In the translation jungle…

… you get what you pay for

Few markets are as clearly split into two camps as the translation business. On one side you have the professional agencies and translators, aiming for high quality, great service and long-term relationships. On this side of the market it’s self-evident that translation is much more than just translating words; localization, adaptation to different cultures and target groups and close cooperation with the client form the basis for each assignment.

The market on the other side of the fence looks more like a jungle, where survival of the fittest seems to be the guiding principle. Here agencies and translators jostle with one another to grab assignments, using only one weapon to beat each other: pricing.

In this jungle, agencies sell their services at ridiculously low prices. These leave no room for feedback on source texts, advice on language versions, careful selection of the best translators for the job, serious proofreading or any other form of service. Quick and cheap seems to be their only, but not unique, selling point.

Translators working for these agencies are prepared to work for a pittance. And to make sure they keep their prices at the lowest possible level, jungle agencies use a smart strategy; every time they need a bunch of translators, they send out a mass mail to all the relevant names in their database, promising that translators who answer the fastest and offer the lowest price will get the job.

For translators, this means that they need to be on top of their e-mails day and night, in order not to miss an assignment. And they need each potential assignment desperately, since they get paid so little. That’s why they often accept more work than they can actually handle and need to work virtually 24/7 to get it all done on time.

The result? Poorly and hastily translated texts riddled with mistakes, errors and inconsistencies, and without any added value – just like the totally incomprehensible manuals you sometimes get with cheap products, which in the best case give the buyer a good laugh, but don’t usually help to understand how the product actually works. Surely this isn’t how you want to reach out to your international target group?

So why don’t you just SMILE?