Where did your words end up? Do you know? Does it matter?

Where did your words end up? Do you know? Does it matter?

I am a member of an interesting group on LinkedIn, which largely relies on its input from translators who have a negative story to tell about the LSPs (Language Service Providers) they work for. Basically a story will start along the lines of “you won’t believe what XXX have asked me to do, and for how much….”.

Stories of jobs being offered to professional translators at as low as 3 or 4 cents per word are common. What strikes me when reading these posts is that the person or company who commissioned the work is usually unaware that this scramble is happening to get it done – at way below any decent translator’s minimum wage. I doubt that the original buyer is told that eventually her/his job will be shopped around for anyone who is desperate enough to take it. Often this comes from the original agency outsourcing to a sub agency and as we go down the line a slice is taken off the original fee per word for each handler, leaving very little for the person doing the job in the end.

Apart from the moral issues this brings up, it also raises the question of the quality you can expect from such a process. The sole criterion of getting stuff done at a ridiculously low price puts paid to any claim on a decent translation. You probably will get what you paid for…..even though you may have paid a lot more to begin with.

I have always recommended that buyers of translation and localisation services engage sufficiently with their vendors and partners to be aware of the path their files take. Where they will be translated and by whom are questions that must be asked and answered.

Iota uses exclusively in-country partners. Established translation companies we have worked with for years, who we know and trust. We have a path to the final translator. We know the source of our translated words. And they’re paid a fee that befits their profession and service.