Lionbridge tries to force translators to pay for the intelligence they themselves created

ZSP continues to receive news from disgruntled Lionbridge freelancers from all over the world. The latest is perhaps worth mentioning.

Submitted by akai on March 27, 2010

Starting in June, Lionbridge will charge translators to use the Computer Assisted Translation tool that it insists freelancers use: Logoport, their own proprietory tool.

For those not in the know, translators often use computer assisted translation tools (CAT tools) to store words and phrases into a translation memory (TM). This makes it faster for translators to work in the future. Theoretically, this could mean that the translator builds his or her own database and gains benefits from this. But more and more businesses are demanding that translators also hand in their TM with the translations they concern.

Lionbridge tries to force translators to use Logoport, a one-way, Internet-based CAT. When creating translations with Logoport, the TM lands on Lionbridge's servers, not in the individual translators' TM. This means that the translators are building Lionbridge's TM, not their own. And Lionbrige can configure the CAT in any way they want.

All this is meant to keep down translation costs by making the translator's job as automated as possible. Payment to translators is not calculated by word - although most clients still pay this way. Agencies use a Weighted Word Count, which is calculated based on what is produced by the CAT. To be specific, any words or phrases in the final translation that are a 100% match to those generated by the translation memory may not be paid for. "Fuzzy matches", things that were modified or changed somehow, are paid at a lower rate. Only translated words and phrases which are 100% newly generated are paid at full rate. But when they are added into the TM, the next time they appear, they are likely to be a translation match, which the translator does not receive payment for.

Needless to say, this is all very disturbing to translators, many who understand they are being forced to create the machine that drives down their earnings and which will ultimately decimate jobs in this field.



13 years 2 months ago

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Submitted by fabio on March 29, 2010

I am not a Lionbridge employee but some of the comments are out of place.

-For those not in the know, translators often use computer assisted translation tools (CAT tools) -to store words and phrases into a translation memory (TM). This makes it faster for translators -to work in the future. Theoretically, this could mean that the translator builds his or her own database and gains benefits from this. But more and more businesses are demanding that translators also hand in their TM with the translations they concern.

Transltors have always handed in theur TMs and also by handing a transalted file using a tool called "aligner" a TM can be easily created therefore transaltion workspace wil nto chnage anything in that respect. The TM now is non the server so the transltor does not have the TM but they could copy and paste the source and target in teo files and align thme and have theur own TM as weel, but let me tell you in 10 years I have never ebenfited from the TM from one csutomer for a transaltion project for another custeomer so having TMs on your hard drive is not of real help.

As far as the fuzzy match thing is concerned, it has been like that for the past 15 years so there is no change really, the only difference is that the TM is online.


13 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by Doppert on April 17, 2010

I am a Lionbridge vendor, i.e. a freelance translator. Luckily, I don't get that much work from them and I don't have to switch to this new tool with its subscription. I did install it and I will see what happens (there is 60 days subscription-free period), but I am not going to pay for this tool, unless they pay me the subscription fee back up front when work is offered. The tool they offer isn't very good, so actually they should be paying the translators an additional bonus for working with logoport. As mentioned before, I downloaded the new tool and I couldn't detect any additional benefits for the translator. Sure, they offer the benefits of using other TMs and extensive virtual office space for working with other translations and farming out projects, but most benefits they mention, aren't true, like the annual renewal fees for current translations tools and the upgrade fees for these tools. What they forget to mention is that these tools are far superior to the tools Lionbridge has to offer and those tools are not online, so if by accident you don't have an internet connection, you still can continu to work.

Regarding the TMs and handing them in. That has not always been the case. I use Trados and other translation tools, but will only deliver the tm if specifically asked. Anyway, as mentioned by the previous poster, with current alignment programs and the use of uncleaned Trados files for instance, building the tm is fairly simple. But it has certainly not been like this for the last 15 years, 8 to 9 years at the most.


13 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by gypsy on April 17, 2010

Is it true Lionbridge pay way below the going rate for translators and translations?


13 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by translator on April 18, 2010

Fabio says that comments are "out of place" in the article, without telling us what he is referring to.

He then goes on to seemingly defend the practice of Internet-based proprietary translation tools. These tools benefit only the company, and no freelance nor in-house translators find them advantageous or helpful. Quite to the contrary, they reduce both quality and productivity. The productivity question does not trouble Lionbridge and similar companies, because their pay rates and use of subcontractors means they do not pay for productivity.

Companies such as Lionbridge base their business model on using beginning translators, often non-native speakers. (It is universal translation theory that translators should always translate into their native language - while some exceptional linguists are exceptions, these are not willing to work for Lionbridge.) The theory is that their automation will allow these under-trained and under-paid translators to benefit from the collective knowledge in the company database. Often a more-qualified proofreader will revise work, but this is often simply limited to grammatically and stylistically correcting the text, without concern for the original text's meaning. Here Lionbridge is concerned with productivity, and hence less interested in quality.


10 years 2 months ago

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Submitted by stargazeypie on March 21, 2013

This article is about a real problem but actually spends its time blathering about an irrelevant issue. The real issue is Lionbridge's pay-to-play scam, forcing freelancers to use its own shitty proprietary software in order to do jobs for them AND pay for the privilege. But this has nothing to do with TMs in general! First of all, from a legal point of view, the translation client, not the translator, generally owns the translation (and some will specify in their contract that you're supposed to delete/destroy everything after the job), so freelancers are acting unethically and possibly in breach of contract if they're getting sentences they translated for one client out of a TM and selling them to another client. (Especially for full price!) Likewise, once the client has paid a freelancer for the translation, s/he can obviously reuse it; it would be daft to pay the same or another person full price to translate it all over again! Second, if you're not familiar with CAT tools, the article doesn't make clear that they will automatically provide the matches for you as you work through a document; you don't have to do any work at all searching for them. For 100% matches, you still often do have to read them to keep up with the flow of the document, so a bit of the translator's time is getting wasted on them if s/he's getting paid nothing for them. But all my clients generally pay some fractional rate, like 15% of the full rate, for all the 100% matches because they want me to look at them quickly and spot any errors that had been missed in the past etc. The lower match rates are similar: CAT tool automatically finds them for you, client pays you a (higher) fractional rate based on them, you save scads of time and effort. Often they'll be something like the same sentence with a single number or name changed, so the "translation" is really just the busy work of changing a minor detail; the CAT tool makes it quick and easy and you still get paid something for it.

I cannot understand how anyone could have any objection to the use of TMs in general. In jobs with little repetition, they're irrelevant, but when content is highly repetitive, or when a client makes a new version or update or modification of an old document which has already been translated, a large proportion of the text is duplicate stuff. To search for each duplicate by hand each time would be insane, and a stupid use of a translator's time and skills. To retranslate each from scratch would also be insane and lead to inconsistencies. I've had many jobs where as much as 70% of the content is from repetitions and/or a TM. In the limit, I dealt with a huge batch of files where, once I did the first 10 or so, every new file had about 7 new words and thousands of 100% TM matches. For that I just told the client I'd charge nothing for the 100%s but not look at them at all and just let the CAT tool do them automatically. This project would have been literally impossible without CAT tools.

Of course you can have something against any particular CAT tool. There's the general problem that agencies tend to lock you into using one proprietary tool, and you have to pay for it. With Lionbridge it's worse because they're also getting that licensing fee themselves! Ideally translators would be able to choose whatever tools they prefer and receive/submit projects in formats based on open standards, but that does not seem to be happening.

By the way, I don't know where the claim that "most clients" are not being given TM discounts comes from. I can't speak for the industry as a whole, but I know what when I worked in an agency, we obviously gave the client exactly the same TM discounts as we were getting from the translators, because it's, ya know, a market, and you have to price competitively, or someone else will and will steal your clients.

In summary, nothing about TMs in general is a disadvantage to the translator in any way, and nothing about this article is specific to Lionbridge except for their pay-to-play scam part.


9 years 10 months ago

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Submitted by altemark on July 15, 2013

What stargazeypie said. But this discussion must be continued. Translators are getting screwed, agencies are more and more likely to pay peanut money, and how do we get organized?