Sad but true

Warning: The following is a rant and may provoke…
I just received an inquiry with the following parameters:
Volume: 6000 Words
Rate: 0.05 USD per word
Deadline: Monday, 28.11.2016, 02.00 PM CET
The topic would be right down my alley, but that would be about the only positive thing about this. Were I to accept, I would have to work this weekend AND for a rate that would bring me close to starvation if that was my standard rate. 
So let me think about this… not really! Particularly as the mail starts with “Hello” and has been sent to I don’t know how many other translators, I won’t even bother to answer. This mail will go straight into the “round filing tray” as we say in German (aka the trash folder).
What does bother me, however, is that I am sure there will be plenty of translators answering and offering their services, maybe even with an additional discount?! Because these low rates wouldn’t be requested if they weren’t being offered. I just don’t understand how (full-time) translators can live off these peanuts. And as the language combination is English-German, the number of professionals living in a developing or emerging country should be pretty low, too, so that can’t be it, either.
I know, this topic has been discussed to exhaustion without any useful conclusion or solution, but it still bugs me. And yes, there are an infinite number of reasons why translators work for these rates, but I have yet to hear one that is acceptable or even logical, in my opinion. 
– Not working full-time? Why does that seem to automatically mean that your work is worth less than that of a full-time translator?
– Just starting out? A car mechanic will charge you full price even if the apprentice is working on the carburetor.
– Living in a country where the cost of living is low? Well, why not charge what you’re worth and live the good life?
– Love working around the clock? Good for you, that means you could make heaps of money in a lot less time.
What’s more, don’t these lowballers realize that they not only are making life harder for them in the long run, but also for the rest of us? Wouldn’t it be a lot smarter to ask for appropriate pay (even if they don’t need it for whatever reason) and enjoy life?
So my wish for this Christmas: that ALL translators EVERYWHERE ask for pay that reflects the hard work they put in and that ALL clients (both direct and agencies) recognize translation for what it is: a profession that requires discipline, life-long learning and a whole slew of skills not just anyone possesses. (That’s why we are called professionals, btw.)
OK, end of rant, but I just had to get that off my chest…

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  1. Unknown

    Peach, sister, preach!! I keep getting emails like this all the time and I don't bother responding either!! I was once asked if I could help with a translation. I told them my fee and he said "Wow, I can get it for half that price in the Ukraine"! My response: "Well, I guess you will have to look for a translator in the Ukraine then." I had gotten several of these emails that day and was livid already. So I was done being nice about it. Sometimes, enough is enough!

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