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Poll: Which do you think is the most productive age in life for a translator?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 13:50
SITE STAFF
Aug 14, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Which do you think is the most productive age in life for a translator?".

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:50
Member
French to English
+ ...
Who can answer this poll? Aug 14, 2008

I fear that very few translators (although I know that there are a couple out there) will objectively be able to answer this question as not many of us have been in the profession long enough to judge.

As for me, I have no idea whether I'll be more productive at 40, 50, or 60 than I am today.

I started translating in my twenties and am now in my thirties; I don't think that my productivity has changed much. I'm productive now and intend to remain so.

Best,
Jocelyne


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Laureana Pavon  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 18:50
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...

MODERATOR
I agree that this is impossible to answer Aug 14, 2008

I completely agree with JS in that it's impossible to know how our productivity will be affected as we grow older.

I like to think that I'll keep getting better at what I do... but perhaps this is just wishful thinking

For now, however, I believe I am as productive as I was in my twenties.

Have a nice day!

Laureana


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Davis Andins
Local time: 23:50
German to Latvian
+ ...
Hard to tell Aug 14, 2008

I'm only 20 now. I'm rather new to professional translation business. A year or two maybe. It's really hard to predict what amounts I will be able to translate 10 or 20 years from now. But what I do know, is that there's SO MUCH to learn for me. I doubt a translator with 40 years of experience feels like knowing enough...
That's why I love translation, after reading your newest translatable text, you feel like this was your first sunrise...you start anew every time you translate. You read the text again and again, start understanding smth about the subject, you do research, you translate, and - in the end - you feel a little tiny bit smarter than at the beginning.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:50
English to French
+ ...
Hard to answer - but feasible Aug 14, 2008

It depends from what angle you look at the question. Of course, if you try to answer this from experience, the error margin will be huge. But if you try to answer based on your perception of your colleagues, then it's a different story. Besides, the question is about your opinion, not about facts.

I answered 30 to 39. It takes some time before one gets to their peak speed, so I don't think people in their twenties are the fastest, save a few exceptions (I am most likely part of the exception). If one studies translation or starts translating in their twenties, I am guessing they get to their peak productivity somewhere around thirty. They keep that productivity for a while (10 years?) and then it probably starts declining slowly. The reason why I imagine this happens is that human beings, by nature, get weary of the same activity after a while. In my case, the passion is still there, but I don't get as excited about the work as much as I used to.

Also, being productive isn't solely based on your capabilities, but also on what you want to do. Some translators are less productive simply because they don't feel like being more productive. They are getting paid excellent rates and they don't need to work as many hours to have a nice, satisfactory life. You need to keep this in mind also. However, usually, by the time you get excellent rates, you have a reputation, which means you have experience, which means in most cases that you are past your twenties.

I may be wrong...


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RichardDeegan
Local time: 16:50
Spanish to English
Mas por viejo que por diablo Aug 14, 2008

Yes, I was able to respond, albeit in a minority category.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:50
English to Spanish
+ ...
Unpopular category Aug 14, 2008

"Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo." (The devil knows more because he's old, not because he's a devil)

Well, the vast majority of the folks here don't know what can be done at age 60+ because they haven't made it that far. And sadly, some will never make it.

I know what I could do at age 30, and I can sure run circles around that now, big time. In this field, I would say that age and experience are the best qualifications one can have. Been there, done that, and can do it again better than ever.

I only wish that applied to so many other areas of life!


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:50
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other - no idea Aug 14, 2008

Believe it or not, I'd have to know how "productive" is defined! There is a peak speed that's mechanical, and, as Henry points out, some of us can now run circles around ourselves at a younger age.

But if I had to define that concept, I'd equate productivity with the capacity to learn and apply acquired knowledge towards improvement, which, in my case, is still growing (and I'm far from being an egg). For one thing, I'm now more acutely aware that meaning and message have very little to do with word count and the bottom line. As a senior interpreter once said, the faster the speaker goes, the more one should slow down and synthesize. Or, put another way, we don't translate words, but concepts. Grasp an idea like that, for instance, and you grow by leaps and bounds, both technically and beyond technique.


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Marcus Malabad  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:50
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
there is a difference Aug 14, 2008

...actually since you're inexperienced and a little green in the first 3-4 years of your career. I challenge you to not cringe when reading your early translations.

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Ludmilla3
Local time: 07:50
English to Russian
It is a great job for 60+ people Aug 15, 2008

I think that it is a great job for the age >60.
At this age the person is professional in some area, has no problem with children, buying house and has a lot of free time. Besides, it is not necessary to go to office because all work can be done at home.


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Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 22:50
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
to Henry and Viktoria Aug 15, 2008

Henry Hinds wrote:

"Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo." (The devil knows more because he's old, not because he's a devil)

Well, the vast majority of the folks here don't know what can be done at age 60+ because they haven't made it that far. And sadly, some will never make it.

I know what I could do at age 30, and I can sure run circles around that now, big time. In this field, I would say that age and experience are the best qualifications one can have. Been there, done that, and can do it again better than ever.

I only wish that applied to so many other areas of life!


I do not know, where you are, Mr Hinds, but I have a strong desire in this moment shake your hands. In my twenties I was a student in Latvia, in my thirties I was a young mother, and in a couple of weeks I am 40, and your last sentence touched me very much. "I would say that age and experience are the best qualifications one can have. Been there, done that, and can do it again better than ever." you are right and I wish you, wherever you are, to enjoy this day whatever you are doing.

When the people are coming to my office, many of them are telling, they see I enjoy what I do, but the secret is simple: I just know how to do it, I love my work, each corner of this small office and each small piece of paper in it. Sometimes I love my crazy customers with their hectic requests too

To Viktoria Gimbe:

"Also, being productive isn't solely based on your capabilities, but also on what you want to do.

not always what you want to do, the thing is you have to accept yourself the way who and what you are, what you can do and what is the God's plan for you. You can do many, many things in your life against it, but the things sometimes just are happen around you and you wonder why you are not able to change them? Because many factors in your life can work against your "productivity".

"Some translators are less productive simply because they don't feel like being more productive."

You think that? I think I do not want to being productive at all. I almost get a heart attack because of my productivity, and my four children are too young and too dear to me to leave them alone.

"They are getting paid excellent rates and they don't need to work as many hours to have a nice, satisfactory life. "

What the nice, satisfactory life is? Is it so important to spend the vacation on the Seychelle island? Who cares about it? I travelled so much in my youth, now I am almost criple along, I fall down from a ladder in the living room, but I am still alive after chemotherapy, who the hell cares about nice life? I am glad I am still here and able to work, cook, take care of the kids, organize the daily life of the office!

"You need to keep this in mind also. However, usually, by the time you get excellent rates,"

...and, if not, you still can find many other places to find your a success, my classmate who graduated with me in the Voronezh university, today working as an anasthesiologist in the Oncology Department. The parents did not let her to chuck up the university, the final result: she graduated as a linguist, and after 6 years of fighting with her own emotions and motivations, she begun her medical studies and today we have a good doctor - she maybe was late, as she says, she was too old for it, but finally she fulfilled her dream and she is happy...

So, if you NOT satisfied with this area/industry, test yourself somewhere else! It does not mean you are bad translator, but many of us chucked up this passion for few years. If you cannot living without is - it is your chance, your right place.

"you have a reputation, which means you have experience, which means in most cases that you are past your twenties."

No, this is the wrong order. You came through many things, you learned a lot from the mistakes from others and from your own mistakes, which means you have experience. Which means you can perform something better, with full confidence, with full heart, based all this on your past.
And you got the reputation at the end, which means...completely nothing, because you are able to make all mistakes again, the difference is you can accept them, forgive them and amend them faster.

Reputation? There is no way to issue for us a good standing certification. Last time I delivered the customer the translation. Arrived by taxi dressed in light, sporty summer dress, and the young secretary did not offer me a chair and a glass of water and started to call to the "boss" in the translation office, where in the hell the courier is? You could see her face when I took the phone from my pocket)) finally I asked her, "now I have reputation enough to offer me a chair and a cup of coffee???"

Please, do not judge the book by his cover. Inside I am still the same 12-year-old-Liza, who wondered some day become a translator... just the cover is changed.


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Ikram Mahyuddin  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 04:50
Member (2006)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
I am not sure Aug 15, 2008

Different person, different case. I think.

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:50
English to French
+ ...
Having a nice life Aug 15, 2008

Erzsébet Czopyk wrote:

"Also, being productive isn't solely based on your capabilities, but also on what you want to do."

not always what you want to do, the thing is you have to accept yourself the way who and what you are, what you can do and what is the God's plan for you. You can do many, many things in your life against it, but the things sometimes just are happen around you and you wonder why you are not able to change them? Because many factors in your life can work against your "productivity".


That's true. But what I meant is that some people are unproductive simply because even if they could, they don't have to be and they don't want to be. Some people have enough passion for this profession that they can sit for half an hour trying to find the perfect phrase (not an acceptable one, not a correct one, not simply one that renders the meaning of the source well - the most perfect, beautifully sounding phrase possible). Doing that is far from productive, but hey, that's how they perceive the work they do and that's how they want to enjoy it. Can you blame them? If they can afford to do that, then there is no reason not to do that.

"Some translators are less productive simply because they don't feel like being more productive."

You think that? I think I do not want to being productive at all. I almost get a heart attack because of my productivity, and my four children are too young and too dear to me to leave them alone.


That is your choice. You are in that situation because you decided to be in that situation. However, not all of us are married with children. Some of us, like you, need to be productive and that is why they are productive. But some of us are productive just because they can be, and they otherwise don't need to be productive. And then, some of us aren't productive even if they could be, simply because they don't have any pressure to be productive and they stop and smell the roses. I am sure our colleagues specialized in legal translation who have done their studies is law and have a lot of experience in both law and translation can command high enough rates to work only part time. Some of them probably work full time anyway, because they want to do it while they can, or because they are greedy, or because they love translating, whatever. But most of them don't need to.

What the nice, satisfactory life is?


You've already answered that question yourself:

I am glad I am still here and able to work, cook, take care of the kids, organize the daily life of the office!


Or, to put it more simply, taking your sweet time and living the moment. No Seychelle Island for me, although I would like to travel and discover other cultures. Just having time to spend with my loved ones, cooking, sewing new curtains for my living room, going to the Jazz Festival, taking the cat to the vet's, cleaning the gutters...

"you have a reputation, which means you have experience, which means in most cases that you are past your twenties."

No, this is the wrong order. You came through many things, you learned a lot from the mistakes from others and from your own mistakes, which means you have experience. Which means you can perform something better, with full confidence, with full heart, based all this on your past.
And you got the reputation at the end, which means...completely nothing, because you are able to make all mistakes again, the difference is you can accept them, forgive them and amend them faster.


By reputation, I don't mean notoriety. I mean having a standing with your clients, relationships based on trust because they know you can do it, even if you still make mistakes once in a while. I mean getting paid your worth because the people you work with recognize it. They may not send you flowers, or in your case a glass of water, but they don't haggle with you because they know you are worth what you charge. And that takes time to establish.

I believe that kind of reputation can only be achieved once you have gathered a lot of experience. Clients need to work with you for a while before they really see your worth and trust you 100%. It often takes years. And years of working with a client also means years of experience. If you leave university at 20, and it takes you a while to get established, and then need to work for years to get that experience, then it is unlikely you will get what I call reputation before you reach thirty.

Please, do not judge the book by his cover.


Judging? Who was judging? You never know, I may be older than you... You may be talking to a person who has similar experience to yours, with a similar perception of things - just a different way to express it.


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Venkatesh Sundaram  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 03:20
Member
German to English
Only if one is old and objective enough can one be sure Aug 15, 2008

ProZ.com Staff wrote:

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Which do you think is the most productive age in life for a translator?".

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


Speaking for myself, I joined the profession only after I was 45! I'd worked in senior technical and research positions with international chemical companies prior to that for about 18 years, and wanted to make a change of lifestyle. I've been reasonably successful so far, in terms of being sought after by clients, getting the rates I ask for and having sufficient quality work at hand (most of the time). However, I do hope the best is still to come

Form my interactions with colleagues in my city, I can say that those whose work I appreciate and respect are usually 35 years of age and older. Perhaps some of the younger colleagues lack in experience - not necessarily of language usage, but of work in any field - be it financial / technical / legal or any other

But I sincerely think that one can truthfully answer the poll only if one is old enough, and objective too - so that one doesn't just assume that one has gotten better (or worse) with age! Hence, my answer is a "Don't know"


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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 22:50
English to French
+ ...
Other Aug 15, 2008

10 year periods seem a bit short. Each age has advantages and drawbacks: in my twenties, I certainly was not as ‘productive’, but then, we didn’t have the tools we have now, not even computers. For most people, productivity means speed, yet there is another, very subjective, notion: quality.
The great advantage of getting older is experience… of life and the world, and that certainly helps in our field.

Also, I tend to think that performance depends on to the interest you have in what you do. Once you loose the “feu sacré”, you better quit and turn to something else. And that is not a matter of age.


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