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Off topic: Pursuing Careers in Interpreting - Advice?
Thread poster: Mourton

Mourton
English to Portuguese
Jan 17, 2008

Good afternoon, forum!

I'm terribly sorry to pester you with questions that may have, most likely, been asked and perhaps answered before, but I wish to pursue a career in Interpreting, and I was wondering if you may tell me if what I am doing would be enough to realise it.

First of all, I'm a college student from England studying Spanish in lessons and Portuguese also, yet outside of official education, since I can garner help from friends of Portugal, luckily, to improve! I was hoping to join a University once I've left college to sign up for a Modern Languages course of Portugese and Russian, equally learnt; since I have had experience with Portuguese I think that aspect of it will be quite all right.

Are Portuguese and Russian languages that are sought after, however? At an Army interview I heard Arabic was a language ideal for the current situation, but I've not even touched upon it before.

In an ideal world I would be travelling globally to interpret, but I don't know which qualifications are required to join these various agencies of interpreting.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and sorry again if it's a repetitive question!

Adieu.


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The Misha
Local time: 17:33
Russian to English
+ ...
Go with Arabic Jan 17, 2008

Russian is a very crowded language, and most of professional interpreters there are Russian natives - just like myself. There is plenty of us all over, and your chances are not good. Portuguese is probably useful with Brasil in mind, but I am sure they also have a ton of locals who are willing and able. Go with Arabic, I am afraid the current demand will last in the foreseeable future, long enough to see you all the way through, until you retire.

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Maria Ramon  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:33
Dutch to English
+ ...
Arabic will be your best choice! Jan 17, 2008

I am afraid that Arabic will be your best choice, due to the present situation in the world, which I expect to last for an unforseeable amount of time, unfortunately!

If I were young, like you, I would certainly learn the language; there will be ample opportunities to use it to translate now and in the future.

If you choose to learn Arabic, try to be the best you can be, and even better than that!, translating the language.

I wish you good luck and a bright future!

Maria


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:33
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Welcome Jan 18, 2008

Hi Mourton, and welcome!

First of all, let's get things straight. You want to pursue a career in interpreting. What is your mother/native language? This is important, because it will be the language you are most effective in interpreting INTO. (And that is independent of market demand, as well as fully dependent on your personal circumstances). The language(s) that you acquire will be the ones you interpret OUT OF, unless you get them so active you can hack what we call "both ways" (and certain situations -- like courts and liaison -- will require that).

You mention Spanish and Portuguese: are you already a Portuguese speaker? Are you on your way to -- acquiring -- English?

It's important for us to sort out your A (native) language(s), because that will be the basic market for the combinations you are ideal for, independently of other developments.

You are investigating Russian and Arabic, both languages in which there are historically many bilinguals (these come from a "school" of translation and interpreting in the case of Russian and a certain amount of in-country foreign presence for Arabic, whereby many people are bilingual). Competition here -- if you have core English in mind -- will be very steep. Likewise, the perspective with change if you say core Portuguese.

Hope I explain myself well


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Mourton
English to Portuguese
TOPIC STARTER
English Jan 18, 2008

My native tongue is English, Portuguese is only a language I am learning.
I would be interested in interpreting Portuguese - Russian into English, but as you say there would be a lot of competition; I have focused most of my studies on languages though so a job in languages such as teaching/translation/interpreting would be something I'd enjoy.

It sounds as if this interpreting business is incredibly difficult to get a leg up on..


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:33
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Learning languages is a first step Jan 18, 2008

The techniques of translating and interpreting should come into play in your training when you've already acquired a functional knowledge of the languages you intend to work from. This is how it works in university training anyway, mainly because institutions don't want to lose additional time teaching languages. They'll tend to buckle straight down to business.

Hence, a stay in the countries where your languages are spoken will be helpful. This will certainly be the case if the institution you want to learn T&I from has an admissions test. In interpreting as well as translation, your biggest assets will be a thorough knowledge of your mother language (as contradictory as that sounds) and the will to communicate. It goes without saying that if you write well, you should have no major problem in translation, and if you're good at speaking (particularly public speaking), you have fair chances in interpretation.

There are certain stages, phases or even "symptoms" that you will go through, and you shouldn't be easily discouraged (because the field really IS discouraging). It takes a lot of patience and hard work, that's true. For instance, in the language acquisition stage, you may be required to think of the language being acquired as your own: you will be told to think in it, dream in it, write in it -- even translate into it. These are mental exercises, not activities intended to commit you in the future (very few people actually become as proficient as the natives when doing inverse work). This is also the reason why your grasp of "A" (your native language) has to be robust: a second language can temporarily derail a mother tongue. I say "temporarily" because the A language is the single component in your profile that won't change, as surely as you can't erase your past and your acculturation.

Problems between an A language and a B language aren't really typical, but they can happen. What's more common are problems between two B languages learned on an equal level, or problems between B and C when the less-active language begins to approach the same level as the B language. They begin to interfere with each other. So what I'd advise is for you to control your language acquisition, making sure that the second language of your preference is always above the next one you're acquiring. This will help you to acquire both more efficiently, instead of mixing them and getting them all confused. (You'll learn both faster instead of struggling with both and losing energy).

As for market considerations, don't pay them too much attention. You're better off working with a language and culture you can love, and live with 24 hours a day, instead of one you're obliged to work in just because statistics (temporarily) indicate it's advisable. The market will come later. If Russian be it, take the chance. It's not what others are doing that's important, it's what you can give the combination that nobody else can (and that will probably be the longest research of your life).

As for interpreting, I think it comes naturally enough to people with the will to communicate. All else can be learned, worked at, developed. I'd advise a lot of interaction: young people set up many forms of language exchange, and many successful interpreters actually began by practising being "the man/woman in the middle" during language-critical occasions. In fact, some of the most interesting jobs do not fall into the simo-consecutive type (which attracts more attention) but in liaison.

Hope it helps you!


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Jean Bisping  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:33
English to French
+ ...
Reading Suggestion Feb 5, 2008

I worked at the WSF in Porto Allegre in '05 and prepared a brief intro to interpreting - maybe you could have a look...


Google "How to be a better simultaneous interpreter", it's on the BABELOG site..


Good luck!

Johnnie


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Pablo Cañamares  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 00:33
Russian to Spanish
+ ...
my two pences Feb 28, 2008

The Misha wrote:

Russian is a very crowded language, and most of professional interpreters there are Russian natives - just like myself. There is plenty of us all over, and your chances are not good. Portuguese is probably useful with Brasil in mind, but I am sure they also have a ton of locals who are willing and able. Go with Arabic, I am afraid the current demand will last in the foreseeable future, long enough to see you all the way through, until you retire.


Just a comment on this: what you say about most of the interpreters with Russian being Russian natives might be true of the private market, but they will never, ever hire a Russian native to interpret Ru>En or whatever in international organizations, as far as I know.


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