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What is your definition of a professional translator?
Thread poster: Williamson

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:16
Flemish to English
+ ...
Jun 10, 2003

On all translator forums, everybody claims to be a professional translator to distinguish him/herself from those who are not a professional translator.
However, they do not define what the standards are to be called a "professional translator".
Is it a person, who masters his/her mother-tongue(s) and two or three foreign languages, knows how to use CAT-tools and DTP-tools and has an expert-knowledge of a number of specific fields?
Could somebody clarify this "mystical notion" which is created on all fora and define the term : a professional translator?


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Lesley Clayton
France
Local time: 10:16
French to English
+ ...
My definition Jun 10, 2003

A professional translator in my opinion is quite simply someone who earns a living from translating: nothing more, nothing less.

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Jean-Marie Le Ray  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:16
Member
Italian to French
+ ...
Définition d'un traducteur professionnel Jun 10, 2003

Williamson wrote:

On all translator forums, everybody claims to be a professional translator to distinguish him/herself from those who are not a professional translator.
However, they do not define what the standards are to be called a "professional translator".
Is it a person, who masters his/her mother-tongue(s) and two or three foreign languages, knows how to use CAT-tools and DTP-tools and has an expert-knowledge of a number of specific fields?
Could somebody clarify this "mystical notion" which is created on all fora and define the term : a professional translator?



Hello,

Sorry my English is only passive. Après plus de quinze ans de métier et l'équivalent d'une (grosse) encyclopédie traduite, je dirais que le meilleur critère pour juger de ce qu'est un traducteur professionnel, c'est de savoir s'il en vit (je n'ai pas dit : "bien") !
C'est aussi une question de vocation, et je pense pas que le mot soit trop fort...
Ciao, Jean-Marie


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:16
Italian to English
Professionals do it for money Jun 10, 2003

When someone signs into a web forum or whatever claiming to be a professional translator, it really just means that he or she translates, has translated, or hopes to translate for financial advantage.

That's fine by me because it means we share at least one interest in life.

Otherwise, the term "professional translator" is, as you say, pretty vague.

As descriptions go, it's a bit like "computer", in that it gives you a rough idea but you wouldn't part with cash for one without finding out a bit more about what the specs are.

Cheers,

Giles


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:46
English to Tamil
+ ...
A professional trnslator is serious about his work Jun 10, 2003

He respects the deadlines and does not allow himself to give out a copy, of which he is not sure. Mastering CAT or Trados are additional qualifications.
Till February 2002, I was not even using a computer nor did I know how to use one. All my translations were delivered as just handwritten manuscripts. This had been continuing since 1978 onwards and yet I had a successful practice. Quite difficult to believe, even for myself now. Even now I do not have translation memory software nor as of now am I going use one.
Hence I am saying from my own experience that a professional translator is one who is having mastery over the source as well as the target languages, well equipped with good bilingual dictionaries pertaining to the fields in which he is translating, knows how to negotiate with the client and how to keep his dignity, in short all qualities that are required of a good professional of any kind. What is more, he should keep his eyes open for any new ideas that improve the quality of his work.


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Right Jun 10, 2003

Lesley Clayton wrote:

A professional translator in my opinion is quite simply someone who earns a living from translating: nothing more, nothing less.

I think this is the best definition, since excludes all those who make this job as a hobby or "divertissement" (and in consequence of this accept low tariffs, make dumping, pay no taxes, and similar things).
Giusi


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 10:16
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Pros do it for money Jun 10, 2003

Lesley said:
"A professional translator in my opinion is quite simply someone who earns a living from translating: nothing more, nothing less."

This the only valid GENERAL definition. Every other characteristic is 'cream on the mash' (Swedish saying).
What is professional in that sense is up each and everyone of the business partners the translator is dealing with.
Some cherish DTP, others CAT and a lot of other players value different other things.

BR

Mats J C Wiman
Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe
http://www.MatsWiman.com
http://www.Deutsch-Schwedisch.com
http://www.proz.com/translator/1749
(ProZ.com deu>swe & forum moderator)
eMail : MatsWiman@tele2.se
Street: Träsk 201
Post : S-872 97 Skog
Tel : +46-612-54112
Fax : +46-612-54181
Mobile: +46-70-5769797


[Edited at 2003-06-10 11:17]


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Wenke Geddert  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:16
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Code of Conduct Jun 10, 2003

Another one: Professional also means adhering to a code of conduct (or code of ethics) as specified by the professional body. This would be applicable to the profession of translation as well...

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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 04:16
German to English
Is the question really about "professional practices"? Jun 10, 2003

I agree with my colleagues who say that earning income from translating defines a professional.

There are lots of translators who make a living in the words for money business who, for various reasons, don't follow what might be considered "professional practices." Such practices might include, on an elementary level, maintenance of a database, implementing adequate backup procedures, staying up-to-date in one's field of expertise and maintaining adequate resources to perform the job at a high level.

Other criteria might include using up-to-date software/hardware, CAT tools, membership in professional organizations, either on the local or national level.

All these might influence the final product, but the deciding factor in the quality is the skill level of the translator.
Kevin


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Klaus Herrmann  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:16
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Me work for money. I profashional now. Jun 10, 2003

Wenke Geddert wrote:

Another one: Professional also means adhering to a code of conduct (or code of ethics) as specified by the professional body. This would be applicable to the profession of translation as well...


I doubt that asking for money is a meaningful qualifier. It might make translation my profession, but it doesn't make me a professional translator. If there is an easy answer to this question at all, I would subscribe to the definition above.


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Domenica Grangiotti  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:16
English to Italian
+ ...
The opinion of an expert Jun 10, 2003

http://www.foreignword.com/Articles/Rogers/default.htm

The True Professional

I am going to make a hazy but important distinction here. I believe there are translators and then there are professional translators. The former are people who translate on the side, using their knowledge of a particular field to translation work. For instance, in a previous article, I referred to a mathematician who translated a book on advanced mathematics from French to English. I do not consider him a professional translator.

Professional translators are applied linguists whose ability to work with language, write well, and for free-lancers, to operate a business, represents their source of income. Professional translators are people who are dedicated to their languages and the nations, societies, and cultures which come with them. They are devoted to improving their ability to understand their source language and write in their target language. They recognize that translation is both an art and a skill. As such, they are also committed to deepening their knowledge of the fields they translate in, and to cultivating greater facility for writing about such matters. They also have nurtured a deep respect for business ethics, aware that they are in many instances the communications conduit for a product or service, for information or opinion, and so must consider the consequences of their linguistic decisions. Finally, professional translators know that they can always improve and polish their translation ability.

Professional translators are also distinguished by certain attitudes and approaches to their work. In this article, I want to take a close look at these attitudes and approaches and help clarify what a professional translator is and how we can all become more professional about being a translator.

Unlike the medical or legal professions, there are no precise academic or professional prerequisites to be a translator. This is a boon for those talented individuals who want to get started in the translation industry and a bane for those people trying to identify true professionals. The only requirement a translator must fulfill is knowing two or more languages. Anything less is rather hard to accept.

Virtually all professional translators in the United States have at least a Bachelor’s degree, and translation vendors will rarely if ever work with a translator who does not have an undergraduate education. Often these degrees are in language studies, or some related field. However, some translators have degrees in their field of specialization and have academic language training as a college minor. Others have advanced degrees in translation itself. Still others have little if any formal academic language training, instead having learned their languages either in the home or while living abroad.

Translators have to be able to write, so you might assume that translators have formal academic training as writers and professional writing experience. I have found little evidence for this. Few translators I know truly love writing; to most it seems to be merely an essential aspect of translation. However, most professional translators do have a deep interest in writing, be it as a necessary tool or an art form.

Finally, virtually all translators have a well developed knowledge of one or more specialized fields, such as finance, law, including in particular patent and corporate law, computer science, medicine, pharmaceuticals, and so on. This is not to say that translators are experts per se in such fields, but they do have enough knowledge to read, understand, and then translate common material in the field. And very few translators will ever develop such in-depth knowledge in more than a few fields.

****
My humble opinion: no professional translator can do without two gifts: talent and passion.
Without talent his/her translations will lack "life".
Without passion he/she is not going to go anywhere in the profession.

Have a good time, you all.
Domenica


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:16
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A professional body Jun 10, 2003

is a money-making institution too, it is not the "trade-union" of the translators.
To what extend their "certificate" can be put on the same level as the degrees of the T&I-schools (IOL, Monterrey,Vienna, Heidelberg,Genève, Paris,...) is another ? to me. Certification seems to be an extra, if you are willing to pay for your membership and exams.
The above given description does not yet set out a set of standards to demistify the term "professional translator". Is it somebody who decides to make money full-time with translation and becomes a translator overnight? Or is it just a term to say to others "Stay of my turf".
In the end in this world everything is all about money, not about ethics.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 11:16
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Translation theory Jun 10, 2003

A profound knowledge of translation theory or Übersetzungswissenschaft should not be forgotten. Conscience about the act of transferring a message from one language to an other and from one cultural surrounding to an other.

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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:16
English to Portuguese
+ ...
If a client says your are professional does he/she mean Jun 10, 2003

Hello,

From most of the opinions above, I could then ask:

If a client says you are a professional does he/she mean that you only care about the money you make out of their business?

I think this answers the question.

If it is all just about money, shouldn't those "professional translators" leave the translation business and go somewhere else?

All the best
Mónica


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Emmanouil Tyrakis
Local time: 11:16
French to Greek
+ ...
How about this definition? Jun 10, 2003

Professional translator is the one translating all kind of texts (Law, economics, medical...) exept literary texts.
Professional translation is related to professional texts, texts being produced by all kind of professional sectors.


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