India … maybe this explains why they only pay translators $0.01 a word

Translation jobs are increasingly being outsourced to Indian companies, and offers of translation work (from various languages into English) at one or two cents per word have flooded the market. (Take a look at what Proz, TranslationDirectory, TranslatorsCafé, and the like are thriving on, just to get an idea.)

It’s an interesting problem in “globalization.” If 1-2 cents/word is decent pay in India, good for them. But when Indian companies are in a position to compete with translators outside of India, who cannot possibly live on rates like that, what’s the ethical response?

Do we tell translators outside of India, “Ah, well, you’re just another unfortunate victim of globalization. Better start looking for another job”?

An additional irony is that the quality of cut-rate Indian translations is so often poor. Hey, but wait. They speak English as a native language in India, don’t they? Well … sort of.

When non-native-English-speaking clients aren’t in a position to judge the quality of the translations they’re getting (and they often are not), they’re happy to buy Hinglish. It’s cheap after all. In all senses of the word.

On the other hand, if you understand that the pair of “made in India” pants that cost you $12 are never going to last beyond one summer (if that), why would you expect your translation to be any better?

.... and then Mahesh went on to pursue a successful career in translation.

... nor the rules of English, for that matter.

Sometimes a thesaurus just isn't enough.