Physicians' Volume Discounts for Removing More Organs?

A Certain Employer Recently Posted an Offer, Thus:

We are beginning a project processing Mandarin market reports from China into marketable English form.
[depends on how marketable you need them to be.]
The reports encompass a wide range of fields and markets, but are all technology-related.
[great…easy work…not!]
Reports are roughly 30,000 to 60,000 words (Chinese) or larger.
[Well, that’ll keep some people off the street for awhile. Let’s see, 30,000 words would be around 10 days work; 60K, 20 days.]
The first report is now ready for translation to English, and will serve as a test/sample case. About 30 more reports will be processed over the coming year.
It is hoped that the successful applicant will be available for full-time work following commencement of the project.
[Why not just hire somebody now and get them cheaper still?]
This work is case-based, and, as such, does not lend itself well to conventional translation means.
[That is, we’ve already talked to the agencies, and they’ve laughed in our faces about these rates.]
Our rate for translation is NT$25K~35K per case.
[Yup, here we go…a bountiful NT$1.16 per word in the best case…in the worst case listed here, NT$0.41 per word. We’ll take something close to the average and call it NT$0.9]

While this rate may appear low according to conventional “rate per word” standards, it should be appreciated that the volume of work can afford a more than acceptable level of remuneration for the right candidate.

[While it might seem strange that a translator still expects to be paid for having to translate “every word”… an increased volume of work does NOT lead to “more than acceptable levels of remuneration”…if that were so, then doctors don’t need to charge a lot per patient, just take more patients.]

Please do not respond with expectations of word-based rates.

[Wouldn’t dream of it. :unamused: ]

Sorry, everyone, but I’m sick and tired of people undercutting the translation market. Everyone wants the best quality, the fastest turnaround, the most elegant writing, the most accurate service, the most accomodation to client needs, format, and whatever else…but always, always, “Oh, that price is too high,” “Oh, we can only pay NT$0.6 per word”, “Oh, …” whatever.

And volume discounts – maybe for a total beginner, that might be OK, but those of us with regular clients find volumes of work a disadvantage – it might mean having to put off a regular client while getting a “large project” out (and that for the discounted rate these projects try to offer.)

If you’re trying to get your foot in the door, and you believe that the full-time potential is good (although I’d hate to think what the salary might look like…) then go for it. Me, I’m holding out for a wage at least equivalent to what native English speaking translators were being paid 5 or 6 years ago (NT$2), preferably with a signed contract for a “certain volume” of work. 30,000 words ain’t volume… :imp: :imp:

HA! I do believe CNA also put in a bid for that project. Funny, they didn’t get back to us, either. Schmucks. You know the worst thing though? They WILL find some twat or other who’ll agree to do it, but you can imagine what the quality will be like. So they’ll say: “See, we were right all along not to pay so much. Just look at the poor state of this translation! And to think, those other arrogant foreigners wanted four times as much!”

So what kind of people will (or did) take this job? Taiwanese students studying English in graduate school?

People wanting to break into the translation business. I know a guy who could make more teaching, but he does translation because it isn’t teaching. After studying Chinese for 2+ years they want to break into something where they have to use it. Also to some people that would look like a good deal. They would think. If I could do 3 cases in a month at $30,000 a case, then I could make $90,000 a month. They wouldn’t think of the problems that Ironlady explained(ranted and raved about).

Most people make the mistake that anything is worth not teaching after having to deal with a lousy Taiwanese buxiban laoban. They don’t realise that all Taiwanese laobans can be down right awful and incredibly cheap. I doubt most Taiwanese students studying English in graduate school here could even do this work. Two points to cut dwon on possible flames: 1 Not all Taiwanese bosses are bad, but they don’t have that reputation for nothing 2. Some Taiwanese English graduate students could do it.


:? Well … I’m a newbie translator, and while the project being discussed doesn’t appeal to me, I do think that I’d be willing to work for much less than NT$2 per word, if only to gain some experience. Of course, I 'd prefer not to undercut professional rates and take on unreasonable projects, but at the moment I don’t see what else an aspiring translator is to do.

I’ve previously asked for advice on breaking into translation on this forum, and despite receiving a few kind replies, little practical advice on developing translation skills and finding work at professional rates was among them. Why is that? Wouldn’t the above posts be more useful accompanied by constructive advice for new translators?

As for me, after a month enjoying a west coast Canadian summer :smiley: I’m coming back to an editing/transl. job with an educational consulting company whose piece-work rate works out to NT$0.5 and less. Because half my day is meant to be editing and this pays my rent and feed (just) – and because I’d rather not teach and don’t need a lot of money – while I think the rate’s a shame I can accept it until I develop enough experience to work my way into something better. Shrug. What else is there to do?

Your friendly neighborhood dentist does not fill teeth at half price until he thinks he “knows how to do it”.

To be a translator, first learn how to do it. On your own. For free. This means studying Chinese and probably living in a Chinese-speaking environment for at least a certain length of time. It means searching out translators’ organizations, Web sites, and the like. It might even mean (horror) taking courses or “shadowing” a professional in the field.

It also means doing stuff on your own, not for pay, at first – that is, take an article and translate it, then get somebody who knows, ply him/her with free coffee or the like, and get him/her to give you an honest opinion. This can be done by e-mail (guarantees a more honest opinion in some cases when the person is not likely to bump into you in a small circle like that of foreigners in Taiwan). Practice, in other words.

When you feel you are competent to at least the 30th percentile among NATIVE speaking translators in your language combination, then by all means, market yourself. You will not find very many translators who are going to help you market yourself – everyone has to do this on his own. Why are other translators going to hand you clients? They have worked to develop their guanxi and their sources, and unless someone is getting out of the field completely and has taken a real shine to you, no reason why they should help you to take over their business. The key to getting started is guanxi and being competent. All the books and courses on marketing apply equally well to translation. Just get out and do some research.

I’m sorry if this sounds hard, but one really does get tired of everyone thinking that it would be just ducky to be a translator, so can you help me get started? In any other profession, the answer would be, “That’s wonderful. First you’ll need a profesional qualification or commensurate education [here, not JUST in Chinese, but in translation – they are different. There are plenty of people who speak or read Chinese well but who can’t translate worth anything.] and then, of course, you’ll have checked out our professional organization…” etc. etc.

Taking cut-rate jobs will not endear you to the community of pros who are already working in the area, but it’s your call. Somebody will take the job, as a previous poster has pointed out. Probably I’d be voting for a university student, not even graduate school level. :wink: But think about this: you are trying to develop a professional practice, and much of translation work comes by referral and word of mouth. Once it is known that you work for cheap, you’ll find it very difficult to dispel the idea.

Just my NT$0.66, your mileage may vary.


Oh – yeah…one other thing occurs to me: when considering a career in translation, think hard about the fact that to make a reasonable living, you will have to be plunked down in front of that computer for a certain number of hours a day actually translating. This sounds stupid, I’m sure, but you’d be amazed at how many people have good language skills, etc. etc., but just can’t stand the concentrated effort it takes to turn out a good translation with no holes in it. A LOT of people just find that they don’t ENJOY translation. It’s very solitary, very detail-oriented, and, unless you are fast and accurate, not terribly well-paid in Taiwan.

I’ve been in the field for 15 years now, so I can do my “daily quota” in 3-4 hours, normally. “Normally” means no particularly challenging research to be done, no Taiwanese phrases stuck in the middle so that I’ve got to trot off and find somebody who speaks Taiwanese, etc. etc. ad nauseum. This allows me to earn the amount of money I have decided I want to earn. But to do that, I’m doing between 60,000 and 90,000 words per month, and the work doesn’t always fall from 9 to 5 (weekend and night work is common because of the insane deadlines imposed). Don’t forget that you also have no benefits, no sick leave, no paid time off. Work = money.

Don’t think that a full-time job will pay comparable piece rates. That’s why they hire people full-time. Most full-time people are folks who are more comfortable working that way for some reason: a) they get insurance/benefits; b) they are not that fast, so a salary comes out to give them a more reliable income; c) they don’t know how to market or are unwilling to invest in marketing, and this way they have the work without having to look for each project; d) they feel that kind of translation is less bothersome (only one boss to please, not a different boss for every project; usually there are company resources to use, etc.) Just as it’s fruitless to compare hourly rates for private students to hourly rates teaching in a buxiban, it is meaningless to compare hourly or per-piece rates on in-house translation to freelance work.

Well, lots of blathering but these are things that just occurred to me. They may or may not apply to your situation.