Dreams of White Tiles . . .


Unemployed Once More

Filed under: Uncategorized — Roddy @ 5:53 pm

Three weeks ago I did something I’ve been meaning to do for months, and left my job. Even though I was only working mornings, the constant stream of English translations of contracts, government documents and highly-classified intelligence material other stuff which I was meant to mould into more readable English had been getting ever more depressing, especially as in most cases I was confident I could have done a better job if they’d just let me translate the document in the first place.

And, now? I’m not sure as of yet. After about three years of well-paid work here in Beijing, there’s a financial buffer which means I don’t need to rush back into work. There are still about 30,000 Chinese words I don’t know, so some time studying might be wise. I’ve got various ideas for developing and expanding my small suite of websites, but I’m kind of tiring of HTML, FTP and ATS and I’m inclined to stick with what I’ve got rather than go looking for any more work. Anyone who pays attention will have noticed I have a tendency to only half finish projects anyway. However, as the sites expand they offer their own income opportunities, so who knows . . .

Travel is another possibility. There are large chunks of China I haven’t investigated yet, not to mention every other part of Asia. My recent trip to Guilin has got my hungry for some more wandering down there, and with a bit of luck I’ll have an apartment down there shortly – at half the price of my Beijing place for twice the space, I figured I might as well get myself a base for a Southern Tour – I’d hope to spend at least three or four months of the next six down there, and I have friends in Guilin who could make use of the place while I am not there, not to mention friends not in Guilin eager for cheap holidays.

I won’t be completely idle on the work front. It looks like there’ll be a fair amount of freelance translation coming in, which is good as that’s what I actually want to be doing right now, plus there are at least three internet projects and a couple of other things I might get involved in. If I’m not careful I might wind up busier than I was when I had a job.

Should be an enjoyable half year.


  1. Seeing the pictures at the top of this page, I sure wish I was unemployed. Man, some great photography!

    Comment by gougou — 6/22/2005 @ 6:56 pm

  2. A depressing job … seems this is exactly what I have …

    Do you mean you are moving to Guilin? This sounds great. If you move to Guangzhou I could visit you.

    Comment by skylee — 6/23/2005 @ 11:38 pm

  3. Enjoy unemployment while you can! I’ve gotten so much done on my own various sites since leaving my old job to persue something different (non-education) and have quite enjoyed it. Alas, eventually, it’ll be back to the office.

    Comment by Eric — 7/22/2005 @ 8:36 am

  4. Just starting reading your site again. I also have a few part-time editing jobs, and hate them so very, very much.

    Do you know of any foreigners who have full translation jobs? I’ve dropped most of the agencies that send me stuff, as the English was completely nonsensible, and I had to completely re-translate it. Yet they wouldn’t pay me for translating, only editing. I started imagining them running the articles through a pirated machine translator before sending them to me… they could save the translators fee, and only pay me an editing fee!

    Comment by Sean — 8/5/2005 @ 5:43 am

  5. No, I don’t. There may be some, somewhere, but I suspect they are all in-house at companies rather than with agencies, in Beijing at least.

    My current take on the market is that 98% of Chinese > English translation can be done at a ‘good enough’ level, which an average non-native speakers can do adequately. The piece comes out understandable, even if you get a headache reading it. For the 2% that needs to be better, they prefer to translate it and then have it edited by a native speaker (and often it is just a native speaker, as opposed to anyone who can actually claim to be an editor, and I may include myself in that if you pressed me) despite the fact that what it really needs is re-translated, as you say. There simply isn’t enough demand for real quality translation – and what demand there is can probably be met by a handful of really shit-hot native Chinese translators.

    When translation agencies do offer me translation work, they’re often scared off by my rates anyway.


    Comment by Roddy — 8/5/2005 @ 12:16 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress