Volume 6, No. 4 
October 2002






Five Continents

Index 1997-2002

  Translator Profiles
Translator, Teacher, Businesswoman, Mentor
Courtney Searles-Ridge interviewed by Ann Macfarlane

  The Profession
The Bottom Line
by Fire Ant & Worker Bee
Translation and Project Management
by Celia Rico Pérez, Ph.D.
What the Guys Said, the Way They Said It, As Best We Can
by Danilo Nogueira
Translators and Computers
The Emerging Role of Translation Experts in the Coming MT Era
by Zhuang Xinglai
  Legal Translation
Difficulties Encountered in the Translation of Legal Texts: The Case of Turkey
by Dr. Ayfer Altay

  Literary Translation
Cultural Implications for Translation
by Kate James
African Writers as Practising Translators—The Case of Ahmadou Kourouma
by Haruna Jiyah Jacob, Ph.D.
  Arts & Entertainment
Performability versus Readability: A Historical Overview of a Theoretical Polarization in Theatre Translation
by Dr. Ekaterini Nikolarea
Translation in a Confined Space—Film Sub-titling
by Barbara Schwarz

  Caught in the Web
Web Surfing for Fun and Profit
by Cathy Flick, Ph.D.
Translators’ On-Line Resources
by Gabe Bokor

  Translators’ Tools
Translators’ Emporium
Trados—Is It a Must?
by Andrei Gerasimov
Translators’ Job Market

Letters to the Editor

Translators’ Events

Call for Papers and Editorial Policies
Translation Journal

Letters to the Editor

ProZ—Pro & Con (again)

I noticed Mr. Werner George Patels wrote a rather nasty letter about ProZ com. While he's, of course, entitled to whatever views he may hold, you may want to know that he's been 'evicted'/'expelled'/'ousted'... from ProZ.com on two different occasions after careful consideration by a.o. the ProZ moderators (there are about 100 moderators now).

On top of that, the fact that he serves as an Aquarius moderator doesn't make me feel he's altogether unbiased and objective. The same could be said about me: I may not be totally unbiased as I serve as a Proz moderator.

On the other hand, I happen to know Aquarius as well, and rather well I may add. Yet I wouldn't go about thrashing Aquarius either. Both ProZ.com and Aquarius are doing whatever they can to survive in a highly competitive market.

Now, I have been a ProZ member since the early days and can simply state that ProZ.com is one of the most useful sites for translators and language professionals I've come across. Mind you, I'm not saying that ProZ.com attracts only professionals, there certainly are quite a few rotten apples there as well.

As for the very few lucrative contracts and the low rates (mentioned by FA & WB, and Mr. Patels), you may know that I have 'won' at least 20 rather lucrative contracts through ProZ.com in the last 2 years, totalling over at least 30.000 USD.

Since I hardly ever charge less than .12 EUR/USD per source or target word, I simply don't agree with "But for seriously lucrative contracts... don't hold your breath," as expressed by FA & WB. I'm aware, of course, of the fact that .12 is not 'very lucrative', but for the time being it suits me fine.

I may add to this that several (private) companies have found me thru ProZ (mainly thru my profile page there) and have contacted me in private. All this has generated a steady influx of work from new clients (both agencies and direct corporations) for over two years now. I do agree, however, that there are quite a few job postings on ProZ.com offering very low rates; that's part of the globalisation game I assume (and part of the game I simply detest for obvious and less obvious reasons), but I also feel that the degrading remarks from Mr. Patels are offensive to those bonafide (and well known) translation agencies/companies that use ProZ com to reach many translators (or interested parties) simultaneously for whatever reasons.

Or would you consider Transperfect, Lexi-Tech, SDL and others to be small boys in our industry? I should add here that I don't know these companies myself personally (many of my clients live/work overseas and I hardly ever get to meet with them in person), but I have worked with one of the above mentioned agencies on many occasions in recent years. They pay me a decent rate, their project managers seem to be very professional (at least, the ones I'm dealing with) and they keep on coming back to me: what else could I—as a service supplier—possibly want from an agency or anyone else for that matter?

Remember also that ProZ.com sells itself as an open marketplace and doesn't interfere with any transactions between agency/company and translator: it's up to us to decide whether or not we want to enter into a commercial agreement with anyone posting jobs at ProZ.com. And it's up to us to verify credentials about the ones we're going to deal with.

ProZ.com simply tries to provide as much information as possible and is continuously working to improve the services they offer. Simply look at what they have realised in less than three years, with lots of dedication and very few (financial) means ...and try to imagine where they'll be in e.g. a year or two.

If ProZ.com only attracted "self-anointed translators," they'd be nowhere.

To cut things short, I simply don't agree with "ProZ has done a lot of damage to the translation industry (decline in professional standards, free-fall of rates, etc.)." ProZ.com doesn't do such things, certain people do.

Kind regards,

Evert Deloof-Sys
ProZ moderator

Fire Ant & Worker Bee reply:

FA&WB have no comment on disputes that may have seen TJ correspondents pitted against each other in other venues—as the lady said, we ain't gotta dawg in that fight. By the same token, if people are happy with their existing business (see "comfort zone" in this issue's column) that's fine, too—incidentally, we agree with you that $0.12 a word is not a seriously lucrative contract, at least not in the industrialized world.

The great thing about the Internet is the transparency it affords, and we encourage anyone interested in this debate to log into ProZ.com and make up their own mind.

For the record, we agree with our original correspondent that ProZ.com's KudoZ system, in which the "correct" answer to a terminology question is selected by the person who asked the question in the first place, is bizarre. There are all too many AmateurZ in there; as we said before, nothing wrong with that, perhaps but the results were pretty hair-raising in the three weeks we monitored the goings-on.

Fire Ant also feels that it is highly irresponsible of translation agencies/companies—whatever their size—to place jobs with translators whose work they have not vetted and whose work they do not revise prior to delivery to clients, all the while promising "superb quality," "as if written directly in the target language," "teams of skilled experts," and the like. This is laughable. Professional is as professional does.

Needless to say, we have no beef with the grassroots members of ProZ.com, whose friendly exchanges and enthusiasm explain much of the site's appeal.

But as we wrote last spring in a private mail that somehow found its way onto a ProZ.com public forum (bzzz! bzzz!): "ProZ.com may be useful as one of several marketing tools for translators in LLDs or working out of markets that are geographically remote from their clients, but for seriously lucrative contracts... don't hold your breath*. High-paying clients simply don't do their shopping here. Which means that as translators gain experience and market savvy, and hone their translating skills, it is only natural that they move on or at the very least broaden the scope of their practice to include other marketing options."

We stand by that comment and as always welcome questions from all translators (AmateurZ, pros, you name it) keen to focus their energy, capitalize on their skills, and move their translation business up a gear.

Fire Ant & Worker Bee

Follow-up to my previous letter to the editor regarding ProZ:

Time changes everything, including ProZ. My previous statements about ProZ, KudoZ, the quality of membership, etc. still apply, but to a lesser extent. ProZ has turned things around (or, at least, has taken some vital steps in the right direction), trying to improve the quality of the site.

For example, there will be some restrictions to the number of KudoZ questions a person can post, which will help protect the site and its members from the ongoing abuse that has become so rampant in the past.

However, and that's the sad truth of it, ProZ is still a far cry from what a site for professional translators should be: still, it only takes an e-mail address and voilà, you are a "professional translator" - but only for the purposes of ProZ.

What the site lacks is the quality control applied by professional translators' associations (e.g., ATA) - in my view, membership should be based on real-world qualifications (university and otherwise), rather than on the simple fact of having an e-mail address (especially if you have only a Yahoo or Hotmail account).

The site owner will most certainly try to do his best to belittle any of these views, as he has done repeatedly in the past as well, including attempts to discredit anyone who shares or expresses such views, but that does not change the facts - including the fact that some leading translators' associations consider ProZ (and membership of ProZ) inappropriate for their professional and "multi-credentialed" members.

Then, there is that new issue of "price ranges" imposed on ProZ members: each member now has the choice to set a price range for his/her services. If a job poster falls outside such member's range, the member will not be notified of the job (and, as far as I have heard, may be barred from bidding on the job).

Excuse me, but that smacks of price-fixing. Job posters are squeezed into this "straitjacket" of price ranges, and sooner or later most members will offer the same rates. If that isn't price-fixing, what is it?

ATA had some serious trouble with the issue of price-fixing several years ago; perhaps, someone should alert the authorities to this latest example in the translation industry. But this time it's even worse, because now it is people from outside the translation industry that are trying to fix our rates (i.e., a large percentage of ProZ members are not considered professional translators by current standards, and even the site owner is not an active translator).

ProZ is showing increasing signs of "ugly commercialization": they are now trying to lure in new, paying, members by offering other services not really related to translation per se, such as hosting of websites and registration of domain names. In addition, they are peddling incredibly useless software products (including a "generic" CAT program). From what I have seen, this is tantamount to one hell of a snow job, because gaining access to "reduced" prices for the products on offer does not warrant taking out ProZ membership for $120.

Finally, I turned my back on ProZ several months ago, because ProZ staff accused me of being a liar after I posted a rating for an agency using the ProZ Agency Rating Blue Board. I was called names and treated like dirt by one of the top staff members of ProZ. In short, lack of professionalism still abounds.

Werner George Patels