market for traditional Chinese
Thread poster: Larmes
Larmes
Local time: 00:49
English to Chinese
Dec 28, 2006

People have been saying for years that the translation market for traditional Chinese is shrinking. And I have been thinking about this, but no solid or concret information convince me, like a survey or statistics. Therefore, I think it maybe a good idea to ask how everyone feels.
Is it shrinking regardless what kind of materials? Or is only the market of localisation shrinking?

I am concerned because I want to be a freelancer. Translation is my interest and freelancer is a job which has no age limitation.
If market is really shrinking, I am worried about supporting myself being a translator.

So, what do you think?


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franksf
Chinese to English
my 2 bits Dec 28, 2006

Hi. I have not followed the posts of Chinese->English for long (~ 2 months) but I have seen many posts with traditional Chinese texts.

As far as doing freelance work is concerned I think it is largely up to one's marketing skills. Of course there are high technical flyers in every field, but if we agree with the Gaussian distribution (large sample) then ~70% of the translators are in the midrange, technically speaking. So marketing skills will be the deciding factor. Breaking in is also difficult because, like other markets, mode-lock and increasing returns are at work. Once one gains experience one is likely to have stable clients and more projects.

Finally, about translation as a profession I am not sure if one should have a "major field" as oppose to doing general translation. For instance I know that physics texts are usually translated by physicists who are bi- or multi-lingual. The typical example is the translation of the original Russian version of the Landau-Lifshitz series.

Just some personal views, hope to be helpful. Good luck.


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 00:49
English to Chinese
+ ...
一點想法 Dec 29, 2006

翻譯這個行業好處多多,一則人家拿錢讓你學習,再則忙起來沒有時間花錢,除了日常生活所需之外,統統節省下來,而且年紀越大、人生歷練越多,做起來越容易,做越久,摸熟了訣竅,越輕鬆。但是,年輕時摸索翻譯的道路,往往會感到迷惑,這時就需要一些心理建設,不要受到一點挫折,又聽那些老鳥們成天叫苦,就以為這行業沒有前途,還沒有摸著訣竅就放棄繼續探討、摸索。那是很可惜的。翻譯業界需要大量不斷加入的翻譯者。

我喜歡半開玩笑說,翻譯沒有什麼困難,你讀懂的文本就能翻譯。大體上,翻譯者所做的是,從學會的外文翻譯到自己的母語,因此從事翻譯工作首要的是母語的表達能力。翻譯者必須至少精通一種語文,最可能的就是自己的母語。至於另外一種外文,學得再精也比不過母語者中的佼佼者,因此從母語譯入外文的市場,價值絕對不如從外文譯入母語。這一點也許見仁見智,只是我個人的經驗,因為找我從德文、英文、西班牙文譯成中文的客戶,比找我從中文翻譯成那幾種語文的客戶多出大約三倍,雖然後者給的價碼非常高,但總不會是譯入中文的三倍,所以從經濟的觀點來看,專攻後者會是吃力不討好的營生方式。中文再好,人家還是會挑毛病,更別說外國語文了。不是嗎?

你的問題是繁體中文的市場。事實上,許多中國譯者也做繁體中文翻譯,和我合作的中國譯者就有那麼十來人也做繁體中文翻譯,雖然需要由台灣或香港的翻譯者做語言習慣的調整,但差異往往不大,因為雙方的語言習慣同時有趨同和趨異的現象發生,又由於 80 年代中國的改革開放和台灣的開放探親旅遊,雙方人民接觸頻繁,趨同的情況比較強烈。繁體中文的市場仍然那麼大,而且非常大,每年的產值至少有六十億新台幣,但由於中國語言習慣與台灣趨同的形勢下,台灣的業者把翻譯工作移往中國,在台灣只做審校修潤的工作,尤其是專利、軟體在地化翻譯,如此操作與完全在進行繁體中文翻譯的成本,大約相差四倍到八倍,業者當然派件到中國,我的做法也沒有多大不同,而且是雙向對流的。

繁體中文的翻譯市場並沒有萎縮,但簡體中文的翻譯市場卻相對地大幅增長,這是我比較去年和今年的業績所得到的結論。我去年所做的繁體中文翻譯和今年一樣多,但今年的簡體中文卻增長了四倍。

簡單說,翻譯市場和其它的經濟活動有關,中國各行各業目前都正在蓬勃發展之中,因此翻譯的需求很自然增高。台灣譯者所面臨的主要問題,其實並非中國譯者的競爭,而是台灣的翻譯產業結構在長期特權保護之下所造成的問題。事實上,台灣譯者與中國譯者之間有許多合作的可能。只有那些不怕穿幫的中國譯者,做好繁體翻譯後,不會交給台灣譯者審修語言習慣;也只有那些不怕穿幫的台灣譯者,才敢用台灣的語言習慣翻譯好文本後,直接轉成簡體中文充數。當然,如果客戶太小氣,給的稿酬太低,台灣和中國的譯者同樣都會矇得過去就矇矇客戶,反正客戶多如過江之鯽,舊的不去、新的不來,因此我這裡審查定稿時,什麼有趣的混混案件都遇過。

台灣做 Software Localisation 的業者情況我大致清楚,他們的業績總起來會顯示出繁體中文在這方面的市場並沒有萎縮,只是根據他們的市場策略之不同,每年會有些許重新分配市場大餅的差異而已。

作為繁體中文的翻譯者,需要積攢的經驗是 Project Management,因為那會影響你的收入。如果你的收入必須依靠台灣那些 established translation agencies 內部 PMs 的青睞,以一個字一塊錢新台幣的稿酬,你拼死拼活,一個月頂多五萬到七萬元的收入。但如果你有 PM 的能力,自己開拓市場,而且不排拒簡體中文的案件,找到恰當的中國譯者合作,而且心胸寬闊,不只想著自己的利益 (台灣的稅率頂多 15% 到 20%),願意分享別人,效率肯定比那些開公司的業者更高,保證衣食無憂。

這是我召開台灣自由譯者第三次會議的主要議題之一。歡迎參加討論!


[Edited at 2006-12-30 03:09]


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