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Yeah, right… June 9, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation Sites.

I just received one of those e-mails we all love from an agency I haven’t worked for in at least a year and a half. Part of me wanted to refer them to Corinne McKay’s post on the care and feeding of translators, but in the end I decided it just wasn’t worth it and simply deleted both e-mails from my in box without answering them.

Since most of you probably received this as well (judging from the anonymous, generic greeting) I don’t have qualms about posting the text of the e-mail here. If this violates some kind of code please let me know. After all, I am new to the blogosphere. I have, of course, left out all identifying information.


I am contacting you because you are listed as one of our valued translators.

We need to identify those translators who use Trados and rate breakdowns.

Please respond if you do or do not use Trados.

If you do currently use Trados, please fill out the table below:

Trados version:
Rate breakdown rate percentage (for example: 33%) Rate (USD)
100% matches
95-99% matches
85-94% matches
75-84% matches
50-74% matches
No Match

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Yeah, right. I’ll be getting right on that…

First of all, I don’t know what happened to the Trados suggested rate of 30/60/100, because a lot of agencies that have recently contacted me are asking for all kinds of crazy graduated rates (see above). Anything less than a 85% match pretty much needs your full attention – not to mention those close matches that maybe have a number or word that is different. I know several translators who do not pay close enough attention to close matches as it is, which drives me crazy when I proofread their work.

Secondly, why should I essentially VOLUNTARILY offer an agency a discount – for a piece of software that I purchased out of my own pocket? Every job has its own particulars and should be negotiated accordingly. If the agency provides a good TM and I have a good relationship with them, I am usually happy to negotiate a Trados discount with them. However, that should not be considered a given just because I own a translation environment tool.



1. Corinne McKay - June 9, 2008

Thanks for the great post! To me, anything below about 95% match produces a consistency advantage but not necessarily a speed advantage, and speed advantages are the only reason I see to give a discount. Sometimes I voluntarily give a discount when an agency sends a set of documents that are substantially similar, because the first one might take 7 hours and the second one might take 3 hours. I think that’s fair, whereas giving a discount because the translation took the same amount of time but was more consistent does not seem fair to me, and in my experience that’s the result (same amount of time, more consistent) when you get down into the 80% and 70% match terrain.

2. yndigo - June 9, 2008

“That’s how they get ya'” is what my father-in-law says. I think the operative word in the term “Trados suggested rate” is “suggested.” reminds me of something I should have noticed a while ago: I went to supermarket to buy a half gallon of ice cream and most of the half gallons are now 1.5 quarts, i.e., one quarter less.

From an agency’s point of view, if those rates can be nudged downward just a bit, it helps their bottom line. Ignoring the email was a good idea IMHO.

3. Ryan Ginstrom - June 9, 2008

As Corrine says, if using a translation-memory tool allows you to work faster, it’s reasonable to pass on a portion of those savings on to the client. You also need to keep at least some of the savings to recoup the cost of your software, the time you spent to learn it, and the expertise you’ve gained in its use.

If the translation memory doesn’t save you time, then I see no reason to provide a discount. For example, I recently argued that translators should charge for 100% matches. In addition, not all TMs are created equal, and working with a TM created by another translator can often take more time than not using one at all.

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