A note to customers

A note tocustomers

I normally write my blog in Thai language. Today I feel like telling my English-speaking customers about some facts in my profession, the facts from a Thai translator.

As mentioned on my website www.nctranslation.in.th , I am a vendor of several translation agencies in other countries. They hire me for general translation and certified translation.

For certified translation like visa documents, translation agencies normally pay me $30 per page. Then they add their margin on top. So the customers end up paying more,for example, $50 for translation of a house registration.

For transcript, Icharge $50 but I’ve seen that some translation agencies charge as much as $100per set.

Given the above price structure, some customers still complain that I (a freelancer) am expensive.

Some customers argued that hiring translation agencies meant that they received translation faster. This is not true.

The fast turnaround relies on how fast or how soon the translator can do the translation. I am a freelancer and in most cases I send translation of visa documents to my customers within the next day of receipt of payment. I do not charge extra for express service. If I have time slot, I will do it for you right away.

Now let’s talk abouttranslation projects.

Currently, translationagencies are undercutting prices in order to grab business. This is killing translators. Never mind the non-qualified ones. I’m concerned about the qualified /accredited ones.

For example, my rate for a legal document is $ 0.15 per word. This rate applies to both individual customers and translation agencies. The difference is if the end-user hires me directly, he’ll pay only $ 0.15 per word whereas if he hires a translation agency that sent the work to me, the end-user is likely to end up paying a minimum of $ 0.25 per word.

Again,some customers viewed that translation agencies would have screened their outsourced translators so the quality of translation should be better. This is not true either.

Quality does not depend on the translation company but the vendor – us - translators.

I have seen substandard translations done by some vendors of some translation agencies in the U.S. I was hired to edit a compliance policy translation document that was done by another translator. After having seen his work it made me doubt how this agency who claimed to have a strict screening process ends up hiring this translator who didn’t know the difference between literature translation and document translation.

In such a piece ofwork, all defined terms were translated differently throughout the text. Perhaps he thought he was translating a noveland tried to make it more interesting.

The issue that I am concerned most about, is accuracy. Translation of some sentences didn’t convey any meaning at all. I analysed the pattern and I was pretty sure this guy used CAT tool to do the translation and he reviewed it after. However, he made mistakes when he missed out many,not just a few sentences.

Imagine if this was a court document, mistakes could give advantage to other party.

There are many cases where the party in the court requested for extension of time, claiming that the translation of the other party was incorrect. While correcting translation of the other party, he also had time to prepare more evidence to substantiate his case.

A similar thing happened to interpretation jobs as well. Sometimes, the defendant would ask permission from the court for replacement of the interpreter in the case, claiming that the interpreter was not impartial. My interpreter friend was one of those who were ‘used’ as an excuse.

A few years ago, I was hired to translate a witness statement in an airline case. The documents had been translated by an accredited translator. However, the Thai lawyer was not happy with that version and complained that the translation didn’t sound natural. I read some pages and found that the translation skipped important details and some sentences were confusing. I compared the translation with the source text and found that the source text was a bit difficult to comprehend but having read it twice, I understood the text and could produce translation that was readable.

My explanation to the lawyer was that the translator might have been accredited by a mean other than qualification / degree assessment. My view remains the same – translators should have had training leading to certificate / degree, not just passed exam to get an accreditation.

Let me tell you more about accreditation and membership. I have seen some customers placing an ad for a translator who was a member of a translator association. Please note that the standard of each association is different. For example, Chartered Institute of Linguists, U.K. specifies a set of criteria of eligibility for membership whereas The Translators and Interpreters Associations of Thailand welcome all joiners regardless of background and work experience. This means being a member of an association does not necessarily guarantee the quality of translators that you are hiring. Customers need to know the relevant evaluation and criteria of the association with which the translator is a member.

Another issue that I’d like to mention here is rates. Some customers complained that the rates of some translators were too high. There’s a further question here – too high compared to what? In several cases,customers were comparing qualified translators with translators who have had no appropriate training or degree. It’s like you are comparing a GP with a specialist.

I am lucky to have enough corporate customers who give me regular jobs throughout the year. Otherwise, I might be struggling to survive and might need to undercut other people’s rate to secure jobs like some of my translator friends. I have been trying to encourage them not to lower the price if they are qualified. Qualified means they are either accredited by a relevant authority or have a translation degree.

On many occasions, customers don’t realize about the risk involved in translation. A few months ago, I was asked to quote for editing / reviewing translation of a manual for heavy vehicles. Having skimmed the text, it was technical and the translation seemed fine, smooth and conveyed meaning. Still, editing means cross-checking all points to ensure the translation meets the standard. In this case, accuracy should come first. I didn’t quote for this job but forwarded the job to my friend who quoted approx.$ 3,000 for review / editing of around 200 pages of manual. The customer couldn’t believe the number she saw. I had to explain that this kind of job had potential risks. Suppose the editor missed some words and a user followed the manual (as translated) but something went wrong and caused an accident. The translator and the editor might be jointly liable.

Some companies limit their liability by stating that “We give no warranty in relation to this translation, including the accuracy of the translation. We shall not be liable for any damage, loss in injury arising directly or indirectly from any person’s use or reliance on this translation.”

What about freelancers? What protection do they have?

None. Not for translators in Thailand.

I have been trying tobuy professional indemnity insurance for myself. No insurers in Thailand sell this kind ofpolicies because the market does not exist.

I contacted insurers in Singapore and Hong Kong but the insurers said they only sold the policy to companies.

I checked with insurers in Australia. They have this product but they cover only work performed in Australia.

Well, I work with translation agencies worldwide and want global cover.

At the moment, I’m helping myself by including a limited liability clause in my invoice that all claims are limited to the amount of the invoice. I amend the agreements that I signed with any translation agencies to reflect the limitation of my liability as well.

My last point here is that Thailand still has no accreditation authority for translators and interpreters. The only relevant authority established here is the Court of Justice. Such registration comes with conditions, one of which is to serve them when you are summoned or your registration may be revoked. (I don’t think it’s necessary for customers to hire a court specialist to do translation in most cases.) Maybe it’s because there is no control in translator / interpreter profession in Thailand and anyone can claim they’re translators. I told my friend that the situation was very different from Australia. The rates charged by NAATI translators remain high (higher than most rates posted on www.proz.com) and I think it’s partly because NAATI has certain standards and even improves their accreditation process from time to time which limits number of translators to enter the market.

I feel the situation is getting worse based on the number of emails I have been receiving.Some my blog followers asked me why the rates offered by overseas translation agencies were so low (as low as $ 0.03 per word). My answer was because there were translators who were willing to accept such a low rate and so these agencies would not increase the offered rates unless no one responded to their ads.

A friend of mine in the translation industry advised me of a translator they knew who had quit this profession to pursue another field due to excessive complaints about the price. I am not at that point yet, but I do have alternatives should that time come.


If you want to discuss about translation, please drop me an email – natchaon@gmail.com.

Natchaon Chucherdsak,NAATI No. 67061, Australia

Create Date : 12 ตุลาคม 2555
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Sawaddee ka. My name is Nat. I am a certified translator. I have been in the translation industry since 2004.

I graduated a master degree in English-Thai translation from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.

I have the following accreditation:
- NAATI Accreditation for EN < > TH translation (Australia)
- Court Expert Registration for EN < > TH translation (Thailand)
- Member (MCIL), Chartered Institute of Linguists (U.K.)

See details about my services here https://www.nctranslation.net

For a quick quote, email your document to natchaon@yahoo.com.

รับแปลเอกสารวีซ่าออสเตรเลียพร้อมประทับตรา NAATI ปรึกษาฟรีที่ natchaon@yahoo.com หรือ Line: Natchaon.NAATI

See below my locations:
- Melbourne: 18 Feb - 30 June 2018
(Last update: 15 Feb 2018)

NAATI ออสเตรเลีย, NAATI เมลเบิร์น, NAATI ประเทศไทย, NAATI กรุงเทพ, แปลเอกสารพร้อมประทับตรา NAATI, แปลเอกสารโดยนักแปล NAATI, NAATI Australia, NAATI Melbourne, NAATI Thailand, NAATI Bangkok, NAATI translation, NAATI accredited translation, Australia Visa, Partner Visa, Fiance Visa, Prospective Visa, Skilled Migrant, Student Visa, Work Visa, Work and Travel Visa, Online Visa, วีซ่าออสเตรเลีย, วีซ่าแต่งงาน, วีซ่าคู่หมั้น, วีซ่าทำงาน, วีซ่านักเรียน, วีซ่าทำงานและท่องเที่ยว, วีซ่าออนไลน์
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