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Thinking of taking up translation?
Thread poster: Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 00:52
German to English
+ ...
Apr 24, 2002

Here\'s an interesting article I have come across. I hope you\'ll find it useful.



Thinking of Taking up Translation? or Good Translators are Made, not Born



by Courtney Searls-Ridge, Academic Director of Translation, Translation and Interpretation Institute, Seattle





Like interpreters, translators need a variety of skills and traits to be successful in their art, and many of these qualities overlap. We assume, of course, that a good translatorwill by definition be bilingual. But the opposite is not necessarily true. A bilingual person still needs certain other skills, expertise, and personality traits to be a good translator.



1. To be successful a translator must be fluent in two languages and cultures.



Does this mean that someone who was raised bilingually will be a better translator than someone who acquires his or her second language later in life? Not necessarily. Often people raised in bilingual households are “fluent” in two languages, but do not know the intricacies of either language well enough to translate. Sometimes they are not

familiar enough with the culture that goes with the home language. If they have never formally learned the home language, they may not have the analytical linguistic skills

needed to be a good translator. Some may not know how to read or write the home language.

On the other hand, how do people become fluent enough to be a good translator if they have not been raised bilingually?



Most people who acquired their second language later in life picked up their second language skills on the street or at work and/or formally studied their second

language in high school and college. Some have advanced degrees in linguistics or in one or two languages. These people, although fluent in both languages, may never have

the same in-depth knowledge of slang, colloquialisms, and nuances of their second language as someone raised with the language from childhood.



There is no easy answer to the question of which one will make the better translator. But most good translators do have one experience in common: they have all lived for extended periods in countries where their second language is spoken. It is not enough to have grown up in a household

speaking a language if you never have an opportunity to live in a country where that language is spoken and evolving. Nor is it enough merely to study a language.



Most good translators have lived for several years in a country where their second language is spoken.



2. To be successful a translator must have a good general

education in addition to the prerequisite language skills.




This does not mean that translators need advanced degrees to find work. However, successful translators usually read

a lot, have many interests, and enjoy learning about new, obscure subjects. Many translators have had other careers before becoming translators, providing them with an area of expertise in addition to a solid general education. As in interpreting, most translation projects deal with more than

one subject area. The American Translators Association accreditation exam consists of five passages to translate of which the candidate must choose three. It would be extremely difficult to pass this exam without a broad general education, self-taught or otherwise.



3. To be successful a translator must have above-average

writing skills in the target language.




In the United States today many students are graduating from high school and college with inadequate writing skills. You cannot be a good translator unless you are an excellent

writer in your first language. Translators are expected to “write” technical manuals, marketing material, ad copy, and scientific studies. To do this you must feel confident

about your writing skills. Only the detail-oriented translator will be able to produce the quality translation necessary to guarantee repeat business from clients.



4. To be successful a translator must have excellent computer skills and a willingness to continue to

learn new technology.




The ubiquitous computer has moved the translation industry to the cutting edge of modern technology. It is no longer enough to be a good typist. Today’s translator must

have advanced computer skills. The modern translator is responsible for developing and maintaining terminology databases, for formatting complicated documents, for transferring files for every conceivable platform. In the Pacific Northwest, many translators are working in the field of

software localization. Increasingly, we are required to work with translation software, or machine translation as it is known in the field.



5. To be successful a translator must have good business skills, including marketing, negotiating, pricing,

and time management.




The majority of translators in the United States are freelancers; they must market themselves to translation companies and direct clients. Translation companies receive

so many unsolicited resumes a week that many do not bother to acknowledge them. Successful translators have found ways to market themselves so that they stand out. They know how to negotiate fair and competitive fees for their work. They have learned how to manage their time in such a way that they can find balance in their lives and still meet deadlines.



6. To be successful a translator must know his or her

limitations in all of the areas mentioned above.




No one enters the field of translation with all of the skills and traits necessary to be successful. Many of these “prerequisites”

come with experience. But if you are aware of

what is required to be successful, and you know which areas to work on, you are already on your way to success.











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Linda Young
Local time: 06:52
French to English
+ ...
Tips to translating that finally make sense Apr 24, 2002

The above thread must be one of the most interesting that I have read in a long time. I often receive tips for translating etc, but this one really hits the nail on the head. Thanks for the input and for helping me realise that to be a freelance translator, is not always the easiest job, but can be very fulfilling if we tackle it in the correct way.
[addsig]


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Maya Jurt  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 06:52
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
Exactly! Apr 24, 2002

Werner, that was my point all along. Forget about the \"native\" stuff.



Maya


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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:52
English to Spanish
+ ...
Excellent article Apr 24, 2002

The real question is, how many \"proz\" fill the bill?

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xxxivw
English to Hungarian
+ ...
typist or computer-literate Apr 24, 2002

Quote:


4. To be successful a translator must have excellent computer skills and a willingness to continue to

learn new technology.




The ubiquitous computer has moved the translation industry to the cutting edge of modern technology. It is no longer enough to be a good typist [...]





Dear Werner,



Thanks for sharing this, I believe many of us will have a lot to say about each of the issues raised. Allow me to tackle only one that\'s been bothering me for the longest time. I wholeheartedly agree with the above point (and I do not consider myself the extreme but just one of the many who\'s trying to keep up with today\'s fast paced requirements and environment). Assuming the stone-age methods are out, how come the almighty ATA still insist on applicants taking the accreditation tests without any electronic equipment? Tests are handwritten, pen or pencil on paper.

Many have protested, with no result.

I would appreciate others\' comments on this!



Ildiko

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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 00:52
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Fully agree Apr 24, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-24 20:04, ivw wrote:

Quote:


4. To be successful a translator must have excellent computer skills and a willingness to continue to

learn new technology.




The ubiquitous computer has moved the translation industry to the cutting edge of modern technology. It is no longer enough to be a good typist [...]





Dear Werner,



Thanks for sharing this, I believe many of us will have a lot to say about each of the issues raised. Allow me to tackle only one that\'s been bothering me for the longest time. I wholeheartedly agree with the above point (and I do not consider myself the extreme but just one of the many who\'s trying to keep up with today\'s fast paced requirements and environment). Assuming the stone-age methods are out, how come the almighty ATA still insist on applicants taking the accreditation tests without any electronic equipment? Tests are handwritten, pen or pencil on paper.

Many have protested, with no result.

I would appreciate others\' comments on this!



Ildiko





Yes, you\'re right. The problem is that you actually lose your manual dexterity of writing after spending so many hours typing away (I don\'t really write anything by hand anymore).



In Canada, some associations (e.g., ATIO), as far as I know, allow candidates to bring a laptop to write the exam on. They hand in their disks, and that\'s it.

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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 00:52
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Almost Apr 24, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-24 20:00, mayagyan wrote:

Werner, that was my point all along. Forget about the \"native\" stuff.



Maya





Now, I don\'t disagree with you there, but the article specifically mentions excellent writing skills in your first language, i.e., your target language (going by the article). I suppose the article was written, primarily, from the point of view of American (or English) translators working into English, and for them it is absolutely crucial (as well as for all other translators, of course) to have excellent writing skills (hence the remark about the poor skills some people graduate from college with).



Quote:


You cannot be a good translator unless you are an excellent writer in your first language.


[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-24 20:19 ]

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Maya Jurt  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 06:52
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
Exactly again! Apr 24, 2002

That\'s all I have to say.

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Yngve Roennike  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:52
Danish to English
+ ...
Laptops at ATA sittings. Apr 24, 2002

In Canada, some associations (e.g., ATIO), as far as I know, allow candidates to bring a laptop to write the exam on. They hand in their disks, and that\'s it.

[/quote]



Would be interesting to know if this has generated any problems, real or imagined. I believe the current issue of the ATA chronicle mentions that they are finally given more attention to this issue, i.e., allowing candidates to use laptops. This issue has been sidelined for too long by the ATA, receiving only marginal attention in their extensive (and probably very costly) evaluation of current accreditation procedures. One argument is that it increases the potential for leaks and cheating, since exams can be stored in some fashion on hard disks during the exam allowing the exchange of information to future candidates at subsequent sittings where the exact same tests are administered. This storing cannot easily be detected, so the argument goes.



What do you think?



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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 00:52
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Common ground :-) Apr 24, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-24 21:15, mayagyan wrote:

That\'s all I have to say.







[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-24 23:56 ]

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xxxivw
English to Hungarian
+ ...
how about shoes?!... Apr 25, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-24 22:21, Yngve wrote:

One argument is that it increases the potential for leaks and cheating, since exams can be stored in some fashion on hard disks during the exam allowing the exchange of information to future candidates at subsequent sittings where the exact same tests are administered. [...]

What do you think?




Dear Yngve,



I think it would be very sad if ATA decided that all of us trying to pass their --rather pricey-- tests were (potential) criminals, trying to sneak in disks or whatever else. Next they will check the soles of our shoes you think, and have us arrested if found a disk or glossary there? I am terrified of the very thought, but what scares me more is the possibility that you/they *might* be right!

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-25 02:45 ]

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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 00:52
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Some more info Apr 25, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-24 22:21, Yngve wrote:

In Canada, some associations (e.g., ATIO), as far as I know, allow candidates to bring a laptop to write the exam on. They hand in their disks, and that\'s it.





Quote:
Would be interesting to know if this has generated any problems, real or imagined. I believe the current issue of the ATA chronicle mentions that they are finally given more attention to this issue, i.e., allowing candidates to use laptops. This issue has been sidelined for too long by the ATA, receiving only marginal attention in their extensive (and probably very costly) evaluation of current accreditation procedures. One argument is that it increases the potential for leaks and cheating, since exams can be stored in some fashion on hard disks during the exam allowing the exchange of information to future candidates at subsequent sittings where the exact same tests are administered. This storing cannot easily be detected, so the argument goes.



What do you think?







The potential for cheating is there, granted. Especially in the US, where ATA exams are held several times a year, using the same tests. In Canada, however, exams are held only once a year (at the beginning of February), so storing the text on one\'s computer won\'t help anyone.



As for other modes of cheating, exams are monitored by invigilators, and they make sure that the candidate a) does not go online or b) has any other means on his/her laptop that could be used to cheat.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-25 05:06 ]

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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:52
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Going online is cheating? Apr 25, 2002

Funny how going online, which is something you do all the time in your professional life, is considered \"cheating\" on the ATA test.

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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 00:52
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, it is Apr 25, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-25 11:09, Daina wrote:

Funny how going online, which is something you do all the time in your professional life, is considered \"cheating\" on the ATA test.





Think about it: what if a candidate sends out several KudoZ questions during the exam? Or what if he/she gets a colleague to \"help\" him/her out via e-mail?



You are allowed dictionaries for the exam, but no personal glossaries or other aids.



I mean, a translator with some years of experience should be able to handle the texts you are given in those exams even without a dictionary (especially those used by ATIO/CTIC) - and this is why they will not allow any additional help.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-25 15:29 ]

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Yngve Roennike  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:52
Danish to English
+ ...
Apr 25, 2002

Think about it: what if a candidate sends out several KudoZ questions during the exam? Or what if he/she gets a colleague to \"help\" him/her out via e-mail?



You are allowed dictionaries for the exam, but no personal glossaries or other aids.



I mean, a translator with some years of experience should be able to handle the texts you are given in those exams even without a dictionary (especially those used by ATIO/CTIC) - and this is why they will not allow any additional help.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-25 15:29 ]

[/quote]



What is ATIO/CTIC (I am a great fan of dissolving acronyms)?



I agree that hooking up your laptop to the Internet during a sitting or session is borderline cheating. But what has that got to do with using a laptop, per se. Are we not supposed to use all our wonderful tools and references that are considered indispensable, e.g., spelling tools, grammar tools, and electronic dictionaries? Why does the ATA not get real about this? Would you want to drive a stick shift when taking your driving test, when all your life you have driven an automatic?



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