Hi. Thanks for the answer!
First of all: Sorry for posting pretty much the same topic twice..I just did that because I thought my other thread had gotten lost (didnt realize it had to be checked by a moderator first).
If I were to translate from french into english, I think I would translate directly into english. However I have to say, that I don't think my english would be good enough to do professional translations into it, yet. I guess, I forgot to mention, that I'm only 21 years old and I'm studying business management/japanese. My plan is to start working in a business job where I deal with japan a lot and have to use and thus be able to improve my japanese language skills (and also my english of course, because in business english is the lingua franca like everyone knows, I assume) and become a translator for j->g / j->e later in life. That way I'd also have an expertise (business, finance) and should be able to understand business documents very well...and thus could try and become a translator.
Actually, I think the fact that English isn't my mother tongue wouldn't be too much of a problem for me, especially as I'd also like to move to an english-speaking country later in life (California in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand,..a place where the sun shines longer than in germany). Besides, I've actually never been to an english-speaking country before and think I could further improve my english by at least spending a year or so in one (or like I said maybe even moving there for good). I'm just worried, that I might have more difficulty acquiring jobs, because English still won't be my official mother tongue, no matter what I do.
One more thing, though: I know Japanese->English is the bread and butter, but is it usually easy for a jap->english translator to get enough jobs to work fulltime..? I know the demand must be pretty high, but I have no clue about the supply of available translators for that language pair. I've heard up to 80/90% of j->e translations were done by non-native english speakers, though. That would mean, the demand rather exceeds the supply than the other way around, I guess?..on the other hand I dont really know whether it's true, at all.
Do you think it's possible to specialize in patent translation (after starting with translations of business documents) even if you don't have a degree in that field? It's probably way more than just a matter of learning the necessary vocabular, I guess...?
(I've heard of one j->g and g->j translator who operates in that expertise and actually gets probably more work than he wishes for, because he doesn't have any real competition in that language pair and expertise)
It is a bit difficult to say about JP > DE - there is some demand for DE > JP - though I would think there is a reasonable demand for it. My guess is that there is a substantial market but the number of translators is small so that many clients rely on relay translation. If you can establish yourself in the field, it may work out. However you are in for a long haul, especially you are yet to embark on learning the language.
JP > EN is more common, the bread and butter stuff really, but there is more competition. You will be at a disadvantage since I assume that English is not your mother tongue but German is. Clients usually like to have someone translating into his/her mother tongue (whether that is a good policy or not is a matter for discussion since if someone is not sure about the source text, it can cause trouble).
For the JP > EN pair, the important question is your proficiency in English. A simple test: if you were to translate JP > EN, do you think you could do that directly and not mentally translating the Japanese text into German first (i.e. JP > DE > EN)? You might also want to start with DE > EN and EN > DE combinations and see how you fare.
Along with language competence, you will need to develop a field in which you specialise - mechanical, engineering, patents, medical etc. Different types of documents demand different skills so you will need to work on this too. If you are passionate about languages and prepared to put in the hours, translation (in my view) is one of the most rewarding and creative occupations around.
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