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Jul 17, 2013

Tough times in the sty...

We are writing to advise you that The Pig Turd is to amend the fees it pays to translators. This will bring The Pig Turd into line with other large linguistic whorehouses that are servicing the needs of large Government and Corporate contracts. This has been driven by changes in the way that these organisations operate which has created a downward pressure on costs. Coupled with an increased cost of sales and significantly extended sales cycle, this has eroded margins to the point where the rates that we are currently paying you are not viable in this very competitive market place.

I would like to explain the efforts we put into generating business which creates work for you as one little cog in a wheel of 4,000 translators in more than 70 countries who slave at the wordface for us every month.

At present,
The Pig Turd employs 60 sales people worldwide who, as a group have to take 80 flights a month, and on average these martyrs to the Cause must spend 2-3 nights a week away from their families and homes, seeking whatever comfort and entertainment can be found with their fat expense accounts on lonely nights. We employ a further 50 people who recruit, interview and impose unpaid tests on wannabe linguists in order to maintain the known standard of our service. In addition, we monitor our global wordforce with more than 250 overseers from our 10 global offices who interfere between end customers and yourselves. We also have over 50 people working on our technology so that we can improve our internal efficiency or at least screw down costs and provide our executives with the state-of-the-art company vehicles and other perks they deserve, and that you need to represent your service to the world.

However, having said all of this, never before has our industry experienced such huge downward bowel pressure from both the private and public sector to reduce prices. This, of course, is not necessarily for their own profit but simply a reaction to the state of world economies. At
The Pig Turd we have endeavoured to keep our rates to the highest possible level whilst keeping your compensation in line, but your rates continue to impact the profitability of the company and the job satisfaction of those who live off your efforts. Therefore, with effect from Thursday 18th July,
The Pig Turd will reduce the rates paid by 15% in the hopes that profits can remain at record levels and our representatives can travel in style as they seek new words for you to mine. These rate changes are not retrospective but will apply to any new work received from Thursday 18th July 2013, though reductions in current projects as voluntary contributions to executive relief at The Pig Turd will be given due consideration in the priority assignment of future projects.


50 comments:

  1. My heart breaks for them. One more going down the drain. Oh, and BTW this made me laugh - hard. Thanks.

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  2. Hilarious!!! I am an up and coming translator and would like to know the identity of this "pig turd". Could you verraten it to mich? ;-)

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    1. poltergeist, looks very similar than the letter I just received form thebigword.... No futher hints given :-)

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  3. This is priceless, thank you for this witty rephrasing!

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  4. How brilliant is this!! Hit them where it hurts :)

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  5. @Poltergeist2012: Identity? This sort of thing has happened a number of times with the biggest losers which The Common Nonsense Advisory rates among the greatest in the industry. Take your pick. And if you read the reports of former employees at some of these places, don't be surprised if a whispered refrain of "dark, Satanic mills" comes into your head unbidden :-) We have too many Gordon Gekko wannabes hoping to let the likes of you eat grass.

    Meanwhile, normal LSPs try to get on with business treating their partners as one should if there is to be a future in the relationship.

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    1. Fantastic reply Kevin and perfect interpretation of the corporate emails some may have received.

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  6. Simply Amazing, as usual Kevin.

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  7. I'm getting old, and too often with old age, alas, comes diminished capacity of one's memory. I thought that this sounded a lot like the old Didierdate controversy at "Tigerford" that Miguel Llorens exposed so well, but actually it's three times the level of that incident. Back then the reduction humbly requested by a suffering service provider was only 5%.

    Those with a bit of awareness also know how such behavior is too often aided and abetted, at least implicitly, by PrAdZ and the Schreibtischtäter in its service. I nearly choked laughing when a post to the grass joke was rejected by one such on the grounds that it constituted advertising. I think I'll be posting that amusing love note after I get a little more work done.

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  8. poltergeist2012

    Hilarious!!! I am an up and coming translator and would like to know the identity of this "pig turd". Could you verraten it to mich? ;-)

    Sho' nuff, old chap. Just try Cockney rhyming slang. Or just rhyming.

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  9. The Pig Turd did exactly the same thing 3-4 years ago, at which point I told them to go and fondle themselves.

    John Kinory

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  10. Wonderful. After yet another payment issue with them and now this email cutting prices, I have just sent them an email asking them to delete me from their system. Enough is enough !

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  11. A brilliant (because accurate) parody of a crass attempt at outright abuse and manipulation.

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  12. Just got a phone call from them asking if I would be willing to continue working for them for my "old prices", as the feedback they have from PM's about my work is really good. I don't work with them since 3 years ago, but if they want to send me work at my normal rate... please do! Go figure this... I think we sould all start say NO, but NO THANKS!!!

    And here it is in writting:

    "Dear Paula,
    Thank you very much for your time on the phone today, it was a pleasure speaking with you! As we discussed, it would be great to continue our collaboration based on your previous rate. So that we can work together on future projects I will arrange for this to be amended on your profile, however should you find that this has any impact on the volume of work sent to you by our PMs, please do not hesitate to contact me directly so that we can re-visit this. Thank you again for your feedback, we appreciate your hard work and contributions to our ongoing successes. Wishing you a lovely day ahead and best regards, XXX"

    And they don't give up... Paula Ribeiro

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  13. Dildo Heinous, VP of assholery for Tigerford, did more or less the same a few years ago. Those who refused the "compulsory" discount kept on invoicing at their regular rates, and kept on receiving work - but I don't doubt that many caved in immediately and accepted the "temporary" discount (which, probably, soon became permanent).

    What's infuriating is that in the discussions threads so many translators complain, but keep on repeating that the Pig Turd has lowered 'its' rates. People who complain of translation company's rates have already lost any advantage: if they thought of the rates as their own, they would mentally be in a much stronger position to dismiss out of hand such demands.

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  14. Following the discussions of this incident (which it seems is repeated on a regular cycle to the detriment of the gullible) on Facebook and PrAdZ, there are now many reports that the Poop Makers (PMs) at The Big Turd spent most of the day trying to do damage control and caving as one translator after another told them where to put their "improved" rates. I also discovered that my small contribution to the PrAdZ thread, which had been banned as "advertising" by Schreibtischtäter (that's German for PrAdZ moderator) Russell Jones has somehow been allowed after all. Any way the wind blows I guess. Even with the "outrage proposal" under discussion here, it is worth remembering that The Turd would still be offering better shit rates than the usual suspect outsourcers from India, China and various Eastern European countries who have largely taken over the job postings at The Translators Workhouse and bit by bit inspired the barrel scrapers in presumably civilized countries to emulate them.

    Earlier today I had a fascinating discussion with someone whom I consider to be at the absolute top of this industry in terms of business and technical insight. I've known this person for over a decade, and I think it's fair to say that some of the leading lights in the translation and localization world (including many with whom I have powerful disagreements) would defer to him and his inside knowledge of operations at the highest levels of companies active in translation and translation technology. He is absolutely convinced that current business models for LSPs and technology solution providers such as SDL are not sustainable and that there is a very big wreck ahead, where translators will be far from the only roadkill. When I look at the nonsense propagated by the CSA, TAUS, SDL and so many "thought leaders", I can't get the awful tones of Tanz auf dem Vulkan out of my head.

    Smart birds don't shit in their own nests, but this seems to be a favored practice among businesses with a limited and self-destructive repertoire of responses to "competition". Gordon Gekko was a joke in that 1980s film, but there are still quite a few halfwits in our domain and many others who think he is a role model, but one by one the "role models" of avarice and human indifference have found their comeuppance. "We got the message, Mr. Sigoloff!" was the response shouted by heel-clicking employees of a troubled DIY chain years ago as Sanford the Skillful Scalpel Sigoloff, corporate "turnaround expert" passed out his poisoned prescriptions. Not many years later an old college buddy bought The Scalpel's dream house for a song as business miscalculations left him broke and unable to get a fair price for his property in a down market. Another cheat whom I knew as a research director was a rising star in his early 30's but thought he could keep a secretary in bondage and treat his staff as disposable sanitary items, and I have tracked his career with pleasure for nearly thirty years as he has fallen from one sleazy perch to another and become an open joke in several business sectors. The landscape is littered with the wreckage of companies bigger and better and badder than Tigerford and The Big Turd and Some Damned Liars, and all of these and others will find their rightful places and leave room for those who have raised their game.

    What side do you want to play on?

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    1. "Smart birds don't shit in their own nests"
      Given how much they advocate MT these days, I wonder how many "smart birds" are left.
      Having been in the "den" of a big cat as an engineer myself, and knowing quite a number of employees from the other companies mentioned plus some more, I've seen some bird shit. This here just fits that scheme.

      I'd recommend you widen your base, spread your CVs, make sure you have a good spread of LSPs supplying you with work. Then you don't have to fret about the Gordon Gekkos out there. THEY depend on YOU.

      There are other, good LSPs out there. Smaller maybe, but good nonetheless.
      I can tell. I'm with one. ;-)

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    2. @Anon: Translators with business sense don't let any single client take up more than 20% of their volume on average and try to keep things down to 10% or less. When I hear of those who restrict themselves to a handful - or worse yet one or two - I shrug when the inevitable happens. As for a "good spread of LSPs" they shouldn't neglect spreading to direct clients as well and in some cases entirely. Given the spread of bad practices in recent years, which has impacted a great number of formerly good small LSPs, it makes increasingly less sense to work with them.

      Predatory practices have become too widespread, and too many good, smaller LSPs have been unable to adapt effectively to the changes in marketing strategy required by evolution in the business. Rather than raise their game, they get drawn into pointless price wars which they will lose no matter whether they get or keep the business. I suspect the future is not with agencies of any size but ultimately a more flexible network of freelance project managers and translators taking advantage of the technology they need for large, multilingual projects ad hoc on an SaaS basis. The recently introduced Stridonium tag teams are just one such example, and translation technology providers continue to introduce options which make collaboration easier and the "advantages" of dealing with underage, underpaid and underqualified PMs at Linguistic Sausage Producers (LSPs) more dubious every day.

      As an aside I note with some amusement the evidence that ProZ.com is now suppressing negative reports against the LSP who sent the original version of the letter above despite having approved them earlier. This is just another example of the corruption which affects that dubious information source. It is better to use the several good alternatives available (Payment Practices and the German Zahlungspraxis list come to mind - I think I wrote a blog post on these ages ago which can be found here via the Search function).

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  15. I've taken a look at Stridonium: while I acknowledge this as a viable solution for translators, you should also be aware that often the "translating" part is but a part of the whole process and sometimes even a smaller one. Without people like me at "Linguistic Sausage Providers", who ensure data integrity and technically safe pre- and post-processing of files if necessary, who also give a fair amount of technical support to translators, your portfolio can quickly become rather limited - as well as the quality of your delivery.
    You would do well not to lose your respect for what we do. It's not all for your worse, you know... ;-)

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    1. Do well not to lose my respect? It has to be earned first. Through competence which is too seldom demonstrated.

      Whether your self-identification as a Linguistic Sausage Provider is correct or not, I cannot say - I don't know if I know you and your organization. However, as far as ensuring "data integrity and technically safe pre- and post-processing of files" is concerned, I have been doing precisely that since the time before Trados introduced its first products to the market. When I entered the world of commercial translation (well after that), I was shocked by the amateurism and lack of IT expertise commonly found with translation brokers who pretend to have it. And too many mistake the formalism of their procedures for competence, as one large agency I know in Berlin which has proudly spent most of an hour-long presentation two years running at a major international translation technology conference, bragging about their finely divided departmental structures and carefully plotted workflows. They used to brag about their competence with Passolo for localization, so I was quite surprised some years ago to learn that they didn't even own a license - they worked with a few translators who did. I myself owned a Team 5 license for that software and after I stopped working with it due to changes in my client base, I offered this project management version to translation agencies in North-Rhine Westphalia and elsewhere who publicly claimed localization competence in the same way but did not own a single license (in the days before SDL bought the company). NOBODY wanted it. Not even free. Despite the IT competence they so proudly boast of to end clients, they were simply afraid they couldn't handle the technology and told me as much.

      The Linguistic Sausage Producers operate in a Potemkin village. I won't support them. I do support LSPs for whom the acronym means something else, always have, always will. But even for those with the greatest technological skills, their greatest strength is not their ability to flip files - it's the competence in building and maintaining relationships. These endure as the technology inevitably changes and leaves the techies running like hamsters on a wheel to deal with the latest file filters and other funnies. And it is the abuse of these relationships as evidenced by Tigerford and The Pig Turd and many small smaller shits who produce those brown linguistic sausages which lead increasing numbers of translation buyers to disintermediate and go direct to the real providers of service in most cases - freelance translators and their competent networks.

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  16. "leaves the techies running like hamsters on a wheel to deal with the latest file filters and other funnies".
    Yes, this is true. Although I wouldn't compare it to a hamster wheel. This running and turning actually does get you ahead. :-P

    About earning respect: I am not quite sure how this can be accomplished if you keep ranting on about "Sausage Producers" and the "little shits" producing "brown linguistic sausages".

    I do not count myself incompetent or afraid of technology in any way at all. I've dealt with Trados in various versions incl. Studio, versions of Transit, Across, with Passolo (tried, didn't like it too much), RC-WinTrans (liked a lot better), Catalyst, LocStudio...
    I do not count myself equal to your unfortunate encounters, yet I feel offended by the broad brush you are applying.

    Stop whining. So you encountered bad LSPs? Join the club - I've encountered my share of lousy translators too. Some seemed to dumb to turn on a computer, others claimed tool knowledge they didn't possess (sound familiar?) and some were knowledgeable, good translators but as persons unfriendly, stubborn little shits!

    So what? Tick 'em off and move on.
    There are bad translators everywhere. Still: we depend on translators so it's our job to find the good ones and keep them happy.
    You do your best to be found by the good LSPs and become happy. Just make sure to not shine too dark a light on LSPs in your blogs or they might not WANT to find you...

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    1. "I've encountered my share of lousy translators too." So what are LSPs waiting to lobby like hell and make sure the translation profession is at last protected?... We too are sick and tired of competing with bunches of idiots who, among other things, accept just any rate and working conditions... But LSPs thrive on the present situation, probably, so why don't YOU stop whining?...

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    2. "Still: we depend on translators". Exactly. Agencies are nothing but empty shells who depend totally on freelance translators' willingness to cooperate with them. Make a Post-It note of it in your mind at all times, do not forget about it. A little less arrogance would help... Thank you.

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  17. @Anon: Run that wheel long enough and you may change your opinion. Perhaps about the time you hit your tenth operating system or twentieth programming language and realize that it's just the same basic stuff after all. In 42 years of IT running I've seen the same concepts regurgitated in endless variety with startlingly scarce originality. And the errors the tool programmers make are so predictable - loop control screwups, off by one on their iterations, inadequate test case matrices because they assume they know far more about use cases than they actually do - one can often guess quite accurately where tools like Trados or memoQ will fail to handle the technical requirements of the job.

    But the difference between a Linguistic Sausage Producer and a Language Service Provider isn't technology no matter how much teenagers approaching middle age might imagine it so, nor is it how many sales staff one has pounding the pavement and the providers of other services as they search for profitable veins to mine in the wordface. The difference is defined in the quality of relationships.

    "You do your best to be found by the good LSPs and become happy." Really? So that's what it takes to be happy? What ever happened to seeking out the good ones, sorting the wheat from the chaff as good business people do. Seeking them perhaps and a healthy portion of companies who need and value a direct relationship with the competent providers of translation and review services as well as technology planning and support. There is an excellent ecosystem of consultants out there - Localix and Loctimize in Germany come to mind as a few examples, and there are many more - who can provide all the technology support needed on tap to corporate clients and others including translation agencies.

    If the "dark light" I shine on the abusers scares off the barrel-scrapers in emerging nations from contacting me with offers I can well refuse, I don't think my happiness will suffer much. That is part of the sorting process. If real providers of language services, freelance or in agencies, are looking for honest collaboration and support for translation, training or technology consulting services, they know where to find me and others like me to back them in their efforts to combat the damage done by the Linguistic Sausage Providers.

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  18. They did essentially the same thing back in 2002:
    http://www.translatortips.net/tranfreearchive/tf50-translation-rates.html

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    1. What can I say to that except "Ecclesiastes 1:9"? I'm glad Alex put it on record more than a decade ago.

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  19. Thanks for a good laugh. I, for one, decided to put my foot down and requested from TBW that they removed my profile from their database. They called me to ask if I accepted to stay using my old rates, i.e. previous 15% PR debacle, but I told them I didn't want to hear from them in the future.

    For wannabee translators or TBW collaborators who will be reading this text one day, here is a little calculation for you. Assuming you accept a job from TBW and translate 3000 words over an 8 hour day. At their proposed rate of GBP 0.051 (could be even less than that for newbies), you have earned GBP 153.00 or 19,125 per hour, which is gross of course (i.e. deduct all your costs from that). My local car mechanic charges a bit more than twice that (and he's cheap), whilst car dealerships are between four and five times that. As for my plumber, he charges three times as much.

    Who wants to be a translator?!

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    1. @LK: Who wants to be a translator? Is that the question? Or is it who wants to deal with such dubious providers of "opportunity"?

      In thirteen years I haven't dealt with a company outside of Asia or eastern Europe which suggested I should accept compensation anywhere near that level. Most translators I know in my market consider those who pay double The Pig Turd rate to be in the lower-priced segment of the market. (This should give you an idea of where The Turd's stratum is. Caveat emptor: you get what you pay for... or worst of all, you get what they pay for.) Typical translators who work full days earning double and triple the The Pig's rates are not making a killing, but rather a quite average living in most First World countries, but they are probably enjoying a profession that can be very stimulating and intellectually rewarding. Translation remains a worthwhile activity despite all the leeches who try to suck the blood and profit out of it.

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  20. LSPs' hysterical obsession over technology is driven by their endlessly obsequious pandering to bottom-feeder clients demanding ever-increasing "savings" from technology. The fact that natural language manipulation is intrinsically resistant to a pure technological solution is hugely frustrating for them because it means that they are obligated to continue to rely on those pesky human translators they can't control -- but as we've seen here, they gleefully bully -- to create much of the marketable product they sell.

    This has not stopped TAUS though, which has just sidestepped this frustration by creating imaginary friends who whisper to them in reassuring tones that translation is not only just a "commodity," but now a "utility." Unfortunately for the TAUS folks, this notion has been totally invalidated by their own TAUS colleagues who pay for the whole charade -- you know, the CLIENTS -- who are simultaneously demanding to know precisely who their translators are.

    The resultant cognitive dissonance has been deafening to all sentient primates.

    Anyway, the bottom-feeder LSPs long ago capitulated by gleefully jumping onto this slippery slope and now seem genuinely surprised by how rapidly they are falling into the black hole. These blind, unilateral forced rate cuts are not just ill-advised, they are transparent acts of frightening desperation.

    (Oh, and leaving project managers to mop up after this disastrous public display of explosive incontinence is incredibly boorish behavior.)

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    1. Kevin, this is a most interesting, entertaining and enlightening debate. But why is nowhere mention made of the main culoprick ($350 MM in "sales", if we are to believe their spin artists), i.e. TrashPorkfat (or TrashPorkfart, depending on how much hot air and greenhouse gases you think they produce in their attempts to asphyxiate everyone around them)? And what about their many other clownes? How about preparing a spitlist, a rogue gallery where they would all appear under their most fitting aliases? Anyone in favor of a competition?

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    2. Careful, careful Jacques. If you have been a workerbee for thebigturd in recent years, you may be in violation of Section 6.14 of the supplier agreement with your statement here!

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    3. I think Kevin Hendzel makes a very important point here. If the reason for attempts to reduce purchasing costs is really a downward pressure, not on costs, rather on prices (not an attempt to increase contribution margin from both sides), then the tough times are, as the Germans say, hausgemacht, homemade, i.e. of their own making. Pig/big companies are trade companies, no matter how hard they try to present themselves otherwise (the statement by Anonymous that “the "translating" part is but a part of the whole process and sometimes even a smaller one“ is typical propaganda). If they fail in their sales business or manage to sell on price only (is it not pretty much the same?), they compromise their most essential competence. To compensate for the falling margins on the purchasing side is another ingredient in their recipe for disaster. They started the recipe with usurping CAT tools to increase margin AND to drive sales prices down. In fact, they didn’t only “pandered to the bottom-feed clients”, they effectively bred their clients themselves, feeding them with their “technology” bullshit stories. Reaping what they sowed now. Tough times in the sty indeed.

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    4. This is not a one time gig. A bit of googling shows that this is an exercise the Pig Turg love to repeat every once in a while:
      2002 http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Czechlist/conversations/topics/11936
      http://www.translatortips.net/tranfreearchive/tf50-translation-rates.html
      I think I've spotted one from 2008 as well but cannot find it now.
      Additionally, a few interesting replies on "Agency check" https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/honyaku/4I0UgY5N8aY from 2010.
      A look at Glassdoor reviews is also very telling.



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    5. @Alta: Lightning loves to strike the same spot in the world of commercial translation, time and again. That's why it's not a bright idea to keep standing near or in the same piles of pig shit.

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  21. great discussion... it will take me ages to read the whole thing!

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  22. Translators increase your productivity 3 fold by...

    Investing in memoQ,Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium and a decent noise cancelling mic.

    OR

    A decent MT solution (eg memoQ and AsiaOnline).


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  23. ^ Interesting. I've been making the exact same case on the ATA Business Practices List. Increase productivity three-fold via dictation. The discussion started when I said that I couldn't believe -- given the current state of voice-recognition technology in English -- that translators working into English still typed their translations. OK, I admit that I compared it to the laborious process of hammering text letter-by-letter into granite, but still...I type an average of 70 wpm with peaks around 100 wpm but I talk/dictate three to four times faster. If your brain's clock rate is 4x faster than your fingers' peak speed, it's best to consider other ways of accommodating that speed.

    The response has been fascinating. There are plenty of open-minded people who are willing to consider it, but what's really surprised me is the number of people who appear to be suddenly in love with their keyboards after having spent decades bitching about them, often to me -- mostly the stresses and strains to their shoulders and fingers and their weary eyesight. They also claim the sudden ability to type as fast as I can dictate (they can't). They can't even type as fast as THEY can dictate, but they just haven't discovered that yet.

    Anyway, I'm not advocating by any means that translators who leverage new technology to improve productivity then turn around and accept rude rate cram-downs like we've been discussing here. Translators should be able reap the rewards they've earned through their own innovation, self-training and adaptation.

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    1. Kevin, the real bottleneck, as you probably realize, is not typing or dictation speed, but rather thinking time. The use of good voice recognition tools allows me to engage more with the text, consider the translation and transmit it faster. If it were just matter of raw, unconsidered speed, then even at my slow typing rate of 40 wpm I would beat my rather decent effective dictation rate for translation. I find that dictation has also significantly improved the style of my first drafts.

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  24. Yes, agreed. I've referred to your "thinking time" process as "being in the moment" with the text without typing distraction.

    It's also been my experience that the quality of my work seems to benefit from dictation, as though there is a new aural filter in series with the rest of my neural network and it's particularly sensitive to source-language interference and bulky, inelegant renditions.

    Dictation is still shockingly fast for me with the right material and there can be a huge, game-changing economic benefit from that technology if translators would at least consider it.

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    1. Just for fun, because I've been making little videos for my instruction projects, I made a spontaneous demo of translating with voice recognition software in my CAT tool and posted it to YouTube. I picked the text on chickens more or less randomly from Wikipedia, because I miss the chickens I left behind in Germany a few months ago. Working in memoQ definitely slowed me down, although I may have saved a microsecond with a fuzzy match. (Probably not - I speak faster than I edit fuzzy matches). And for some reason, the Dragon was in a bad mood tonight - probably didn't like the adjustment of my microphone - so I had to edit more than usual. If you can hold out to the end of the clip, I think I've shown very clearly why you may not want others to use voice recognition software as a translation aid. Here's the link: http://youtu.be/wctXO4-u8Y8.

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    2. Some of us have speech that is a bit tangled; I find that the keyboard interface helps me keep the register more formal, and enables me to produce literate-sounding translations more easily than I could using dictation.

      I can see dictation being really useful for people who also work as interpreters.

      Of course, it's been about 15 years since the last time I tried dictation.

      I also wonder how it would work in a bullpen-style office...

      Placebo Domingo 2

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    3. @ Kevin H: "It's also been my experience that the quality of my work seems to benefit from dictation, as though there is a new aural filter in series with the rest of my neural network and it's particularly sensitive to source-language interference and bulky, inelegant renditions."

      You have a point there: I frequently give my translations a final read-through out loud, and it certainly helps me spot some of the less-clear and/or clunkier renditions (I'm a patent translator, so frequently I can't do much about the "bulky and inelegant" side of things :-) ).

      Perhaps I'll try voice recognition at some stage. At the moment, my translation memory tends to do so much of the typing for me that I've thought that trying to fit VR in around it might be counter-productive.

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  25. Thanks for the laugh, Kevin, I laughed almost as hard as when I read the original letter.
    It must be busy at the Corporate Sob Story Agency!
    In-house employees of large LSPs beware - outsourcing/relocation to countries with cheaper labour is the next natural step in profit enhancement. (See the captioning/subtitling industry)

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  26. Kevin, thanks, that was very instructive. I agree your Dragon appeared extremely slow and cranky. Just for fun I've tried to outrun mine at extremely high speed with perfect diction and so far I can't do it. Last night after viewing your video I tried reading as fast as I could from a finished English text to see if I could outstrip it and it still popped out a flawless 121-word paragraph. Of course my computer is designed specifically for dictation and I'm not running a TM tool in parallel with it.

    I do think we come at speech recognition from different directions, though. I do very little on-the-fly correction because my dictation has a genuine warp signature. I'm usually working just to clear the buffer (back to real technology now) as fast as I can while I'm "in the moment" with the three or four thoughts I'm juggling and sorting into the proper order to set on the table. Imagine simultaneous interpreting a fast-talker and that will give you an idea what dictation is like for me.

    It occurs to me that it might be fun to produce a video like you did just to provide some visual context to the ATA Business Practices List discussion, so thanks for that idea. I'll post the link here too if I can clear out some time to produce it.

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    1. My results are usually much, much better than that cursed video. Not necessarily faster, but certainly with less editing. Usually fiddling the microphone position sorts that problem out, but I thought it might be instructive to those unfamiliar with that voice recognition software to see some of the ways one might edit with it. But as you point out, these tools are used in very different ways. I think it would be fascinating to make a collection of about 3 minutes of screencast voice recognition work, so people see the range of working styles. I would even include a recording dump off a dictaphone. I was totally turned off by the way I saw some use these tools for a long time until I observed a method which I felt fit my style.

      I think if I just read a finished translation I might have been a bit faster. And I'll admit to having cheated and looked up the term "Red Junglefowl" before I started, because for all I know about chickens, I know very little of their history. Except for Araucanas. They have always fascinated me, and I like their green eggs, though the birds themselves are real troublemakers.

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  27. Here is an update on how badly thepigturd is suffering economically and why translators must cut their rates to help the company improve its margins: http://goo.gl/4R3QVJ

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  28. New clauses from TBW's Online Contract that freelancers are required to sign (you have to laugh!):

    “7.14. For the duration of this Agreement and for a period of three years thereafter, you agree that you shall not publish or participate in any online or print media in which the content is abusive and/or defamatory and/or a parody of us and/or our officers and/or our employees and /or their families and/or in which you impersonate us and/or our officers and/or our employees and/or their families.
    7.15: You acknowledge that a breach of the provisions in clause 7.14 would cause us irreparable injury for which we would not have an adequate remedy at law. In the event of a breach, you agree that we shall be entitled to injunctive relief in addition to any other remedies we may have at law or in equity.»

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    1. "... you agree that you shall not ... participate in any online ... media in which the content is ... a parody of us and/or our officers and/or our employees ..."

      So what you're saying is that thepigturd will hit the fan if any of their "independent" contractors posts the time of day on this blog? :-)

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