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Discrimination
Thread poster: Dorothy Pouch
Dorothy Pouch  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:31
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
Feb 13, 2006

If you live in a country other than a country where your target language is spoken, how much has discrimination (employment discrimination and otherwise) played a role in your choice of translation as a career path?

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 21:31
Dutch to English
+ ...
Purpose Feb 13, 2006

Dorothy Pouch wrote:

If you live in a country other than a country where your target language is spoken, how much has discrimination (employment discrimination and otherwise) played a role in your choice of translation as a career path?


Hi Dorothy,

Could you please tell us the purpose for the question - i.e. for your own curiosity, academic research perhaps or are you writing an article, etc.

I've often found people are more inclined to get involved in a discussion and share their views when the question is placed in context.

Thanks
D

[Edited at 2006-02-13 15:24]


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Dorothy Pouch  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:31
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Poll Purpose Feb 13, 2006

[quote]Deborah do Carmo wrote:


Could you please tell us the purpose for the question - i.e. for your own curiosity, academic research perhaps or are you writing an article, etc.

To answer your question, my answer is all of the above. I don't want to influence people's responses by putting the question in too much context. I want people to read it the way THEY see it. Thanks.


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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 17:31
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not at all. Feb 13, 2006

I don't say discrimination doesn't exist; just that it had nothing to do with my becoming a translator.

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two2tango  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 18:31
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Moving this thread Feb 13, 2006

I am moving this thread to the "Getting Established" forum, as this one is dedicated to issues affecting the forums of the site.

Enrique Cavalitto


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 22:31
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Good question! Feb 14, 2006

It also depends what you mean by discrimination.

I applied for a translation job very early in my career in Denmark, and was told I came in as no. 2 after the interview (but there was only one job of course...).

Then followed a long period of seeking jobs that I was not qualified for or 'overqualified' for, depending on how you look at them. At first I did not have the usual Danish qualifications, but I had a degree in librarianship from the UK (and unemployment among librarians in Denmark was at 15% at one stage...) - so I started child minding and worked in the health services for a while.

Meanwhile I went to night school as a way of life, and acquired the basic office training. Unemployment was rife, and I got very close to the glass ceiling age-wise. I just gave up applying to places where I suspected I was older than the boss! Anyway, I was not offered any jobs at all.

Whether this was age discrimination or discrimination of foreigners or simply a case of fifty to a hundred applications for each job (seriously!) - varied undoubtedly from case to case. I received a few very kind refusals with good advice about how to do better next time. A couple of times I was actually told shortly on the phone to forget it: 'We prefer a Dane'. This was of course illegal, but with no documentation I could never prove anything. I am European, have a Danish name and speak almost without an accent unless you are listening for it. Others who are less 'invisible' can tell more stories like that, but there are lots of employers here who are trying hard to integrate serious job-seekers wherever they come from.

I spent two years part time in a job-creation scheme at a museum and part time on language training - and in 1998 finally succeeded in being taken on at a translation agency. This was 'positive discrimination' - they almost threw my application away because I sounded too Danish and they wanted someone from the UK! But at a second glance they decided to give me a chance and I'm eternally grateful.

In the long run it is a good question whether I really suffered from discrimination or simply was less qualified or had less of the usual kind of experience than other applicants. I felt I was being discriminated against, because I wrote hundreds of applications, more than the 'average' person in my position, and I could undoubtedly have performed satisfactorily in most of the jobs I applied for, but so could most of the other applicants.

There were a lot of letters to the papers about immigrants stealing jobs from the Danes or similar expressions, but there were just as many deploring that attitude. I was at times called a 'cuckoo in the nest' for taking unskilled work when I had an academic training, (and was not trained for the jobs I did do) - but so were lots of others who took what they could get to earn a living.

BTW it has all been grist to the mill when I finally did get into translating... but that's another story.
If this doesn't answer your question, then at least I've raised one or two issues.
Hope it helps!


[Edited at 2006-02-14 11:46]


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Nizamettin Yigit  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:31
Dutch to Turkish
+ ...
A poll is easier Feb 15, 2006

Hi Dorothy,

Why dont you start a poll that would be visible at front page of proz.com? If you do so you will get more responses.

Good luck!

N. Yigit


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Claire Titchmarsh  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:31
Italian to English
+ ...
I wouldn't call it discrimination Feb 15, 2006

but if you have language skills and you live in a foreign country, translation is an obvious choice, because you are drawing on skills which very few people in the local area have. A major reason why I decided to become a full time translator is the appalling lack of flexibility in the Italian job market. Part time jobs are like hen's teeth, it's very difficult to find a company that will take you on an open-ended contract and if you weren't born and bred in the local area they'll probably only want you for your language skills. Being self-employed is the way to go!!

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:31
Italian to English
+ ...
No discrimination Feb 17, 2006

But as Claire says, it is a natural way to go once you've got the language skills... I'd say a pretty natural progression for native English speakers is TEFL -> translation. That's certainly what I did, although I spent a couple of years with and without COCOCOs (Italian temporary contract) at a certain Italian Health Institute (long enough to make me realise I would NEVER want a permanent job in such a place...)

Before deciding to translate I tried getting a "real" job, but without any luck. I remember one interview for what I thought was a supervisor's position. After keeping me waiting for over an hour - by which time, after twice politely reminding them of my existence, I had told them what I thought of their discourtesy and threatened to leave if I wasn't interviewed immediately - I discovered that it was a data entry position paying the minimum wage - and they wanted to interview a chemist with 10 years international experience???? But of course, it would have been too much to expect them to have read my CV before the interview!

Anyway, I don't think it was discrimnation, more like their own complete and utter stupidity. But after this and similar experiences, I decided that freelancing was the only way to go, in Italy at least.


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