In the second experiment, still disguised electronically, I took myGengo's recruitment test. There's no fee for it. I submitted translations of two short texts from Spanish to English. I deliberately didn't spend much time on them, because it was the Standard (low-paid) rank that interested me. It wasn't the correct way to set up the experiment; I ought to have taken more time and sought translations by a real Native Translator. But here, for what it's worth, is the result.
The verdict took a long time coming: five weeks. I contented myself in the meantime with thinking that at least they were taking care over it! Ultimately, to my relief, it was accepted. But what was most interesting was the comment that came with the evaluation from the myGengo staff:
"You did a very good job of coming up with phrasing that sounds fluid and natural to convey the same meaning in English. You are still a bit close to the text but the word choice was quite good. Remember to just cut out words that are not necessary in English, as Spanish tends to use a lot more words."A bit close to the text? Quite likely. Most of the professional work I've done recently has been of legal documents, and for those – as one client instructed me categorically – "your translations must be as literal as possible." Translators form habits and can fall into a rut. The last sentence too, about cutting out words, is sound advice – I used to give it to my students – and it convinced me that the writer was experienced and serious.
I'd like at this point to be able to say that you get what you pay for at myGengo and that the public will soon learn when it's appropriate to use it and when they should pay more. It's true for some knowledgeable users, individual or corporate; but it's also true that the general public is still woefully ignorant about translation and unable to judge it at Expert level. An indication of this comes from the now widespread misuse of machine translation. For example, I recently heard of a Spanish lawyer who used Google Translate to produce the English version of an international insurance policy. Very dangerous. Yet there is no legal disclaimer on the Google Translate site, whereas some Professional Translators limit their liability on their invoices and a few even carry professional liability insurance (see the article referenced below).
There's already a field in which crowdsourcing of translating is impacting on Professional Translators. It's the subtitling and fansubbing by "ces passionnés qui traduisent des séries pour que les nuls en anglais puissent en profiter [the enthusiasts who translate TV series for the benefit of people with no English at all]." A recent article (see References) is quite vitriolic about them, or rather about the industry that exploits them.
Liability insurance for translators. Translation Journal, January 16, 2007. The text is here.
Nora Bouazzouni. Internet a-t-il tué le sous-titrage pro des séries? [Has the internet killed professional subtitling for series?]. In French. Francetvinfo, June 17, 2012. Click here.