Translation in Egypt, a Wide Scale Profession
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Many years ago when I was just a fresh graduate of the university, I really thought that translation is a message like teaching, and a translator is a person with a message to convey to humanity. Therefore, I chose it as a profession, because I do love the process itself and the noble goals behind it. I wanted to be the bridge on which people with different tongues can cross and communicate with each others successfully and efficiently.
But as I grew older and came down to earth, I found reality something totally different. I don't know whether this is the case allover the world or just in my country Egypt. I discovered that translation has become the profession for non-professional people. Every one has few words of a foreign language in his head would think "yes, I would work as a translator, how hard can it be?" And they work as translators and to my amazement they find clients. Also, the automated translation tools made the situation harder on us, real translators, with real education and qualifications to be translators. Secondary school students use Google and make few adjustments and voila the text is miraculously translated.
This led to an unfair competition in translation market and the people became unable to differentiate real gold from gold plated translation. The outcome is the wide difference in the rates scale in the market. Some prestigious translation firms due to their fame and reputation could charge L.E. 100 per page, and they find people to pay such amount. Other less famous firms would take L.E 50 per word, and those also find their customers, then the scale decreases dramatically till it reaches the offices of translation near universities that translate mostly for students and they charge L.E 5 to 7 per page. A decent, self-respect translator would find himself trapped in this horrifying process. If he is not able to have access to the reputable firms, he would find himself obliged to give quality work to those who pay less than its worth.
Clients are not fools, they can differentiate between various degrees of quality, but they just act according to their budges and targets. The big companies pay much because they don't want any mistakes that might cost them millions, while young students can't pay much due to their small budget and all they care for is to understand the material they are going to be examined in, even if in a shabby way.
However, in such a wide scaled market a glimpse of hope appeared for the poor efficient translator, which is globalization. The site of Proz came as the rescue hero for people like me who wish to find clients who can appreciate quality and are willing to pay for it. Still, for a local translator to reach the international standard it is not an easy task; one has to master both source and target languages, be able to use the computer and access the internet in addition to CAT tools. Till a translator in such a bewildering market masters all these factors of success, let him stay trapped between the claws of the wide scale rates market.