Talking the talk from Kuwait to Kinshasa.
June 20, 2011 2:27 AM   Subscribe

I have need for a large and strange batch of audio translations. As a newbie to this game, please help me zero in on market specifics.

I'm working with an established record label to issue a huge box set of highly esoteric musics recorded around the world via radio. The recordings are in dozens of languages from Bari to Beja, from Hausa to Hindi. I need to hire some folks to listen to the recordings and offer translations of the bookending narration and/or song lyrics in their respective languages.

Since there is no paper/textual translation to be done, is this something for which I should solicit translators on ProZ, TranslatorsCafe, ATA, etc., or is it a different market entirely? And how should I calculate the going rate for translating, say, a three-minute song? Is there some benchmark for this kind of work?

Thanks for any guidance. This is a brand-new arena for me, so please feel free to point out any glaring holes in my thinking.
posted by mykescipark to Work & Money (3 answers total)
As a current translator and former anthropologist, I think in this case that you will have better luck for many of your language combinations if you approach this through the circle of academic anthropology (and academia in general) rather than through the usual professional translation marketplaces. If you can find a scholar who works in the same ballpark region, even if they do not know the language, they can probably point you in the right direction toward someone who can. For the more common languages (several million speakers), you might also identify/approach foreign-language instructors. For example, my large university offered classes in both Hindi and Hausa.

As far as rates, this is the sort of thing that I'd expect to pay by the hour for, allowing probably far more time than you think might be necessary--like, a couple hours for a 3-minute song. A grad student would consider $50/hr for this kind of work to be like Christmas in July, but I think most jr. faculty would also consider a rate in that ballpark.

My guess is that it will take you nearly as long to find someone to do this work for each individual combination, as it will for the eventual translator to complete the task, so take that into consideration as you think about negotiating the fee!
posted by SomeTrickPony at 4:39 AM on June 20, 2011

As a translator, translating from audio is a Pain In the...Neck.

And finding people to translate all those minor languages? Take whatever time/money budget you are thinking about and multiply it by 10.
posted by zachawry at 6:47 AM on June 20, 2011

With so many languages, I'd actually suggest going with a linguistics service that has a native speaker network, rather than a series of grad students or translation service unless money is more precious to you than time and let them coordinate all the languages for you.

(I'll send you the contacts I've used for marketing evaluation in case they're helpful.)
posted by Gucky at 10:54 AM on June 20, 2011

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