Another lifetime ago, back when I was practically a full-time external quality manager for a large multinational translation company, I complained when a linguist submitted a translation for quality management about a day and a half late and during very odd business hours (nearly 2 am the day after her deadline). My email said something like, “this translation was submitted outside regular working hours in my time zone,” to which the linguist –who had not only delivered late but had also rendered very low-quality work– replied something in the lines of, “well, in my time zone, we work 24/7.” The obvious answer from me would have been, “well that explains your low-quality work.” Instead, I chose to drop the conversation with the linguist altogether and focus on convincing the PM to: a) extend the deadline and b) have another linguist edit and proofread the job before quality management.
Like I said, that was a million years ago, but I could never get over that conversation, not because I cared much about the linguist or her “witty” comeback, but because of what I thought that said about how a lot of translators worked at the time: too much, too quickly, too irresponsibly, too (insert adverb of choice here!). The question is why? Why do so many translators work 24/7 only to set themselves up for missed deadlines and quality complaints? Many say rates, which makes sense: the lower your rates, the more work you need to accept in order to earn, at least, a living wage, the more work you accept, the more words you need to translate per day, and you can imagine how the story goes from there. The thing is that I’ve been off the grid for years (literally). During the whole time I was in law school (which was five years, because I studied in Argentina), plus some time I took off after law school and the first few years of my PhD studies, I did not blog, participate in discussions, join groups, or otherwise engage in fluid communication with fellow translators (at least not regularly). But now I’m back, and guess what? This is still an issue! How can this still be an issue? I will explore this further in this blog, but something tells me it still has a lot to do with rates!