What-Is-Your-Rate crowdsourcing

An unsolicited solicitation came in today from a no-reply@address. It barked out an announcement to no one in particular, much like a Mussolini speech from a balcony.

<spam>Dear colleague,
[Pitch to go to a website in some unidentified country to fill out forms and offer credit to strangers…]
Now, here’s the good part:
If you are not the named recipient of this transmission, please notify us immediately, by telephone, and delete or destroy any copy of this message.  You should not disclose or use this information in any way. Disclosure or use of this information may expose you to criminal or civil liabilities.  We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your attention to this notice. The views, opinions, conclusions and other informations expressed in this electronic mail are not given or endorsed by the company unless otherwise indicated by an authorized representative independent of this message. </spam>

This… outfit–principals unidentified–claims to have been in business almost as long as I have. But even its attempt at drawing up a paragraph of intimidating legalese is miscopied boilerplate laundered of identifiers. Its website contains no physical address but features a cartoon that unwittingly explains why it is usually better to get a bid (not a rate or guesstimate) from a real translator rather than hire some crowdsourcing meddleman ignorant of the language and subject. Dealing direct saves time and money without bureaucratic entanglement.  Just as bookstores let the customer be the judge, the internet lets you choose among translations as carefully as you choose every book you want to read.


1980s Translators job ad

In 1987 language middlemen laboriously compiled lists of test-screened linguists from association member lists and intermediated between the general public and talent as time-saving triage agents. The rare translators’ associations that offer actual testing or public contests to identify ability, all have searchable websites. Certifications can be verified at legitimate association websites.

Any individual needing a translation can locate experts directly and compare their credentials. Search engines have replaced phone books. An interpretpreneur willing and able to deal with the public has a website containing credentials and sample translations. Many bilingual individuals include audio recordings of their own voices in different languages–a security measure that thwarts impersonation.

The globalized market supports many freelance contractors and virtual crews, and yes, brick-and-mortar agencies. But the quality of surviving agencies has improved. None of us little guys and gals can compete with a well-staffed value-added language company when it comes to glossy brochures in seven languages.  I recommend a Houston corporation for weighty material, and some government agencies deal with their own “pet” vendor oligopsonies.

Then again, no company has ever taken pencil and paper and passed a certification test–or produced simultaneous interpretation of content meriting judicial notice. Language encodes thought, and thinking is done by individuals–not artificial entities or machines. Searching for translators is a function search engines, websites and online linguist locators now execute nicely. For an example, visit http://www.linguistlocator.com 

Remember, you saw it here first. If in need of a Portuguese or Spanish translator for some immigration papers, a lawsuit, contract–or maybe an interpreter for a deposition, think of www.portugueseinterpreter.com

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