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Do you really need accreditation to be a translator ?
Thread poster: RafaLee
RafaLee
Australia
Local time: 08:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 2, 2003

I am studying double degree in math and finance and international studies and currently I am taking up several translating subjects here in Barcelona.


I really love to do translating after I come back to Australia but the problem is:
- It will be difficult for me to take accredited translation course in where I live in Australia, as it is an outback area.
- I would also love to do Spanish-English and Russian-English translation but NAATI only accepts a native speaker and my native language is Indonesian.

Do you think it is still possible to build up a translation career without diploma of translation?

Thanks a lot!

Rafa Lee


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Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:49
Member (2004)
German to English
Think hard Jun 2, 2003

Rafa, this is going to sound harsh but I think you want to think very carefully about the advisability of translating into English when this is not your native language.

Although your forum posting is perfectly comprehensible, there are many points in it which make it clear that it is not written by a native speaker of English. Translators can only offer a high-quality service to their clients if they have complete mastery of the language they are translating into - the sort of mastery that is normally only attained by a native speaker. That is the very sound reason why accreditation is normally only given to translators translating into their mother tongue.

By all means enjoy and seek to use the very good command which you have of languages, but keep the translating for translating into your own native language.


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xxxPaulaMac
French to English
+ ...
Absolutely Jun 2, 2003

Armorel Young wrote:

Rafa, this is going to sound harsh but I think you want to think very carefully about the advisability of translating into English when this is not your native language.

Although your forum posting is perfectly comprehensible, there are many points in it which make it clear that it is not written by a native speaker of English. Translators can only offer a high-quality service to their clients if they have complete mastery of the language they are translating into - the sort of mastery that is normally only attained by a native speaker. That is the very sound reason why accreditation is normally only given to translators translating into their mother tongue.

By all means enjoy and seek to use the very good command which you have of languages, but keep the translating for translating into your own native language.


Could not agree more. And by the way, it's so very nice that someone is pointing this out in this forum.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 17:49
German to English
Some ideas Jun 2, 2003

Hi RafaLee,
I\'m glad Armorel spoke frankly. A good friend is someone who is not afraid to tell you the truth. I lived and worked in Germany for twenty years and speak German with native-speaker fluency. When I was 11, I attended a German secondary school in Aachen for four years. I studied German at the University of California and taught English in a German high school for five years. But I do not translate into German because I simply can\'t write German on a professional level. I can write German without making mistakes if I take my time and consult the grammar books, but the style is not up to professional standards.
Can you translate without being accredited? Yes, many people do, including myself. (In a few days I\'ll be attempting to pass the ATA exam.) I\'ve been doing quite well as a freelance translator for three years.
But maybe you can take some general courses in translation, languages and linguistics and one day take an exam in Indonesia?
Best wishes, Kim


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invguy  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 01:49
English to Bulgarian
One more opinion in support... Jun 3, 2003

... of what Armorel said. I dare say I am fluent in both English and Russian, but the level of a well-educated native speaker is something different. Indeed, it takes a fairly profound knowledge of a language only to be able to sense and realize that difference.

There is, however, another point to Rafa's question. The ability to use more than one foreign language is extremely helpful to a translator, even if s/he translates only into his/her native language. Aside from the obvious value of multilingual cross-referencing, such an ability gives additional insight into how a phrase 'feels' in different languages; that is, when assessing (and trying to reproduce) the 'ring' of a phrase, one has a much wider - and richer - comparison base to rely on. The funny thing is, it doesn't actually matter which languages you use, and whether they belong to the same language group. Odd as it might seem, I have been thankful for having (albeit working-level only) knowledge in Roman languages, while translating from English into my native language (Bulgarian).

Of course, yet another undoubted benefit is the particularly important key to cultural differences that each additional language represents. I would even risk to presume (however arguable this may sound) that - in the times to come - translators woudl be valued rather for their ability to be intercultural communicators than for their mere technical skills.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:19
English to Tamil
+ ...
There can be no black and white answer Jun 3, 2003

My mother tongue is Tamil and demands for translation into Tamil are quite scarce. But then English has been my medium of instruction and I am an engineer by the way. So going by your strict definition I should not be translating into English. It is good that I did not know this 24 years back, when I started my translation career.
My feeling is that for technical literature translations it is ok for people like me to translate. For example I cannot translate the novel the perfume by Süsskind into English in the wonderful manner rendered by the translator who has actually done it. Here one can talk of native translator.
Again coming to my example not only I translate from German/French into English but also in the reverse direction. Here my knowledge of enginnering backed by 23 years of engineering experience comes in quite handy.
Some years back I attended a translation seminar organized by the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. It was moderarated by a German lady who is living in France for many years and is fluent in English as well. She was very vehement about one thing. One should not try to translate away from one's mother tongue and in this instance into French. She said that we should be sending such jobs to France and advise our potential clients accordingly. When I asked her whether in that case they would be sending their demand for translation into english to us here in India, she dropped another bombshell saying that we are not supposed to translate into English either. She went on to suggest that the French translation wing of the JNU has no business existing. Well, we were not exactly enamoured of this interpretation. After sometime I suggested that she conduct a workshop by giving us a text to translate into English from French. To this she countered that German being her mother tongueshe cannot possibly do that. I was just waiting for this reply. I pounced on her saying in that case she had no business to come to India in the first place to moderate in a translation seminar, where the working languages are English and French and definitely not German. I suggested that she came solely to add one feather to her CV saying that she moderated one seminar in India among other things. Till now the exchanges were in French and now I switched over to German saying that her double standard leaves much to be desired and she has no business giving out such patently unfriendly observations. Then I switched over to Hindi for the sake of my fellow Indians and repeated what I told her in German. The HOD of the French Department, JNU, was aghast at my outburst. But then the miracle happened. The moderator apologized profusely in French. Fortunately that was the final session and the whole thing came to an end. What is more, afterwards I was surrounded by the Indians and congratulated. They were also thinking in those lines only. The HOD remarked that while she appreciated my viewpoint, I should not have hurt the feelings of a guest.
So, I will tell the initiator of this posting: Do not give too much credence to what we all say. You have to decide for yourself. I am a successful translator in my country, see my Kudoz points. Especially for technical literatures, being good in laguages is the most important thing. We are not translating Shakespeare. Again, going by our Indian example, clients cannot afford to pay higher charges that too in foreign currency. No use in being highly moralistic.

[Edited at 2004-01-03 14:10]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:49
Flemish to English
+ ...
Get off my turf... Jun 3, 2003

This so-called "native-tongue pretext" smells a lot like "get off my turf".
If you have the bad luck to be brought up in a local dialect of a variant of a language, then you should never translate into that language, even if you had the proper training?
I did translate into English. My translation was revised by a British person working for the client. No complaints whatsoever. It is the customer, who is the final judge whether or not your translation is acceptable, no the translator association or your colleagues who do not like competition.
I would say, give it a try and do continue to do so. You can only learn, enrich your vocabulary and reach a high level after a number of years.
Joseph Conrad's mother-tongue was not English, so he should never have written "Heart of Darkness".


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RafaLee
Australia
Local time: 08:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the replies guys! Jun 3, 2003

Thanx for ur replies guys!
I know that you can "sniff" the foreign elements in my posting.
I came to Australia when I was 17 years old and the only proper training in English I´ve ever had was 1 year ESL(English as Second Language) class during my high school years.
In other word, Ive been learning English mostly from the street and magazines.

Williamson, U got it right,
My native language is actually "Betawi", a Creolised Bahasa Indonesia language. Betawi language, unlike other major languages, has never had its own literary language. So, it is impossible to translate any language to Betawi.
The last time I wrote in proper Bahasa Indonesia was 5 years ago. So, I have not caught up with up-to-date Bahasa Indonesia for a long time.

So what should I do?

Again, thanks for ur feedback!


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:49
English to German
+ ...
It also depends for whom you translate Jun 3, 2003

For myself, I also decided to translate into my native tongue only, which is German. This is a decision that depends on your background, your abilities and your environment, I think. And still I do some non-profit translations for friends if there is no one else to do it and tell them to have these texts checked by native speakers.

Of course you can do translations of technical texts into English, especially if they are not mainly aimed at native British, Australian or U.S. speakers. If your wording is relatively simple this can even be helpful in this case, since other non-native speakers will understand what you write more easily. There are cases, where texts are only translated into English to make them available to a larger community, not especially to native speakers, since English is spoken at so many places in the world. But you will not sound like a native speaker, even if your English is "correct". You have to keep this in mind and especially in the beginning you should have a native speaker check your translations. And: Do not guess!!! Only use the parts of the language you are absolutely sure about.

Just for the records: a British native speaker will always know who is an American native speaker and vice versa, but nevertheless, many texts are only localized for the English-speaking community,and not additionally for British, Irish, U.S., Indian or whatever people.
Good luck for good work
Claudia


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:49
Dutch to English
+ ...
READ and then READ some more Jun 3, 2003

I think you CAN translate into languages which you master as a native speaker and you CAN translate into several languages. You could also consider having your translation work checked before delivery (always a good idea, whether you translate into your 'native language' or not!).

My advice is to read as much as possible in all the different languages you wish to work and to specialise in some area (maths, engineering, something else?).


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:19
English to Tamil
+ ...
I can't agree with you more Jun 3, 2003

I will refer again to the moderator mentioned in my posting above. According to her, people of Luxembourg do not have a single mother tongue and hence cannot be good translators at all.
In fact this sort of comments comes mainly from people whose mother tongue is German, French, Italian etc. i.e. European. Their comments apply more to literary translations and not technical literature translations.


Williamson wrote:

This so-called "native-tongue pretext" smells a lot like "get off my turf".
If you have the bad luck to be brought up in a local dialect of a variant of a language, then you should never translate into that language, even if you had the proper training?
I did translate into English. My translation was revised by a British person working for the client. No complaints whatsoever. It is the customer, who is the final judge whether or not your translation is acceptable, no the translator association or your colleagues who do not like competition.
I would say, give it a try and do continue to do so. You can only learn, enrich your vocabulary and reach a high level after a number of years.
Joseph Conrad's mother-tongue was not English, so he should never have written "Heart of Darkness".



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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
The crux of the matter Jun 3, 2003

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
I am a successful translator in my country, see my Kudoz points.


The operative phrase being "in my country". It is a well known fact that local standards usually differ from place to place.

For example, quite a few translations into Spanish found in the United States sound awful to native speakers in Argentina or Spain, but the local market finds them acceptable and there's actually great demand for them.

Furthermore, getting lots of KudoZ is no guarantee of quality or knowledge. It only means that your answer was chosen by askers who probably know very little themselves about the subject matter.

[Edited at 2003-06-03 13:04]


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:19
English to Tamil
+ ...
There will be no end to such comments Jun 3, 2003

Talking of Spanish translations, I am sure, the Spanish people will find the Argentinian Spanish not up to the mark. You are right in one thing with a little modification. Perception of a good translation varies from country to country. (I would like to replace the word "standard"). My point about the technical translations still holds good. About the Kudoz points, would you say the same for the agrees by the peers? Whether you like it or not these points contribute a little in evaluating a translator, a little I said.


Dyran Altenburg wrote:

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
I am a successful translator in my country, see my Kudoz points.


The operative phrase being "in my country". It is a well known fact that local standards usually differ from place to place.

For example, quite a few translations into Spanish found in the United States sound awful to native speakers in Argentina or Spain, but the local market finds them acceptable and there's actually great demand for them.

Furthermore, getting lots of KudoZ is no guarantee of quality or knowledge. It only means that your answer was chosen by askers who probably know very little themselves about the subject matter.

[Edited at 2003-06-03 13:04]


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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
KudoZ and such Jun 3, 2003

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
My point about the technical translations still holds good.


If you're talking about "insert part A into part B" types of text, I agree. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure those out (and still some manuals read like bad haikus, but I digress). Eventually, though, that type of text will probably end up being translated by machines.

About the Kudoz points, would you say the same for the agrees by the peers?


In most cases, yes. Sometimes it seems the clueless are leading the blind.

Whether you like it or not these points contribute a little in evaluating a translator, a little I said.


So just how important is "a little" in this context? Probably not much.

FWIW, I stopped answering KudoZ questions years ago (the answers to the few that I've asked leave a lot to be desired).

Now, has my lack of KudoZ points affected my ability to get jobs? Not one bit.


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