I recently sat in on a debate about translation rates, and we found that there were considerable differences in pay among the countries of the European Union. Whereas in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, translation rates of less than € 0.12 per word (for translation from english to german or vice versa) are deemed by some translators as unacceptable, in Spain and Italy, for example, many companies will expect you to work for as little as 6 cents per word.
At the same time, there are significant differences in the quality of products and hence in which kind of quality is expected of you as a translator, so that can make you feel a bit better about working for a low rate, if you accept to do so that is. In Germany, very good English is spoken among the general public, for example, and therefore, a translator, who has studied languages and translation/interpretation at university for many years, is expected to provide highest-quality, technical language without fail. In Spain, for example, the level of English spoken is the lowest in Europe, and it may on many occasions be “just good enough” for a translator to write in clear, simple, correct English. It is arguable, therefore, that the low rates are in some ways justified, or, at least, that one may happily adapt the output to the input, i.e. lowly paid jobs deserve no more attention that just making sure everything is translated correctly. In such a case a translator would skip one or two revisions and send off the text earlier than they would normally do, aware that the translation is “good enough”.
Have you made any similar experiences with prices/quality of translations in different E.U. countries? Let me know in the comments.