Translation bidding systems

Re Céline’s post here attacking bidding systems on translation sites: I’m sure cranky old Mr Smith would be delighted to see that people of the same trade have not yet given up meeting together for merriment and diversion, the conversation ending in a conspiracy against the public and in contrivances to raise prices.

Re Céline’s post here attacking bidding systems on translation sites: I’m sure cranky old Mr Smith would be delighted to see that people of the same trade have not yet given up meeting together for merriment and diversion, the conversation ending in a conspiracy against the public and in contrivances to raise prices.
Any site that does impose minimum prices would be discriminating against workers who are able to produce more for less because they are better translators or because they live in cheaper countries. (Werner Patels, the trade’s biggest price maintenance flamer, is openly racist in this respect). It would also be digging its own grave, since, unless Mr Chirac managed to stop it, traffic would head to other sites that did not seek to hobble trade. It’s bizarre that Chris of Babelport in his comments doesn’t seem to understand this.
What needs to be done is to improve the primitive systems now in operation on sites like ProZ and Aquarius so that vendors and purchasers can effectively factor stuff like after-sales service and warrantees into an equation that will continue to have price as its principal factor, global free markets being the slightly bitter medicine that makes all of us better.


It seems that the Viennese-Albertan transmogrifier has thrown yet another wobbly on being called a racist. Let’s make it simple for him:

  • Wikipedia: A race is a distinct population of humans distinguished in some way from other humans.
  • Wikipedia: Racism has historically been defined as the belief that race is the primary determinant of human capacities, that a certain race is inherently superior or inferior to others, and/or that individuals should be treated differently according to their racial designation.
  • Werner Patels:
    • “It looks like Canadian companies are quite smart after all. After all, why should they outsource key processes to places like India or China and deal with people that can’t even speak English?”
    • “even the best Indian translators are not English speakers”
    • More out there if you can be bothered to look.
  • Despite the fact that, unlike Austria or Alberta, and notwithstanding the best efforts of Hindi nationalists, India has produced some of the finest writing in English over the past 50 years, Werner thinks that Indians are distinguished from other humans by their inability to speak English correctly. I think that means that he is a racist. I also suspect that he drinks green ink.

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  1. How come that I feel assaulted suddenly?
    I think I have shown a lot of understanding for the freelancer problems (I am one of you in the end, just in another trade) …
    I know that I do not have discovered the philosopher’s stone and do not have a ready made solution for the worlds problems, I am willing to attempt to make changes, nonetheless.
    The discussion about the introduction of minimum prices has not been started just yesterday, I am just willing to reconsider it.
    As you have said “what needs to be done is to improve the primitive systems now in operation”: I am listening, I am open for suggestions.
    With the kind permission of Céline I have reposted her article on babelport and I invite everybody to join the discussion.
    SiteFounder of

  2. Certainly had me fooled.
    Continuing my rant, I think that India’s increasing success in the traditional translation market will be repeated in the machine translation business, driven by the country’s immensely complicated language situation (“18 major regional languages written in 10 different scripts”) and facilitated by its formidable software development capability. The quote is from a good piece on the issue, which also makes the following claim:

    Machine translation, say experts, could offer a viable option to those wishing to move on to an environment where thousands of verses in English could be converted into regional languages on the trot.

    I rather hope that this is still referring to the language needs of government, and that policy is indeed issued in rhyming couplets.

  3. Saying that a certain group of people are not native speakers of English is not racism.
    You are making it very easy for me to sue you. In fact, I can have you charged with criminal libel.

  4. Racism has historically been defined as the belief that race is the primary determinant of human capacities, that a certain race is inherently superior or inferior to others, and/or that individuals should be treated differently according to their racial designation.
    That’s the right definition. I never said that any race was superior over another. Language has nothing to do with race. You can be Chinese and still be a native English speaker (if you were born, say, in the States and brought up on English).
    All I am saying is that translations must be handled by native speakers of the target language, and if you’re not a native speaker of the target language, you are not qualified for the job. Period.

  5. Dear Mr Patel,
    What you are going around telling everyone is that Indians as a group are unable to speak English. That is racist and demonstrably untrue: it is used socially and professionally by the elite and extensively in public administration. Apart from the perfect command of standard British and American English displayed by many Indians, an Indian English has arisen which seems to me as worthy of the title “native” as whichever variant you learnt in Alberta.

  6. I am not saying that they are incapable of speaking English; I am only saying that they are not native speakers of English. Just as a blind person is not qualified to fly a plane, a non-native is not qualified to translate into native English. This is a fact of nature and cannot be changed.
    Can they learn to speak English as a FOREIGN language? Yes, absolutely.
    You are putting words in my mouth, which shows that you cannot read and comprehend written text, which does not bode well for your career in translation.

  7. About the URL, no, I don’t need permission, since I am Canadian and therefore entitled under Canadian law to have a .ca domain, whereas the owner of is not Canadian and therefore not eligible for a .ca extension.

  8. “Even the best Indian translators are not English speakers” sounds to me very much like you’re saying that they can’t speak English. I notice that you don’t answer my point about many Indians actually being native English speakers, even according to conservative definitions of the term. Finally, squatting the .ca version of the Translators Cafe brand may be legal in whichever swamp you inhabit, but it doesn’t go well with your sermons on professional ethics. (By the way, do you troll around the net because you suffer from some obscure variant of Tourette’s syndrome, or is it simply to acquire links and boost your Google ranking?)

  9. The only troll I see is you. You crawl out of your woodwork and attack me for no reason at all.
    No, Indians are not native English speakers. And the term “English speakers” is equivalent to “native English speaker” (at least it was in my context). Again, as a translator, you should be able to read AND comprehend written text.
    But let’s not get stuck on English. What about those Indian translators that claim they can translate into Canadian French when, in fact, even a Euro-Frencher could not translate into proper and correct Canadian French? Canadian French is so different from Euro-French that it is a language in its own right, and Euro-Frenchers don’t even understand a third of written or spoken Canadian French. The words may look the same, but in Quebec they have a totally different meaning (which Euro-Frenchers don’t realize).
    So, tell me how an Indian, who’s a native speaker of Hindi or Gujarati, could produce a perfect Canadian French text when even a Parisian would fail miserably?
    That’s not racist, but just the facts of life in the world of languages and translation.
    The .ca domain: there is nothing unethical about it. The domain was there to buy and I bought it. In Canada, thank God, we have rules – and that includes that people like you would not be allowed to call themselves “translators” without breaking the law here. Again, thank God!
    The rules regarding .ca domains are very clear: if you are not Canadian, you can’t buy them. Period.

  10. It seems to me that the original dicussion about bidding systems and prices kind of shifted its topic here. This seems to get quite a personal mud-bath.
    I was a bit occupied respnding on Celine’s blog so have’nt come back here for a while. However, before I am off let me just say:
    Trevor Wrote:

    Once you remove inefficiencies like crazy attempts to reintroduce guilds, high nominal entry and bidding costs (which deter producers in poorer countries), and move towards a post-Froogle system that automates peer-(or whatever-)based rankings, good translators all over the world will earn more and bad ones will go off..

    I don’t know what you are refering to with a “post-Froogle” world, but peer-based rankings is exactly what I tried to implement with babelport, and i.m.h.o I did!

  11. I should qualify one of my previous statements: some Indians, depending on their upbringing and circumstances, and I am talking only about Indians who were raised and live in India, may, indeed, be native speakers of English – Indian English, that is. We are all only too familiar with the particularly “flowery” quality of Indian English, its preference for obsolete words and combinations of expressions and words that don’t exist in “standard” English.
    As such, and this is what I have been saying all along, Indian English is not appropriate for a British or North American target audience. A French company, for example, that has its website translated (i.e., localized) for the US market would be foolish to hire an Indian translator who happens to be a speaker of Indian English. It would be as inappropriate as Canadian French would be for France and vice-versa.
    However, I’ll allow that there are situations where Indian English is appropriate – when the translation is intended for the Indian market.
    But we need to draw the line at Indians, Chinese, etc. who claim to be able to translate into German, French, Spanish, etc., because these are not languages native to India, China, etc. I recently posted an example of “Indian German” to my blog, and it was horrendous (I had received it from a potential client, who wasn’t too happy, to say the least!).
    If you think that this is racist, so be it. I couldn’t care less. You’ll be the one exposed to ridicule, not me.

  12. Mr Patel, I think you’ve got some kind of hang-up about Indians. A native speaker is usually defined as someone who has spoken a particular language from earliest childhood. An Indian can be a native speaker of British English, Indian English, French, German or Albertan as long as s/he fulfils that requirement. Go ahead and compile your own lexicon if you disagree.

  13. You still cannot spell my name correctly. You are definitely not a translator, that’s for sure.
    I know what makes a person a native speaker – better than you do.
    But I also know that these people in all those countries are not native speakers of German, French, …….
    I am not hung up on Indians; the same goes for any nationality: if you’re German, you don’t translate into English, French, etc.
    On my blog, I have provided a link to an analysis on Indian English, and this also proves that Indian English cannot be used for translations intended for any market other than the Indian market itself. Just as “German English” (i.e., Deulish) is a big no-no.
    And, Trevor, learn to copy names, etc. faithfully. In translation exams, people are failed if they can’t do that – even if the translation is alright for the most part, if you make mistakes like that, you flunk.

  14. Dear Mr Potty Patel, I suggest you write (politely, in your best Albertan) to the publishers of dictionaries explaining their error and to booksellers ordering them to remove from sale the works of that silly old non-native flunk, Erasmus. Oh, you sweet little pudding-wudding, you! Someone really should smack your bottom!

  15. Trevor, I think you are right. Translators should be judged on their work, not on where they are born. I am a non-native translator of Spanish to English with 20 years experience, yet I still find I have to tell people I am British in order to get work. I wonder if other non-native translators have to do the same.

  16. Any more undercover non-natives want to fess up? You could have an annual party with Mr Patel as your Aunt Sally.

  17. I repeat: someone who can’t even copy names properly is not a translator. We flunk people for that (and I am a marker of national exams).
    It’s true what people have been telling me: you’re a drug addict.

  18. Anabel,
    If you tell clients you’re British, when you are not, aren’t you committing fraud? That’s misrepresentation. Lying to a land job is not exactly the professional thing to do.
    What a beautiful site this is: a gathering of drug addicts and con-artists.

  19. I had overlooked this discussion. When did Trevor claim to be a translator? This is completely new to me. But of course, the job description isn’t protected in Germany and Britain, so he may do so. I just can’t see what good it would do to call yourself a translator if you aren’t. However, it suggests the term must have some prestige.

  20. I don’t understand something here.
    Werner George Patels says the following:
    “You can be Chinese and still be a native English speaker (if you were born, say, in the States and brought up on English).
    All I am saying is that translations must be handled by native speakers of the target language, and if you’re not a native speaker of the target language, you are not qualified for the job. Period.”
    but on his website he states: “www.GermanTranslator.BiZ Seit 1987 als Ãœbersetzer und Dolmetscher für Deutsch-Englisch und Englisch-Deutsch tätig.”
    So, Werner, which is your native language, English or German?

  21. English has a longer and prouder tradition in India than in forsaken holes like Alberta, only discovered in 1754.

  22. I have 2 mother tongues, which is why I can translate into both English and German. Unlike Anabel, Trevor and most everyone else in this group of drug addicts, con-artists and professional liars, I don’t have to lie to get work. Work comes to me; I don’t have to ask and beg for it like most everyone else out there.

  23. Seriously Werner, do you do it Greek-stylee? I might be able to arrange you a proper job in Marseille. The only catch is that you may get the odd Indian client, but I’ll try to conceal your past indiscretions.

  24. Werner, I thought you’d like to know additionally that I am an infidel and eat my peas when they’re still lightly frozen.

  25. Have you seen Werner the Greek’s photos? This one should be the happiest moment of any Trekky’s life, but he looks like a man who has just accidentally run over his dog while it was trying to escape.

  26. Werner is stupid isn’t he. He thinks that I use “Anabel” when I am dealing with clients. Actually I call myself “Werner”.

  27. Anabel,
    You are a con-artist, simple as that. That’s why you have to lie to get any work, because you are certainly not qualified as a translator, and your work, no doubt, is of the poorest quality.
    So many “translators” we find on sites such as proz and others lie about their qualifications, which is why these sites have such a bad rep.
    But thanks for posting your confession here, regardless of your real name. Clients and agency owners will read this and as a result will be more careful about verifying translators’ credentials.

  28. I think it’s worth flogging that poor old horse one more time and pointing out that the whole thing about the net is that it’s easy to fake identities and credentials. For all we know, Werner could be a semi-literate, paranoid crazy with a ridiculously exaggerated sense of self-importance.

  29. If you were a fridge-enabled cannibal, I don’t see why there’s any reason why you shouldn’t have two mothers’ tongues. I don’t think Werner has a fridge.

  30. Wow, you guys are really dis-ing him.
    What is the story anyway? Is he really so xenophobic?
    Anyway, I just think his defining a mother tongue and then claiming to have two was illogical, Mr. Spock.

  31. Werner’s being silly. This is John Humpert:

    Native speakers spend all or substantial parts of their developmental years (childhood and adolescence) within a particular language-bound geographic area. They acquire the language because they are immersed in it. In everyday home life, in social activities, and at school, native speakers converse with other native speakers. Given substantial exposure to multiple cultures, some children grow up as native speakers of several languages.

    There are native speakers of British English in India as there are native speakers of American English in Canada. There just aren’t very many of them.

  32. I don’t really buy it though. The language learned at home but foreign to the country lived in will always suffer. It is always a dumbed-down version. I repeat, always. Lacking is the daily exposure to active and passive writing and confrontation scenarios of the language.
    Having lived in a German-speaking country as an American for 16 years, I have yet to experience the animal who can read/write/speak/communicate in both languages without some element of being slightly stilted in one on of them and provoking me to voluntarily say “Wow, you really have two mother tongues.” There is of course, the idiot savant category, but no one is that.
    I vote for one mother tongue.

  33. I think that covers Werner. Hell, there are people who can’t speak any language properly.

  34. First of all, the whole discussion is pointless. It seems to be more important to attack one another than to come up with credible arguments about a particular position. It is a fact that being a native speaker of any language doesn’t make you a translator and even if you are one it is possible that someone who is not a native speaker may be more qualified to do a particular job. How is that? Simply because there are some people that have studied a second language for several years and have accumulated important experience working with it. It is not their mother language, but when they have dedicated their lives to learn it -not like in “I took an eight-month ESL program and I learned English”, but with the dedication of a schollar- they have earned the right to translate into it.
    Now, in the case of India, or any African country where an European language became the official language, nationality doesn’t desqualify a professional translator who has learned a language throughly and built up knowledge and expertice in translation, just as a Canadian may still translate into American English or a more international type of English, or a Colombian can do the same with Latinamerican Spanish, a concept rather subjective, using a vocabulary that can be understood in the majority of the Hispanic America.
    In conclussion, what really matters is the knowledge that a translator has of he target language, which has to be proven with real and valid credentials. I do believe that it is possible to translate into two and perhaps three languages, but if you do you better have the references that support your CV.

  35. By the way, english is not my native language and I do NOT translate into it, at least not yet.

  36. Werner has been found ranting everywhere. He thinks he is the god of the translation world. He is full of hate and anger. He must have not gotten enough love as a child. He was kicked out of ProZ and then Translator Cafe kicked him out because he was so rude and unkind to the fellow translators. I think this sums it all up. He does not like other people and he is the only translator in the world. He is a very sad person.
    Look, you had a discussion going and he turned all of you into drug addicts and con-artist.

  37. I went through the entire discussions and can unforunately only agree with Guillermo. I live in Germany for approximately 20 years now. I was born in a country with the only national language English but I am not British, nor American, nor Australian. I speak and write english with proper language syntax. I speak correct German and am a German through nationalisation. I guess it would not have mattered if I were born on Mars, when it comes to my nationality. I was lucky to have had clients as well as friends who are not native English but have studied the language and do a better job at it than most native speakers. Simply because a language is correct, diverse and at the same time rich in its structure. The entitlement “native speaker” does not hold for any of us. We are all the product of our entire experiences and if we have learnt a language and show that we are proficient at it, then we are entitled to say we are native speakers or qualified to translate a document with correctness of the language in all its form.

  38. This is from 35+ year veteran translator, living in a “Third World country”. And guess what, I discovered your site through your “friend” Werner Patel(s)’s blog. I owe him eternal gratitude for that :-).
    I’ve just spent hours (yes, HOURS) on your site and it’s quite an exhilarating experience with real cool people (I love Annabel for her candor).
    Regarding the possible number of “mother tongues”, I can say I am a living example of someone who has 2 of them: my country’s official language, French, (which is far from being my mother’s tongue, even though she was educated and was even a teacher in that language) and my native “Wolof”. This, I daresay, is the only thing I have in common with Mr Patels (of course apart from the fact that we are both “excellent translators”, that is, if he really IS one, and even though I am from a “Third World country”, which will probably be anathema to him :-).
    Now, on a lighter side, I was born long before my country gained “independence” from France and I clearly remember at shool we used to recite: “Our ancestors, the Gauls… (Nos ancetres les gaulois…)! With such an experience under my belt (a terrible blow on anyone’s “identity”), I certainly don’t feel like calling myself “French”, even after all these years!
    Anyway I am so impressed by your site that I’ve immediately added your link to my “Translator Power” blog, in which I advise my younger (and not so young!) colleagues on how to market their services.
    My only problem is that you might be “rubbing shoulders” with your “friend” WGP on my list of translators’ blogs and sites (If what Misha says is anything to go by, he’ll probably ask me to remove his link as soon as he reads this comment :-)
    BTW, “Patel” sounds more like Gujarati than German, maybe that’s why he insists so heavily on the “s”!
    Anyway, you can rest assured I’ll be a regular visitor to this truly awesome site!

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