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It´s necessary an specialization for working as a translator?
Thread poster: mariacris
mariacris
Spanish to French
Jul 13, 2008

Hello

I´m studying Modern Languages and I hope to end my carreer in two semesters. Definitly, languages are my passion. But, there is a question that rounds in my mind, if I want to work as a translator, I have to get an specialization in this field?, or I could take courses of both languages "english and french" for improving my performance and rather get an specialization in another issue such as Business, design or tech.

Thanks in advance for your advices.

Cheers

Maria


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Jande  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 09:22
Danish to English
+ ...
Good Luck Mariacris Jul 13, 2008

Hi Mariacris,

I recently took a course in functional anatomy and it has improved my medical translations no end. A short course in the basics of a specialist field is very useful.

For minority languages you may not need to have a specialist field. However, that means you will need to know about a broader range of topics. But for more common languages such as English, German, French and/or Spanish you may need to specialise, because you will be competing against specialists for work and you will be expected to be able to deliver.

Research skills are very useful, because some work may be in fields that you are unfamiliar and it helps to do basic and quick reasearch before you begin the translation.

The biggest thing that will help you is of course passion, because with passion you can overcome any obstacle that comes your way. There are a lot of people who bag/put down new translators. I believe a passion for learning can be just as important as experience.

[Edited at 2008-07-13 23:03]


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:22
French to Spanish
+ ...
Of course! Jul 14, 2008

Read all posts, here, about that!
I would NEVER try to translate something I don't even understand!
Specialization and direct clients are some of the keys in this business.
And if your are "native bilingual", better, should I say.


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Spencer Allman
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:22
Finnish to English
Agree Jul 14, 2008

I agree with Jande

s


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:22
Flemish to English
+ ...
Business thinking.... Jul 14, 2008

Jande wrote:

The biggest thing that will help you is of course passion, because with passion you can overcome any obstacle that comes your way. There are a lot of people who bag/put down new translators. I believe a passion for learning can be just as important as experience.

[Edited at 2008-07-13 23:03]


The biggest thing that will help you is to think like a businesswoman/economist. Freelance translating is all about IT (hard-software), words specialised knowledge, figures and money.
A management course might help you to write a business-plan and position yourself in the market. With passion you will get nowhere in that market.

[Edited at 2008-07-14 08:35]


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 23:22
English to Hungarian
+ ...
hold on a minute Jul 14, 2008

Juan Jacob wrote:

Read all posts, here, about that!
I would NEVER try to translate something I don't even understand!
Specialization and direct clients are some of the keys in this business.
And if your are "native bilingual", better, should I say.


Not being a trained specialist (professional) of a particular field, or not having that field as one of your two or three areas of specialization does not mean that you won't understand the text. Solid general knowledge and good research skills enable a good translator to do a pretty good job even on truly outlandish texts. Only, it takes a lot more effort and time than it would for someone who knows the field already.

Also, not being specialized may well mean that the translator simply works with general texts only. There are lots of jobs out there that require no specialized knowledge at all.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:22
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Maybe the keyword in this thread is "passion" Jul 14, 2008

Many colleagues are linguists, not in the translation sense, but hold degrees in linguistics or philology (the only related courses around before the boom in translation courses began). They've done well. Others have shared the passion for languages but have considered that specialist study in this field (linguistics can be quite technical) would put a damper on it, and have taken something else. They've also done well. Pioneers in the field have even claimed that "you don't choose this profession, it chooses you". In a nutshell, everyone has had a path to follow that was not quite the other guy's path, but that has worked because it was sincere.

The negative side to this accounting is the mortality rate amongst people who have taken translation/interpreting courses - though I suppose you won't find many affected in this way on proz.com. But they all give you something to think about.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:22
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Your success is within YOU! Jul 14, 2008

Mariacris, I do agree with most of what our colleagues have said here. But, I just want to add that success in translation depends on YOU as a person, on the way you are as a person and the way you were since you were a toddler. I'd say that to be a good translator you must:

1. Be a curious person, interested in every person's goals, jobs, procedures, opinions... Now that you are starting, a right mindset is "I know nothing" and take it from there. I have been translating nearly non-stop (well, I do stop some weekends) for 13 years in specific areas and I still consider that I know nothing. Ask people, listen to them, learn from what they can teach you, ask them how their tools and methods are called, let them explain what their dreams are made of and how they achieve them. They will be happy to tell you, and you will learn a lot. A win-win situation.

2. Be quality-conscious. All details are important. You want to do it right no matter what. If you have a doubt, spend a moment clarifying and it will be crystal clear forever.

3. Be hard-working. Going the extra mile is a must in translation, as you face two dozens little challenges in each page you translate and that can be tiresome. Never give up and your translation will be a good and nice!

If you are like this, you will be a great translator. Good luck!


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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 23:22
Italian to English
+ ...
Not necessary, but very useful Jul 14, 2008

The answer also depends on what you mean by "work as a translator".

If you plan on translations being your main source of income, then, as one colleague mentioned above, in addition to passion and dedication, a business-minded approach is essential.

In that framework, then specializing in one or several hard areas (engineering, information technology, finance, law, medicine, etc.) significantly increases your chances of competing professionally in the business, the objective of which is to find paying customers.

Personally I'd rather have a few courses in a language and a degree and experience in a specialized field than an advanced degree in languages and no specialization or experience.

My experience in the business is that good paying customers value an optimal combination of speed, quality and price, and not just one of those three variables.

Courses and degrees in languages can help achieve and hone quality, specialization and experience can help achieve and hone speed and efficiency, hence competitive pricing.

In this highly fragmented business, no two people will follow the exact same route, but these may be some useful guideposts.

Good luck!



[Edited at 2008-07-14 12:02]


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Sonja Allen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:22
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
A specialisation also helps you Jul 14, 2008

to become more efficient as a translator. Even "general" translations can be in all sorts of different areas which require you to research one term or the other as you simply can't know everything. But if you specialise in a couple of fields by having taken some courses or done some self-study, you channel the type of texts you get to translate into a few areas in which, after a while, you will know the terminology and do not need to research so much. And I am sure that apart from your passion for language you also have an interest in some specialized field even if it is just something simple as gardening or so. I mean, you don't need to study to become a doctor or lawyer to specialise. Just think of what really interests you and look what courses are on offer.

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mariacris
Spanish to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jul 15, 2008

I value everyone of your advices. After reading carefully each one of them I can say that now I have more brightness in my future decision.

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Jack Qin  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 06:22
English to Chinese
+ ...
take me for an example Jul 15, 2008

I specialize primarily in such three domains as Electrical Engineering, Quality Control and Tourism & Travel.

Becasuse I studied electrical engineering and had worked in a power company for 15 years, 2-year experience as a Quality Control Engineer as well as 8-year experience as a English Tour Guide, so I am very much familiar with the foresaid fields and focus on them.

That is my experience.

FYI

Jack


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mariacris
Spanish to French
TOPIC STARTER
Definitely the experience is much more important Jul 15, 2008

Jack Qin wrote:

I specialize primarily in such three domains as Electrical Engineering, Quality Control and Tourism & Travel.

Becasuse I studied electrical engineering and had worked in a power company for 15 years, 2-year experience as a Quality Control Engineer as well as 8-year experience as a English Tour Guide, so I am very much familiar with the foresaid fields and focus on them.

That is my experience.

FYI

Jack


Thank you for your advice, definitly when one have experience and knowledge in several topics, effectively one can make a better job of translation.


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