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Lots of language pairs better?
Thread poster: Stuart Dowell

Stuart Dowell  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 04:27
Member (2007)
Polish to English
+ ...
Nov 13, 2008

Do you think it is better for your freelance business to offer lots of language combinations or do you think it is better to have fewer pairs and specialise more?

Do translators who know lots of languages benefit from this in a business sense, or if a translator is working in a high-demand language pair is it better to focus on just that one pair?

What do you think?

Stuart





[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-11-14 08:43 GMT]


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The Misha
Local time: 22:27
Russian to English
+ ...
Multiple pairs? Nov 13, 2008

With all due respect, when someone offers multiple pairs I am always suspicious. Personally, I mostly work with one pair (of which one language is my native one), in both directions, and I possess, as they say, an intimate knowledge of both those languages. My command of the other two languages I know is nowhere near the same level, and I hardly ever work with them. Specialization IS key.

[Edited at 2008-11-13 14:24]


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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 04:27
Italian to English
+ ...
Specialisation in one language first, then depends Nov 13, 2008

My experience has been to specialize in one language first, and a specialization in that language.

Once you have consolidated a niche, you may try to expand into more specializations in your main source language.

However, you may also maintain the same specialization but branch into another source language. This may work especially if you branch into cognate languages. For example, since you translate from Polish, you make try to branch out into the closest cognate Slavic languages (Czech, Russian?).

Hope this helps.


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:27
French to English
+ ...
Hard to tell Nov 13, 2008

I have one language pair and essentially one specialist area within that (medical & pharmaceutical) and I'm busy enough and am able to charge reasonable rates. It's difficult to know whether additional language pairs would make a difference.

A couple of my agencies have said they'd send me more work if I had other languages, and I might add German at some point in the future. I have a way to go, though, before I'd consider myself able to translate from German. And as things stand, I can't take on any more work (than I already am) from any language.

I am happy with my level of specialisation - indeed, I seek to narrow down the types of text I accept, even within the medical/pharmaceutical field.


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:27
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Depends Nov 13, 2008

I've been working in one pair for a long time. From time to time I've been thinking of expanding into Spanish>English, but since I have enough work in my pair I've never gotten around to doing it (although once in a great while one of my clients will give me something in Spanish to translate).

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:27
Italian to English
+ ...
Same position as Angela Nov 13, 2008

Angela Dickson wrote:


I have one language pair and essentially one specialist area within that (medical & pharmaceutical) and I'm busy enough and am able to charge reasonable rates. It's difficult to know whether additional language pairs would make a difference.

...

I am happy with my level of specialisation - indeed, I seek to narrow down the types of text I accept, even within the medical/pharmaceutical field.


I could have written almost exactly the same post myself. I already get offered more work than I can handle, so I don't see that offering an extra language could make any difference.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:27
Flemish to English
+ ...
Outsource. Nov 13, 2008

Depend on your point of view :
Too much work can be outsourced to the other side of the world and another time zone. If you always use the same combination, it tends to get boring and you don't practise the other languages.


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Paola Dentifrigi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:27
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Doing fine Nov 13, 2008

I could not live on PL and RO, so luckly I have EN and FR, although it's brain consuming sometimes. Of course, if you have several combinations you have to specialize in a very few fields. Eg. I don't translate in these fields: engineering, medical and pharmaceutical, finance.
If you always translate the same kind of docs (EU material, tenders and contracts in my case), the vocabulary in your native language will always be the same, reducing the efforts and the mistakes.
When I see people translating in basically every field in 4 combinations I know they can't produce quality work, unless they're genius.

You might consider adding a language, it's also fun. Yo might add SK or CS (I can almost read SK with PL). Or BG (Balcanic languages and people are so great!).

Good luck,
Paola


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
On offering more pairs Nov 13, 2008

stuart dowell wrote:
Do translators who know lots of languages benefit from this in a business sense, or if a translator is working in a high-demand language pair is it better to focus on just that one pair?


I think the fact that I can translate into my second language has a business benefit for me, yes. And if I could translate from more languages into my native language (hopefully soon I'll be able to do that), I'm sure more doors would open for me.

But actually, come to think of it, I have enough work in my current one language combination. The extra pairs are good for spreading your risk around.


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Phil Bird
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
What to specialise? Nov 13, 2008

Interesting....

As you work in a narrower and narrower field, would it be advisable to take on other source languages if they are closely related to the ones you currently have? In my particular case I'm thinking of the Romance languages... but I'm sure there might be others where this could apply.

If your source language skills are good in a particular area, would it be adviseable to start working with a closely related source language?


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:27
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No recommendations Nov 13, 2008

Every profile is unique. No one can duplicate you. One man's meat is another man's poison, and all that.

stuart dowell wrote:

Do you think it is better for your freelance business to offer lots of language combinations or do you think it is better to have fewer pairs and specialise more?


This for me is not so much a question of "offer" as need and capability. I say that with a lot of hindsight. When I started, my mentors always said, more source languages, better chances of survival. But once you've survived, you find you're also asked to pitch into combinations that are underpopulated, simply because you have the capability and the need exists. (I sometimes think of it as "market reality" vs. "the ideal world").

On another hand, I never had the choice of "specializing first" -- I came into the industry burdened like this, too late to backtrack my biography. So I can't speak about that angle, more than to say these decisions are not really made BY you as made FOR you, by your own circumstances.

Do translators who know lots of languages benefit from this in a business sense, or if a translator is working in a high-demand language pair is it better to focus on just that one pair?


I was told there is a benefit and I have no reason to doubt that. Certainly, it keeps my rates away from the bargain basement in what regards my high-demand (and hence, globalization-sensitive) pairs. There's always something to fall back on.

HTH...


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My point of view Nov 13, 2008

stuart dowell wrote:
Do you think it is better for your freelance business to offer lots of language combinations or do you think it is better to have fewer pairs and specialise more?


It is better for your freelance business to do good translations. If you are confident that you can offer the same level of quality in several pairs, just go for it. Otherwise, just advertise and offer the pairs in which you can do a good translation.

stuart dowell wrote:
Do translators who know lots of languages benefit from this in a business sense, or if a translator is working in a high-demand language pair is it better to focus on just that one pair?


I don't think this is important: knowing a lot of languages does not make you a good translator in any of them!


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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 04:27
English to Czech
+ ...
It is possible... Nov 13, 2008

Hi all,
I have a Master's in German and English and am equally skilled in both of them. And I believe there are lots of others who can handle more than one language combination.
Of course, if somebody's offering ten different combinations, it will probably be an agency...

[Upraveno: 2008-11-13 20:16]


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Oleg Osipov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 05:27
English to Russian
+ ...
T... Nov 14, 2008

Amy Duncan wrote:

since I have enough work in my pair


The key phrase.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:27
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Suspicious Nov 14, 2008

IMHO, anyone who claims to be able to translate between more than one language pair is probably not competent to translate to a professional standard in any language pair.

Just as anyone who claims to be native in more than one language is probably not fully liiterate or up to date in any of them.


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