An old joke says that the definition of an Argentinean is “an Italian who speaks Spanish and thinks he is British,” but locals dismiss that as sour grapes from other envious Latin Americans.
Earlier this month we were in Córdoba for the 4th Translation and Interpretation Conference organized by “las dos Cecis” — Cecilia Irós and Cecilia Maldonado — owners of IMTT. This event is one of the several disjointed local gatherings of translators that occur in Argentina. This edition brought together some 300 professionals to discuss favorite topics like how to use Trados and Word, and the ubiquitous sessions about bad translations other people do.
After observing the Latin American translation market for the last twenty years, and witnessing the creation and rise of several Argetinean vendors, we realized that it is time for a new positioning exercise for players in that market.
Vendors like IFL, Patagonia Translations, Rosario Traducciones, SpanishBackOffice, and Ushuaia Solutions, have long concentrated their sales efforts in international markets, offering high quality for competitive prices. What they have not understood yet, is that their real competition are translators from 19 other countries (including Spanish speakers in the U.S.) who are commanding the same prices (or better in some cases) for an often inferior product.
Argentina is one of the countries with the best educational systems in the world, which includes several outstanding translation schools and many continuous education programs organized by local associations and companies. Yet, local professionals spend a lot of effort using what we call “grocery store economics” to underbid their local competitors.
We believe that it is time for local companies to get together and start promoting the value of doing translations in Argentina compared to doing it other countries. A good first step would be to organize a collaborative country booth at events like Localization World and the ATA Conference to promote the advantages of sending work to that Andean country, where in addition to playing polo and rugby, they “think” they can play soccer.