that it felt necessary to include it in its latest resolution?

Is machine translation a legitimate form of translation, comparable or tantamount to human translation? That is how the translation industry sees it, although most translators see it simply as a tool, a very useful, clever and ingenious tool, that translators and non-translators alike can use for free, but that should not be mistaken for actual translation.

  1. What is ATA’s position on post-processing of machine translations?

Is post-processing of machine translations an advisable technique, or at least an acceptable technique for translating complicated and important documents, such as medical diagnoses, good manufacturing practice manuals, or procedures used for maintenance and testing of nuclear reactors?

The position of the translation industry on this particular technique, which would be highly profitable for the translation industry (if the industry could only make it work), is of course clear. As far as the translation industry is concerned, post-processing of machine translation is absolutely the way to go!

Judging from the propagandistic nature of many articles published in the ATA Chronicle over the last few years, which celebrate and recommend the use of translation technology to translators, it seems that as far as ATA is concerned, it is only natural that human translators should be used to assist machines, instead of the other way round.

Since no articles questioning the propaganda of the translation industry have been published in the ATA Chronicle, it seems to me that the position of ATA, though never stated publicly, is the same as that of the translation industry.

I think that “machines good, humans bad”, to paraphrase George Orwell, or good only for miserably paid, mind-numbing post-processing drudgery, would sum up quite nicely the position on this issue not only of the translation industry, but also of ATA. If I am wrong, can somebody please point me to an article that was published in the ATA Chronicle, which is officially called The Voice of Translators and Interpreters, that was a serious and credible analysis of this technique, instead of a propagandistic piece written for and by the translation industry to brainwash translators?

The translation industry loves numbers, algorithms and percentages. As far as the industry is concerned, numbers and algorithms tell the truth and nothing but the truth.

But the way the “translation industry” uses numbers, algorithms and percentages is again just commercial propaganda that means nothing. It means nothing because the “translation industry” does not understand that although the number of correct words in a sentence can be measured, the meaning of these words is simply not measurable.

A Japanese sentence saying “It is our expert opinion that the Fukushima Daichi nuclear reactor would be vulnerable to a disaster that could be caused by a big tsunami”, which could be easily mistranslated by an algorithm glitch as “It is our expert opinion that the Fukushima Daichi nuclear reactor would not be vulnerable to a disaster that could be caused by a big tsunami”, is about 97% correct.

Only a careful, qualified, well-paid translator who is not working on a tight deadline would be likely to notice that the machine translation is 100% incorrect.

I don’t think that a poorly paid post-processor of machine translations of nuclear reactor tests, who likely lives in a country where human labor is very cheap, much cheaper than in Japan or United States, who does not really understand Japanese all that well and who does not really know English that much either, would be likely to catch such a minute mistake.

Which is one reason why I really would love to know what ATA’s official position is on post-processing of machine translations.

I do appreciate ATA’s opposition to “discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, country of origin, and its concern about “xenophobia, racial hatred, and religious intolerance”.

As a former new immigrant who came to this country 35 years ago with all of 500 dollars in his pocket and a determination to make it here no matter what, and who eventually raised a family and built a successful translation business, mostly because he picked the right country for something like that, I myself naturally have a soft spot in my heart for new immigrants and refugees because I understand what they are going through. I too “strongly favor welcoming qualified immigrants who, with their skills and knowledge, contribute to the wealth of our country or seek refuge here from war or persecution”.

But I think that most Americans don’t need to be reminded by another self-serving resolution of the American Translators Association how they should feel about refugees and immigrants. It so happens that many Americans are either immigrants themselves as I am, or children of immigrants as my children are now, or grandchildren of immigrants as my children’s children will be one day.

I also think that most of the 10,000 translators, who in spite of everything still are members of the American Translators Association, would really appreciate it if  ATA let them know what its positions might be on some of the issues that have had a major impact on their life and work for several decades now.

If ATA wants to prove to us that it is really interested in representing the interests of translators and interpreters instead of those of the seemingly omnipotent “translation industry”, taking a position on the three issues mentioned in my post today, issues on which ATA to my knowledge never has taken publicly a position to this day, would be a good start.

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Responses

  1. I agree.
    A couple of years ago I became very involved with ATA. Last year I decided to refocus my time and efforts on my business instead.

    In the past 10 years the translation/ interpreting Industry has been growing between 15-17 percent a year. If ATA actually represented well our industry, you would expect it to reflect that yearly growth and now be somewhere near 22 thousand.

    I have observed many long time members leave and folks like you entertain the idea.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “I have observed many long time members leave”

    Sad, but unavoidable. What value does the ATA provide for long-time members?

    As a long-time member myself (since 1989), I can’t really think of anything.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I felt that if they had an effective and visible public outreach, the results would be beneficial for our industry as a whole. Part of that public outreach is to take a powerful stand on certain issues some of which are mentioned in your post.

      Our industry has been growing, but average wages are going down. This means that cheap service is growing faster than quality.

      Last year I did more for my business by concentrating on it than any benefit I could get from ATA. I felt that I worked very hard volunteering my labor and resources for the ATA only to see much of it backtrack with internal petty politics. I don’t mind volunteering my services if it results in the greater good.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Solid points here. I think that many members and former members would agree that the ATA does not represent our interests. As far as I can see, the abdication of this organization’s responsibility as an entity representing North American translators began when it allowed non-US citizens to join as “associate members.” This meant (to take but one example) that English-to-Spanish translators residing in Los Angeles and Chicago suddenly had hundreds (thousands?) of counterparts residing in La Paz, Lima, and elsewhere willing to provide the same service for half of what they charged, and who could now boast of ATA membership and certification.

    As far as I can see, the ATA is very much in bed with the major translation software companies that take out advertising in their magazine and that are the major sponsors of their events. As for their annual conferences, beleaguered translators – many of whom have seen their rates plummet over the past ten years – are invited to spend 4-5 days at expensive venues where they are relentlessly targeted by companies plying the latest and greatest in expensive translation software, and invited to cocktail hours where they can partake of canapés and mini-kabobs courtesy of rapacious large agencies offering Third-World rates to their “valued vendors” in the First World.

    Um, no thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for your comment, Robert.

    I don’t agree that only US citizens should be allowed to be members. I think that at least permanent residents (“green card” holders) should have the same rights in this respect as citizens.

    I am not sure how things work in other countries. Do non-citizens and non-residents have the right to join the associations of translators in other countries, such as in Germany and France? I don’t know.

    But I agree with everything else you say.

    The problem of who can be an ATA member is in fact much bigger, because anybody who pays the membership fee can become and ATA member, as I wrote in these two posts: https://patenttranslator.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/split-the-american-translators-association-in-two-an-update-for-2015/ and https://patenttranslator.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/will-the-american-translators-association-survive-the-year-2025-2/

    Like

    • Hi Steve.

      I also do not have a problem with green-card holders residing in the US being eligible for ATA membership. But citizens of countries where the standards of living are much lower, and therefore where the notions of “acceptable rates” are radically different? No way. Allowing membership of persons from such countries is a betrayal of what ought to be ATA’s mission.

      This is something that opened floodgates to cheap competition for many of ATA’s US members, for reasons I stated in my previous post.

      As to your question re other national/European organizations, I am fairly certain that these are territorially based (i.e., citizenship of the nation or supranational entity in question is required). Perhaps someone else can confirm.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Czech Union of Interpreters and Translators requires neither Czech citizenship nor residence in CZ to join. The sole criterion is that the member be a professional translator, e.g. by submitting a copy of their business licence or providing other proof that they are a paid translator or interpreter.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I hope translators in other countries will say something on this subject here.

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    • Thanks, Elizabeth.

      That makes sense to me.

      Like

    • FWIW, the Brazilian Translators Association does accept foreigners as members. To join, you must produce (if I remember correctly) a degree in translation, published translations, copies of invoices you issued for translation services, or some other translation-related qualifications.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Paolo.

        Makes sense to me.

        I wonder, is there an association of translators in any country on this planet that you can join simply by paying the membership fee, without having to prove in some manner that you are in fact a translator?

        Like

  6. Translators and interpreters are in the business of bridging gaps between languages and cultures. For us, diversity is not an afterthought, but the essence of our profession. Also, a substantial proportion of translators living in the US, Steve and myself included, are immigrants. The anti-immigrant sentiments expressed by the alt-right affect all of us. Would you like to be called a “dirty foreigner” or see signs “No … need to apply” (insert your favorite race or nationality for the dots) on the doors of businesses? We must vigorously oppose those fascistoid sentiments before they become official policy.

    Like

    • So the alt-right is winning the red herring game.

      Like

    • “Would you like to be called a “dirty foreigner” or see signs “No … need to apply” (insert your favorite race or nationality for the dots) on the doors of businesses?”

      No. It never happened to me in the last 36 years, so I don’t really worry about something like that happening any time soon.

      But I would like to know why the ATA does not have any positions on the issues mentioned in my post today and instead just keeps issuing self-righteous, cheap, PC positions that, as far as I can determine, help nobody and mean absolutely nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • As a member of ATA’s board of directors for 13 years, chair of its Ethics Committee, editor of the Translation Journal among other positions I’ve served in, I’ve not only spoken up on the issues you mentioned, but also actively contributed to solving or mitigating those problems. That said, it is my experience that ranting against the “translation industry” or the other irreversible trends in our profession (however unfavorable they might be for us) is at least as useless as speaking up for diversity and against discrimination.

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  7. “So the alt-right is winning the red herring game.”

    I’m afraid I have no idea what this means.

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  8. Surely, membership of a professional association/institute is based on recognition and certification of a PERSON’S professional qualifications, skills and ethics. Key, therefore, is the standard and quality of membership acceptance requirements set and enforced by the association/institute. Assessments and policing of standards applicable in countries other than the home country of the association would be fraught to say the least. Given, for example, that the ATA accepts corporations as members, would indicate to me that it is not a true professional association, and I, for one, would not join it.

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    • Things are different in Australia and other countries, Louis.

      ATA gladly accepts non-translators, including agencies and corporations as members.

      In fact, the only requirement for being an ATA member is payment of the membership fee.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. “That said, it is my experience that ranting against the “translation industry” or the other irreversible trends in our profession (however unfavorable they might be for us) is at least as useless as speaking up for diversity and against discrimination.”

    Ranting, huh?

    Thank you so much.

    If ATA is unable or unwilling to do anything to do anything about these “irreversible” trends, then it’s completely useless to actual translators.

    Which explains why it’s membership is declining.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hear, hear, Steve!

      Gabe:

      According to your view, ATA has been, and continues to be, entirely impotent in responding to the trends discussed by Steve in his post (and his coverage of the unfortunate trends was by no means exhaustive).

      Is that right?

      If so, then what real use is it?

      Oh right, it can boldly stand up and denounce racism and intolerance. I wonder how many hours were spent discussing and drafting that resolution. Nice to know that our membership dues were put to good use. I hope that at least the coffee and pastries at the meetings where the statement was hammered out were of reasonably good quality.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chocolate donuts and Starbucks coffee would be my guess. Given how expensive ATA conferences are, they can easily afford that.

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  10. “It never happened to me in the last 36 years, so I don’t really worry about something like that happening any time soon.”
    Have you seen the Charlottesville demonstration or any video of an alt-right meeting? Nazism started exactly the same way in civilized Germany, and there too, people didn’t believe it could happen there.

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  11. ATA’s membership is not declining, and the association IS doing a lot for translators. You would be aware of the details and could possibly also contribute to it doing more if you participated in its activities, for example, by running for the Board or volunteering in one of the committees.

    Like

    • “ATA’s membership is not declining”.

      Fortunately, you are not under oath, Gabe, so you can say anything you want on my blog.

      But if ATA membership is not declining, how is it possible that 2 years ago ATA had 11,000 members and now it has only 10,000.

      It sounds like 2 + 2 = 5 to me, and I am not interested in giving my own free time to an association that does so little for translators, so much for the “translation industry”, and on top of that, is so weak in math.

      This is what I copied from the ATA website two years ago for a post I called “Will the ATA Survive the Year 2025”, linked above:

      According to ATA’s mission statement on its website, “The ATA was established to advance the translation and interpreting profession and foster the professional development of individual translators and interpreters”.

      “ATA’s 11,000 members include translators, interpreters, teachers, project managers, web and software developers, language company owners, hospitals, universities and government”.

      Like

  12. Well, yes, fascism is always a danger.

    So that’s why ATA has a position on fascism, but not for instance on post-processing of machine translation or obligatory discounts for “full matches” and “fuzzy matches”.

    OK, got it.

    Like

  13. If “The ATA was established to advance the translation and interpreting profession and foster the professional development of individual translators and interpreters”; and it committed itself to achieving its mission, it would be acting against the interests of its ‘industry/corporate’ members; and vice versa, of course. A horse at the front and another at the back of the cart, both pulling in opposite directions.
    This being the case, it is not reasonable to expect it to achieve anything beyond making profound statements about discrimination and the color pink.
    Even Mathew (6:24) knew you cannot serve two masters.
    Nothing will change until it turns the ‘industry’ out of the ‘temple’ and starts to focus on the interests of PROFESSIONAL translators only.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Nothing will change until it turns the Nothing will change until it turns the ‘industry’ out of the ‘temple’ and starts to focus on the interests of PROFESSIONAL translators only.”

      Exactly.

      But I don’t think the ATA can change.

      I think that translators in this country should start another association that would in fact represent them instead of representing the “translation industry”.

      If was younger, maybe I would try to create an alternative to ATA, but I am too old for that now.

      So I’m just ranting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree that ATA is, in all probability, incapable of changing.

        I also agree that a radically different kind of translator’s association that truly does represent translators’ interests is needed.

        Any such hypothetical association would, for starters, have a membership policy the very opposite of the ATA (i.e., strict admission criteria based on a combination of formal education, professional experience, and testing).

        There are simply too many (self-styled) translators out there (at least in the major language pairs). A lot of these people need to either change their line of work or be clearly seen for the inferior practitioners they are (i.e., they can continue to ply their wares, but without being able to boast of membership in a truly professional association).

        While we are on the subject, there are also too many agencies. Many of these outfits function as nothing more than brokers, securing work for translators and pocketing a large percentage of the job fee for themselves.

        Moreover, freelancers are ill served by proz.com, which does not attract direct clients and, at best, acts as a liaison linking freelancers with the kinds of broker/agencies paying low rates that I have described above. Like ATA, proz.com has also played its role in facilitating entry into the market of thousands of dubiously qualified translators. (Hell, you can even set up a profile on the site for free. And if you pay an annual membership fee, you can have added status simply by virtue of membership).

        So there really is a lot that is messed up in “the industry.” Not everything can be laid at the door of the ATA, but its inadequacies are certainly a big part of the problem.

        Like

  14. I think that the launching of blind auctions like Proz or Translators Cafe, where hungry translators keep underbidding each other until the lowest bid wins a crummy job is a big reason why the rates for translation have fallen so much in the last decade or two.

    It makes sense to avoid Proz, unless you are a total newbie. Even total newbies should realize that they will never make any money unless they are able to eventually graduate from Proz jobs to better work.

    I also think and hope that translators will stop being apathetic and start looking for an alternative to ATA.

    Since ATA is doing nothing for us and since it can’t be reformed, (as Gabe put it, the trends that I am “ranting about” are in ATA’s opinion “irreversible”), translators need to create their own association, an association that would be fighting for their interests and against the interests of the “translation industry”.

    ATA is boldly issuing resolutions against racism and fascism, while completely ignoring issues that impact our work and our income, because it is working for the “translation industry” instead of working for us, which should be its job.

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  15. Remarkable, percutant article. I would like to know indeed ATA’s position on these issues.

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  16. Thank you.

    Unfortunately, ATA has no time for taking a position on any of the issues mentioned in my post because they are busy very courageously fighting fascism, racism, religious intolerance and a whole bunch of other issues that are so much more important that the actual issues affecting directly translators.

    And who could blame them?

    Thanks God they’ve got their priorities straight!

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  17. But can’t ATA be reformed, though?

    I’m assuming the constitution can be changed with a 75% or 2/3 vote of members, and that the overwhelming majority of members with voting rights will be individual translators, not corporates.

    If that’s the case a resolution could be brought to the AGM and with large-scale voting by individual translators the corporate membership category could be removed.

    Not impossible, surely …

    Like

    • Not imposible, but unlikely, in my view. I would say guess that 100% of the persons in the ATA hierarchy, and maybe 90% of those “highly active” in the organization, have a vested interest in things staying just as they are, and would fight tooth and nail to assure that they remain so.

      Like

      • [Apologies for typos in above post!]

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      • “I would say guess that 100% of the persons in the ATA hierarchy, and maybe 90% of those “highly active” in the organization, have a vested interest in things staying just as they are, and would fight tooth and nail to assure that they remain so.”

        I agree.

        I think that ATA has outlived its usefulness to actual translators.

        ATA is now useful mostly just to translation agencies, CAT software manufacturers, and the like, and to some limited extent also to newbie translators.

        Why am I still a member and why do I keep writing posts about the ATA?

        Einstein said that the most powerful force in the Universe is compound interest, but I think that the most powerful force in the Universe is in fact inertia.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Corporate members or their representatives (unless they are bona-fide translators) have no voting rights whatsoever and are not eligible to serve on the Board or on certain committees. These rules were instituted exactly to prevent translation companies, software vendors and the like from controlling the Association.

      Like

  18. Something like that is probably not impossible, but I think that is very unlikely to happen because as Robert mentioned in his comment above, ATA is dependent on corporate money that it gets not only from translation agencies, but also from software companies and other sources of corporate largesse.

    That is why in its present form, it works for the “translation industry” instead of for translators.

    Like

  19. Steve, I asked for and got the ATA membership numbers from Mooch. He told me that membership peaked with the 2009 New York Conference at a record 11,102. Since then, membership has been virtually constant: The year 2015 ended with 10,505 members. 2016 with 10,515, and 2017 with 10,533. No decline (except for the slight one-time drop from an abnormally high number in 2009), but no growth either.

    Like

  20. Thanks, Gabe.

    Mooch, huh?

    Good name for a bean counter.

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  21. Mooch is the nickname of Executive Director Walter Bacak, which he himself likes and often uses.

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  22. Steve, I voted against the resolution in D.C. for the same reasons you mention here.

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    • Which means that either you are a fascist, racist, xenophobe and homophobe, or you managed to keep your sanity, despite ATA propaganda, which is not an easy thing to do.

      Like

  23. I’m an ATA member and am ATA-certified. I recently needed to find a Spanish to English translator who specializes (at the true expert level) in architecture and construction. Looking on Proz was, unsurprisingly, a huge waste of time, with countless translators maxing out the fields to list 30 unrelated “specializations.” There’s one real-life architect who is a translator whom I know of, but he didn’t appear at the top of these lists. I also happened to stumble on the profile of another real-life architect, but that was through a random Google search and not through the Proz search function. The flotsam and jetsam is at the top, and any possible treasure chests hopelessly hidden on page 18 or whatever.

    However, I was disappointed to find that the ATA directory was not much more useful. Yes, the numbers were fewer, but still endless (i.e., no serious company would ever wade through them to find the most qualified translator). Also, while the ATA profile page limits translators to listing only 12 specializations, IIRC, there is some workaround where a person can select more fields (I even discovered this myself at one point). And, surprisingly, many translators have done just this, choosing to claim that they could translate in any and every field in their desperation for a seeker to land on their page. I feel that the ATA does a true disservice to its members and clients who use the page to find translators by allowing its search function to be so profoundly unhelpful and so easily gamed. It doesn’t reward those who truly and deeply specialize in any way. I don’t know that I see myself staying in the organization much longer either for what little things like this point to, as well as the points you yourself made so well. Not to mention the things I’ve learned about the ATA president in the past year that call her merits into question.

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    • I found the ATA database somewhat useful when I was looking for a translator in the past, and I also got a few jobs from it myself (at agency rates because direct clients don’t seem to know about it).

      But times have changed and what I do now instead when I am looking for a translator is to simply post a message on a Facebook group created precisely for this purpose. I found several excellent translators in the manner in the last couple of years.

      This is a much better way than using the ATA database in my opinion.

      Do I dare to ask you to share with us what exactly is it that calls ATA’s president’s merits into question?

      (I think I just did.)

      Like

      • In response to my comment above, I received the following link to Amazon:

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      • Top positive review
        See all 6 positive reviews›
        11 people found this helpful
        5.0 out of 5 starsABU SIMBEL AND I
        ByFranchiseon February 21, 2016
        I LOVEDTHAT BOOK AND IT ALSO TOUCHED ME IN MY DEEPEST EMOTIONS.
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        The sun is burning out the people and their secrets are also consuming them. The hypnosis or hypnotherapy needed by the hero is described in details and has helped me to be reassured that in good qualified hands, it is a valid tool to help people in search of themselves and in that sense it is a didactic book.
        The characters are well chosen, Kitty, the photographer is the hero, it is not by chance that she is a fashion photographer.
        The mystery remains complete until the end and for that reason this novel is worth an approval from Agatha Christie. Agatha liked to give a psychological dimension to her characters but here the author knows well what he is describing because psychology is his profession.
        It is also a book for feminists and the compassion and tenderness of the author for his characters are so moving that tears came often into my eyes while the end of the book was approaching so much so that I did not want to finish it.
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        I can easily see it as a feature film in the future.
        Bravo!
        Read more
        Top critical review
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        3 people found this helpful
        2.0 out of 5 starsI was not thrilled…
        ByHannahon April 15, 2017
        Disclosure: I received a copy of this book as a giveaway on Goodreads.

        I can safely say that, “I was not thrilled!” On the cover of Murder of Abu Simbel by Alain Feld, it says the book is a ‘hypo-thriller.’ Having no idea what that meant, it was absolutely intriguing. Come to find out, a hypo-thriller is centered around the idea of hypnosis. But isn’t it interesting that only one character is a hypnotist and only one character is being hypnotized. Yes, the hypnosis is a central plot point to the story, but it is by no means a thriller.

        There are points of the book, that the language is flowery and full of intricate descriptions, while there are other points, that seem extremely important to the story that are brushed over. So many pages are spent on the love affairs of characters. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading the characters’ backstories and relationship stories, it’s just that I was waiting for the book to be thrilling and to read about a mystery.

        Perhaps there are ideas or emotions that are lost in the translation to English, but I am still left with so many unanswered questions. The main question of the book, who killed (I won’t tell you because…spoiler) is answered by the end, but so many pieces of the plot are left completely ambiguous. Such as, what time period does this book take place? The characters seem to have modern day technological equipment, but the implausibility of a woman traveling around Egypt on her own without a cellphone doesn’t make sense. Of course, without this, she wouldn’t have to undergo hypnosis for her amnesia. It is also amazing how much money this woman has when she has been found without a wallet…who is funding her adventures at the hotel, meals, swimsuit purchases, hypnotist sessions, and pool time?

        By page 123 (there were 279 pages in my copy) I finally felt like we had started into the meat of the story and the plot was thickening. However, it was still so very slow moving. From reading the back cover of the book, I was anticipating a thrilling murder mystery, that unfortunately I never received. Side note: it was painfully obvious who the murderer was throughout the book. The importance of the setting did not render itself until the very final pages when we understood why we were in Egypt in the first place. The disconnect to the setting could have allowed the story to take place absolutely anywhere with a few minor changes.

        Overall, my disappointment in this book was consistent throughout and did not leave me with the feeling that I helped solve a thrilling murder. There were chapters I had to absolutely force myself through, but with the lack of detail needed to remember details surrounding the characters and the crime, it made for a great multi-tasking book! I could comfortably listen to music and read at the same time!

        Maybe reading the book in the original French would be more enlightening.
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        Showing 1-4 of 4 reviews(Critical). See all 10 reviews
        2.0 out of 5 starsBOOOOORING!
        Bymmmon October 14, 2017
        Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
        Having just returned from Abu Simbel i had high hopes for a fsscinating read but instead was VERY disappointed. The story might as well have been set in Des Moines or Birmingham for all that location played a part.
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        2.0 out of 5 starsI was not thrilled…
        ByHannahon April 15, 2017
        Format: Kindle Edition
        Disclosure: I received a copy of this book as a giveaway on Goodreads.

        I can safely say that, “I was not thrilled!” On the cover of Murder of Abu Simbel by Alain Feld, it says the book is a ‘hypo-thriller.’ Having no idea what that meant, it was absolutely intriguing. Come to find out, a hypo-thriller is centered around the idea of hypnosis. But isn’t it interesting that only one character is a hypnotist and only one character is being hypnotized. Yes, the hypnosis is a central plot point to the story, but it is by no means a thriller.

        There are points of the book, that the language is flowery and full of intricate descriptions, while there are other points, that seem extremely important to the story that are brushed over. So many pages are spent on the love affairs of characters. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading the characters’ backstories and relationship stories, it’s just that I was waiting for the book to be thrilling and to read about a mystery.

        Perhaps there are ideas or emotions that are lost in the translation to English, but I am still left with so many unanswered questions. The main question of the book, who killed (I won’t tell you because…spoiler) is answered by the end, but so many pieces of the plot are left completely ambiguous. Such as, what time period does this book take place? The characters seem to have modern day technological equipment, but the implausibility of a woman traveling around Egypt on her own without a cellphone doesn’t make sense. Of course, without this, she wouldn’t have to undergo hypnosis for her amnesia. It is also amazing how much money this woman has when she has been found without a wallet…who is funding her adventures at the hotel, meals, swimsuit purchases, hypnotist sessions, and pool time?

        By page 123 (there were 279 pages in my copy) I finally felt like we had started into the meat of the story and the plot was thickening. However, it was still so very slow moving. From reading the back cover of the book, I was anticipating a thrilling murder mystery, that unfortunately I never received. Side note: it was painfully obvious who the murderer was throughout the book. The importance of the setting did not render itself until the very final pages when we understood why we were in Egypt in the first place. The disconnect to the setting could have allowed the story to take place absolutely anywhere with a few minor changes.

        Overall, my disappointment in this book was consistent throughout and did not leave me with the feeling that I helped solve a thrilling murder. There were chapters I had to absolutely force myself through, but with the lack of detail needed to remember details surrounding the characters and the crime, it made for a great multi-tasking book! I could comfortably listen to music and read at the same time!

        Maybe reading the book in the original French would be more enlightening.
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        1.0 out of 5 starsBad Translation Creates a Fiction that Drowns the Actual Story
        ByKevin S. Hendzelon September 12, 2016
        Format: Paperback
        This review has been the subject of intense recent interest among the top tier of French-to-English translators across the translation industry – whose skill levels vary from bilingual to exceptionally strong in French with native English – and the unfortunate conclusion seems to be that the translation is so poorly done that there are fundamental and basic errors of meaning – on the level where the English does not convey the meaning of the French at all – on every single page of the book.

        It’s stirred up enough interest so that busy professional translators would actually buy both books and conduct such an evaluation.
        So the original review, as well as the comments of “Traducteur” in French which validate those findings in the original comment stream, seem to have been quite accurate.

        I too am a professional translator with 35 translated books in physics and engineering in print, mostly for the American Institute of Physics and the Russian Academy of Sciences. I can read French, so was among those shocked by the errors, but I work from Russian into English, so stood on the sidelines observing the discussion of my more expert colleagues in French.

        A quick check of my other reviews here on Amazon will confirm that I have been writing on translation issues drawing on that 30+ year career.

        Also, I am posting under my real name, and not a pseudonym.

        Where I do have expertise is a career-long background in academic book translations (30 years), as well as reviews of those translations in the professional physics journals.

        That means that I have considerable experience in translations for publication, e.g. translations that are “at risk” for review by one’s peers and other experts.

        Kudos to translators who have the courage to put their books out there for inspection, including Corinne.

        This is a practice we encourage – putting your work “out there” where it can be evaluated – and if found wanting, then it offers an opportunity to learn from our colleagues and to improve our craft.

        This whole project seems to have gone off the rails in several areas. What can we learn from them?

        1. First, commercial translation and literary translation often require radically different skill sets. For one, literary translators are very commonly much more engaged in the culture of their source-language country (in this case, France) where they absorb, on a daily basis, the language, culture, idiom and even subtle variations over decades or a lifetime on a level that is impossible for a person who lives in an English-speaking country and speaks English at home. I admire Corinne’s courage to tackle such a project – if handed a copy of Anna Karenina in Russian to translate, I would politely hand it back – so the appreciation of one’s limits is a key professional attribute.

        2. I was frankly troubled by Corinne’s original reaction to the criticism from “Translator” – I would have expected something more along the lines of “Great critique – perhaps we could collaborate next time.” Instead she claimed to “agree” with “Translator” that translation “is subjective” when in fact “Translator” never said anything of the sort. “Translator” was quite dedicated to providing a huge number of examples where the translation was objectively (not “subjectively”) ridiculous, and where the context alone should have been a clue that something was deeply and unremittingly wrong.

        3. “Traducteur” backed this up, pointing out not only that “Translator” never claimed that translation was subjective, and went into an even deeper critique: (here is “Traducteur’s French comment in the comment section above translated into English):

        “Regrettably, Translator’s analysis of these particular examples is absolutely spot on. He correctly grasps the meaning of the French source and his proposed translations are on the money. The contrasts between his renderings and the published translation have nothing to do with personal preference or subjectivity. These are glaring mistakes that reveal one of two things – either a failure to understand the French, or a slapdash translation done without proper consideration and careful revision. The translation of “ébats” (here, a sexually charged word meaning “frolicking”) as “spats” is patently wrong. The fact that Kitty allegedly derived “joy/pleasure” from these “spats” doesn’t really make sense. Unless Kitty was into S&M, this odd contrast should have been a red flag moment for the translator. This is a sobering lesson on the perils of publishing a translation without competent, professional revision.”

        4. Which gives me the opportunity to make a crucial appeal to the importance of collaboration. None of the translators I know and work with in the premium commercial market – including most respected literary translators – work in isolation. They collaborate on multiple and quite elaborate levels, often involving heavy line-by-line scrutiny of the text by a respected colleague, or long late-night debates on how to render particular passages. Some have colleagues read the source text to them while they review the target text. Some revise and swap the text over a long period of time.

        Everybody is different. But nobody goes it alone.

        It appears from the huge number of errors – as well as the stylistic awkwardness of the English in the pages made visible on Amazon – that any MEANINGFUL collaboration took place. By that I mean that it doesn’t appear that if collaboration was involved here, that it was with anybody who was in the position of having deep cultural immersion and the attendant expertise on a level that would actually add value.

        Finally, this was an unfortunate outcome, but it does point to the fact that stylistically clean, accurate and compelling translation is an enormously difficult enterprise. Most expert translators are not young, as the whole exercise requires a rich, deep and continuously expanding range of experience.

        It has been said that expert translators, beginning at quite young ages and working every day to improve their skills, don’t even hit their stride until their 40s.

        The craft also requires the ability to write in a formidable and compelling way.

        These are not skills easily mastered if they are not exercised every day, consistently, and to the exclusion of other time-demanding activities, whatever they may be, all under the watchful eye of our colleagues who inspire us every day to raise the bar as a means of achieving ever higher levels of expertise and excellence.
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        1.0 out of 5 starsDisappointing translation
        ByTranslatoron January 27, 2016
        Format: Paperback
        Since I work as a translator, I decided to read this book in French and compare it with the published translation. It proved to be both a sad and a sobering experience and left me with the feeling that the translator is in dire need of a French teacher, and the author deserves to get his money back (assuming that he paid for the translation, which is so bad that perhaps it was done as a favor, or to get some practice on the side). Overall, the plot remains intact, but the translator misunderstood the French so often that the story is marred with jarring non-sequiturs.

        Some of these are attributable to the “false cognates” that make translation between French and English so difficult. For example, the French verb “troubler” means not only “to trouble,” but also “to arouse someone sexually, to turn someone on.” The translator appears to have been oblivious to the latter meaning and thus wrote things like “Linda was looking beautiful. She was wearing a green dress, with a sheer, tulle top; it showed off her ample cleavage in a way that immediately troubled Peter.” (should be: “aroused Peter”). Later in the story, Kitty sees Jim, a handsome man, and “elle ne sait pas ce qui lui tombe dessus, mais sa présence la trouble infiniment. Elle se dit que ça doit être le coup de foudre…” This is translated as “She didn’t know what had come over her, but his presence bothered her immensely. She told herself it must be love at first sight…” Again, the verb “trouble” doesn’t mean that his presence “bothered” her, but that it “made her feel aroused” or “turned her on” (which makes much more sense in the context).

        Another pair of false friends that confuses the translator is “débonnaire” in French and “debonair”: “Le médecin, un homme assez corpulent, à l’allure débonnaire l’avait auscultée avec des gestes précis.” translated as “The doctor was a fairly stout man with a debonair manner.” But débonnaire means “kind” in French, whereas debonair in English means fashionable or stylish in English.

        She apparently believes that “idylle” in French is the same thing as “idyll” in English, and so translates “Leur idylle va durer quatre ans” as “Their idyll lasted four years.” But “idyll” in English means a happy and peaceful place, especially one connected with the countryside, whereas an “idylle” in French is a romance. And Kitty’s “vie sentimentale” (her love life) is translated as her “sentimental life” and several other odd ways that I’ve forgotten.

        Not only does the translator fall into the traps of lookalike words in French and English that have different meanings, but she reveals over and over that she has only an impressionistic knowledge of French. For example, “Pierre dut se rendre à l’évidence” was translated as “Peter had to consider the evidence.” But what this idiom means is that Peter had to face the facts.

        At one point, Clarissa tells Kenneth she’s leaving him, so Kenneth says “reprends-toi!” which the translator translates as “take it back!” But this is an idiom meaning “pull yourself together” or “get a grip.” It is true that “reprendre” means “to take back,” but the translator is apparently unaware that “se reprendre” has an idiomatic meaning of “getting ahold of oneself.”

        At another point, Peter went for a walk, so Linda asks “Tu avais besoin de te changer les idées?” This is translated as “did you need to change your mind about something?” Here the translator is confusing the idiom ” changer d’idée” (to change one’s mind) with “cela te changera les idées,” which means “that’ll take your mind off things.”

        Elle allait lui dire ses quatre vérités” is translated as “She was going to tell him the truth.” But this idiom (literally “to tell someone his four truths”) means “to tell someone off” or “to give someone a piece of your mind.” She also translates the phrase du coup, which means “therefore,” as suddenly, apparently because she is confusing “du coup” with “tout à coup”–which does indeed mean suddenly.

        At other times it is hard to tell what French verbs she’s confusing with which other verbs. For example, she translates “Elle avait senti cette torpeur qui s’était soudain emparée d’elle” as “she had felt this sudden torpor that had alienated her from herself.” But s’emparer de in French simply means “to come over” someone–so the sentence refers to the “torpor (or lethargy) that had come over her.” It’s hard to guess where the translator got the notion that it means “to alienate one from oneself.”

        And it’s the translator who is guessing at the idiom “un tant soit peu” here: “Il n’était pas nécessaire que je m’intéresse un tant soit peu à une autre femme pour qu’elle fasse une scène.”
        Translated as: “It wasn’t really necessary for me to be interested, either a little or a lot, in another woman for her to make a scene.” The idiom “un tant soit peu” means “the least bit” or “the slightest bit” (not “a little or a lot”) and the sentence means “the slightest interest in another woman.”

        “Les cocktails du Tout-Londres” are supposedly “happy hours all over London”! But le Tout-Londres (or le Tout-Paris) is an idiom meaning the “jet set,” “high society,” “the upper crust” in a certain city—so these are “exclusive London cocktail parties” or “cocktail parties for the London jetset” not “happy hours all over London.” Again, she appears to be vaguely aware of what some French words mean, but lacks the deep knowledge required in order to translate them correctly.

        And sometimes she appears to just guess at the meaning, such as here: “La présence de Kitty au pied de leur lit lui procure une jouissance de loin plus intense que celle qu’elle vient de ressentir au cours de ses ébats avec Jeffrey,” translated as “Kitty’s presence at the foot of their bed brought her a joy that was much more intense than the pleasure she felt during her spats with Jeffrey.” But ébats doesn’t mean “spats” (despite their similar appearance); it means “lovemaking.”

        Another example of just guessing is this: Il fallait qu’elle se fassent une raison. “Se faire une raison” is a French idiom meaning “to resign oneself to a situation” or “to have to accept things the way they are.” But the translator saw the word “raison,” recognized it as “reason” and then invented this: “She had to come up with a reason to live.” That is perfectly good English; it’s just not what the French means.

        Here she has misunderstood the French “ses,” which can mean either “his” or “her”:
        Séduisante, intelligente, dynamique, Clarissa avait toutes les qualités qu’il pouvait désirer. Les fées qui s’étaient penchées sur son berceau n’avaient pas lésiné sur les dons qu’elles lui avaient prodigués. Translated as: “Clarissa was seductive, intelligent and dynamic. She was everything he could want in a woman. The fairies who had perched on his cradle hadn’t skimped on the gifts they had bestowed on him.”
        But in an obvious allusion to “Sleeping Beauty” the author means the fairies at her cradle (not his cradle) had bestowed gifts on her (not him!).

        The sentence “Quand il l’avait connu quelques années plus tôt, Kenneth était en pleine ascension professionnelle et filait le parfait amour avec Clarissa” is translated as “When he had met Kenneth a few years earlier, Kenneth had been at the height of his career and perfectly in love with Clarissa.” But both parts of this translation are wrong: the first part means that Kenneth’s career was on the rise (or that he was on the fast track to success or was making his way to the top) and the second part is not idiomatic; a better translation would be that he was “head over heels” in love with Clarissa.

        “Vous avez été surprise par la tombée de la nuit” is translated word-for-word as “you were surprised when it got dark” but this does not capture what it means, which is “nightfall caught you by surprise or unawares.” Again, it is true that the word “surprendre” can mean “to surprise” but it has more meanings than that, and the translator seems to be stuck at the level of French 101.

        And here, she makes a basic translation error: “Elle leva les yeux” translated as “she raised her eyes.” This is what translation scholars call an example of “chassé-croisé”–the right solution in English is “She looked up” and the “up” part is in the verb (lever) in French and the “looked” part is in the noun (yeux) in French.

        All in all, the translation of the novel would make an interesting study for a class in translation from French to English, because it is so rife with translation mistakes that it would provide fodder for an entire semester’s worth of study.
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    • The problem with translating architecture is that houses are difficult to import and export, hence the rarity. I still translate that from Portuguese and Spanish into English. It was my first major in college and I worked as a construction contractor to pay tuition.

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  24. For Robert:

    You’re spot on about Proz. So, why are you still using the site? A paying member, a part of the certified PRO network, playing the Kudoz game almost daily…looks like a love/hate relationship of need, fear, or inertia. Why not make 2018 the year you finally up and delete your account instead of just seething? Follow your conscience and leave that swamp of mediocrity and desperation behind you. Proz isn’t for people like you: good, serious, professional, vetted, experienced, (relatively and deservedly) expensive, working in common specializations, and working in an incredibly common direction. Work hard to finally get your name in front of the direct clients you deserve. They’re never going to find you on Proz, and the site you’re subsidizing gets worse and more crowded with each passing year. You’re better than that. Saludos.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Hi HC:

    The question you ask is tough but fair, so let me try to answer it.

    In the end, despite all of its flaws (which I have not only mentioned in this thread, but repeatedly on the site itself) I feel that, on the balance, being a paid member does me more good than harm. Some of these “good” things, as I see them, are as follows:
    1.
    Exposure: Potential clients do find and contact me through proz.com. Some of these persons do turn out to be clients (in some instances, for one-off jobs (which sometimes are very large one-offers) and in other instances for a series of jobs over a longer period of time. If I were not a paid member, it would be more difficult for these persons to find me.
    2.
    As ridiculous and insulting as most of the offers posted on the site’s Jobs Board in my combination are, I occasionally am able to find jobs there. Some of these are quite substantial indeed, and mark the beginning of a productive long-term relationship with a client. Given the restrictions on non-members (and the importance of rapid response) I am certain that I would never have developed such relationships without being a paid member.
    3.
    As regards Kudoz, I find benefit in participating. I like the whole competitive element: squaring off against peers (some of whom are very good translators) to see who can offer the best response to a given term. I learn from this participation also. In addition, even though I don’t post a lot of terms myself (an average of about 70 a year over the past 8 years) I appreciate knowing that, if worse comes to worst, I know I will be able to solicit help from colleagues (although it is hard to imagine ever posting 60 queries in a week, let alone 200 a month). I see it as a kind of insurance policy. And the help available through participants is often quite good, and has proven invaluable to me on numerous occasions working under tight deadlines.
    4.
    Continuing with Kudoz, there are some very good translators who participate in that forum. (Charles Davis stands out above all others.) I enjoy reading the contributions of these people. Yes I would have access to Kudoz without paying for membership, but deriving as much pleasure and benefit from using Kudoz as I do, it makes me feel “less bad” about paying for membership.
    5.
    For all its obvious flaws and the justly deserved criticism it receives, there really is no viable alternative to proz.com. The other commercial sites are even worse. As for Stridonium, despite its good intentions, it is of no use at all in terms of commercial exposure. This is a shame, because it seems perfectly set up to serve as source of quality translation services for serious clients. But the site’s founder/operator seems committed to keeping it non-commercial. I view this as a shame, a terrible waste, and as something that will condemn that venture to utter irrelevance.

    I would be very happy to support a site that offers some of the positive aspects of proz.com while eliminating some of its negative features. But I haven’t seen any such site emerge, and I see none on the horizon.

    Having said all this, I acknowledge that my relationship with proz.com is an uneasy on (as so many business relationships are!). Supporting such a site with paid membership does not sit well with me. (In this connection, I would point out that I did downgrade to a “basic membership” at the end of last year.

    As regards Kudoz, I have to honestly say that I also see the prospect of continued participation as ultimately unsatisfying, and during the past year I have begun thinking about withdrawing from participation (at least at some point over the next few years). There is something kind of sad and pathetic about envisaging more years of pouring energy into such activity, for a number of obvious reasons.

    So there you have it. I have responded honestly to your question. I also think it fair to point out that I have not only addressed your question, but made other substantive and controversial points in this discussion *under my own name*, and not hiding behind a pseudonym or initials.

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    • Hi Robert,

      Your last point is an eminently fair one. I respect you and others for using your real names and myself less for not doing so. Thanks for thoughtfully responding all the same.

      I’m sympathetic to your reasoning and held on to the same for many years before finally leaving. Being ranked high on the Kudoz leader board definitely lets one gain visibility, and I know that highly ranked translators often cringe at the thought of giving up all those hard-earned points (often earned 10-15 years ago). However, the site’s overall effect on our industry has been a negative one, and time spent there is time largely wasted.

      The really inconvenient truth is that the only alternative to passively relying on reverse auction directories and social media for work is to actively go out there and sell our services to clients. With a website, with visits to trade shows and conferences and social events where our clients (not colleagues) hang out and network, with cold and warm phone calls and emails and in-person visits to clients, with deep and narrow specialization, and with superior source language abilities to sell and convince in the business environment.

      I don’t know if you do Facebook, but there are some excellent ES-EN groups for terminology queries, with very good translators who stopped answering Kudoz questions long ago. As well as very good pages where translators get substantive advice and feedback on many topics.

      I know these kinds of actions and changes aren’t easy. Just some encouragement and tough love you can mull over if you want. It’s never too late to change gears, one step at a time, and a new year is always a great time to do so.

      Few translators are surviving and ultimately will survive the great winnowing caused by MT’s devastating (though purifying) effects on the translator/agency landscape. Good translators like you deserve to survive and thrive. Making a website, looking up and attending industry events in your area this year, getting new business cards made, researching your ideal clients–all of these things take time. But with a simple click, you can get rid of the distraction and security blanket of Proz and focus.

      Like

  26. I was worried at first, but the thing turned out to be the usual “underwear on the outside of their clothes” collectivism. Now I can return to more important matters. Thanks for the update.

    Like


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