Mobile menu

Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
To become a translator or not? (Also: learning Japanese vs French)
Thread poster: Wify
Wify
English
Sep 8, 2007

OK. Its almost uni time for me! I'm trying to pick my course of action that will determine just what jobs I can pick up, hence how my life will play out.

I'm looking into freelance translation. My goal would be at least $35,000 USD per year. HOWEVER. I would only want to work part-time to achieve this- perhaps 20 hours per week?

How achievable is this? Is this hard to do? I would be a complete beginner, and I would take a 4-year bachelors degree in the language, then go on and get a masters in translations studies, then perhaps get a post-graduate certificate in interpretation (that would be 6 months study)

I am also looking into which language is best suited for me. Japanese or French are the main contenders.

French for a native English speaker is certainly easier than Japanese from what I've read, and learning it would give me a leg-up in Europe. I would be able to learn other Romance languages that while I wouldn't use to translate from, would mean I could live in Europe. There are also many French speakers in the world.

On the other hand, Japanese is something that I am naturally interested in. This has stemmed from my interest in Japanese culture, their entertainment, etc. I would hope that perhaps instead of translating the more boring, technical subjects like finance I would be able to translate more multimedia from Japanese to English (from my research, not many jobs are available in this field for French to English) do any Japanese translators have any knowledge on how many jobs there are with this?

Does anyone have any advise for me in choosing which language to study?

My other option is perhaps to go overseas (I live in New Zealand) and study early Christianity history on a scholarship. The only field this would lead me into would be eventually an academic career, which would sadly not provide me with the same flexibility of being a freelancer. I'd prefer to work part time and study at uni's part time- the best of both worlds, that way. Any advise for me?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Juliana Starkman  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 23:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
This could take a while... Sep 8, 2007

I will only address the last part of your post, since the question of which language you learn (if any) should be guided by your love of that language and feeling for it, in my opinion. As for the boring subjects, as you call them, if you specialize in one subject (always a good idea), you can avoid whatever you want.
Having gone the academic route (Ph.D., teaching, etc.), and ended up a freelancer, I can tell you that one does not preclude the other. If you study early Christianity at any reputable school, you will have to learn either ancient Hebrew, Greek, Latin, etc. enough to work with original texts. That should keep you busy for a while. HAving said that, once you've got Latin under your belt, other languages may seem easier, or more familiar...
Travel, study, learn as many languages as you can stand (do you speak any others now?If not, be ready to wait a while before you can translate anything- it takes more than a first year course!), and give yourself a chance to discover what you love.
I am sure other colleagues can weigh in on this, but these are my 2 cents.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:18
English to German
+ ...
Well, there is a difference between having studied languages Sep 8, 2007

and being capable to think in those languages and cultures.

There is more to the profession of a translator than a decent vocabulary, a neat assortment of dictionaries and brilliant grammar acquired at school. You want to be GOOD translator, right?

It takes a lot of passion and expertise to be able to build bridges across cultures.

As Juliana said: travel! More than that: I recommend living in the country of the source language for at least one year. Or ten years.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
I Second Nicole Sep 8, 2007

...but not Juliana. It's not a matter of "learn as many languages as you can stand", it's a matter of being able to live another language and culture so completely that it becomes a part of you.

I assume you have not had any experience in that yet.

You do not even think of becoming a translator until you have accomplished what is mentioned above. You have to compete against people who have been there, done that, and way beyond.

Above all, you must have passion, and you must work very hard. If all you are interested in is making US$ 35,000 a year working 20 hours a week, then you need to acquire a different work ethic. You can't get to that point until you've paid your dues for 40 or 50 years, at which point you're not 18 years old any more!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Can Altinbay  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:18
Japanese to English
+ ...
Absolutely Sep 8, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

...but not Juliana. It's not a matter of "learn as many languages as you can stand", it's a matter of being able to live another language and culture so completely that it becomes a part of you.

I assume you have not had any experience in that yet.

You do not even think of becoming a translator until you have accomplished what is mentioned above. You have to compete against people who have been there, done that, and way beyond.

Above all, you must have passion, and you must work very hard. If all you are interested in is making US$ 35,000 a year working 20 hours a week, then you need to acquire a different work ethic. You can't get to that point until you've paid your dues for 40 or 50 years, at which point you're not 18 years old any more!


You can't book learn a language and expect to be able to do translations. You must, as Henry and Nicole said, be immersed in the culture. You also need to know how documents are written in the disciplines you are going to translate in. Business English, for example, is not the same as spoken English or normal written English. Computerese is something else altogether.

If you know something about Japanese culture, good. Their entertainment is not enough, though. Go live in Japan for a while. Before that, get TV Japan on satellite and watch it a lot. I grew up in Japan, but I have to keep up with the culture, as it changes.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Wify
English
TOPIC STARTER
Oh certainly I plan to become immersed Sep 8, 2007

I would certainly attempt to become immersed in the Japanese culture. After my studies, I'll have to pay off my student loan which will be about $50-60,000. Once I manage to do that I do plan to go and live in Japan, even if I'm barely living above the bread line, for hopefully at least a year

At uni I would be studying also both their culture and language- I should have explained that- the uni recommends doing both and so I would be doing both.

So $35,000 USD is too much to hope for part time? How about if I were working 30 hours a week? Would that still be too hard to achieve?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:18
English to German
+ ...
Some advice Sep 8, 2007

If I were you I would contact your favorite teacher or tutor. He/she will help you to evaluate your skills.

Hint: Being a translator is a little bit different from selling life-insurance.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
In Japan Sep 8, 2007

I understand that in Japan there is a good demand for English teachers, so that might be a way to finance a stay there if you get some good preparation and experience in teaching English first. The pay should be at least halfway decent and the hours could be flexible like anywhere, so it might be a plan to go for.

Direct link Reply with quote
 
Wify
English
TOPIC STARTER
English teacher huh? Sep 8, 2007

That sounds alright I suppose to finance my stay in Japan. How would I prepare for that? What qualifications would I need?

Direct link Reply with quote
 

KathyT  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 15:18
Japanese to English
Just Google Sep 9, 2007

Various programs available, various levels of qualification required. If it's complete immersion you're after, it may be best to avoid the larger cities and head for the sticks (unless you're totally disciplined about not hanging out exclusively with "foreigners," which is an easy trap to fall into...)

http://www.gaijinpot.com/job_search.php

http://www.interac.co.jp/recruit/?gclid=CLvSgouotY4CFQ_ThgodTjWrzQ

Japan Exchange and Teaching Program
Official government information on the JET Program.
www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/jet/ -

O-Hayo Sensei: The Newsletter of (Teaching) Jobs in Japan
A free electronic newsletter that lists 40-50 teaching and English language-related jobs at schools and companies across Japan.
www.ohayosensei.com/ -

EFL/ESL & Other Teaching Jobs in Japan
Jobs in Japan, The mother lode of Japan job information.
www.jobsinjapan.com/jobs/teaching.html -

ad infinitum...

There are plenty of "Eikaiwa" (English Conversation) schools throughout Japan, too - many of which would prefer that you already had your Uni degree but that may still consider you.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Juliana Starkman  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 23:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
I should have finished my thought... Sep 9, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

...but not Juliana. It's not a matter of "learn as many languages as you can stand", it's a matter of being able to live another language and culture so completely that it becomes a part of you.



For the purpose of becoming a translator, there is no doubt whatsoever that one must make a decision and then drown oneself in the culture, language, music, food, mindset, etc. from which the language stems. Anything less is halfhearted and leads to mediocre translation.
Having said that, on a personal level, for someone just setting out (like our colleague here), I think that someone who has never studied languages seriously, or travelled, would do well to do both with great gusto and large appetite. One never knows which language may hold the key...Sometimes in one's travels, a language crops up which enchants, and which we never even considered before...


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Wify
English
TOPIC STARTER
So don't get a masters? Sep 9, 2007

I was going to, after getting a diploma in Japanese to, of course, teach me how to speak Japanese, get a masters in translation which would focus on translating business, law and medical documents. However, if I were to immerse myself for a year, do you think this would be fine instead?

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Mario Cerutti  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 13:18
Italian to Japanese
+ ...
Forget it Sep 9, 2007

Wify wrote:
I was going to, after getting a diploma in Japanese to, of course, teach me how to speak Japanese, get a masters in translation which would focus on translating business, law and medical documents. However, if I were to immerse myself for a year, do you think this would be fine instead?

You might be a genius in languages, I don't know. But if you are not, i.e. if your level of learning exotic languages such as Japanese is average, then forget your plans about becoming a *professional* Japanese translator in business, law (oh, my!) and medical, unless you are determined to full-immerse yourself in it for at least five to ten years (by full immersion I mean studing at least 8 hours a day while living in Japan and speaking and reading Japanese only, which on the other hand wouldn't give you room enough to earn your US$ 35,000 a year. Better French, then.

Good luck. Yes you are going to need it.

Mario Cerutti
http://www.aliseo.com/english/

[Edited at 2007-09-09 06:45]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Buck
Netherlands
Local time: 05:18
Member (2007)
Dutch to English
Translator by accident Sep 9, 2007

Hi. Sounds like you've still got a lot of work to do. I actually came to the Netherlands on holiday 22 years ago, and basically never left. Travelling is a good way to experience different languages, and as someone has already said, living in the country where the language is spoken is a great thing to do. Having said that, I cleaned loos and waited tables in Amsterdam for four years before I began studying to become a translator. It was hard work, but it has definitely been worth it.

Direct link Reply with quote
 
Wify
English
TOPIC STARTER
Oh... wow Sep 9, 2007

Hm. I don't particularly want to become the best professional translator there is.. and I'm not a genius in languages. This was to be my career which I could do part time while studying elsewhere part time.. once of course I had trained up for the job.

Is this just Japanese, or does this apply to other languages as well? I would like to become good (not the best but proficient) at the job, then eventually by the time I'm 30 or so go part time and go to uni part time and study other ventures. Is this at all possible with ANY language? Or do I need to be immersed for 5-8 years along with study? Thats simply to me not affordable sadly, I might have to give this dream up.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

To become a translator or not? (Also: learning Japanese vs French)

Advanced search


Translation news





SDL MultiTerm 2017
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2017 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2017 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2017 helps translators increase translation productivity whilst ensuring quality. Combining translation memory, terminology management and machine translation in one simple and easy-to-use environment.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs