Lost in Translation

A few weeks ago I called up about a freelance translating job for a local promotional magazine. They sent me two passages, one in each language, and I did the Chinese-English one and sent it back: (my translation at the bottom.)

From: “Livia Chang” livia@taiwanbun.com
To: liz stoneman @ hotmail.com
Subject: from Direction Magazine
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2004 13:28:50 +0800

Hi, Elizabeth

I recieved your resume, sorry for reply late, becuase we are very busy lately.
here got 2 paragraphs , can you translate both for me? for a try, thanks

Hope yoou a nice day

Livia (Direction)

Denver is a classic pub that has been serving up great times for customers since the early 1990’s. As expected, there is lots of wood, brick and atmosphere to be had - and an interesting ironwork railing. Located near the Science Museum and Caves, Denver is centrally located and easy to find.
Camera-shy, but attractive and photogenic, bartender AiWen introduces us to a power-packed mind-blower of a drink: the Bullet. With six different kinds of alcohol, this drink packs a whollop - a few of these will knock even the hardiest drinker off their perch. In spite of all that alcohol, the taste of the alcohol isn’t strong - it has an interesting tart flavour that is vaguely (and surprisingly) reminiscent of grapefruit.


愛心捐款請利用郵政劃撥帳號:01022760,戶名:「台灣世界展望會」,請註明:「統一星巴克助學行動」。相關資訊請洽:02-2585-6300,或上網至www.worldvision.org.tw 查詢,您也可利用服務信箱:pr@worldvision.org.tw 洽詢。

(the translation:)

“Will I see you again next semester, Ah-Nai?”
-Worldvision Taiwan and Starbucks Coffee work together raise money to support the education of 1500 indigenous children.
“Will I see you again next semester, Ah-Nai?” The fundraising iniative will be launched October 1 and run until December 31, 2004. All it takes is NT$2000 to keep one student in school next semester. Donations can be made at any Starbucks cafe or issued direct to World Vision: account number 01022760. Besides, Starbucks has this year specially prepared a range of both elegant and practical fundraising merchandise including coffee mugs (NT$100), stationery (NT$100), portable coffee flasks (NT$400), available to all.
Generous donators, please use postal-issue account number: 01022760, account name World Vision Taiwan, registration name “Starbucks Education Initiative”. For more information, call 02-2585-6300, enquire online at pr@worldvision.org.tw.

If you have this month’s issue handy, and have nothing better to do, turn to page 44.

In the above email, can anyone find where it says “You agree to let us use it in our next publication and agree to accept our pay rates, which are-----”?

I can’t.

But alas, there is my translation, silently waiting for the month to pass before it gets noticed by the person who did it for free.

On the phone with Livia today, what I gathered from most of the nonsense that she blurted out, was that yes, they will pay me, now that I have called up, at their rate of pay, which is $1/word, and that she told me what the rate of pay was when she asked me to do the trial. The subject of why it was used without my permission or knowledge in the first place seemed to be a rough spot that she preferred to avoid.

Business is business, no?


NT$1 a word? Screw that for a joke. That’s not even worth the effort.

Oh, and if I’m not mistaken, you do technically still own copyright on the translation, if you decide to… mess with them a little.

Oldest trick in the book. “Do this for us `as a trial’ and maybe we’ll hire you.”
But give them a break – at a dollar a word, they’d have a hell of a time getting anything translated at all if they weren’t dirty, cheating… er normal Taiwan businessmen. :wink:
Once bitten, twice shy. At least it wasn’t 40 pages you did for them. You should tell them to expect a lawyer’s letter from you in the near future. You should also tell them that your boyfriend Xiao Hei and his perm-haired mates are REALLY pissed that Livia made you, and by extension, them, lose face, and that they might be paying a personal visit to Livia’s offices to … er … “discuss” the issue – just like they did at the Next offices a few months back. She’ll know what you mean.

Never ever do a trial / test anything without getting paid the rate you expect to earn if hired.

All translators have a what is called a minimum fee which they receive for doing work under 250 words- that person should be aware of that if she’s ever used other translators before- I would demand a minimum at 500 NT- and that’s bloody low, as payment for yer translation.
Good luck.