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Let’s stop getting upset about an entirely different market

A lot of translators get far too upset about certain websites where people are requesting translation services at astonishingly low rates. A good cure for this gripe is to inadvertently end up on one of the large databases of “translation agencies” that some of these sites hand out.

I ended up on one such website several years ago. I asked the site to remove me, which they did, but before long I was starting to receive CVs again, so presumably I’m back on the list. I currently receive approximately two to three CVs per day, all of which are sent to my old e-mail address from my old site, which is no longer visible and redirects to my new site. Curiously some of the candidates claim to have “read about my company”, even though they’re writing to an e-mail address not published anywhere on my website. Not surprisingly, the e-mail is normally sent as a blind carbon copy. In other words, the e-mail is being sent simultaneously to countless “translation agencies”, most of which the applicant knows absolutely nothing about.

Recently I’ve begun to open up some of the e-mails I’m sent, out of curiosity. Doing so has made me understand why such shoddy rates are offered. The vast majority of messages I receive are pitiful. The English is usually terrible, even from people claiming they translate into English. Many claim that English is their native language when the English they use clearly shows that this is a lie. One could argue that it is unfair to judge, say, an English-to-French translator based on the quality of his or her English, although this is debatable, since mastering the source language is also an essential skill. If, however, their e-mail contains incorrect usage of punctuation ,with commas written like this ,[sic] or with spaces before full stops, or with incorrect usage of capital letters, one can expect their work to be shoddy too.

Why, then, do good translators get so upset because a website is offering translations at such low rates? Does the owner of a top-quality restaurant get upset because half a mile up the road there’s a McDonald’s offering a meal and a drink for less than €10?

To illustrate my point, here are some extracts from some of the e-mails I’ve received recently. Comments in square brackets are my own interjections. Needless to say I won’t be hiring any of them for any jobs.

Translator 1. Native language: French.

Dear Madam / Mr . [not looking good already]

Note that my qulifications [oh dear] match greatly with your demand . [bad punctuation already]

I have read about your company , [this is probably not true]and I have sufficient knowledge about translation world .

As you will note in the attached CV that I am :

Firm believer in the Power of Languages and understanding of diverse cultures. From China to the Dominican [in his attached CV he says “From China to the Dominican Republic” but in the e-mail the word “Republic” has disappeared] communication is essential, having lived in four different countries in the last ten years, I have conjugated my background in International commerce and business administration as well as my knowledge of five languages to bring a more in depth approach to each opportunity presented to me.

I should inform you that I am an excellent speaker of French ,English , Portuguese and Spanish , and I use Microsoft Windows , Word , Excel , Power Point , and Internet skills .

I would be very pleased If I have a positive reply .

Regards :

[name removed]

Translator 2. Native language: Chinese

Hello ,,, [no need to read any more!]

Translator 3. Native language: Arabic

My specializations include Translation, Legal , , Proofreading, localization, Copywriting, Ghostwriting, Editing and general

I obtained a BA degree in specialized translation at ALAQAS University I studied one year of postgraduate studies in English Arabic translation. , I worked as translator in many Educational Institutions in my country. I also worked as freelance translator and English proofreader/editor Experienced translator in wide range of field.

Translator 4. Native language: Norwegian

Subject: “Meeting your all languages needs”

Translator 5. Native language: Chinese

Dear Sir/Madam,

This is [name removed] from China.

I engaged in translation when I was 22 years ago and in the Zhongnan University, majored in English.

Translator 6. A translation agency.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Do you spend long time [sic] searching for qualified translators?

Do you like to have the best price?

Do you worry about the translators’ commitment regarding deadlines?

Why do you bear all this while we are ready to do it for you?

[Translation agency name] is really there for your translation agency best choice. [What does that mean?] We offer such a great language translation experience, you never want to go back and look for your own freelancers, volunteers, or in-house translators again. We can beat them down with our lowest rates, better quality, accessibility, tax deductions (you can get rid of high expenses of translation services!), and 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Translator 7. Native language: French

Subject: English into French Translator and Vice Versa

Hello All, [at least he’s honest that it’s a mass mail]

Hope this message finds you well.

My name is [name removed] and I am a French native. I am a freelance translator/reviser since six years. [Yes, I know changing “je suis…depuis” to “I have been…since” is confusing, but if you claim to translate into English this is basic.] I translate from English/Spanish/Italian into French.‎Specialization field: art, culture, literature, creative writing, fashion, ‎politics, economy, social sciences, international relations, technology, ‎web localization, internet.‎
Please find attached to this e-mail a copy of my CV that details my past ‎experience. ‎

If any interest from your side, please let me know I would be pleased to ‎provide you mi services.

Translator 8. Native language: Russian

[The line breaks are in the original e-mail.]

I am a freelancer. My name is Ripsime. My working languages are
English, Russian. My native language is Russian, and due to the fact
that I live many years abroad I use English in my everyday life. I
have more than 8 years of experience as a freelance translator, as
well as I am a graduate of political sciences and international
relations with honors.

Translator 9. Native language: Italian

Subject: My services are punctual ,never delayed ,very accurate ,precise ,with genuine respect to the source. [Enough said, I think.]

Translator 10. Native language: Spanish

[The CV is taken from a template. She hasn’t paid to remove the watermark, and her name has the word “Edit” between her first name and surname! Also, her e-mail appears to have a typo, although I have no way of knowing if that is deliberate.]