“We don’t want a translation!” | Is the profession suffering from a credibility gap?
I don’t know about you, but in the past few weeks I’ve had several prospects, now turned clients, whose first words on contacting me were “we don’t want a translation”.
Y’ok, I thought to myself, you need this adapted from French into English, and you want it to read properly, is that it?
That was precisely the message. In these prospects’ minds (or in those of their clients who’d jumped up and down claiming “I don’t want a translation” or “just a translation”), translation equates with bad copy that sounds like a chimp’ wrote it.
Good for some of us, but…
That may be good news for some of us who are positioned at the high end of the food chain and who also promote copywriting (among other, related) services.
In these recent instances, it meant:
- the first issue was not the per word rate
- the second issue was not the overall budget
- the gut reaction was not “Oh my stars, you are too expensive!”
- THE ISSUE was “we need this to achieve X, can you help us and what is your fee?”
I’ve observed that rate-driven projects take a long time to negociate (if they get off the ground), while those where the need is great copy in another language get sorted out in a half-day at most (quote and T&Cs signed, brief completed and off we go). No time (money) wasted. Liberty to focus on what is important and freedom to go create or transcreate.
While I’m very happy about that (it’s good for my business!), I’m also annoyed as heck.
Clearly, a profession to which I belong has acquired so much bad PR (and for good reason – see the presentation I made recently here) that it has spilled over and become a pervasive belief on the (uneducated segment of) the market.
Like when I was a kid, and products “made in Japan” meant bad quality (OK, I’m dating myself — let’s subsitute made in China – progressing – or India for a more contemporary feel) despite the exquisite talent and perfect rendering of so many items crafted in Japan.
Today, Japan stands for innovation and quality in many industries. I look forward to the day when the same upsurge benefits ours. Am I tilting at windmills in this machine translation era?
Love your translator
Click on the image above to claim your own stickers to plaster all over town. I learned about this initiative from a colleague, Nelia Falhoun, who came to the SFT’s annual general meeting on December 7th with one proudly displayed on her sweater. I ordered mine the instant I got home. I received 8, so I’m in the process of figuring out where they’d have the most impact (without my getting fined…).
Clearly, we need MORE good PR to compensate for the bad rep’ sub-par or wannabee translators give the profession.
I look forward to the day where prospects who need a translation contact me because I am an excellent translator, and not because I am also a darn good copywriter. Both can co-exist happily; the translation market and profession represent a rainbow of needs and services, with fees commensurate with the value provided — an old clunker or a Lamborghini.
Good PR in your part of the world?
If there are some terrific PR initiatives going on in your part of the world, please post them here so they can be promoted as widely as possible.
It’s time the real professionals’ work got talked about as much as the crap sub-par examples we see all over the place.