There’s a good test. Read this ad:
We need freelance translators for all language pairs. We are willing to pay $0.01-$0.03 for small projects (1-10,000 words) and $0.01-$0.02 for large projects (10,000 and more).You will have to translate a sample text as test translation. You must give the amount of words you can translate in 1 hour for your language pair. A sample text will have to be translated as test. Please note that MACHINE/SOFTWARE TRANSLATIONS will not be paid for.
If you are proud of the job you are doing, then accepting the offer is digging your grave with (or maybe despite?) your neurons.
- Such rates aren’t even minimally acceptable. Forget that you ever invested in learning a language, became a full-fledged professional, gained years of experience, accumulated knowledge of your subject. Even a beginner cannot live on that.
- Beware of sample texts used as free tests, they are often a way of donating perfectly usable translations. I remember a company that would give different chapters of a book to translate as test pieces, to different translators (usually beginners) and they did not pay any of them, because they were test pieces. Not only that, but the result was judged “not acceptable”, so none of the guinea pigs ever got the rest of the project. One translator checked… and found the book on the market, his translated chapter unchanged…
- The amount of words you can translate in 1 hour varies a lot, even between individuals, and has only a limited bearing on the final quality. A “slow” translator might be an excellent translator, whereas someone who doesn’t bother to check anything – grammar, spelling, etc. might deliver with mistakes. Also, if you’re experienced, you can spit something acceptable in no time (and being an interpreter as well I have an advantage here, I do translate fast, at least for the preliminary version). But you still need to do Quality Assurance and that takes a little time.
- “Machine/software translations will not be paid for”. This makes me laugh. No professional translator in his or her right mind would deliver unedited machine-translated documents. But some translators do use machine translation software that has a cost. Translation memories and user dictionaries take time to build up and maintain, and mean knowledge. So yes, it has a cost that the translator should be able to recover.
So, what do you think?