Reprinted with gracious permission from Steve Vitek from his blog, Diary of a Mad Patent Translator
It is a well known truism that eighty percent of new small businesses fail within the first three years. The failure rate depends on the type of the business, of course; with restaurants, it is said that fifty percent of them fail within the first few years.
We all notice how the names of restaurants keep changing after a while when we drive past them and we usually don’t pay much attention to such a mundane fact of life. It’s all just a part of the scenery, like cherry blossoms in the spring, a flock of geese slowly crossing the road (why don’t they fly? Is it because they have their goslings following them?), or the homeless who are sprawled most of the time in some of the downtown streets of most cities.
I am not sure what the failure rate of new small translation businesses would be, including one-person businesses. Well, I know that they sometime fail too, but I don’t know how long it takes before they bite the dust.
I have been able to survive more than three decades as a translator. But given the current dire situation, I am not sure whether I would have survived what I call the “translation industry” (2.0) had I launched my tiny enterprise three decades later, which is to say just about now.
Fortunately, I am already semi-retired and since I am no longer responsible for the wellbeing of my grown children who have left the house many years ago, I don’t need to make that much money anymore.
As if the situation for relatively new translators who are just trying to establish themselves in the translation field was not bad enough, they now have to compete, in addition with free machine translations and with very low rates being paid by the “translation industry” to many human translators, also with a rampant translators’ identity theft.
I see the evidence of this rampant translators’ identity theft almost daily in my email box, which is periodically filled with emails with attached fraudulent résumés of “translators” based on résumés of real translators that were stolen by outfits specializing in creating fake résumés.
I know that many of the résumés that I receive are from an outfit based in Gaza, or possibly somewhere else in Middle East, because I can identify several peculiarities typical for this outfit.
A telltale sign of this particular crook who is targeting my email box is that whoever puts together the fake résumés uses wrong names for the would-be translators. For example, translators into French never have a name that one would expect from a French person, a first name like Claire or Hélène, and the last name is also funny, not something that would resemble a common French name.
Or a male Japanese translator who supposedly translates from and into Japanese has a female Japanese first name and the last name does not sound Japanese either. And he is so good that in addition to Japanese, he can translate also into Chinese and Korean!
The crooks who specialize in manufacturing fake résumés based on stolen identities sometimes also make other stupid mistakes: for example, I received a résumé from a geographically confused would-be translator who supposedly translates Czech and Polish to English and lives in “Wroclaw, Czech Republic,” (although Wroclaw is in Poland.)
This to me is a clear indication that whoever is running this fraudulent enterprise is not a translator, or at least somebody who would know something about foreign languages. These people are simply ignorant crooks and fraudsters pretending to be something that they are not. They know nothing whatsoever about foreign languages.
I can’t help thinking, the funny thing is that in this respect these people are not really very different from a typical translation agency translating pretending to be able to translate “all subjects from and into every language” in our wonderful “translation industry.”
If you read my silly post today this far, you must be wondering whether I fell for a fake résumé at some point myself, and whether this might be why am I so keenly aware of this problem.
The answer is of course, yes, I did fall for it several years ago. That résumé looked so perfect and the rate was so reasonable, I simply had to give it a try! But when I received the short translation, it was garbage and I had to have it retranslated by a real translator, which means that I had to pay for it twice.
I only found out that the person who pretended to be somebody else was an imposter when I was paying the would-be translator. I paid for the garbage that I so foolishly ordered by PayPal, and because PayPal verifies identities of persons who want to have a PayPal account, I saw that this person had an Arabic name, which was not the language into which the translation was delivered, with the abundant aid of machine translation.
The best way to find a new translator is when a translator is recommended to you by another translator. The worst way to find a new translator is to trust the résumé of a very promising translator who offers a reasonable rate that somehow ended up in your mailbox.
Unless I can verify the identity of a would-be translator by going to his or her website, and unless I see that this translator went to the trouble of at least paying for a website and for an email that is attached to this website, I simply assume that the résumé that just turned up in my email box, which does not indicate a website, and which only has a free throw-away email, is a monstrous fake.