As from yesterday, this blog proudly endorses the No Peanuts! for Translators movement, launched by Wendell Ricketts and Stefano Kalifire. The aim of the movement? Well, stop working for peanuts, basically.
I am excited to join forces with fellow translators who want to see the profession recognised as it should be, and understand that “If every single one of us insisted on receiving a living wage, a living wage is what we would receive”.
Please read the No Peanuts! Statement of Principles on the blog. For the non-translators who – understandably – can’t be bothered reading it all, I’ll try to sum up the basic ideas of this Statement.
First of all, we, as translators, should refuse wages that do not allow us to live decently. We should insist on receiving a “living wage” and educate agencies, publishers and other clients by explaining them that quality translations are worth more, should cost more, and, above all, are a good investment for them. We should stress that, as in any other field, skills and experience count and it’s smart for them to pay a bit more for a better-quality translation. Low rates to the translator almost always mean that the client is getting low quality translations, so the situation is counterproductive for both the translator and the client. Many beginners set very low rates to “get in” or because of “the market”, but, as the Statement aptly puts it,
If you’re not participating in the No Peanuts! Movement, you are participating in its counterpart: Peanuts for Everyone!
Also, translators should take back control of their role in the client/service provider relationship, which has degenerated to the point that many clients assume they have the right to dictate rates to translators. To give you an idea of how bad it gets, I’ll use an excellent metaphor that I read a while back on Il Segno di Caino:
You sit down to eat in a restaurant. After consulting the menu, you call the owner over to your table. “This steak is overpriced,” you say. “I’ll pay half, and I want you to throw in a bottle of wine with that. If you don’t get everything on my table within ten minutes, though, the deal’s off.” And here again, the restaurateur has no recourse: he must accept or lose the chance to earn even 50% of what the meal actually costs.
Funny, ain’t it? One would think this is a paradox, a dramatic exaggeration. But it’s not, really. That’s how it works for many people. No more of that. No more peanuts for translators! Or at least for me, although in my stubborn pride, I can happily say that I never really accepted any.