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There's an inflation crisis, and it's much worse than we thought!
Thread poster: Bryan Crumpler

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:56
German to English
+ ...
two issues Jul 12

One is about rising costs, expensive things like healthcare (in that country). The other is about whether translation as a profession has a future, and here there is a report talking about what we charge, which may not be what we charge. These reports tend to look at "big players" - companies, etc. - and not at the freelancers who are invisible to them. At best, they get told by the big players what they think we accept to be paid by them, while they may not be our customers.

One
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One is about rising costs, expensive things like healthcare (in that country). The other is about whether translation as a profession has a future, and here there is a report talking about what we charge, which may not be what we charge. These reports tend to look at "big players" - companies, etc. - and not at the freelancers who are invisible to them. At best, they get told by the big players what they think we accept to be paid by them, while they may not be our customers.

One issue is inflation, costs of things, etc. The other is about translation.
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Bryan Crumpler  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:56
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
??????? Jul 13

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

These reports tend to look at "big players" - companies, etc. - and not at the freelancers who are invisible to them. At best, they get told by the big players what they think we accept to be paid by them, while they may not be our customers.


You should probably at least read the 1st page of the CSA's LSM reports, Maxi. Lol.

2017: 18500 "suppliers" were surveyed. This term is separate from the ISV and LSP classification designated to companies of 2 or more employees.

In 2018: it was over 18000.


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
It is only the tip of the more efficient evisceration iceberg: become better or disappear Jul 14

@Maxi, I'm sure that there's no such thing as an independent freelancer, because virtually they are a mere outstaffing/outsourcing for mid and big companies you mentioned. At least it explains to me lots of unbelievable things no sensible freelancer would agree with (for example, under $0.0125/word NET after 60+ days??? I won't buy that!)

Business-wise, I believe if one is not ready to constantly risk and fight for the business, then he'd rather not start brawling at a
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@Maxi, I'm sure that there's no such thing as an independent freelancer, because virtually they are a mere outstaffing/outsourcing for mid and big companies you mentioned. At least it explains to me lots of unbelievable things no sensible freelancer would agree with (for example, under $0.0125/word NET after 60+ days??? I won't buy that!)

Business-wise, I believe if one is not ready to constantly risk and fight for the business, then he'd rather not start brawling at all. The same goes about one's interests and life: if you're not ready to protect it--for what it's worth--you have already left it for somebody else firm of purpose.


@Bryan, while you may try Benelux, Singapore, Switzerland, or some other Edens, the picture is still rather depressing and distressing.

As a looker-on, I see the game like this: More and more tired bottom-feeders (victims) discontentedly point to the "lush green" and demand better terms, forgetting their shepherds (predators) are to free silently those beautiful pastures from very such sheep... The whole point is the herdsmen do realize when the job is done, they will also have to go somehow--but prefer to be shepherds. A rather cold comfort, though.

 Hopefully, things will sort themselves out; yet God helps those who help themselves 

IMO
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Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:56
German to English
+ ...
answering DZiW Jul 14

DZiW wrote:

@Maxi, I'm sure that there's no such thing as an independent freelancer, because virtually they are a mere outstaffing/outsourcing for mid and big companies you mentioned. At least it explains to me lots of unbelievable things no sensible freelancer would agree with (for example, under $0.0125/word NET after 60+ days??? I won't buy that!)

Business-wise, I believe if one is not ready to constantly risk and fight for the business, then he'd rather not start brawling at all. The same goes about one's interests and life: if you're not ready to protect it--for what it's worth--you have already left it for somebody else firm of purpose.

IMO


My clients consist of agencies that all seem to be small, manned by knowledgeable PMs who expect professionalism and independence as a matter of course, and end clients. It's probably 50/50 or 50/60 by now. I charge the same fee, since I provide the same service, with the same amount of work and care. That is based on a minimum of $0.18 for German, and $0.16 for French (both to English), which is sort of equivalent if you convert to a per-target fee. When a client contacts me, I examine the text, state whether I can (will) do it, what my fee for the project is, and by when it can be done. Is this - or is this not - independent?

I don't do much "fighting". I state my fees and policies. The customer either accepts it and we do business, or they don't and we each go on with our respective days. Clearly the fact that I'm writing here about these things suggest that I am doing some "fighting for" .... at least to give another side to prevailing views.

I would suspect that places that include some type of job platforms with chances to bid for work (negative auction probably going on) may have a disproportionate number of translators who accept things that you and I would find unacceptable. It is all the more important, then, to hold up the vision that there are other possibilities. There are other sides to this, such as competence in your field, having something to offer that the client is willing to pay for, and the whole tricky client relations - marketing - etc. side.


DZiW
Kevin Fulton
John Fossey
Rita Pang
Liviu-Lee Roth
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
independent == self-sufficient (economically too) Jul 15

Maxi, I see it in a little broader sense: if unlike most others you (1) know your* trade, (2) know how to run your* biz, (3) know your* absolute bottom, (4) have a strong position, and (5) ready to reject poor offers or just walk away, then you're an independent businesslady, of course)

Meanwhile, the trade infested with profiteers and scavengers is badly diluted with doomed and undereducated bottom-feeders who are sucked down, spoiling the image, dumping the rates, and wat
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Maxi, I see it in a little broader sense: if unlike most others you (1) know your* trade, (2) know how to run your* biz, (3) know your* absolute bottom, (4) have a strong position, and (5) ready to reject poor offers or just walk away, then you're an independent businesslady, of course)

Meanwhile, the trade infested with profiteers and scavengers is badly diluted with doomed and undereducated bottom-feeders who are sucked down, spoiling the image, dumping the rates, and watering any good career prospects. The strong always safely ignores his ground--the needy.
 However, it's but a reduced image, a smoke reflection of the business trends in general; just a fraction.

Perhaps, I'm also a bit too over-pessimistic)
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Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:56
German to English
+ ...
OSPish Jul 15

(OSP is a term a friend and I invented, meaning On the Same Page)
DZiW wrote:

Maxi, I see it in a little broader sense: if unlike most others you (1) know your* trade, (2) know how to run your* biz, (3) know your* absolute bottom, (4) have a strong position, and (5) ready to reject poor offers or just walk away, then you're an independent businesslady, of course)

So we're probably mostly on the same page.

However, for point 5 - I don't see it in terms of "offers". The fee is mine to quote. When you walk into a store to buy apples, you don't "offer" a price - you pay the price which the storekeeper tells you. The language we often see is so wrong. There is talk of "applications" by translators, and forms to fill out to join someone's "team". Um? You are asking me for my services.

The negatives also exist. And it's not a pretty sight.


Chris S
Olavo Nogueira
Daryo
 

dkfmmuc  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:56
German to English
+ ...
Just a thank you for opening this great thread Jul 15

Dear Bryan,
dear community,

I just would like to thank Bryan and nearly all of you for this great thread. It is too rare thet colleagues are addressing the challenges of a profession in such an open and direct way.

Therefore this is one of the boldest contributions I have ever seen.

From the local "German" perspective I would agree with all tendencies stated. Only the percantages/numbers of inflation etc. are slightly different.

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Dear Bryan,
dear community,

I just would like to thank Bryan and nearly all of you for this great thread. It is too rare thet colleagues are addressing the challenges of a profession in such an open and direct way.

Therefore this is one of the boldest contributions I have ever seen.

From the local "German" perspective I would agree with all tendencies stated. Only the percantages/numbers of inflation etc. are slightly different.

The only bitter aftertastes are delivered by especially one "naysayer" who is trying to whitewash the actual developments.

To summarize it: 100 % agree for this thread and thank you to Bryan.

Best regards

Gerd

[Edited at 2019-07-15 11:40 GMT]
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Kaspars Melkis
JPAlex
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
A quick debunk Jul 15

Sorry to be a dog with a bone but it's not often I'm vilified in this way.

Bryan Crumpler wrote:
You should probably at least read the 1st page of the CSA's LSM reports, Maxi. Lol.

2017: 18500 "suppliers" were surveyed. This term is separate from the ISV and LSP classification designated to companies of 2 or more employees.

I did read the first page, lol. It states explicitly that they surveyed 18,500 LSPs, defined as having two or more employees. Freelancers are excluded.

There are loads of reasons why a reported drop in rates charged by LSPs cannot be equated with a decrease in the rates charged by freelancers.

Note also that CSA is a small research agency that makes its money providing data to LSPs and major translation buyers, so its methods and conclusions may well be coloured by their specific agenda.

Bryan Crumpler wrote:
Also, just to note, the 56% is merely an average of these "selected" goods and services.
If you exclude items that weigh that average down (toys, TVs, etc), and chart rate trends along the same graph (separate from "average" wage trends), you see a much bigger gap. If you include every line item the BLS uses that contribute to the CPI data, that gap reduces to the reported rate of 2.15%. Just looking at the healthcare issue alone, we can see from the AEI chart that hospital care alone is 100X that.

You've read that wrong. 56% is the increase in the overall CPI, not the average for the selected goods and services.

2.15% is the average annual increase in the CPI over the 20-year period. 56% is the total increase in the CPI over the period.

Hospital care prices have risen by 200%, which is thus 4 times average inflation, not 100 times average inflation.

The AEI chart was intended to illustrate the impact of globalisation/free markets, not the true cost of living. The rising cost of college textbooks, for example, has no bearing on a translator's living costs. Any application of the chart to translators' living costs is purely speculative.

Bryan Crumpler wrote:
So, for the sake of averages, the simple way to estimate rate increases to cover the gap in relationship to the AEI chart is reduce the window along the X axis to 2019, assume -50% as a baseline for whatever your current rates are (I gave 8 cents as an example) and then scan the domain (the Y axis) up to the 56% line drawn for the current inflation rate. That difference, based on these 2 data points, is 106% (or 56% minus negative 50%). The multiplier, thus, is ((0.56+0.5)+1) or 2.06.

The -50% starting point is still unexplained and, to my mind, illogical.

So while it may be true that average freelance translation rates have not kept up with inflation, there is no evidence for this in the data presented, nor for the claim that a career in freelance translation is an impossibility.



[Edited at 2019-07-15 09:34 GMT]


John Fossey
 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member because it was not in line with site rule

LIZ LI
China
Local time: 07:56
Member (2008)
French to Chinese
+ ...
When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade Jul 15

I hope you don't my speaking here as someone irrelevant to this topic as a non US person, nor having American clientele (at least for direct clients). But when you talk about inflation crisis, it will eventually become something global no matter how.

Instead of trying to label with a "WRONG", I'd prefer to get what's right out of all.

It's incontestable that the ongoing trends of our industry will become a huge concern for some of our peers, especially those new to th
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I hope you don't my speaking here as someone irrelevant to this topic as a non US person, nor having American clientele (at least for direct clients). But when you talk about inflation crisis, it will eventually become something global no matter how.

Instead of trying to label with a "WRONG", I'd prefer to get what's right out of all.

It's incontestable that the ongoing trends of our industry will become a huge concern for some of our peers, especially those new to this profession. Regardless of the real rate change during the last decade, we may not be able to deny that the market becomes more and more competitive ever since. Thus, in order to be professionally and financially secured, every one is free to go for diversification or alternatives, or NOT.

Nowadays everyone drives, but there are still some who live their life as a driver.
Those who stood against this report, they may be racers in life and they drive for a different "living" standard. So it's somehow logic that they don't know how difficult it may be, to be a bus driver for instance.

My prediction to this upcoming trend (sorry but I don't want to describe it as a crisis) is, there will be a lot less young students who choose to be involved in translation related courses as well as professions like we do. After all, translation never dies, translators DO.
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Bryan Crumpler
 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 19:56
Romanian to English
+ ...
beg to disagree Jul 15

Document translators living in the USA really can't compete on the online global marketplace when there are significant numbers of people on the internet willing to work for 4-5 cents a word for whatever reason (low cost of living, strapped for cash, trying to gain experience, passing off MT as HT, whatever). Automation, AI, and changing attitudes toward MT are just another driving force that drags against necessary rate increases to account for inflation in specific areas of basic need.
<
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Document translators living in the USA really can't compete on the online global marketplace when there are significant numbers of people on the internet willing to work for 4-5 cents a word for whatever reason (low cost of living, strapped for cash, trying to gain experience, passing off MT as HT, whatever). Automation, AI, and changing attitudes toward MT are just another driving force that drags against necessary rate increases to account for inflation in specific areas of basic need.

Thanks again for your input. [/quote]



I have been in the business of "document translation" for the past 20 years, and I have noticed a significant INCREASE in work and compensation. The well documented research does not take into account different specialized niches that flourish. In the US, there is a great demand for legal document translations (Indictments, Extradition requests, etc) that cannot be done outside the US or by a non-US citizen. I am collecting SS and I would like to retire but the demand is so great that it would be dumb on my part to turn it down. Therefore, basically, I don't care about any research.
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IT>EN Legal
 

Bryan Crumpler  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:56
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
"Quick debunk" Jul 16

Chris S wrote:

Sorry to be a dog with a bone but it's not often I'm vilified in this way.

Bryan Crumpler wrote:
You should probably at least read the 1st page of the CSA's LSM reports, Maxi. Lol.

2017: 18500 "suppliers" were surveyed. This term is separate from the ISV and LSP classification designated to companies of 2 or more employees.

I did read the first page, lol. It states explicitly that they surveyed 18,500 LSPs, defined as having two or more employees. Freelancers are excluded.

There are loads of reasons why a reported drop in rates charged by LSPs cannot be equated with a decrease in the rates charged by freelancers.

Note also that CSA is a small research agency that makes its money providing data to LSPs and major translation buyers, so its methods and conclusions may well be coloured by their specific agenda.

Bryan Crumpler wrote:
Also, just to note, the 56% is merely an average of these "selected" goods and services.
If you exclude items that weigh that average down (toys, TVs, etc), and chart rate trends along the same graph (separate from "average" wage trends), you see a much bigger gap. If you include every line item the BLS uses that contribute to the CPI data, that gap reduces to the reported rate of 2.15%. Just looking at the healthcare issue alone, we can see from the AEI chart that hospital care alone is 100X that.

You've read that wrong. 56% is the increase in the overall CPI, not the average for the selected goods and services.

2.15% is the average annual increase in the CPI over the 20-year period. 56% is the total increase in the CPI over the period.

Hospital care prices have risen by 200%, which is thus 4 times average inflation, not 100 times average inflation.

The AEI chart was intended to illustrate the impact of globalisation/free markets, not the true cost of living. The rising cost of college textbooks, for example, has no bearing on a translator's living costs. Any application of the chart to translators' living costs is purely speculative.

Bryan Crumpler wrote:
So, for the sake of averages, the simple way to estimate rate increases to cover the gap in relationship to the AEI chart is reduce the window along the X axis to 2019, assume -50% as a baseline for whatever your current rates are (I gave 8 cents as an example) and then scan the domain (the Y axis) up to the 56% line drawn for the current inflation rate. That difference, based on these 2 data points, is 106% (or 56% minus negative 50%). The multiplier, thus, is ((0.56+0.5)+1) or 2.06.

The -50% starting point is still unexplained and, to my mind, illogical.

So while it may be true that average freelance translation rates have not kept up with inflation, there is no evidence for this in the data presented, nor for the claim that a career in freelance translation is an impossibility.





If you really believe you can quickly debunk expert, peer reviewed research, of dozens of PhDs putting out advisories that have withstood the tests of rigor, then you can't be helped.

All the information is sourced and documented. I have made that clear. I am not here to rewrite the book here on ProZ, nor do I think being disagreeable from a place of ignorance holds any value. It's fine to have an opinion, but we are presenting facts... none of which you have to offer. If it took 20 years to gather and present those facts, you aren't going to "debunk" it in a few ProZ forum posts, especially when you try to use plus signs to do multiplication.

That said, I'm not addressing any more commentary like this. It is disrespectful of my time and shows an overwhelming lack of gratitude for those who have put in the work to make these assessments for the betterment of the industry and informing our fellow peers of next steps to take to thrive in the industry.

Read more, listen more, talk less.


mughwI
 

Bryan Crumpler  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:56
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Case in point Jul 16

Liviu-Lee Roth wrote:

I have been in the business of "document translation" for the past 20 years, and I have noticed a significant INCREASE in work and compensation. The well documented research does not take into account different specialized niches that flourish. In the US, there is a great demand for legal document translations (Indictments, Extradition requests, etc) that cannot be done outside the US or by a non-US citizen. I am collecting SS and I would like to retire but the demand is so great that it would be dumb on my part to turn it down. Therefore, basically, I don't care about any research.


Mr. Roth ^^ begs to disagree with the recorded rate & wage trends, and his response is a perfect example of what it means to be disagreeable for the sake of being disagreeable.

Per my original post:


In short: on account of rate trends online and drastic inflation, foreign language professionals in the United States urgently need to shift their career focus away from document translation, especially via businesses over the Internet, and begin engaging in (more lucrative) offline services that are restricted to and, thus, pay according to their local markets. If not leaving the industry entirely for more realistically paid jobs, these services may often include on-site interpretation, language training sessions, language and accent coaching for the film & television industry, and certified/qualified translations or interpretations for courts, immigration & other government regulated services.


Read.


mughwI
Liviu-Lee Roth
 

Rita Pang  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:56
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
Thank you, and quick note Jul 16

Bryan Crumpler wrote:

Liviu-Lee Roth wrote:

I have been in the business of "document translation" for the past 20 years, and I have noticed a significant INCREASE in work and compensation. The well documented research does not take into account different specialized niches that flourish. In the US, there is a great demand for legal document translations (Indictments, Extradition requests, etc) that cannot be done outside the US or by a non-US citizen. I am collecting SS and I would like to retire but the demand is so great that it would be dumb on my part to turn it down. Therefore, basically, I don't care about any research.


Mr. Roth ^^ begs to disagree with the recorded rate & wage trends, and his response is a perfect example of what it means to be disagreeable for the sake of being disagreeable.

Per my original post:


In short: on account of rate trends online and drastic inflation, foreign language professionals in the United States urgently need to shift their career focus away from document translation, especially via businesses over the Internet, and begin engaging in (more lucrative) offline services that are restricted to and, thus, pay according to their local markets. If not leaving the industry entirely for more realistically paid jobs, these services may often include on-site interpretation, language training sessions, language and accent coaching for the film & television industry, and certified/qualified translations or interpretations for courts, immigration & other government regulated services.


Read.


Bryan,

Thank you for starting a thread that is no doubt on many's minds and as someone else before has said, I likewise appreciate the boldness to the approach of your discussion. Yes, the future may be bleak, and it's important to talk about it - if not at least be alert about it.

That being said, kindly please take into consideration the tone of your posts. Colleagues participating in this discussion come from different economic realities and could be having very different experiences, so this does not mean that a differing perspective from yours is necessarily unrealistic. In my experience of working with English/Chinese "documentation translation", indeed the bottom feeders are struggling but not at all for the top translators. There's no need for any of us to be condescending about another person's observations. Thank you.

[Edited at 2019-07-16 18:28 GMT]


Richard Purdom
John Fossey
 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 19:56
Romanian to English
+ ...
Thank you Bryan, Jul 16

You are right! I did not read the last paragraph of the research. Now, after I read it, I am so proud of myself for being ahead of the curve when I shifted 20 years ago, at a time when there were no researches available in this field.

Best,
lee


 
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