[quote=“ironlady”]Even if it’s a big or specialized job, there is always the danger (frequently! really!) that Translator A, an English native speaker, does a sample, which Unscrupulous Agency B then sends to their client. The client loves the work, of course; then Agency B gives the job to a lower-paid, often non-native-English speaking translator. Translator A, meanwhile has done a free sample which has gained a big contract for Agency B, but obtained nothing for himself.
I find that the agencies (Iris, I don’t think I’ve worked with you, so don’t take this to mean yours! ) that demand samples are often insecure. Few have any principled way of evaluating them; they are compared to some piece of ancient Xeroxed text knocking about in the office. Many years ago I was once asked to do a sample, which I did; the client then sent back the “answer key” and asked me if I thought it was a good translation. The problem was that looking at the “answer key”, it was obvious that the sample I’d been sent was a translation of the key, so I was doing a back-translation of a rather sketchy translation. In these situations, the hoary maxim “run, don’t walk” usually holds.[/quote]
I don’t know whether you’d consider our way of evaluating the trial translation as “principled”. We don’t have a fixed “answer key”, I just have somebody in the office who knows the subject well enough to point out relevant mistakes. It’s harder to judge a text when you just feel uncomfortable with the style but can’t explain why. I personally think judging a translation is the hardest thing to do (mind you, big part of my university graduation was based on exams consisting in written translation, and of course, I did worse than during the whole xx years of studying), and we usually don’t turn a translator down just because we don’t like his style. But if there are technical mistakes, or if the translator clearly left out things because he/she wasn’t working thoroughly, this is a reason to turn him down.
If we show a customer a trial translation for free, this has either been done in-house, or the freelance translator has been paid. We don’t ask translators to do trial translations that we show to customers without paying the translator. And if the translator is good and we get the job, of course, we will chose the translator based on whose translation we got the job. But we will always have a second person to proofread the text and double-check it. Unfortunately, this scheme of quality assessment obviously involves higher translation prices which puts us in a not too good position when we try to convince Taiwanese customers of our service, as they are used to the local cheap and quick translation services. So we do not profit from the low-price, low quality scheme either (please tell me if this sounds too hillarious!).
Also, we don’t employ translators to do translations into anything else than their mother tongue. And up to now, we exclusively do translations into Chinese, not the other way round. So the chance of you working for us are rather small, I’m afraid What are your fields of expert?
[quote=“ironlady”]BTW, as for the ProZ link, in my experience it’s nothing more than a price-cutting mechanism. I personally refuse to shell out US$120 per year to bid against people who are not qualified translators and who are offering US$0.02 per word to do patent translations into English. It might be interesting to see what’s going on, but for real work…?
Just as agencies have to find quality translators, translators have to find quality clients.[/quote]
We haven’t really worked with ProZ link yet, as we are busy with different stuff. I just get all these emails advertising projects, and some of them looked really interesting. I don’t like this bidding thing, either. But I thought it might be an interesting platform for agencies to find freelancers and freelancers to find agents. If you’re a freelancer and you have your own clients, wow, I guess, you’re lucky. We will probably always need reliable freelancers for the translations and try to do the proofreading in-house.
Apart from that, translation isn’t really complicated, I like it a lot and always wanted to do it (though in my present position, I don’t do the translations myself). I just think you make your life as a translator a little easier if you stick to thorough work which includes realistic time schedules, double-checking everything and consistent work through research and the use of terminology databases. And though I know that due to the real situation, this is often impossible, I really hope that I and my employees can keep this up and still have satisfactory and successful cooperation (gosh, I sound like the boss I never wanted to become )
But still, I’m thankful for any kinds of hints!