• "Hey, thanks for printing out and signing and scanning back in those NDAs and work agreements and getting them back the same morning! Unfortunately, your scans are missing our decorative black-fax cover, which has no contract text whatsoever! Can you do everything completely over?"

  • "I have a three-page document with barely any text that I want translated for half the market rate! Could you send over your CV *and* introduce yourself to me professionally before I consider hiring you to translate next to nothing at half what I should be paying? Be ready to sign an NDA!"

  • "Thanks for agreeing to - wow, less than a third of what our company should be paying for this work?! Whoa, are you intoxicated? Anyhow, you passed the test! We think your English could use a little work, though. Here's some actual feedback from our Senior Linguists: '6,12,17, and 19 are put checkpoint incorrectly. 20 needs to be inserted puncuation. 13 and 15 need to be added one more translation.' We hope you strive to reach their level of literacy!"

  • Having to do tedious captchas that teach AI to recognize stairs and cars and crosswalks every time I log into Proz, then having to do them over again immediately, because the AI cannot yet recognize stairs or cars or crosswalks and therefore cannot recognize the correct responses. While this is the least of the frustrations here, it is the most frequently-recurring and is symptomatic of this vital website's completely-unnecessary insistence on frustrating any attempt to use it efficiently, even if you are a paying member. (See also: voiding your login if you attempt to open more than one page on the site at a time.)

  • "Thanks for taking 2389471234 hours of training courses uncompensated for our company! Oh, wait; we don't actually have any thanks for that. Instead, we're angry that you didn't tailor your test work to a completely different set of guidelines that aren't detailed in that course at all! How could you fail to follow the instructions and guidelines we never gave you? No, that's an actual unironic question somehow! In any case: could you do it completely over again?
    Oh, great; thanks for responding to our completely-unreasonable request! We'll get back to you with work!

That last problem is by far the most prevalent among (nominal) employers in translation: demands for extensive, uncompensated testing, followed by no work whatsoever upon passing. I've been attempting to expand my client base, and in doing so, I've been a bit more tolerant of behaviors I perhaps shouldn't have been. I don't have a problem with brief uncompensated tests, which are de rigeur when collaborating with a new client, or interviews via phone or Skype, or a number of things that are verboten among other translators. I have a problem with putting forth an honest effort in good faith and not seeing that reciprocated, be it through not offering work or not providing the information necessary to fulfill client expectations or not holding your editors to the same standard of fluency that you do your translators.

I've met a number of great people in translation, and I've had a lot of great professional experiences. It seems, though, that the great people are getting scarcer and scarcer lately. Perhaps this is in part a personal perception, colored by recent experiences; I've had a number of people and aspects of my life let me down recently, to the point where I'm having to rebuild everything from scratch. (I've also let a few people down myself in the process; I apologize if you're one of them.) It's gotten to the point, though, where translation just isn't reliable for me anymore.

The easy explanation would be to blame AI, but AI's been in translation for several years, and I've worked with it extensively. A bigger problem is the increasing number of bad actors in the industry, coinciding with the rise of AI in the popular consciousness. I hope it's not a permanent change and this is just a bad spell - one that'll break, if this theory holds, when the new entrants move on to the next hot thing, as they did from NFTs to AI. The translation industry, though, has gotten so unreliable (I keep coming back to that word) that I've been training in another field.


#1 Me 2023-10-25 09:37
Also, I'm aware that the title is awkward and it would've sounded better to let the preposition dangle, but I can hardly complain about a bad lot in my field with improper English, can I?

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