The Language Connect “translation” agency in the U.K. recently put an ad in Translators Café, saying they are looking for a financial proofreader from English-UK to Belgian French on 3 different dates in the near future.

I spend time answering all their questions and attaching all my usual documents: service offer, detailed CV, price list, rebate list (we are in 2016 and we have to make do with extortion tools like so-called “CAT” & PEM(p)T software programmes), and my terms & conditions.

It’s only in the answer of some low-level and cheap secretary that I learn that I would not have to proofread a proper translation done by a professional translator (i.e. trained, experienced, tooled, etc) but a sort of translation draft produced by “the customer” (whoever that is: a dum secretary? a university-trained executive?).

When I ask her more questions about her “customer” and whether “the customer” guarantees his or her production of French technical terms, so that I would only have to correct that person’s style, grammar and spelling, I get not answer at all.

But the brainless secretary had already opted for my lowest revision rate, arguing that “normally” the translation “should be alright”…

This is why I had responded to her that I could not accept such possible blank lie and needed more details about the production of this possible piece of shit (which I did not name this way, but it was on my mind).

She had also written that she did not have the time to read my terms and conditions (which fit on less than an A4 page, with much blank space around short paragraphs which have clear titles, easy to skim through), so she boldly and frankly asked me whether I would accept to waive them.

Needless to say, I ended up sending her to hell.

In the meantime I had already spent an hour anonymising my CV and highlighting all my experience and knowledge in finance, at her request.

Plus the time spent at answering their Translators Café ad.

Plus the time spent on reading and writing emails – to the point that I could smell that administrative tasks were going to cost me too much time for an ill-paid job, for which I would have to block time in advance, thus possibly losing better paid jobs.

All that with a brainless secretary who had also pretended that she had not received my CV, but only a one-page document. My service offer fits on one page. But my detailed CV is 19 pages long (with a list of previous assignments and detailed studies) and it was sent the first time.

I mean, how can translation agencies appoint such cheap and time-stealing mistakes of nature? It is an insult to our intellectual profession per se!

CONCLUSION:

Anyway, I then realised that on top of trying to have translators “proofread” machine “translation”, we now also have to (“just”) “proofread” (i.e. possibly substantially re-write, at the price of revising) customers’ “translations”.

 

End customers have to LEARN that translation is a labour-intensive activity.

 

Intermediaries have to TEACH their customers that translation is a human capital-intensive activity – and that it will ALWAYS be like that, TILL THE END OF TIMES.

 

If a customer is so smart that he can produce a translation himself, he can also have a colleague proofread it, right?

 

Or the customer can produce a GLOSSARY of house jargon and technical terms that he wants used in the translation, and let the professionals work in peace, doing the actual translation (and possible revision).

 

I beg NON-TRANSLATING INTERMEDIARIES, who actually KNOW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT TRANSLATION, to stop trying to “find new ways of lowering translation prices”.

And to stop competing on price among non-translating intermediaries.

 

Translating intermediaries compete on quality.

Non-translating intermediaries compete on price and kill the market, thus DIGGING THEIR OWN GRAVE.

 

Piece of advice, free of charge.

 

Isabelle F. Brucher

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