Translation and Dealing with a Recession - Part 1

September 10th, 2016

During a recession there’s a general belief that a downturn is the wrong time to stop activity in a business.

Translation and Dealing with a Recession - Part 1 | One Hour Translation

The definition of a recession is: ‘A temporary period of economic decline, with reduced industrial and trade activity. A recession is typically identified by two successive quarters of a reduction in GDP’. Other descriptive words for a recession are downturn, economic decline, slump, and slowdown. A recession for any country can be a worrying time indeed for all sectors of the community; while for translators it means that not only are there fewer translations to be completed, translation clients are doing everything in their power to cut costs – and often at the translator’s expense!

A Business’s Mindset During a Recession

During a recession, and even before a recession, while everyone is concerned about the constant pessimistic predictions, there’s a general belief among business experts that a downturn is the wrong time to stop activity in a business. In fact, a business should become even more active. Communication with customers is always vitally important, and because of this, marketing expenditures should not be cut during a recession. What businesses must do, however, is understand the potential change in their customers’ needs, and adapt their marketing and other strategies to this new situation. A company’s translation requirements will probably come under review as well, and that’s fair, because translations are not cheap when the business is paying for top-quality translation work. There will always be many businesses out there who can’t do without translation, but on the other hand, they’ll become conscious of the fact that, with the right mindset, money can be saved!

Recession from a Translator’s Perspective

Interestingly, from a translator’s point of view, you can almost measure a recession’s severity by the delay in which invoices get paid. Of course, we know this is also true for many other businesses, and it means that business clients are using delaying payment tactics as a source of free interest loans. Translation clients can become quite imaginative when requesting (or should we say demanding) discounts for their translation work, sometimes citing a specific reason, but mostly for no reason at all other than the fact that the country is experiencing a recession.

Quantity Discounts Should Not Be Automatic

A quantity discount is an entirely different matter, and this has been discussed in previous posts. Certainly, a quantity discount can sometimes be justified if the translator has been awarded a large translation project with repetitive terminology because the translator has saved a lot of research time. However, most translators believe that, just because the project is a large one, they shouldn’t be required to automatically provide a quantity discount.

Discounts for Translation Memory Tools

This same situation arises when discounts are expected for partial or total matches when the translator uses a translation memory tool. Translation memory tools are simply part of a translators’ tools-of-trade, and a translator purchases these tools and learns how to use them to save themselves both time and money. If a translation client provides the translator with a reliable translation memory, resulting in saved research time, then it’s only fair that the savings be shared; however, it’s not acceptable for translation clients to ask translators to give away the product of their investment in time and money.

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