Sep 7, 2011

Mao's Revenge

That e-mail like that shown above is perhaps offering me some irresistible bargain on an herbal Viagra alternative made of rhino horn or monkey feces. Hard to tell, though, since I don't read Chinese. Nonetheless, the hardy spammers behind The Great Firewall send me such missives daily, a few dozen times a day. The only result so far has been to increase my natural suspicion of doing business in any form with mainland China. Despite my best efforts to view such transactions neutrally, personal reports over the past three decades from those who have visited clothing factories proposing to make wet suits for a Cousteau company and found workers chained to their sewing machines, adhesives specialists describing the utterly irresponsible, uncontrolled use of solvents in production, factory managers shot for production problems in a refrigerator plant and more than my little brain wants to remember make me question the greedy, headlong rush to outsource everything to the Middle Kingdom and then let it buy up our assets at home with the profits.

Although I wish I knew how to block trash mail like this, for me it is also a useful reminder that we need to choose our business partners carefully. The entry of Chinese LSPs into the service market for European languages in combinations not involving languages in China's region has done nobody any good. Not even the Chinese I suspect, because they are guaranteed to get only very mediocre results at best with the rate structures they favor. I do know one very respectable German colleague who would contradict me on this point. I haven't discussed actual euros and cents with him regarding this matter, but I'll concede the argument to him to this extent that his partner in China is an exception, like the Indian service provider who once paid me about 22 euro cents per German source word for a patent translation. A good partner can be found anywhere in the world, but when confronted with masses of data, a tsunami of cooperation proposals and the potential risks and pitfalls of cross-regional transactions, for those in the US and western Europe, it is usually a complete waste of time to talk translation business for major, non-Asian and non-Slavic language combinations with service providers in many parts of the world. That includes China.

So I have a friendly request for the Party censors there. Please take a little time in your day, stop trying to track down bloggers, artists and others to jail and harass for their "subversive" opinions, and do something to improve your country's image by catching its spammers and subjecting them to public trials (with competent simultaneous or consecutive interpreting, broadcast live on the Internet) and subsequent public execution. If you do, maybe I'll even consider doing a free test translation from German to English for you.

1 comment:

  1. Ha, Kevin, I like your thoughts on outsourcing of European translations to Chinese providers.

    You see, there was a translation agency who wanted to open a branch office in China and invited me to join his venture. It could be a good business somehow. However, the rate should be within 0.10 EUR. The deal was not fulfilled then. I wouldn´t even pay such a rate to a competent Chinese translator for translations from any European or Asian languages into Chinese, while I myself enjoy a rate of 1.20 EUR to 2.00 EUR per standard line. But I know how hard it could be to operate an agency in China, if you are not well protected by the CCP, and how high the protection of one´s greed could cost. (Remember our good old Bert Brecht´s "If Sharks Were People"? Remember how the sharks get bigger pieces of meat to eat?)

    So, I am no Chinese LSP who does European languages till today. I know some ones doing businesses with the devil and operate in this field. Whether they will succeed in disturbing our somehow well structured market in Europe, it is out of my view sight. But I suspect that there will be such impacts on our walk of living sooner or later, when McLocalization handshakes with the CCP. (Note, the CCP in China is somewhat like the former CCCP; they "represent" everything in their countries.)

    Bis dahin haben wir noch ein bisschen Zeit, unser gutes Leben als freiberufliche Übersetzer zu geniessen. Also, wir brauchen uns noch nicht zu bangen.

    BTW, the e-mail reads: "Enhance your professional quality, reduce your administration costs." I guess, that specific spammer wants to get you outsourcing your translation business to them.


Notice to spammers: your locations are being traced and fed to the recreational target list for my new line of chemical weapon drones :-)