Competitors’ little tricks…

On the “How much does it cost?” page , I make reference to a method used by several agencies to lower their productions costs: using junior, less expensive, translators and then having translations proofread by senior translators.

I do not approve of this method – not only does it lack ethics, but it can also be a dangerous game to play.

The first risk is inherent to the initial quality of the translation. A junior translator is – as the title indicates – someone who lacks experience. The resulting translation is highly likely to contain clumsy and burdensome phrasing, or even errors in terminology.  Even after correction by a talented linguist, a poor quality text remains mediocre. Style is to translation what ingredients are to cuisine: if you skimp on the basics, you’ll never achieve a high quality dish, even when prepared by a top class chef.

The second risk you run is losing good colleagues. A good professional who is obliged to rewrite texts each time will end up refusing proofreading assignments. Sending a poor text to a good translator for review is like blatantly saying quality is the least of our worries and we are not prepared to correctly pay people with experience. The day you need very high quality work, whether for a translation or for proofreading of a technical text, none of your experienced suppliers will be prepared to take on the work.

And finally, I refuse to apply to linguistic services a policy which would never hold in any other type of service. Imagine your hairdresser offers you a 20% reduction if you have your hair cut by an apprentice, promising to fix any botch-ups if necessary. Imagine if your plumber did something similar when repairing a leak. Would you take the risk? I wouldn’t.


  • A junior translator

    So your translators graduated with experience? Were you never a junior translator?

    Actually you do get apprentices with hairdressers and there are trainee nurses, doctors and dentists. I am sorry but cutting out young people from a profession is not a fair thing to do for the future…

  • Dear Junior,

    There are plenty of big agencies out there who are wiling to pay less and give their chance to newcomers. We offer high-quality translations: in more than 14 years of carreer I have never met a junior translator with the skills and expertise of a senior one. If the quality of the translation is not perfect from the start, even editing by a senior translator won’t do to meet our standards. We offer fair rates to established profesionnals, but we cannot pay the same rates to both newbies and experts. I am sorry, but a junior’s work has not the same value, and it can jeopardize the whole project. It is a risk we cannot take, for our customers’ interest.