Mobile menu

Questions for people working in translation
Thread poster: Daniel Hill
Daniel Hill  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:26
French to English
Oct 30, 2008

I'm strongly considering a career in translation. As part of my research, I'd like to ask a few questions to people working in the translation industry. I would be in your debt if you would be so kind to answer any them.

If you need any brief background information: I live in Canada. I'm a native speaker of English, as well as a local dialect of French. I'm trying to brush up on my Standard/International French, and I've been studying Japanese for a little while. At this point I'm working full time in an unrelated field, and thinking of attending school in September for more education instead. (What kind of schooling I take may actually depend on these answers...) The questions are as follows:

-How did you get started in translation?
-What's your background in the field? (ie: formal training? what kind of school, etc.)
-What sort of projects do you normally work on?
-Is your workload more or less steady, and are you able to support yourself with this job?
-Where do you see this field going in the future? (declining, steady, or rising)
-Which specialties do you think are most valuable in translation today?
-Which language pairs do you think are most in demand these days?

[Edited at 2008-10-30 18:49]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 01:26
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Look at people's cvs Oct 31, 2008

There are probably as many answers as there are active translators. I believe the best translators have been working years or decades doing practical work (engineering, research etc.) before starting out as translators. But it is also possible to learn a special field during translation. In any case knowing a foreign language is not enough. First of all you must decide if you like to work alone or with people.
If you are looking for a rare language pair with good rates, try Finnish to Latvian or Finnish to Lithuanian.
Regards
Heinrich


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:26
Member (2003)
French to English
Specialisms Oct 31, 2008

Heinrich's right about the many different routes people take into translation. I did a degree in languages, worked in business and post-secondary education and then took a postgraduate diploma in translation before I started working as a translator, but there are all sorts of possibilities.

As far as specialisms go, be guided by what interests you and the areas you feel you have a flair for (maybe based on whatever work experience you have, though outside interests can open up some possibilities too) more than by someone else's view of where the most valuable work is. You're going to spend a lot of your day with these texts, most probably on your own, and if they don't spark an interest it can make for a very long day!

I work from French to English too - there's no shortage of work and you can certainly make a decent living provided you work at the quality end of the market. From where I stand, prospects are good.

Hope this helps - good luck!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:26
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My experience Oct 31, 2008

-How did you get started in translation?
Just by chance. Started to work as a localisation engineer (so technical work, not linguistic work) for a localisation company in Madrid. It all evolved from there as the company asked me to start localising and translating too.

-What's your background in the field? (ie: formal training? what kind of school, etc.)
I reckon I am one of those who started in another field and used that experience and knowledge of the source and target languages as the starting points.

-What sort of projects do you normally work on?
Most frequently, highly technical projects from two source languages into my mother tongue.

-Is your workload more or less steady, and are you able to support yourself with this job?
Yes, more or less steady. Yes, I have been supporting myself well for 12 years.

-Where do you see this field going in the future? (declining, steady, or rising)
I'd say steady: there will be more translation but also more translators.

-Which specialties do you think are most valuable in translation today?
It's very hard to say. But whatever you choose, the more specialised you get, the better. I work in technical translation. Medical translation is also quite an industry too. I'd try to find out what industry is strong in your area; if there are many big elevator companies, try to learn about elevators... I would not shoot for software localisation or translation about software or IT: honestly very little future there as big companies are going to make heavy use tranlation memories and automatic translation in the future.

-Which language pairs do you think are most in demand these days?
Hard to say. Depends on your market really. English is always in demand as a source language, as many companies save writing and translation costs by writing their documents in English first, then translating them to many other languages. Just think of what kinds of companies exist in your area and where they come from or what they do. I'd say that if there are many German companies in your area, German>English would be a good pair for you. It all depends on the market space you plan to move into.

I hope this is useful! Good luck!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Caryl Swift  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 00:26
Polish to English
+ ...
Writing skills Oct 31, 2008

This is something no one has mentioned yet; you need to be able to write. To have the capability of expressing what you wish to communicate coherently and clearly, with syntactical flexibilty and a good command of the widest possible range of registers and style.

So, in addition to what's already been suggested, I'd say that whatever else you decide to do, constantly honing and polishing your writing skills is a must!

Good luck!
Caryl



[Edited at 2008-10-31 12:02]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Daniel Hill  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:26
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your insight Oct 31, 2008

I want to thank everyone for their insightful answers. A lot of it has confirmed things I've heard such as specialization being important. As for the writing skills, I wonder where most people trained in that, be it formal education, natural talent, etc.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 05:26
Partial member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
My case Oct 31, 2008

Replies in my case:
-How did you get started in translation?
I love it. I did as volunteer first.
-What's your background in the field? (ie: formal training? what kind of school, etc.)
Engineering, education
-What sort of projects do you normally work on?
Industrial production line documents.
-Is your workload more or less steady, and are you able to support yourself with this job?
Not steady: Too much load in many days. I can support myself. The is come is better than being employed. [I am a freelancer]
-Where do you see this field going in the future? (declining, steady, or rising)
Rising: more globalization.
-Which specialties do you think are most valuable in translation today?
What you have/love best.
-Which language pairs do you think are most in demand these days?
It depends on where, when, and how.

Regards,
Soonthon L.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:26
Member (2003)
French to English
Read, read, read Oct 31, 2008

Daniel Hill wrote:

As for the writing skills, I wonder where most people trained in that, be it formal education, natural talent, etc.


Education and talent will help, but I think you also need to read as extensively as you can in your native language and your specialist subject areas.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Daniel Hill  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:26
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Concentrate on the target then? Oct 31, 2008

So you think it's best to focus on such skills mostly in the target language? For example, let's say I wanted to specialize in French to English culinary. Would I need to know the terms mostly just in English, or mostly in French? This probably seems like a dumb question to you pros.

Karen Stokes wrote:

Daniel Hill wrote:

As for the writing skills, I wonder where most people trained in that, be it formal education, natural talent, etc.


Education and talent will help, but I think you also need to read as extensively as you can in your native language and your specialist subject areas.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:26
English to German
+ ...
You asked the right questions Oct 31, 2008

I like that!

-How did you get started in translation?


A client of my little advertising and marketing firm approached me one day and asked if I could produce the German version of approx. 1200 pages of management training materials for their seminars held overseas. I did. It was fascinating. I decided to get formal training and went to New York University.

-What's your background in the field? (ie: formal training? what kind of school, etc.)


It is pretty much impossible to obtain a degree in EN>GER translation in the US, so I did the entire thing in my reversed language pair. Sigh. However, formal training is crucial.

-What sort of projects do you normally work on?


Based on my 20+ years in advertising and marketing, I specialize in - guess what. Mostly websites, ads, press releases, TV, video and radio. Those texts can be highly technical. High voltage transformers need as much advertising as hair dryers.

-Is your workload more or less steady, and are you able to support yourself with this job?


Absolutely steady. You deliver an excellent job and they will come back for more. I am the main bread winner of the household.

-Where do you see this field going in the future? (declining, steady, or rising)


Steady.

-Which specialties do you think are most valuable in translation today?)


Writing skills.

-Which language pairs do you think are most in demand these days?


No idea. I only work in the language pair that I have a perfect cultural background in. German-American, that is. My French is too rusty, my 5 years of Latin and Classical Greek education are still extremely helpful.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:26
Member (2003)
French to English
Style rather than terms Nov 1, 2008

[quote]Daniel Hill wrote:

So you think it's best to focus on such skills mostly in the target language? For example, let's say I wanted to specialize in French to English culinary. Would I need to know the terms mostly just in English, or mostly in French? This probably seems like a dumb question to you pros.

[quote]

You need to know the terms in both languages, but what I'm talking about is style - which makes the difference between a translation that's technically accurate and one that also reads fluently in the target language. It's also about the expectations of your reader. If you're talking about culinary translation then there are conventions in one language that aren't the same as in another. An English recipe, for example, will probably include some of the preparation stages with the ingredients (1/2 lb onions, peeled and chopped), whereas I've had French ones that have given the cook a nasty surprise halfway through - there might be onions in the ingredients list but then you'll come across something like "Take the onions, previously peeled, chopped and sweated in butter for 15 minutes"...

And there's no such thing as a dumb question!

Best,

Karen


Direct link Reply with quote
 


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


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

Questions for people working in translation

Advanced search


Translation news





Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »
CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »



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