Somebody’s granny working above some shop in Nuremberg/SDL und die Welt der Übersetzung

2003 hat der Marketing Director von SDL (die jetzt Trados gekauft hat) freiberufliche Übersetzer so beschrieben: “Irgend jemandes Oma, die über einem Laden in Nürnberg arbeitet”.

I’m a bit behind the times with this 2003 quote from Hedley Rees-Evans, SDL’s marketing director:

bq. The companies also face price competition from small outfits that may focus on translating into one language, or from people with personal ties to corporations. Companies continue to farm out work to such individuals, but are learning that a more sophisticated provider may be a wiser choice, said Rees-Evans.

bq. “It’s somebody’s granny working above some shop in Nuremberg,” he said. “Then they realize that there are actually economies of scale to be realized and questions of quality.”

Thank goodness I have left it too late to be a granny. I do work above a shop, and not far from Nuremberg. And I agree that economies of scale can be made, and that questions of quality need to be considered.

(Thanks to Marc Prior)

3 thoughts on “Somebody’s granny working above some shop in Nuremberg/SDL und die Welt der Übersetzung

  1. That’s right – if you want quality, you go to granny. If you want it cheap, you go to SDL. That’s what he’s saying, isn’t he? :-)

  2. What an arrogant “expletive” Margaret…. She might be a granny but she could be a damn good translator and obviously a risk to his income.
    I know some quite sophisticated grannies…..


  3. We shouldn’t forget that for companies like SDL (and possibly even more so for Lionbridge, now that it’s bought Bowne GS), translators and translation are easily interchangeable commodities. In the localization/globalization business, translation is viewed as no more than a necessary evil, accounting for only a small part of the supply chain. The real money is made in areas like software adaptation, testing, product roll-out and so on.

    Do people like us compete with the SDLs and Lionbridges of the industry? Rarely if ever, I think. We’re in quite distinctive markets, and they can no more satisfy our clients’ knowledge-intensive quality requirements than we can hope to break into their large-scale, single-vendor segment. Of course it doesn’t mean that the big guys won’t try and enter our market when things get tough in the localization industry (as they did after the dotcom crash in 2000/2001), but they’ve not been particularly successful there because of the knowledge barrier, among other things. Plus, many of our customers prefer to deal directly with experts like us, rather than some 19 year-old project manager called Darren.

    There are certainly no hard-and-fast rules in our business, but I do think that the big companies will only be able to make serious inroads into our traditional business if they can offer not only economies of scale, but also “economies of scope” (to use one of Werner Seifert’s favourite terms), meaning that they will have to extend much further up the supply chain and start employing translators in large numbers and giving them substantial subject-area training, in effect producing what you might term a high-end “translation factory”.

    Writing this suddenly reminded me that I wrote an article *years* ago on industry consolidation, and I don’t think that many of the underlying factors have changed too much since then. Anybody interested can download it at:

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