Poll: Roughly, what percentage of work volume you receive is related to your area of specialization?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 09:55
SITE STAFF
Nov 26, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Roughly, what percentage of work volume you receive is related to your area of specialization?".

This poll was originally submitted by Pundora

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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Andrey Lipattsev  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 18:55
English to Russian
+ ...
Merely a reflection... Nov 27, 2006

If only 0-25% of your work is in your area of specialisation, can you really call that your "specialisation"? Or am I missing the point here?

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Han Li  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 00:55
English to Chinese
+ ...
>75% Nov 27, 2006

I current only do the translation on my area of specialization, I refuse the project that is not related to my working area.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not Valid Nov 27, 2006

The question presupposes that we each have only one area of specialization, yet there are those of us who have multiple areas of specialization.

Therefore it is not valid.


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Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 13:55
SITE STAFF
Why not? Nov 27, 2006

Henry Hinds wrote:

The question presupposes that we each have only one area of specialization, yet there are those of us who have multiple areas of specialization.

Therefore it is not valid.


Hi Henry,

I don't see any problem here. If you have three different areas of specialization, then you can report the % of work volume that is related to these three areas.

Regards,
Enrique


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Thank goodness for HH Nov 27, 2006

This obsession with profesional specialization seems to me rather sad, and I for one would soon be bored to tears if I were to concentrate all my efforts on one linguist/technical area. I put it down to the American educational system.

At the moment I'm doing a botanical website and enjoying it immensely, yesterday it was animal husbandry and before that EDI software strings, medical, legal and interior decorating... none of which are subjects I would consider myself as specialising or expert in, rather just competent enough to translate, because if I do have one, my speciality is the English language.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:55
English to French
+ ...
50 to 75 Nov 27, 2006

The work I get in my specializations is increasing. I would find it hard to believe that someone works full time within just a few specializations and never touches anything outside their specializations. I occasionally take projects that have nothing to do with my specialization, but that is to fill the void between two more important contracts and because I have what it takes to translate the material even if it's outside of my specializations.

I think it's a good thing to specialize and in the past year, I've become much more proficient in certain areas because I concentrated on work in those subject areas. However, we all started out doing what came along without discriminating - that's how we gained our first clients. So, I think this question is not as much about what kind of contracts we are willing to take but rather about how much work are we able to get in our fields of specialization.

If my only specialization was quantum physics, I sincerely doubt I would get to work full time by accepting only quantum physics jobs. The best thing is to have several specializations that are somehow connected together - mine are electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, safety, environment and chemistry. These all end up meeting somewhere along the road and together, they do supply me with continuous work. But I do translate video games also - we have to have some fun working sometimes to keep going.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:55
Italian to English
There seems to be a misunderstanding here... Nov 27, 2006

neilmac wrote:

This obsession with profesional specialization seems to me rather sad, and I for one would soon be bored to tears if I were to concentrate all my efforts on one linguist/technical area. I put it down to the American educational system.



Hola neilmac,

No one says you have to restrict yourself exclusively to one or more specialist sectors.

I try to promote myself as a specialist translator in wine but that only provides me with about 30-40% of my total business. It does, however, give me market visibility, enable me to raise my overall rates and put me in a negotiating position where I can set the rate for a job rather than have to accept or refuse what a potential customer offers.

Specializing (the spelling preferred by the Oxford Style Manual, which you can take or leave) is really a sort of branding: if you acquire a reputation for excellence in one sector, you can lever it to your competitive advantage in others, provided your product is equally excellent.

As it happens, I tried to explain the logic of specializing at the recent Edinburgh conference. You can download some notes on the subject here:

http://www.proz.com/conference/8?page=presentations

Your reference to the American educational system escapes me, I'm afraid. My language degree is from the Cambridge in East Anglia, not the one in Massachusetts.

Suerte,

Giles


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 11:55
English to Russian
+ ...
My reasons for specialization Nov 27, 2006

For, one I voted N/A while the correct answer should be 100%. I was not sure about "receive" vs. "accept."

I'm not trying to let down anyone in person or in theory.

There is something I understood only after a few years of combined translation/interpretation experience. I fancy myself as a decent master of Russian writing skills, fully capable of doing educated research on a wide variety of subjects. Yet here is my firm belief, and I hope I won't hurt anyone's feelings.

When a person lacks both academic and on-site subject-related experience, or at least is not continuously "supervised" by an expert, be it editor or otherwise, the probability of h/h work being as different from real life as perfect wax figures differ from real people is within 80-95% range.

My most feared criticism is "sure, it's pleasant to read and generally correct, but we don't talk like that". Seeing my work being chewed up by the experts not because of plain mistakes but because with all its thouroughness it is and always will be alien to them would be most hurtful for me.

I don't believe in compilation of dictionary terms however beautifully they might be sawn together. And it is oh, so incredibly easy to recognize the lack of insight behind the most eloquent text flow filled with correct terms.

None of this applies to general subjects. I do tons of research driven by my own curiosity but certainly prefer to make $350 vs. $100/day. This is only possible with specialization. Saved time and extra money go to an in-situ research - cruising the world:-)

Again, this is but my personal belief and rule of thumb.

Respectfully,
Irene

[Edited at 2006-11-27 23:11]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Why the spelling comment? Nov 28, 2006

I was referring to the fact that education in the USA tends to concentrate on specialisation more than in Europe; for example, a recently graduated Spanish doctor who goes to the States for an internship will usually have a more rounded knowledge of general medicine than his/her American counterpart, since they tend to specialise more. It was an observation, not a value judgement.
BTW, there are other forums for spelling debates.


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 12:55
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
American educational system specialized??? Nov 28, 2006

neilmac wrote:

This obsession with profesional specialization seems to me rather sad, and I for one would soon be bored to tears if I were to concentrate all my efforts on one linguist/technical area. I put it down to the American educational system.


Neilmac,

Please explain what you are putting down to the American educational system. As a product, and proudly so, of the American educational system, I have a general education, not a specialized one, which means that I am ready for a wide variety of subjects.

Reed


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Pundora  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 22:25
English to Hindi
+ ...
How many areas was also the underlying question. Nov 28, 2006

Henry Hinds wrote:

The question presupposes that we each have only one area of specialization, yet there are those of us who have multiple areas of specialization.

Therefore it is not valid.





Hi Henry,

Thanks for your comment. In fact, I also struggled a little bit with the question while framing it. The options that came to my mind were, 'first two areas of specialization', 'first five areas of specialization', 'first ten areas of specialization', and so on. As I was not sure what the ideal number should be(and I truly don't know) in this regard, I just left it to be understood by the learned community.

I admit, there must be a lot of scope to improve wordings of the question.

Best regards,

Pundora


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Ruxi
German to Romanian
+ ...
A poll which shows some reality Nov 28, 2006

The truth shown by this poll is that people have to accept work in fields which are not very familiar (and the result shows up on Kudoz).
The truth is we all know how important it is to be specialised in some fields and how wrong to accept to translate in fields we do not know, but most of us have to accept what ever it is been offered, in order to live.
Theory is fine, but practice is about living or dying in all senses.
We need work, so we accept everything!
Regarding the previous comments: in each country education and professions are more or less specialised.
Specialised means deeper in certain areas and these areas may be very large or difficult.
Wide education means also superficial, as it is imposible to cover many fields in a certain period of time. You can either be deep on few areas, or only on surface in many ares, in the same period of time. Educational systems usually have the same time schedules all over the world.
Specialisation can be done to some extend: you can specialise on fields you studied, or love, or have a talent , or have a hobby into. So one person can specialise in more fields.
Now how deep and profesional-technical these specialisations are, is another matter.
Usually an IT (rather wide field) man only works in a field: hardware, network, software, programming. Only few persons offer service in more of these sub-fields.
The same for a translator.
Medical field is also wide: no doctor can practice in more fields (he can be either in general medicine, or stomatology, or pediatrics, or surgeon, or...veterinary).
Some veterinaries e.g do not offer practical assistance to certain kinds of animals.
In some countries some special medical fields do not even exist, e.g they don't have separately specialised endocrinologysts in Germany.
The same for a technical translator - how wide the technical field is!
Also, it depends on the text itself to be translated. If a text is more general in a field, with easy terms, one can translate it even if not specialised in a field. I assume this is the explantion for persons who say they translate about animals, plants, medicine and I don't know what else at the same level.
It is about each person, his/her education and culture level and not last self-esteem and it is about the difficulty of the text and the specific requirements of the client.
So, you can have a technical education, have a hobby for literature, raise cats and dogs, read a lot of books of medicine and have worked in certain field also. This means: you actually can translate technical texts, literature, about pets (cats and dogs raising, training aso), some medical texts and some business or technical documents related to your second work field.


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 23:55
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Massive and Extensive Exposure to Various Areas Nov 28, 2006

Before my going international by joining ProZ.com, I have had extremely massive and extensive experience (15 years) with translating English texts of various areas - agriculture, biology, chemistry, cuisine, education, electrical/electronic engineering, economy, law, linguistics, medicine, and sociology.

This is due to the fact that the vast majority of my local clients are undergraduate and post-graduate students majoring in various disciplines. Thus, essentially I have naturally majored in various disciplines too because the texts are research articles and book chapters. The number of source words per one translation job generally ranges from 4000 to 8000. And this has lasted for sixteen years.

I can handle all texts related to the aforementioned areas. Therefore, my answer is >75%.


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