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German to English : What is a good area to specialize in?
Thread poster: Karintha
Karintha
German to English
Jul 27, 2001

I\'ve been dabbling in Ger>Eng translation, but I can see that if I want to get serious I need some specialized knowledge of something (beyond my degree in Linguistics) to offer angencies etc. What specialization(s)would be most useful with this pair? And can anyone suggest ways of getting that knowledge?



Many thanks!



Karintha


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xxxAA1
German to English
Aug 8, 2001

Well, there are many ways of going about it.



First of all, let me say that most major subject matters will be fine. German to English is a very common and much sought-after combination, so you will find all kinds of texts and subjects that need to be translated.



As for specialising, well, reading a whole lot is the best option - short of actually enrolling in a course or school or something.



I don\'t know about your background, but attending a formalised training programme for translators (such as those offered by various universities around the world) would most likely be the best way. Most of these programmes offer several elective specialisations; in addition, while in university, enrolled in a translation programme, you will also have the chance to attend (or audit) courses offered by other departments. Depending on the set-up of the university, you may also be allowed to earn credits in such courses.



That\'s what I did: while studying translation, I took advantage of the wide range of courses offered by other departments: I attended (and took exams in) law, economics, business, literature, science, etc. Without wanting to praise myself too much, I do believe that I have, as a result, excellent knowledge (general and specialised) of several subject matters (as for law and business, I took so many extra exams that I could have almost obtained a second degree!).



If you are thirsty for knowledge, you will find that there are no limits out there. You can go back to school, enrol in online courses or distance-learning, take evening classes, .....



Anyhow, good luck in your endeavours!


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 13:00
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Sep 18, 2001

I am a DE-EN translator living in Germany. When I came over here, I worked in investment banking for many years before looking for a new direction - so I took marketing degree (in German), passed my translator\'s exam and now I am working on a degree in business administration (again in German).



I really believe that you can\'t translate anything you don\'t understand - so find a subject you think you would like to specialize in (in my case business/financials) and then look for some way of gaining in depth knowledge for that subject (it\'s easiest to translate something you\'re actually interested in). And read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read.....


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Karintha
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Further info please? Oct 4, 2001

Thanks for the responses. Can anyone be a little more specific? For example, what ARE the major specializations you can actually make money with? I\'m assuming something like financial, science, computers... are there others?



I\'m thinking I might like to specialize in medicine and business. Are these reasonable? Can anyone suggest specifically how I can build up my understanding of these fields? Short of going back to school for another degree.



Alison, which translation exam did you take?



Many thanks,



Karintha



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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 07:00
German to English
+ ...
German2English: technology, IT, law, business & medicine Oct 4, 2001

Karintha,



In my own personal and professional experience, the most common subjects are: technology, IT, law, business and medicine (as far as German to English is concerned).



Of course, situations vary for different translators in different locations, but if you decide to specialize in one or two of the fields listed above, you\'ll be fine. So, go ahead and specialize in business & medicine - that\'s a good combination!



However, since you offer only one language combination (German to English), you should also consider keeping other options open (the \"generalist\" approach).



Sometimes it is difficult to make across-the-board statements such as, \"I am a medical translator\". Even if you are good at translating texts dealing with internal medicine, you may not be so hot when it comes to a different medical field (even doctors have to specialize!).



My approach, therefore, has been to keep an open mind, look at the original document and then decide whether or not I want to, AND can, translate it.









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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:00
French to English
It all depends... Oct 20, 2001

There are just so many answers to this age-old question. But as a general answer to your question, you will make money (eventually) or stand a better chance of doing so if you are good in your chosen fields. So, choose your fields wisely.



You can qualify as a translator and decide which of the options available are most appealing to you. There\'s no point pretending to like financial translation just to make money out of it if you cannot stand the thought of working on this sort of text all day. Once you have knowledge and ability which is marketable, you will get the work if you look in the right places - at the right time. Luck still comes into it!



On the other hand, you can acquire professional expertise and then move over to translating. That way, you will find out what you like doing, get to know the type of people you will be working with/for and start out with a reasonable level of credibility in your chosen fields.


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AndrewBM
Ireland
Local time: 12:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oct 30, 2001

I like the way one of the colleagues replied:

\"My approach, therefore, has been to keep an open mind, look at the original document and then decide whether or not I want to, AND can, translate it.\"



X times \"read\" is good alright, the problem is I often find myself in need of questioning [myself, again] re. my choice of reading and its merits.


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 13:00
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
more info Nov 1, 2001

Well, most people specialize in something that interests them - the major fields are business/financial, IT, legal, technical, medical, art/literary - check the list of options for posting a term question on \"ask a pro\", I think that covers it pretty well.



I would guess that since there are translators working in all of these fields that there is certainly money to be made!!!



Medical translation is a good one as there aren\'t too many medical translators out there, but you\'ve GOT to know what you\'re talking about! A story a former collegue once told me went something like this \"my boss said - \"I can speak a bit of French, so we\'ll not pay for translations any more. I reckon I can get it right 80% of the time\". The only problem was that the company made dialysis machines. Imagine if you ended up with *two* failed kidneys because the translation was 20% wrong!!\"



As I mentioned above, I got my experience firstly by working in the field for many years, and then by studying part time. Many translators out there chose this path, and I can only recommend it.



I took the \"staatlich geprüfte Übersetzer\" exam. I wouldn\'t bother with the IHK exam if I were you (if you\'re living in Germany), as it is not widely recognized.



And read, read, read. I read the FT, The Economist, Harvard Business Review, and a handful of others regularly.



I do hope your career works out for you!



Alison



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