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Thanks from a newbie
Thread poster: Thomas Ochiltree
Thomas Ochiltree  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:22
Member (2005)
Latin to English
+ ...
Jan 2, 2006

First, a word of introduction. I am a retiree seeking to begin a new career in translation.

After two frustrating weeks I finally got a job offer and eagerly snapped at it. After all, "if you aren't in Equity you can't act on Broadway, and if you don't act on Broadway, you can't join Equity."

To my surprise, the job -- related to an application for a pension -- contained an attachment with an inordinate amount of medical terminology not covered by my dictionary.

First and foremost, I want to thank profoundly all those members who replied to my infamous 15 questions and thus saved my bacon.

As for the irritation that some might have felt at seeing so many questions (to which some answers were apparently available in the glossary), I can only say "I'm sorry, I guess I panicked."

Looking to the future, I really do have a a good knowledge of the languages listed in my profile, at least outside of technical fields such as medicine, and hope one day to pay back by answering questions myself in areas I am more familiar with.

Until then, please accept my apologies, and again, thanks for the replies. If anyone didn't receive kudos from me, please let me know. Someone pointed out that I should have waited 24 hours before posting, and again, if anyone feels disadvantaged by my newbie haste and misunderstanding of the kudos drill, I'm sorry.

Incidentally, I welcome that fact that for proZ "kudos" is still treated as singular. (One of my reitrment hobbies is teaching myself ancient Greek.) In the State Department, where I formerly worked it, "kudos" had become a bastard plural with a singular form "kudo"; an abomination, but who can argue with usage?

Regards, Tom


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:22
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Thanks for your thanks Jan 2, 2006

I am sure those who answered your questions will appreciate your expression of gratitude, which is something we don't often get.
If the job from which you have retired doesn't give you a background in a field for translating, it would be a good thing to take a course, maybe evening classes, in something that would. You are already learning about our glossaries. There are also numerous other resources on the Web, online dictionaries in many languages and specialities, which you can find using Google, and Google itself is of course a great help.
Don't worry about taking the "24-hour rule" too literally. If one answer is obviously right, I see no reason to wait that long, though it is certainly not considered polite to grade an answer within minutes.
Best of luck for your future in translating.


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Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 04:22
Italian to Danish
+ ...
Eurodicautom Jan 2, 2006

Hi Thomas,
You might also want to try eurodicautom before going into panic next time. Even though it is not updated anymore, it still contains an infinity of useful terms, also medical, when your own dictionary gives up.
http://europa.eu.int/eurodicautom/Controller

Good luck!
Dinny


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Ford Prefect  Identity Verified
Burkina Faso
Local time: 01:22
German to English
+ ...
... Jan 2, 2006

Thomas Ochiltree wrote:

... "if you aren't in Equity you can't act on Broadway, and if you don't act on Broadway, you can't join Equity."...


Personally, I would hope this profession is a little less masonic than that. Two weeks before your first job is hardly a long wait, it can take a couple of years or more to become truly financially independent as a freelancer. Get yourself registered with some agencies. Jobs will come along as and when their pet translators disappear through natural wastage.


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 03:22
English to German
+ ...
My personal congratulations Jan 2, 2006

somewhere luck and ablility (being a champ) is the best solution. Brandis

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Thomas Ochiltree  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:22
Member (2005)
Latin to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Ah, but getting ability recognized.... Jan 2, 2006

Brandis wrote:

somewhere luck and ablility (being a champ) is the best solution. Brandis
I certainly wouldn't disagree about luck, but as for ability, while essential, the hard part in any field is getting ability even looked at. To return to my acting analogy, I'm sure there are plenty of would-be actors who wait on table all their youth long who would in fact be capable of carrying a show. Harrison Ford couldn't get an acting job until his break with the first "Star Wars", which came when he was in his mid-thirties and only because it was a low-budget production. I'm not pretending to be the Harrison Ford of translation, but -- despite the low opinion of me that some members may have formed from my barrage of 15 questions -- outside of highly specialized fields such as medecine my knowledge of the languages listen in my profile is very good, and my career as a U.S. diplomat did involve frequent translation of important documents too sensitive for locally hired native speakers to handle. But who is going to look twice at the bid of someone who, because he's just starting in the freelance translation business, can't list a string of projects a yard long, or possess kind of government certificates that I assume European members can get? I'm not whining, it's just the way of the world, but I do think that in this field as in others, mere ability doesn't solve the initial break in problem. I guess all I can do is use patience. Any advice from other members on how they broke in themselves would be VERY welcome. Regards, Thomas

[Edited at 2006-01-02 17:31]


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 20:22
German to English
Welcome, Thomas Jan 2, 2006

Hi Thomas,
I'm really glad you're telling us about your situation. It reminds me of how I felt about 6 years ago when I discovered that translation might be just the right thing for me. There was so much to learn and I didn't know where to start.
But as I searched the Internet I found more and more sources of information and eventually stumbled on a request for voluntary translation work. I translated an Austrian writer's stories about peace and war.
I know there have been discussions in these fora about voluntary translation opportunities; I'll do a search and see what I can come up with.
Another very valuable training experience for me was getting ATA (American Translators Association) certification. I had to work hard to pass the test and failed the first time around. You can check it out here:

http://www.atanet.org/bin/view.pl/285.html

Welcome to our ranks.


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xxxdf49f
France
Local time: 03:22
advice... FWIW Jan 2, 2006

[quote]Thomas Ochiltree wrote:

Brandis wrote:
... as for ability...

Any advice from other members on how they broke in themselves would be VERY welcome. Regards, Thomas

[Edited at 2006-01-02 17:31]


Since you asked for advice as a translation beginner and a Proz newcomer, here's mine for what it's worth!
1) Don't accept jobs in fields you know nothing about... it's the best way to never get a second one from that same client.
2) Learn to do your own research - I checked out your list of questions, and though I don't work in German and my German dates back to high-school plus one year in Heidelberg 30 years ago, I could have found answers to virtually all your questions on my own. Google and other search engines are miraculous tools, particularly for those of us who started translating in the pre-internet dark ages! Try it!
3) Kudoz is not intended to serve as a surrogate virtual translator to fill in anyone's deficiencies (although unfortunately many seem to think so and are buying Platinum memberships right and left just to get their jobs done by others... but that's another issue) - It is intended to help professional translators AS A LAST RESORT when all else has failed.
4) The more questions you ask on Kudoz, the more obvious it becomes that you are in over your head on a job - it simply reveals your inability, rather than the ability you are trying to sell. This also creates annoyance among real professionals, all very generous with their free help when truly necessary, but who keep seeing many former midwives, IT programmers, legal secretaries or retired civil servants etc. improvising themselves translators, invading the market and slashing rates with abominable work... all of which is prejudicial to the image of our profession.
5) Beware of Kudoz answerers who sound too sure of themselves! Check out their Kudoz asked and answered questions to get an idea of their real worth. Some people dabble in many languages they really are not familiar with, just to try and win the points that will get them at the top of the misleading Kudoz leader list! Don't be bluffed just because they've earned a lot of points since it absolutely doesn't mean they're knowledgeable (most askers aren't either and therefore cannot make the difference between right and wrong and often end up picking the incorrect answers)- which leads me to:
5) Probably the last straw that really annoyed the people who nevertheless helped you, is that in your last question you chose an obviously incorrect answer offered by a non-specialist of German.
6) It was truly very nice of you to thank your answerers for their help and introduce yourself in a forum thread opened just for that purpose.
7) Good luck in your new career! Good translators can make a lot of money, others just barely get by.

best regards - df


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Thomas Ochiltree  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:22
Member (2005)
Latin to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for information, especially on ATA Jan 2, 2006

Kim Metzger wrote:

Hi Thomas,
I'm really glad you're telling us about your situation. It reminds me of how I felt about 6 years ago when I discovered that translation might be just the right thing for me. There was so much to learn and I didn't know where to start.
But as I searched the Internet I found more and more sources of information and eventually stumbled on a request for voluntary translation work. I translated an Austrian writer's stories about peace and war.
I know there have been discussions in these fora about voluntary translation opportunities; I'll do a search and see what I can come up with.
Another very valuable training experience for me was getting ATA (American Translators Association) certification. I had to work hard to pass the test and failed the first time around. You can check it out here:

http://www.atanet.org/bin/view.pl/285.html

Welcome to our ranks.
Many thanks for your encouragement and above all the info about the possibility of getting certification here in the U.S. I'll definitely follow up on this. Regards, Thomas


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Thomas Ochiltree  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:22
Member (2005)
Latin to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jan 2, 2006

[quote]df49f wrote:

Thomas Ochiltree wrote:

Brandis wrote:
... as for ability...

Any advice from other members on how they broke in themselves would be VERY welcome. Regards, Thomas

[Edited at 2006-01-02 17:31]


Since you asked for advice as a translation beginner and a Proz newcomer, here's mine for what it's worth!
1) Don't accept jobs in fields you know nothing about... it's the best way to never get a second one from that same client.
2) Learn to do your own research - I checked out your list of questions, and though I don't work in German and my German dates back to high-school plus one year in Heidelberg 30 years ago, I could have found answers to virtually all your questions on my own. Google and other search engines are miraculous tools, particularly for those of us who started translating in the pre-internet dark ages! Try it!
3) Kudoz is not intended to serve as a surrogate virtual translator to fill in anyone's deficiencies (although unfortunately many seem to think so and are buying Platinum memberships right and left just to get their jobs done by others... but that's another issue) - It is intended to help professional translators AS A LAST RESORT when all else has failed.
4) The more questions you ask on Kudoz, the more obvious it becomes that you are in over your head on a job - it simply reveals your inability, rather than the ability you are trying to sell. This also creates annoyance among real professionals, all very generous with their free help when truly necessary, but who keep seeing many former midwives, IT programmers, legal secretaries or retired civil servants etc. improvising themselves translators, invading the market and slashing rates with abominable work... all of which is prejudicial to the image of our profession.
5) Beware of Kudoz answerers who sound too sure of themselves! Check out their Kudoz asked and answered questions to get an idea of their real worth. Some people dabble in many languages they really are not familiar with, just to try and win the points that will get them at the top of the misleading Kudoz leader list! Don't be bluffed just because they've earned a lot of points since it absolutely doesn't mean they're knowledgeable (most askers aren't either and therefore cannot make the difference between right and wrong and often end up picking the incorrect answers)- which leads me to:
5) Probably the last straw that really annoyed the people who nevertheless helped you, is that in your last question you chose an obviously incorrect answer offered by a non-specialist of German.
6) It was truly very nice of you to thank your answerers for their help and introduce yourself in a forum thread opened just for that purpose.
7) Good luck in your new career! Good translators can make a lot of money, others just barely get by.

best regards - df





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xxxdf49f
France
Local time: 03:22
you're welcome! Jan 2, 2006

[quote]Thomas Ochiltree wrote:

df49f wrote:

Thomas Ochiltree wrote:


you're welcome!
Kim's advice on career building is very constructive, and he's one of those few you can really fully trust on this site!

regards - df


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 03:22
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...
Thanks for your thanks! Jan 2, 2006

Not to worry IMHO.

I have always been an advocate of having no limits on how many question someone is to be allowed to ask.

There is after all a second side of the coin:

Not only the asker profits from a question being answered.
The answerer is also a winner because s/he - in most cases - has something to learn from answering the question.
(See http://www.proz.com/?sp=bb/viewtopic&topic_id=7722&forum_id=48 )

Those who are less inclined to answer, always has the Golden Option: Do not answer!

In my view you do not have to shuffle your feet about your offering a number of colleagues the opportunity to learn, collate, confirm, justify etc. AND earn a few KudoZ.

Best regards

Mats J C Wiman
Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe
http://www.Deutsch-Schwedisch.com
http://www.proz.com/pro/1749
(Proz.com moderator, deu>swe, Swedish)
Träsk 201
SE-872 97 Skog
Schweden/Sweden/Suède/Suecia
Tel:+46-612-54112
Fax:-81 on demand
Mobile:+46-70-5769797
MatsWiman@tele2.se
SKYPE: MatsWiman


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Thomas Ochiltree  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:22
Member (2005)
Latin to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks. Jan 2, 2006

Mats Wiman wrote:

Not to worry IMHO.

I have always been an advocate of having no limits on how many question someone is to be allowed to ask.

There is after all a second side of the coin:

Not only the asker profits from a question being answered.
The answerer is also a winner because s/he - in most cases - has something to learn from answering the question.
(See http://www.proz.com/?sp=bb/viewtopic&topic_id=7722&forum_id=48 )

Those who are less inclined to answer, always has the Golden Option: Do not answer!

In my view you do not have to shuffle your feet about your offering a number of colleagues the opportunity to learn, collate, confirm, justify etc. AND earn a few KudoZ.

Best regards

Mats J C Wiman
Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe
http://www.Deutsch-Schwedisch.com
http://www.proz.com/pro/1749
(Proz.com moderator, deu>swe, Swedish)
Träsk 201
SE-872 97 Skog
Schweden/Sweden/Suède/Suecia
Tel:+46-612-54112
Fax:-81 on demand
Mobile:+46-70-5769797
MatsWiman@tele2.se
SKYPE: MatsWiman

Many thanks for your supportive message.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 20:22
German to English
Volunteer translation work Jan 2, 2006

Here's one place to check out:

http://www.translators4kids.com/about.php


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:22
German to English
+ ...
Even more advice Jan 2, 2006

A few things I have learned from hanging around ProZ since September 2005, mixed with some things I knew already

After a rather checkered career, and translating for years, but not full-time as a freelancer, I decided to focus on translation and found ProZ. Last month I became a platinum member. You beat me on that one, as it took me 3 months to take that step. So from a relative newbie to another,

Rule No. 1: SPECIALIZE in 3 or 4 (or fewer) fields, and keep up with those fields, subscribe to free newsletters on the web, read online publications. As mentioned earlier, these are great gifts that cost only our time. (Ok, that's not free, exactly, but ...) If you can, go to conferences in those fields and network. Or use your own connections in the FS to network. Some agencies specialize in working with the government, especially around Washington DC (logically), so find them either by Googling, or using the Blue Board (here on ProZ). Those would be a natural choice for you. And on and on.

Rule No. 2: Take the time to examine every nook and cranny of ProZ, there's so much priceless information here. Who knows how many hours of work and research (translators' blood, sweat and tears) can be accessed and used as invaluable resources right here? Glosspost is one example of a section I have barely begun to explore. Use the Blue Board to make sure you don't end up with an unreliable agency. As I said, take that time - you'll never regret it.

Rule No. 3: Don't sell yourself short or bid too low. It'll be harder to raise your prices later, and you'll be contributing to ruining the market for others. There are sometimes jobs posted for 0.04 USD or Eur per word, don't take those if you can help it. It's better to hone your skills on volunteer work, as Kim suggested, and it's difficult to pay your bills in Germany, for example, at that rate.

Well, that's enough for starters, I think. Oh, another useful resource in the US is Craig's List (on the web), depending on where you live.

Welcome aboard, and good luck!


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