The Linguist

The Linguist 56,6 – December 2017/January 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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22 The Linguist Vol/56 No/6 2017 FEATURES How to make a decent living from low rates. Michelle Deeter enters the controversial market of quick 'overview'-style translations I work from Chinese into English and find that my per-word rate is always being pushed down. It's a race to the bottom, especially when there are so many people who can provide a translation for a little bit less. But rather than sit and complain to anyone who will listen, I'm starting to calculate my rate on a per-hour basis. I always take a look at the job first: if it seems straightforward I can accept a lower rate; if it looks challenging, I try to negotiate a better rate or I walk away from the job. I'm the kind of person who finishes her exam ten minutes before time is up. I enjoy the thrill of running my pencil across the page and doing the briefest check that I didn't miss anything. Being able to achieve a top score in a timed environment improved my university options, and I am using that skill now to meet translation deadlines. In my experience, clients expect you to answer emails within the hour and to start on a job as soon as you accept it. When the client has a contract or an important document to translate, this model spells disaster. Haste makes waste, and not having time to do a careful review increases the likelihood of errors large and small. But not all jobs are important documents. Sometimes the client needs a general understanding of what's going on and doesn't need every last detail. My example is marketing surveys. While the client wants an accurate translation, it does not have to be laser-accurate. The document will be used for one purpose, and it will not be published externally. The client wants to check whether the customer enjoyed their ice-cream and how aware they are of other ice-cream brands. Missing a comma, or even skipping an entire word, is not going to cause problems. I get these marketing survey jobs from an online platform that pays poorly but works efficiently. I get a chance to look at the jobs before accepting them and the deadline is automatically set by the website. I like these jobs because I can finish them in under an hour and earn a very good hourly rate. Since I don't have to email a project manager back and forth, I save a lot of administrative time. And I don't have to worry about losing clients if I turn work down, as I know someone else in the pool of translators will take it if I don't. Useful techniques Using market research surveys as an example, I will explain some of the techniques I use to finish snippets of text as quickly as I can. One of the key techniques is educated guessing. In nearly five years of doing this type of work, I have never been given the original questions for the surveys, so when the respondent gives a short answer I don't always have sufficient context to understand. However, because I have completed such surveys before, I can leverage that knowledge to translate well. Speed translating IMAGES © SHUTTERSTOCK

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