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How are your typing skills?
Thread poster: Henry Hinds

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
May 1, 2008

We can assume that good typing skills are essential to our profession. How are yours? How did you learn? If you were a better typist, could you be more productive? How can one unlearn 50 years of bad habits?

I can share my own experience. Over 50 years ago a got a typewriter and just started typing. I was slow, made a lot of mistakes and never seemed to improve very much. For many years working in an office, and not being a clerk-typist, I nevertheless managed to have a typewriter that I would use for different things and practice. I was never dangerous competition for the clerk-typists and envied their speed and accuracy. I often wondered if I could ever make a living typing.

Now I do.

Of course for many years I did my translating with pencil and paper and others typed it out and proofed it. Now I can survive on my own because the computer is so forgiving and there is that red line that catches most of my mistakes.

But you can still notice that I let a few typos go through here because the medium is not ideal; small print in little boxes, and no spell checker.

My production is quite good in both volume and quality, but I always think, how much better could I be if I really knew how to type, or if I had the physical ability that others seem to have and I do not?


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Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:56
French to English
I had to learn twice May 1, 2008

First in high school, we had a typing class (on old typewriters). When I moved to France years later and got a job, I had to learn how to use the French keyboard in a hurry. I used http://www.pctap.com/ and my speed and accuracy quickly improved.

Surely there are similar programs for the keyboard you use Henry, I really recommend it.


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Elodie Bonnafous  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:56
Member (2009)
German to French
+ ...
Typing is essential for a translator May 1, 2008

Hello Henry,

you are definitely right, good typing skills are essential for a translator, and they determine the main part of our income.

I learnt typing by chance, when I was 18. I was visiting my boyfriend for a few days, but he had to go to university all day, so I used the time to learn typing with his sister's typing software "Le clavier de Marie" (at the time I was still in France)

I think I needed one week, learning and training many hours a day, but at the time I would never have imagined that it was quite the most important learning for my career!

Now I type very, very rapidly, even with my eyes closed, and hardly make any mistake. Many people who see me typing for the first time stare at my fingers in utter amazement.

On the other part, I often wonder how it would be if I could type more rapidly still.
And if you can work as a translator at all, if you cannot type.


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
At a training school May 1, 2008

I went to one of those schools where you learn typing, shorthand and Microsoft office. I wasn't the quickest on the uptake, in fact I found the experience really quite frustrating. I touch type well now but I still think there is room for improvement. I wouldn't have minded spending a couple of months of my life typing for a living. I think secretaries can literally hold a conversation while still typing, I need to focus, not to concentrate, but I definately need to focus.

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José Miguel Braña Montaña  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:56
Member (2007)
French to Spanish
+ ...
Learnt by practising May 1, 2008

When I was at the University, I have to type all my essays. I thought it would be great to learn how to do it properly in order to increase my speed. Someone explained to me how to put my hands on the keyboard and the rest of it was just practice. Obviously at the beginning things were very slow and I had to make an effort to remember where every letter is without looking at the keyboard, but it didn't take long before it become a routine.

The same happens when you start using shortcuts with your software: Word or your preferred CAT tool. At the begining you may need to concentrate and go slower, but soon you realise how practical it is and how much time you win by not using the mouse.


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:56
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
Thanks to my parents May 1, 2008

I began my piano lessons when I was 5 years old and studied piano for 8 whole years. At one time I wanted to quit and Mom literally told me: "Over my dead body!". She was of the old school, once you begin something you must finish it. So I kept on pouring tears over the keyboard while getting good reviews because she made me practice.

When I was 11 years old my parents decided we would leave Cuba. Taking into account that it could take a long time, even years, to get permission, and that we needed to be "prepared for life in other country", my parents made us take typing, shorthand, and bookkeeping (we had a Hermes portable typewriter and my Mom made us practice, practice, practice); plus 3 hours of English classes a week. My English teacher was a sweet and adorable Jamaican old man. The permission took 5 years, and so lasted the English classes.

After that long, there is no denying we were well prepared.

I have always typed fast. My current rate is about 80 wpm, in both languages. When I started using TRADOS I complained because I thought it slowed me down (I am sure many share my feelings). I switch from one virtual keyboard to the next and back as needed and without thinking about it, and I have a very low percentage of typos.

So, thanks Mom and Dad for your foresight, and from preventing us from becoming quitters!


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xxxjacana54  Identity Verified
Uruguay
English to Spanish
+ ...
This is fun, Henry May 1, 2008

What a good topic... and it allows me to waste a little more time today "Día de los Trabajadores".

Unlike Luisa, piano lessons were very bad for me. After years and years of lessons and practicing I only learnt to hate the piano. Typing classes weren't much better. But when I was still at the university, and thanks to somebody's maternal leave and somebody else's talking to the head of operations, I landed a job as secretary to the local manager of a US bank, overnight, without any secretarial skills to speak of except preparing coffee. My first afternoon at the bank was completely taken up with the typing of just one letter. For that letter I also used up about 200 pages, 198 of which ended up as trash, and maybe a whole typewriter ribbon.

I really wanted to stay on at the bank, and in fact I did for three whole years until I graduated as a lawyer. So, thanks to that patient manager and all the work he gave me, I now "feel" the keyboard and type without looking at the keys, quite quickly, and I can tell I made a mistake before Word underlines it. Of course I make mistakes. But typing is a pleasure, not a concern. It really is like playing an instrument for me, the words are the music.

However, I have seen court clerks and recorders who type much much faster than I do, using only the second finger of each hand. Never mind if they have painted nails or fingers like carrots. It's just that they too "feel" the keyboard. So don't worry about bad habits, Henry, it's just practice.

good luck,

Lucía


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Practice for some... May 1, 2008

For me after 50 years I don't know how much more practice I can get. I still have to look at every key on the keyboard and even then I make plenty of mistakes, which I can fortunately catch, at least in my translation milleu. And in scanning a text, fortunately typos jump right off the page at me.

Playing any kind of a musical instrument or doing any kind of fine work with my hands (putting together small parts, etc.) has always been very tough for me.

The upside is, I don't think I will ever get carpal tunnel syndrome, I have thick wrists and large hands for my size. And when shaking hands I can administer a bone-crushing grip on many average sized-men, barring the really "big guys". In fact, that is something I have to be careful of, I was conditioned to it by hanging with a group of real "machos", none of whom could type at all, I'm sure.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:56
Dutch to English
+ ...
Drop the typing May 1, 2008

I hardly type at all these days, although I can type very fast and accurately whenever needed - at least faster and more accurately than either of the 'senior legal secretaries' I employed at my law firm, that's for sure.

I swapped to voice recognition about a year ago, because my wrists were taking a pounding, and my hourly output (and income) has increased significantly as a result.

It's not for everyone, but worth a try at least.

[Edited at 2008-05-01 22:06]


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Elizabeth Joy Pitt de Morales  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
My bread and butter May 1, 2008

About 35 years ago I decided that the one class that my school offered which was most likely to guarantee me a job was typing. I can still recall that very short woman with a very tall bun on her head walking back and forth in the classroom repeating "a, a, a, s, s, s, d, d, d, f, f, f, a, s, d, f...".

All of our typewriters were manual, but the following year I fought for and got a spot at one of the five new electric typewriters.

After high school, my basic typing skills got me an office job as a bilingual clerk-typist in recession-stricken Detroit (in the Collection Dept. of a mortgage company, but that's another tale), and later I became a production typist - huge pile of handwritten docs to the left of the typewriter in the morning, huge pile of typewritten docs to the right of the typewriter at the end of the day. By now, I was using a Selectric III with an auto-correct tape that was fantastic...and I was clocked at 120 wpm, corrected.

I put my husband through college (university) with my typing skills, and later put myself through as a paid-by-the-word medical transcriptionist doing reports for the local VA hospital on the midnight shift, at this point on a Wang dedicated word processor.

Now, typing at near-blinding speed means that I can write my translations almost as fast as I can think them, which makes me incredibly productive.

I think learning to type was one of the best decisions I ever made and typing has, indeed, guaranteed me a job whenever I've needed one. What's more, I firmly believe that typing is a necessary skill and one which should be part of every secondary school curriculum.


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:56
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
poll question May 1, 2008

see also:

Quick Poll
Do you touch-type?

http://www.proz.com/?sp=polls&sp_mode=past&action=results&poll_id=3710


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Elin Davies  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2008)
English to Welsh
+ ...
Typing on web pages May 1, 2008

Hi Henry

I use firefox as a browser, and in that there is a spellchecker which means I still get the red line to let me know my fingers are going a bit too fast and hitting the wrong keys. It's under Tools/options/advanced/general - tick 'check my spelling as I type'. I think it has a default American English checker, but you can download other languages and variants as add-ons. Handy for little boxes such as this one...


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:56
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome May 2, 2008

One thing that I remember well is my piano teacher lifting my wrist, insisting in the correct position of the hands. My typing teacher did the same. How come no pianist or typist of yesterday ever heard of or experienced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? The advent of the computer made it possible for many people to start typing, without receiving any formal typing training. Thus, they did not know any better (and still don't) than resting their wrists on the edge of the keyboard, and that is the wrong position, that is what causes the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. By the way, it also slows you down.

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Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 09:56
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
From my first job to blind typing May 2, 2008

My father wrote TV soap-operas, well, in fact he lead a team of writers that developed the soap-opera scripts written by him. After he had corrected all of them, someone was needed to rewrite them. He hired a typist, but she could not manage almost 50 daily pages, thus my father asked me to help her. He paid me per typed page. I was really slow, you know: looking for each letter at the keyboard was a very hard job. I decided that to improve my income, I had to improve my typing skills. I bought a book, a typing course. And started to follow it

asdf
asdf
ñlkj
ñlkj

hundreds of pages, asdf, ñlkj... I didn't stop until I finished the book. I followed all the exercises proposed at its pages and if I commited a mistake, I repeated the whole exercise, again and again. It took only ten days. And I started to earn much more money!

Now I don't need to see the keyboard. I use all my fingers, and I blind type. But sometimes my fingertips are placed on the wrong key, I'm distracted and o wrpte veru bad becaise O9 mpt seeom wjat o0m wrotomg. it's very funny whem I'm chatting, as I realise I've made a mistake immediately after having sent the illegible words, and my friend, on the other side asks: Sorry????? Excuse me?? What???



Kind regards


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