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What stops translators from thriving?
Thread poster: Andrew Morris

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:17
Member (2018)
French to English
. May 31

Andrew Morris wrote:

Teresa Borges wrote:

So, according to your definitions it looks like I’m successful, though I don’t picture myself as successful, all I wanted to do was be good at my job and earn enough money to raise my kids. Job done!


Well then maybe it's time to change the way you picture yourself


We women shy away from such language :

https://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2016/jun/29/womens-talk-why-language-matters-to-female-entrepreneurs


“Wanted – successful women entrepreneurs running fast-growing companies”. You would think that an advert like this would have hordes of women making contact wouldn’t you? Well, that’s not the case.
...
What I discovered surprised me. There were many women who had ambitious growth plans and whose businesses were generating annual revenues well in excess of £250,000 – but they did not categorise themselves as a “fast growth company”. In fact, it took a little time during the conversations for them to recognise how successful they actually were.
...
As a result of these conversations I realised that in every case, the businesses did qualify as fast growth, and the business owner was focused and driven to achieve further success. What I had uncovered was that the women did not identify with the label used and had not come forward as a result.


missdutch
Andrew Morris
Teresa Borges
Johanna Timm, PhD
IanDhu
Matheus Chaud
 

Mair A-W (PhD)
Germany
Local time: 15:17
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
thrifty May 31

Andrew Morris wrote:

So what are the issues that are holding so many translators back from thriving?



Insufficient water, insufficient sunlight, inadequate nutrition?


Kay Denney
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Interior design May 31

Kay Denney wrote:

We women shy away from such language :

https://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2016/jun/29/womens-talk-why-language-matters-to-female-entrepreneurs


“Wanted – successful women entrepreneurs running fast-growing companies”. You would think that an advert like this would have hordes of women making contact wouldn’t you? Well, that’s not the case.
...
What I discovered surprised me. There were many women who had ambitious growth plans and whose businesses were generating annual revenues well in excess of £250,000 – but they did not categorise themselves as a “fast growth company”. In fact, it took a little time during the conversations for them to recognise how successful they actually were.
...
As a result of these conversations I realised that in every case, the businesses did qualify as fast growth, and the business owner was focused and driven to achieve further success. What I had uncovered was that the women did not identify with the label used and had not come forward as a result.


That's a fascinating insight, Kay. Although is there a difference I wonder between the language we use outwardly, in business situations, and the language we use to ourselves?

Personal note: my wife is a coach, a feminist and a very strong personality, and she would contest the point of the article until her dying breath.

We may have very different forms of outward expression, but if we can't even admit to ourselves that we have succeeded or achieved our goals, then that might hold us back...


Elizabeth Tamblin
 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 15:17
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Greed, cartels and artificial hype May 31

Andrew Morris wrote:

Do the best translators always end up with the most clients, the most work, ...?


No, because recently there is an artificially built trend/hype and nowadays many best translators with business skills need to fight against the greed and cartels of all companies and monopolies that are acting as leaches on freelance translators. Translators need to fight against greed and cartels of translation companies that want huge profits in the expense of translators, against greed and cartels of all other companies that want to intervene into every single aspect of translation businesses and this way making money out from these.

Business can be done ethically. But some people and companies do not learn.


Kay Denney
Robert Forstag
IanDhu
Umberto Steindler
 

Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:17
English to Latvian
+ ...
The lack of professional representation May 31

Translation is very diverse field that it seems impossible to set common standards and certifications. What would work for one country and language will not necessarily applicable to other languages, countries or fields, therefore professional representation is even more important.

The business environment in their race to lower costs, will very easily overlook serious risks to quality posed by commoditization of translation of which MT is only one aspect. It may take a long time b
... See more
Translation is very diverse field that it seems impossible to set common standards and certifications. What would work for one country and language will not necessarily applicable to other languages, countries or fields, therefore professional representation is even more important.

The business environment in their race to lower costs, will very easily overlook serious risks to quality posed by commoditization of translation of which MT is only one aspect. It may take a long time before end users will notice that inadequate translations cause comprehension issues and endanger communication and in many cases even their health and safety.

Some propose that translators should learn more business skills. In my opinion, it might work for some but generally you risk fragmenting your specialization. One wouldn't expect, for example, healthcare professionals to advance their careers by looking for more direct clients, creating a website or canvassing clients on facebook. Marketing is serious profession by itself and that's why translation agencies exist because they can employ people with different skillsets and provide appropriate division of work.

The risk is of course to consider that each particular performer may seem easily interchangable. The translator is only the one who replaces words in an online translation tool, row by row. And often the translation agency's idea of quality control is to write detailed ad-hoc generated 10 page instructions hoping that they make sense despite inconsistencies and occasional instruction to disregard them all altogether.

As you can guess, my idea of a successful and thriving translator is the one who is specialized in certain field(s) and updates their skills regularly and is aware of the latest developments, e.g., in regards to terminology or legal aspects.

Often it means telling business managers that we cannot do what they want, like telling them that this project cannot be done on cheap, or that this online tool where a translator have to wait 5 seconds to go to the next row is not adequate job environment, or that implementation of QA procedures will not solve the problem of using unqualified (but cheap translator), or that using MT will lead to disaster.

Our voices will not be heard without proper professional representation. And even with a strong professional association it might be a herculean task. The exemplary case we should all study is Boeing 787 MAX fiasco. Yesterday the boss of Boeing finally admitted that they had dropped the ball but only after the death of several hundred of passengers and loss of billions of dollars and several month long denials that they had done anything wrong. This has also damaged the trust in FAA who despite previous reports by pilots and engineers missed the chance to take action. But for those who did warn, there was no other choice as continue doing what they were doing because sooner or later the issue revealed itself.

I think that a professional association would be the best deal for translators to deal with the aftermath when the MT bubble has burst.
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Dylan Jan Hartmann
Florian Stauber
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Interesting analysis May 31

Hi Kaspar

That's a very thorough and thoughtful analysis. However, for me it still offloads most of the responsibility on to other people, whether agencies, or professional bodies, or the "industry". Of course all those play a part, and could, in an ideal world, play an even more proactive role, but it still comes down to our own decisions and approach at the end of the day...


 

The Misha
Local time: 09:17
Russian to English
+ ...
Are you sure your name is not Karl Marx? May 31

Katalin Szilárd wrote:

Andrew Morris wrote:

Do the best translators always end up with the most clients, the most work, ...?


No, because recently there is an artificially built trend/hype and nowadays many best translators with business skills need to fight against the greed and cartels of all companies and monopolies that are acting as leaches on freelance translators. Translators need to fight against greed and cartels of translation companies that want huge profits in the expense of translators, against greed and cartels of all other companies that want to intervene into every single aspect of translation businesses and this way making money out from these.

Business can be done ethically. But some people and companies do not learn.



If it is, well, hello, Karl:)


 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:17
German to English
+ ...
Starting with the definition of "to thrive" Jun 1

Andrew Morris wrote:

Ok here's a rough spontaneous definition:

Have enough money coming in to lead the life that makes you happy
Have enough clients to be able to choose texts that you enjoy (and either reject or outsource the rest)
Have enough time to breathe, not to be translating all day every day without a break
Have the freedom to make more general choices about when, how and with whom to work
Feel generally satisfied with where you are professionally and personally...

and I'm also looking at a later comment:

... I've come across many people (including here) who dismiss all that, and insist that it's just the pristine quality of your work that counts...


Thriving to me means that I am earning enough to be able to support myself and my family,and beyond that. It also means quality of life. If you are working 12 - 14 hour days for low fees, then those earnings are not sufficient compensation. I think I have reached that.

However - "pristine quality of work" ... taking away the silliness that the word "pristine" suggests - but professional quality, reliability, etc., which has to be coupled with know-how - that is in fact center stage. Business sense: knowing how to discuss a project with a client, get the pertinent information, plan your time, keep track of invoices, expenses, etc., that is still within the professional sphere of things.

But now, within that list, I do not include choosing texts that I enjoy translating, or with whom I work. I read a lot about "ideal clients". I choose texts that I am able to do, to quality, and some of those texts are quite boring. If you cherry pick texts for being interesting and enjoyable, then you are limiting your income. As a translator I meet needs, and people's needs are not always interesting or fun. So this one attribute to me is almost like an anti-thrive, or could be.

For what stops people. I see folks jumping in before knowing how to translate. Another thing may be not daring to know your own worth, and the worth of your work. Certainly I was guilty of that for a long time. It seems almost impolite to ask for money.


Kay Denney
missdutch
 

Jan Truper  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:17
English to German
+ ...
... Jun 1

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

For what stops people. ... Another thing may be not daring to know your own worth, and the worth of your work. ... It seems almost impolite to ask for money.


I think this is one of the biggest factors, and it has far-reaching implications.
Translators who sell their work short are not only undermining themselves, but also keep other translators from thriving.

[Edited at 2019-06-01 06:20 GMT]


Andrew Morris
Elena Aclasto
Barbara Sickor
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Cherry on the cake Jun 1

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

But now, within that list, I do not include choosing texts that I enjoy translating, or with whom I work. I read a lot about "ideal clients". I choose texts that I am able to do, to quality, and some of those texts are quite boring. If you cherry pick texts for being interesting and enjoyable, then you are limiting your income. As a translator I meet needs, and people's needs are not always interesting or fun. So this one attribute to me is almost like an anti-thrive, or could be.


Unless you outsource of course, in which case you cherry pick for yourself and find people who are perfectly happy to do the texts on tubewells, terms and conditions, or termites, that you don't fancy doing. That way you both meet your clients' needs AND avoid doing work that bores you...


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:17
Member (2018)
French to English
termites Jun 1

Andrew Morris wrote:

termites


Termites???
If you have texts on termites, I'd accept, I'm pretty sure they must be absolutely fascinating. Remembering the role of the woodworm in Julian Barnes' History of the world in 10 and a half chapters (or was it 9?)


Elizabeth Tamblin
missdutch
Jennifer Forbes
 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:17
German to English
+ ...
The point I was trying to make (Andrew) Jun 1

Andrew Morris wrote:

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

But now, within that list, I do not include choosing texts that I enjoy translating, or with whom I work. I read a lot about "ideal clients". I choose texts that I am able to do, to quality, and some of those texts are quite boring. If you cherry pick texts for being interesting and enjoyable, then you are limiting your income. As a translator I meet needs, and people's needs are not always interesting or fun. So this one attribute to me is almost like an anti-thrive, or could be.


Unless you outsource of course, in which case you cherry pick for yourself and find people who are perfectly happy to do the texts on tubewells, terms and conditions, or termites, that you don't fancy doing. That way you both meet your clients' needs AND avoid doing work that bores you...

We were discussing "thriving" - i.e. what it takes to do well in translation so that you can earn a sufficient amount of money to support yourself, your family, and a bit more. I believe that one essential component, beyond the competence already mentioned, is that are willing to do the work that is out there, where there is a need to be met. We see starry-eyed hopefuls dreaming of translating fascinating works of literature, and one can already predict that they probably won't make it. If you roll up your sleeves and do the work that needs to be done, which you are capable of doing, then you will have customers and and income.

That's the context I am writing in, and it seems a fairly important factor.


Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Kevin Fulton
missdutch
Jennifer Forbes
Teresa Borges
Barbara Sickor
Dylan Jan Hartmann
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:17
Member (2018)
French to English
. Jun 1

Andrew Morris wrote:

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

But now, within that list, I do not include choosing texts that I enjoy translating, or with whom I work. I read a lot about "ideal clients". I choose texts that I am able to do, to quality, and some of those texts are quite boring. If you cherry pick texts for being interesting and enjoyable, then you are limiting your income. As a translator I meet needs, and people's needs are not always interesting or fun. So this one attribute to me is almost like an anti-thrive, or could be.


Unless you outsource of course, in which case you cherry pick for yourself and find people who are perfectly happy to do the texts on tubewells, terms and conditions, or termites, that you don't fancy doing. That way you both meet your clients' needs AND avoid doing work that bores you...


Some of us find outsourcing and managing projects really boring too!


Kay-Viktor Stegemann
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Floor "in-between" standards: Price is not Value Jun 1

 Like altiloquency and ethics cannot hide the naked truth the strong (physically and/or mentally) still eats the weak, no soft and hard skills could change the game rules made up by middlemen abusing "buy lower, sell higher".

 While professional and business (including self/re/presentation) skills are very important, prioritizing a nice package (attracting/hooking) over the service (translation) is... a wrong way round.

 However, I happen to know a few high-f
... See more
 Like altiloquency and ethics cannot hide the naked truth the strong (physically and/or mentally) still eats the weak, no soft and hard skills could change the game rules made up by middlemen abusing "buy lower, sell higher".

 While professional and business (including self/re/presentation) skills are very important, prioritizing a nice package (attracting/hooking) over the service (translation) is... a wrong way round.

 However, I happen to know a few high-fliers going their own ways ($0.20+/word, no "discounts" nor weird-o-funny terms), so it's pretty amendable.
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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:17
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
@Andrew - Freelance vs. agency Jun 2

Andrew Morris wrote:

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

But now, within that list, I do not include choosing texts that I enjoy translating, or with whom I work. I read a lot about "ideal clients". I choose texts that I am able to do, to quality, and some of those texts are quite boring. If you cherry pick texts for being interesting and enjoyable, then you are limiting your income. As a translator I meet needs, and people's needs are not always interesting or fun. So this one attribute to me is almost like an anti-thrive, or could be.


Unless you outsource of course, in which case you cherry pick for yourself and find people who are perfectly happy to do the texts on tubewells, terms and conditions, or termites, that you don't fancy doing. That way you both meet your clients' needs AND avoid doing work that bores you...


I understand what you are saying, but the context of your OP and the posts so far was freelance translation, individual translators, not outsourcers (agencies). At least this was my - and from the responses I think everybody's - understanding.

So, I don't think being able (or even wanting) to cherry pick is necessary part of the criteria to consider someone successful.

In fact, being too picky might prevent one from learning new skills. I have had a few jobs that looked way too complicated due to formatting and client glossary requirements, and I accepted with great reluctance (only because it was an established client and I did not want to hurt the relationship). There were challenges, but at the end, it turned out to be a great experience as I figured out a few shortcuts and tricks in Adobe, Wordfast and MS Word, that I would not have learned otherwise. Because I was sort of forced to take on a project that I otherwise would not have picked, I was forced to look things up, ask colleagues, and as a result I learned new things that now I can use in other projects to be more efficient.

To me, being successful includes having the inner drive to learn new things.

Edited to include paragraph breaks - it seems they were eaten by my browser at the first time.

[Edited at 2019-06-02 02:56 GMT]


Andrew Morris
missdutch
 
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