Mobile menu

Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
How do you know if you are a good translator or not?
Thread poster: xxxwonita
xxxwonita
China
Local time: 12:07
Apr 18, 2008

Dear colleagues,

I have been doing translation on an irregular basis for roughly 4 years. Up until now, I have never had a complaint about the quality of my translation, neither have I got a positive feedback from any client.

How do I know if I am a good translator or not?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
If you... Apr 18, 2008

...keep the same clients for many years, this tells a lot.
If you get recommendations from colleagues or clients that introduce you to other clients, this is also a telling sign.
If you raise your tariff and the client keeps on working with you, this is another good sign.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:07
English to Spanish
+ ...
You'll know Apr 18, 2008

You will know in your own mind, no one will have to tell you. If you have doubts, then you will know that you need to need to progress further. It is all a matter of being honest with yourself.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:07
English to German
+ ...
If you.. Apr 19, 2008

can read over old translations (that you probably can't even recall that you ever did them) and think: "This is good stuff! Who wrote this? Hey, I did! Yayyy!"



Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
self doubt is a good thing Apr 19, 2008

Henry Hinds wrote:

You will know in your own mind, no one will have to tell you. If you have doubts, then you will know that you need to need to progress further. It is all a matter of being honest with yourself.


With all due respect, knowing "in your own mind" might be dangerous.

Recently my association (Med Eds and Trans) ran a free workshop. The profile of attendees was age 35-50/experienced freelancer. We weren't surprised to see how a "free" event hauled these people in out of the cold (they seem to be very resistant to spending money on training). What surprised us was that they were least interested in elements to do with linguistic quality, as it was an area that a number of our experienced members had identified as a definite area for offering training.

In my part of the presentation I used (a lot of) examples taken from the translations of one of these "35-50 yo established freelance translators" as representing, what I, in nearly 12 years experience, see as fairly typical traps. ... I met this guy once, he wasn't there at our free session ... and I'll tell you why. Because he thinks noone - but noone - can teach HIM anything about translation! How terribly wrong he is!

So, please, Henry, let's encourage a little self-doubt:-)

...How come I have NEVER managed to get to edit a translation that wasn't crap !!!!!!!!!!! I gave up a few years ago ... it was soul destroying.

[Edited at 2008-04-19 00:13]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
you don't take it for granted Apr 19, 2008

Bin Tiede wrote:

Dear colleagues,

I have been doing translation on an irregular basis for roughly 4 years. Up until now, I have never had a complaint about the quality of my translation, neither have I got a positive feedback from any client.

How do I know if I am a good translator or not?



You likely are a good translator simply becuase you doubt and because you question:-) In other words, you don't think this you being good is a given/you are not arrogant/you don't assume you know it all.

Add to that no complaints from clients.

And remember that we pick up on error far more quickly than on quality. For a teacher, it's not the good kids who get the attention, it's the bad ones!

[Edited at 2008-04-19 00:19]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:07
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Henry: that doesn't work Apr 19, 2008

Henry Hinds wrote:

You will know in your own mind, no one will have to tell you. If you have doubts, then you will know that you need to need to progress further. It is all a matter of being honest with yourself.


There have been very interesting studies comparing the actual results obtained by College students during tests, and their self-assessment of their own knowledge.

Interestling, on average, the worse students tended to overestimate their knowledge of the subject matter, while the best students tended to underestimate it.

In fact, I think you have it almost exactly backwards: if you have doubts, you are at least in the right direction.

It's the cocksure translator that is blind to his own faults who will fall time and again in egregious errors.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 12:07
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree with Riccardo Apr 19, 2008

Riccardo Schiaffino wrote:

Henry Hinds wrote:

You will know in your own mind, no one will have to tell you. If you have doubts, then you will know that you need to need to progress further. It is all a matter of being honest with yourself.


There have been very interesting studies comparing the actual results obtained by College students during tests, and their self-assessment of their own knowledge.

Interestling, on average, the worse students tended to overestimate their knowledge of the subject matter, while the best students tended to underestimate it.

In fact, I think you have it almost exactly backwards: if you have doubts, you are at least in the right direction.

It's the cocksure translator that is blind to his own faults who will fall time and again in egregious errors.






If you never doubt about your work, you'll never be able to see your faults (as you don't think there is any).

Kind regards


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:07
English to Spanish
+ ...
Right you are Apr 19, 2008

Lia, Riccardo and Clarisa, you are exactly right. That's why I said you must be honest with yourself. With YOURSELF.

Direct link Reply with quote
 
George Hopkins
Local time: 16:07
Swedish to English
Doubt Apr 19, 2008

The first comment, by Giusseppine, says it all -- almost.

My experience is that there is very little feedback, perhaps an occasional positive or critical comment by a proofreader.
If the customers keep coming then you are definitely on the right track.

The translator's constant companion is uncertainty.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:07
Swedish to English
+ ...
Another possibility Apr 19, 2008

George Hopkins wrote:
If the customers keep coming then you are definitely on the right track.


Or the agency and/or end client doesn't understand your target language.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Stephen Gobin
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:07
German to English
+ ...
Interesting Post, Bin Apr 19, 2008

I have found this a very interesting post simply because I have been freelancing for roughly the same amount of time as Bin.

Part of me says that because translation, like writing in general, is a solitary activity, there is very little if any face-to-face contact with clients or agencies - almost everything I translate comes through via e-mail - and as a result the translator is virtually an anonymous entity. Part of me also says that being a translator does not carry any of the kudos like that of a doctor, lawyer or teacher and what we do and how we do it is a mystery to many people.

The other part of me, though, says that if it's the same agencies or clients who come back to me and offer documents from the same companies that I've done translations for already, then my work must be in order. I too have not had any praise or criticism about my work from clients or agencies and I've never had a serious payment problem (touch wood for the future) either. Being a commercial translator is just that: a business. Clients are not there so there can be mutual patting of backs but for a job to be done and to keep the wheels of industry turning.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:07
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Get yourself tested Apr 20, 2008

Bin Tiede wrote:
How do I know if I am a good translator or not?


It could be that your client keep coming back because you're cheap or because you're an easy person to deal with. It could be that you never got any complaints because your clients have very longwinded quality assurance procedures in place and therefore word never reaches your contact person that your translations suck.

So the best way to determine if you're a good translator, is to get yourself tested reguarly. How? By giving your translations to a proofreader/editor to check (either before or after delivery to the client), at your own cost.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:07
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I agree with Riccardo and Clarisa Apr 20, 2008

Clarisa Moraña wrote:
Riccardo Schiaffino wrote:
Henry Hinds wrote:
You will know in your own mind, no one will have to tell you. If you have doubts, then you will know that you need to need to progress further. It is all a matter of being honest with yourself.

There have been very interesting studies comparing the actual results obtained by College students during tests, and their self-assessment of their own knowledge.

If you never doubt about your work, you'll never be able to see your faults (as you don't think there is any).


I'm not saying it aint good to be proud of your work and think to yourself "Wow, this is a good translation", but I do not believe that bad translations are done only by people who deliberately set out to do bad translations. In fact, poor translators are as likely to be proud of their work as good translators.

I see some people get angry when they discover bad translations. They want to blame the translator for being unprofessional, but in reality the translator is usually not deliberatly incompetent.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:07
English to German
+ ...
Permanent learning - indeed. Apr 20, 2008

Slightly off-topic:

quote]Lia Fail wrote:

...How come I have NEVER managed to get to edit a translation that wasn't crap !!!!!!!!!!! I gave up a few years ago ... it was soul destroying. [/quote]

I am editing a quite monstrous contract (130+ pages) right now - one of the most brilliant translations I have ever encountered. Hats off to this excellent translator. Reading this work is a pleasure.

Back to the topic:

The really good agencies set up translator/editor pairs who will work together permanently. My long-time editor has taught me how to get rid off some persistent bad linguistic habits, her German is brilliant. She is merciless. She is not a proofreader, she is my editor. Hats off to this woman!

That's how you learn and develop.

It really takes another person to see who you really are.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

How do you know if you are a good translator or not?

Advanced search


Translation news





Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »
LSP.expert
You’re a freelance translator? LSP.expert helps you manage your daily translation jobs. It’s easy, fast and secure.

How about you start tracking translation jobs and sending invoices in minutes? You can also manage your clients and generate reports about your business activities. So you always keep a clear view on your planning, AND you get a free 30 day trial period!

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs