Caning the blind


Typical come-on for getting paid less

Computer-assisted translation tools are like a blind man’s cane. They help the stricken individual in daily locomotion. But if snatched away by a mugger, a cane or a crutch can be turned against its owner as a weapon.

This has been the trend lately as the “envelope switchers” of olden tymes (middlemen to whom “value added” meant switching your translation to their envelope and remailing it) are elbowed aside by modern grifters. The modern approach is to apply contrived scaling factors to the unit of piecework. The unit of piecework in the 20th and 21st centuries is the word, which replaces obscure 19th-century scrivener measures.

So the come-on now takes the form “we’ll pay you X per new word.” But just what is a “new” word? Well that’s where the mystery comes in. There’s no such thing, but that’s never stopped folks from believing or signing silly things. Think of it as a trick question, like “just how stupid are you?” This works if you respond to it honestly. In every case the idea is to get you to accept less money precisely because you bought and learned to use software designed to make you more productive.

Perhaps you were thinking, when you added that capacity there would be something in it for you? 

Some companies I do business with use the expression as a sort of IQ test for translators. Those who agree to some silly contrivance for commoditizing their work sight unseen are likely motivated by desperation, not confidence in their own ability to meet specifications. In these cases it is perfectly apropos to explain that once you know enough about the job to turn in a bid, they can take that bid and divide it by whatever they call “new words” and by that procedure find X. Quod Erat Demonstratum.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s