Translating “anything” from “any” language


There are many translation companies in Kazakhstan claiming they can translate “anything” from “any” language. What is worse is that such companies’ rates are quite low.  The client can expect any kind of issues from the texts delivered by such companies. Professional translators and translation companies work only in particular areas of expertise. Translation companies often engage freelance translators of a rare language via the Internet. They have no one else who knows such rare language. Hence, the client receives the raw text that has not been proofread or edited. They cannot afford hiring an editor and/or proofreader even if such a freelance specialist is available online, because their rates are too low and would not cover the costs. You are lucky if it is translated well. Otherwise, you can publish an article full of errors on your web-site.

As a translation company owner and a practicing translator, I wonder if it possible at all to have any texts edited or proofread, when the translation rate is as low as 1500 tenge (or 5 US dollars) per page.

Usually, around 50% of the sum is paid to the translator(s), and 20% – to the editor(s). Is it possible to engage a professional translator in Kazakhstan for approximately 2.5 dollars per page? I personally have great doubts. Such companies either have to hire students of linguistic departments or engage inexperienced persons with some basic translation skills.  However, in this case texts received from such students or persons require more editing. So, it is difficult to find an editor who is eager to earn 300 tenge per page.

Even if we assume that some professionals agree to work for such low rates, they will rush to translate as many pages as possible, with little care and very poor results.

When clients put excessive pressure on the prices, chances are high that their translations will be assigned to cheap, inexperienced translators. Ultimately, the clients can find out that the price they have paid for the translation is too high, given its quality.

If you plan to sell your localized products successfully, you will want to work with a specialized professional team even if its prices  are higher.



T.G. Gnedich (1907-1976)


Wгнедич 2e are fortunate not to live in a time of systematic oppression by the state. Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, Marina Tsvetayeva, Nikolay Gumilev, Vsevolod Meyerhold and many other cultural luminaries were not so lucky. Nor was Tatyana Gnedich.

Tatyana Gnedich lived in Leningrad. It was the time of Great Purge. “Enemies” were expelled from the University she was studying at. Tatyana Gnedich was steeped in literature of Elizabethan poets and put on blinders and earmuffs. Shortly, Tatyana was brought down to earth when she was accused of concealing her noble birth. She was perplexed as the Gnedichs were known to be an old noble family. Then she was sent down for “pluming herself upon her noble birth.”

In December 1944 she was arrested on a fabricated charge. During the investigation, in a solitary-confinement prison cell, Gnedich translated Byron’s Don Juan into Russian. She memorized both the original and the translation. She was given paper and a pen by the investigator who was so impressed that he breached the rules.

She spent 10 years in the GULAG. Tatyana always kept her manuscript at hand. The precious papers were often endangered. Her inmates used to shout, “Why are you riffling? You disturb our sleeping. Throw away your shitty papers!” Tatyana managed to save them.

After she was released in 1956, Tatyana was introduced to a famous theater director. He staged her translation of Byron and received much acclaim.

This was the beginning of Tatyana’s career, though it was believed that her later translations never approached the level of her prison work.


Важно ли знать английский?


Согласно EF English Proficiency Index (рейтинг уровня владения английским языком) показатель Казахстана “очень низкий”. Индекс EF EPI нашей страны – 47,04. Таким образом, по уровню владения английским языком наша страна занимает 54-ое место из 70 (

При этом страны с высоким индексом более прогрессивны с инновационной точки зрения.

На основе анализа рейтинга за пять последних лет (с оригиналом на английском языке можно ознакомиться по ссылке была установлена корреляция между уровнем владения английским языком в стране и ее экономической мощью.

Страны с высоким уровнем владения тратят значительно бόльшую долю своего ВВП на научные исследования и опытно-конструкторские разработки (НИОКР). Такие страны как Швеция, Дания и Словения имеют одни из самых высоких в мире индексов владения  английским языком и при этом больше всех инвестируют в  НИОКР.

В странах с высоким уровнем владения также большее количество исследователей и технических специалистов на человека.

Кроме того, существует тесная взаимосвязь между уровнем владения английским языком в стране и объемом экспорта ее высокотехнологичной продукции, такой как компьютеры и научно-исследовательская аппаратура.

Даже при значительной поддержке НИОКР низкое владение английским языком может помешать развитию национального инновационного сектора. Например, в Китае расходы на НИОКР высоки. Кроме того, в Китае большое количество исследовательских публикаций. Но они цитируются намного реже, чем  публикации об оригинальных исследованиях, проводимых в других странах. Это говорит о том, что Китай плохо интегрирован в глобальное исследовательское сообщество.

Основываясь на своих собственных впечатлениях, могу отметить, что из-за плохого знания английского языка казахстанские специалисты оторваны от мирового сообщества. Глобализация – не пустой звук. Весь англоязычный мир и профессионалы, владеющие этим языком,  имеют постоянный доступ к последним достижениям в своей области, находятся в центре событий, поддерживая связь со своими коллегами из любой точки мира, становясь членами профильных ассоциаций, а также посещая многочисленные отраслевые конференции и выставки.

Business vs. Friendship

It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.
– Confucius

Once I had a friend. We had studied at the same University and shared a room. In the early 2000s, we established a translation company on a parity basis. None of us had had any prior business experience. We had to work non-stop and learn a lot. We used to discuss every business issue with each other. We used to trust each other.  We worked hard to succeed. We engaged freelance translators only when we were unable to do the work ourselves. If necessary, we worked at night.

Step by step, our profits grew, as we gain more clients. We were facing the future with confidence and occasionally considered other activities we could commence.

This changed suddenly. My companion left me nothing but 200,000 tenge. Allegedly, the sum was the only thing due to me.

Six years passed. I was the owner of another translation company. Naturally, the single owner.  However, I was deceived again. The elder sister of the wrongdoer was my best friend. Once she told me a story. When they were children, their father was especially harsh when any of his children brought home others’ thing, even if it was a mere button. In the age of Stalin, their grandfather had stolen some wheat grains from a collective farm’s field to feed his hungry family. The grandfather had been sentenced to a term of imprisonment. So, his son could not get rid of those painful memories. My friend was blameless. However, she did nothing to stop her sister.

People prefer to conduct business with someone they can trust. Approximately 50 percent of startups are owned by friends, according to Microsoft Office Live Small Business.

I still think it is possible to run a business a friend. However, the friends should sign an official agreement to stipulate in detail what they will do in case of a conflict. In addition, I strongly suggest that one of the partners should hold at least a 51 percent interest in the company to prevent a decision-making stalemate.


Translation Prices in Kazakhstan


#prices #quality #Kazakhstan

The prices of translation services are quite low in Kazakhstan. The average price charged by translation companies is 2,000 tenge (or approx. 6.5 US dollars) per 1,800 symbols of target text. Some companies offer 1,000 tenge per 1,800 symbols. It is impossible to engage a professional translator or editor for such a low consideration. Most individual translators’ prices are even lower.  It is difficult to find a translator from a western country to work for such a fee. So, local translators have to translate into languages other than their native ones. Ultimately, the quality is jeopardized.

Many translation companies believe if they lift their prices, their clients will leave them. Last time, Angla raised its prices in March 2014 after an abrupt devaluation of tenge. Then we lost a major client claiming it could not afford that.

This time we have adopted a wait-and-see approach. But clearly, we will have eventually to raise the prices again.

About Myself and My Goals


I am Anna Glazunova. I have a long experience as an English-to-Russian translator. I am the owner of a translation bureau. It’s name is Angla and it is based in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

By creating this blog I seek to become a part of the international community of translators. The more I navigate the Web, the clearer it becomes how isolated the Kazakhstani translators are from foreign professional associations and trends in translation.

So, I would be happy to make acquaintance with translators and linguists from all over the world.  I am going to write about my thoughts on translation and situation in the translation market. I will be glad to receive your feedback, even if your comments are full of criticism.

Sincerely yours,