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Poll: Which one of the following would most lead you to believe that a translator is qualified?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 03:00
SITE STAFF
Jan 31, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Which one of the following would most lead you to believe that a translator is qualified?".

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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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Ian M-H
United States
Local time: 06:00
German to English
+ ...
Depends on client's language skills Jan 31, 2006

The options "good portfolio of previous work" and "satisfactory completion of a sample text" only make sense if I'm in a position to judge. In other words, if I'm looking for someone to translate from a language that I understand into a language that I am fluent in (i.e. understand well enough to judge both the accuracy and style of the translated text).

It's interesting to see that they're currently (around 300 votes) the two most popular options.

If, however, someone is looking for a translator to do something they can't do themselves, in other words if they're a real end client rather than an agency or a colleague outsourcing some work in one of her/his own language pairs, then they're going to have to rely on one of the other factors: recommendation, qualification or credentials.

[Edited at 2006-02-01 12:02]


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:00
Member (2005)
French to German
+ ...
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Jan 31, 2006

Ian Harknett wrote:
It's interesting to see that they're currently (around 300 votes) the two most popular options.


Well, those are the only options that try to evaluate the skill itself in dealing with the specific matter at hand.

The other options all gather no more than "circumstantial evidence".


  • Three years of experience An old piece of wisdom says that many a person claiming 20 years of experience has in fact repeated one year of experience 20 times.
  • Two satisfied clients Who can say whether these clients were in a position to evaluate the translation quality accurately?
  • A tested credential The only thing this says is that the linguist has passed an examination at some point of his/her career. This examination may have been similar to the translation matter at hand or it may not have been, and this may have happened fairly recently or it may not have.
  • A university degree Same as above, only more so.


The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The only reliable way to ascertain whether a translator can translate is to evaluate concrete, specific translations translated by the translator.

P.

[Edited at 2006-01-31 16:58]

[Edited at 2006-02-01 09:55]


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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:00
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
agree Jan 31, 2006

Ian Harknett wrote:


The options "good portfolio of previous work" and "satisfactory completion of a sample text" only make sense if I'm in a position to judge. In other words, if I'm looking someone to translate from a language that I understand into a language that I am fluent in (i.e. understand well enough to judge both the accuracy and style of the translated text).

It's interesting to see that they're currently (around 300 votes) the two most popular options.

If, however, someone is looking for a translator to do something they can't do themselves, in other words if they're a real end client rather than an agency or a colleague outsourcing some work in one of her/his own language pairs, then they're going to have to rely on one of the other factors: recommendation, qualification or credentials.


This is precisely why I voted for "Two satisfied clients", although this alone would certainly not be enough for me to believe that someone is a good translator.


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Ian M-H
United States
Local time: 06:00
German to English
+ ...
But what if a client cannot assess translation quality? Jan 31, 2006

Peter wrote:
The only reliable way to ascertain whether a translator can translate is to evaluate concrete, specific translations translated by the translator.


Peter's right, but what would he recommend to clients who just aren't in a position to carry out that evaluation themselves?

Most of my clients aren't fully able to judge the quality of my work themselves, even though I work into a language (English) that most of them have some knowledge of and some of them can speak and write well.

What criteria would you apply, Peter, if you needed to retain the services of a translator working into a language that you do not understand?


[Edited at 2006-01-31 17:07]


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
Are we all answering the same question? Jan 31, 2006

Ian Harknett wrote:

Peter wrote:
The only reliable way to ascertain whether a translator can translate is to evaluate concrete, specific translations translated by the translator.


Peter's right, but what would he recommend to clients who just aren't in a position to carry out that evaluation themselves?



I think we are not answering the same question!

The question I answered was "Which one of the following would most lead YOU to believe that a translator is qualified?"

to me, as a translator, I agree with Peter and loved the pudding analogy!

As a translator, I consider the best quality assessment lies in the translator's work.

Of course, for a customer, this changes completely: they are the ones who need an "impartial" entity that will let them know if a particular tranlator is worth hiring. And that is where things get complicated, the client has to end up trusting something (or a combination of these), be it an accreditation, recommendations, degrees, years of experience... It's a whole different kettle of fish!

Heidi


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 12:00
English to German
+ ...
Certification vs Experience Jan 31, 2006

I think Certification or a University Degree in Translation is good because one gets easier and better exposure, but experience is better. It is like a marathon race, one needs to be experienced. Well, contrary to my current opinion, I have chosen for university Degree a few hours back. Best Brandis

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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:00
Member (2005)
French to German
+ ...
This is where things gets difficult :-) Jan 31, 2006

Ian Harknett wrote:
What criteria would you apply, Peter, if you needed to retain the services of a translator working into a language that you do not understand?


Well, this is just why it is so hard to compete in our job in a nutshell.

Your clients won't be able to evaluate what they get. So they will probably judge your politeness and the niceness of your demeanour, your showy row of dictionaries in your bookshelf or your impressive looking certification document instead.

This is more or less similar to the problem of choosing a good physician when you don't understand much of medicine and neither do your friends.

Quality is a criterion that is hard to quantify (apart from counting outright mistranslations or similarly gross metrics). There is such a thing as elegance in style, or fluidity, or aptness; but it is hard to put into words, much less to quantify numerically. Money, however, is easy to quantify. It is not hard to see on which side the odds are when quality and elegance competes with rates. You can see how the horses run by watching the bidding board on ProZ.

So, sorry, I'm afraid I don't have an easy answer to that one. I'd probably ask a trustworthy collegue for his or her judgement if pressed. But don't ask me how I got my trust in that collegue in the first place!

P.



[Edited at 2006-01-31 23:13]


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Gerardo Comino  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why choosing... Feb 1, 2006

Dear friends,

Do we have to choose one unique option? What I find most professional is to take into account as many factors as possible before believing a translator is good or not...

Every option offered in this poll may contribute to provide a better knowledge of the quality of a given trasnlator...


Regards,

Gerardo


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Wouter van Kampen
Thailand
Local time: 18:00
Danish to Dutch
+ ...
A degree other than translation is prime condition Feb 1, 2006

I beg to differ. The first requirement is ability to understand the source text.

In my personal experience there is an abundance of "professional" translators with a degree in translation that are of the believe that converting words and reconfiguring syntax will render good translations even when they are out in the dark when it comes to understanding the ideas that they are expected to convey in the chosen target language. If this approach would be a successful approach we would long have been replaced by MT-software.


Brandis wrote:


I think Certification or a University Degree in Translation is good because one gets easier and better exposure, but experience is better. It is like a marathon race, one needs to be experienced. Well, contrary to my current opinion, I have chosen for university Degree a few hours back. Best Brandis


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Cilian O'Tuama
Local time: 12:00
German to English
+ ...
"None of the above" Feb 1, 2006

ProZ.com Staff wrote:

"Which one of the following would most lead you to believe that a translator is qualified?".


To make the survey more representative, you've gotta leave a back door...

(I'm not inferring nothing...)


[Edited at 2006-02-01 00:38]

[Edited at 2006-02-01 00:40]


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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:00
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
degree != knowing something Feb 1, 2006

titi@home wrote:

I beg to differ. The first requirement is ability to understand the source text.

In my personal experience there is an abundance of "professional" translators with a degree in translation that are of the believe that converting words and reconfiguring syntax will render good translations even when they are out in the dark when it comes to understanding the ideas that they are expected to convey in the chosen target language. If this approach would be a successful approach we would long have been replaced by MT-software.


Why do you feel a degree is the best way to learn things that let you understand the source text? Speaking from my degree experience (in Economics and Politics) you learn very little of the real world. It is through work experience that we learn the most, I think. These days degrees only show your ability to cram for exams imho.

[Edited at 2006-02-01 00:42]


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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 08:00
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Maybe all of the above? Why choosing..(II). Feb 1, 2006

Gerardo Comino wrote:
Dear friends,
Do we have to choose one unique option? What I find most professional is to take into account as many factors as possible before believing a translator is good or not...
Every option offered in this poll may contribute to provide a better knowledge of the quality of a given trasnlator...
Regards,

Gerardo


A degree is very important because it gives you the tools, the know how, the theory. Experience is practice, another must, the greek "praxis" when you face the real world. A good portfolio is also part of that praxis. And the other options are all somehow connected or linked to one of the above.

I believe that only one of those options is not enough. I strongly agree with Gerardo. We have "to take into account as many factors as possible before believing a translator is good or not".
And THAT is the professional and responsabile way to take in decission making.

Walter

[Edited at 2006-02-01 11:43]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:00
Flemish to English
+ ...
A mixture Feb 1, 2006

A degree : a good basis.
He, look, I am going to translate from Chinese into my mother-tongue overnight, but I never learnt the language.
No knowledge of writing, no knowledge of semantics,syntax in my head, let alone style and let's translate, the rest will come by out of nowhere.
A good linguistic training in semantics (includes)spelling, syntax and stylistics is a basis for translation.
+having lived/living in the country where the language is the national language.
+ a profound knowledge of a specialized subject or somebody to help you with a specialised matter at hand.
+ a profound knowledge of different software-packages.
+Some years experience.
+Satisfied customers.
----------------------------------
=A good translator.


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