An article by Joachim Güntner in the NZZ (Welche Autorenrechte gebühren einem Übersetzer?) takes up the topic of how literary translators are to get better payment.
Publishers are loth to regard translators as another kind of author, and one of them referred to the idea of a fair price as ‘medieval’. Translators who expect better payment and also a share of profits are seen as acting above their status.
bq. Einen Roman von – sagen wir – Umberto Eco zu übersetzen, hat einen höheren Rang als die Übertragung einer italienischen Gebrauchsanweisung ins Deutsche. Niemand bezweifelt das.
Well, that was a rather weighted example, wasn’t it? (I bet more people read the instructions than they do the Eco…)
The article quotes a judge who thinks translators should be paid the same amount as secondary-school teachers, and Burkhart Kroeber, who translates Eco, who compares the payment rights or pianists or theatre directors. There is also a description of the rather civilized payments system of the Diogenes Verlag in Zurich, guaranteeing a share of profits to a certain extent, and above that sharing profits among translators or putting them towards financing new translations.
Meanwhile, in the new ADÜ-Nord Infoblatt, Draga Gradincevic-Savic describes the evil effects of the new statute on the payment of interpreters. No sooner is a German Act passed trying to ensure that police interpreters are paid a reasonable fee than the police oblige those working for them to enter into standard agreements for low fees, and what’s more, with no guarantee of frequent work such as the Act envisages.