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Future, or no future? Advice to an 18-year-old linguist
Thread poster: Andrew Morris

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:06
English to German
+ ...
There is a future but it takes some effort Jan 29, 2020

Andrew Morris wrote:

At a party over the weekend, I got talking to the 18-year-old daughter of a friend who was interested in a career in languages, and was really hoping to be a translator...


Yeah, it sounds like something one might like to become. That's understandable.


Andrew Morris wrote:
Far be it from me to dampen anyone's dreams, particularly as none of us knows exactly what will happen in the future, or exactly when the future will become the present...


Well, we know one thing - texts will need to be translated as long as we don't all speak the same language ... perfectly.
I felt that your question is kind of sad.
As a professional translator, the last thing I need to hear is doubts and doubts and more doubts about the validity or necessity of our profession. But for a newcomer, it is certainly a very valid question.

How about: What will the future hold for professional translators? That's a little more neutral.

Or: Why will we still depend on excellent skills of dedicated translators in the future?

I mean you are working for a website that wants to support translators, right?
But I understand. It's actually the young person's question.

All I can say is that being a successful translator can be quite difficult, depending on where you live, what your language pairs are, your specialties, etc. For some people it is easier due to these factors. But ...

But ... the only way to be successful is to give it your best. Put yourself out there with profiles, Kudoz (answer some questions!), website, social media. Always do a great job. Have some back-up plan when you start. From the start, never sell yourself short (don't sell yourself short, but be flexible, ask for quick payments), or you could become a willing instrument for outsourcers (the ones that treat you like you live off peanuts) - the ones you really don't want to work for. From the beginning, treat the profession as a true profession, not an excuse for not finding any other job. You won't be happy in the long run. It takes commitment and dedication and hard work to really make it. So it must also reward your efforts. And to get going isn't easy these days. Too many newbies think they will first work for cheap and eventually land the better deals. That's quite horrible because you probably end up being tossed and replaced by other newbies.

Always give a professional impression. Do your due diligence. Don't believe anyone until you've seen some cash. Be very careful at first - there is much you have to learn about this industry. Always be cautious, at every step. Never commit to anyone unless you have securities in place (either up-front payment, down payments, Blueboard records, PO numbers from new outsourcer clients, don't agree to any long waiting time for payment, don't accept the argument that they can't pay you because their client hasn't paid them, etc., etc.)

Don't become a translator if you don't have excellent language skills already. Get those first before even thinking of a real career in translation.

But I believe there's definitely a future in translating. But hey, maybe you want to be a writer. Make sure you really do what you want to do.

Unfortunately, the main hindrance to be successful entering this industry in this day and age is the way anyone can advertise to be a translator or translation agency. Too many bad fish in the sea. Don't become another bad fish in the sea.

Hope this helps.

B


Andrew Morris wrote:

When I asked a question recently in a forum about the skills today's youth should be learning. Lots of people said "coding".


When I talk about the future of my profession, I talk about conveying a readable text in another language.

[Edited at 2020-01-29 05:04 GMT]


Andrew Morris
Olavo Nogueira
 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:06
German to English
+ ...
wrong question Jan 29, 2020

If an 18 year old asks me about my profession, I don't talk about "future / no future". I tell the young person about my profession. Over here at the high school level I seem to remember that young people get to accompany someone / or interview someone, who is practising a profession they are interested in. They learn about the profession, and what is involved.

 

Andrew Morris
Local time: 16:06
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
No such thing as a wrong question :) Jan 29, 2020

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

If an 18 year old asks me about my profession, I don't talk about "future / no future". I tell the young person about my profession. Over here at the high school level I seem to remember that young people get to accompany someone / or interview someone, who is practising a profession they are interested in. They learn about the profession, and what is involved.


Yes of course: my question is for us here on the Forum. I didn't put it that way in our conversation.

Besides, I'm not sure "right" or "wrong" questions exist. What's wrong is not to question anything at all...


DZiW (X)
P.L.F. Persio
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hey Elke, that’s not the whole story … Jan 29, 2020

I admit it … at first I was afraid. I was petrified. Kept thinking I could never live without Frannie by my side ...

That first night I could hardly concentrate on the job, I was so upset. Reading through the whole thing at 6 am, I found I had typed “fart growth” instead of “fast growth”, and, horrors, there was “European Central Bank” with a W instead of a B, but not just hidden away in the text – it was a huge Times New Roman 22 title in the middle of the page, un
... See more
I admit it … at first I was afraid. I was petrified. Kept thinking I could never live without Frannie by my side ...

That first night I could hardly concentrate on the job, I was so upset. Reading through the whole thing at 6 am, I found I had typed “fart growth” instead of “fast growth”, and, horrors, there was “European Central Bank” with a W instead of a B, but not just hidden away in the text – it was a huge Times New Roman 22 title in the middle of the page, underlined and in bold type. And I’d depreciated goodwill instead of amortising it, I was so distraught.

But then I spent so many nights just thinking how he did me wrong. And I grew strong. And I learned how to get along. I decided I wasn’t going to take it. I was going to take Frannie down. I was going to take over his outfit. He was going to regret the day he crossed me. He probably thought he had me cold. But did I crumble? Did I lay down and die? Oh no, not I, I told myself, I will survive. I will survive. Yeah, yeah.



The rest is a long story. Suffice it to say I have to get back to checking on my minions in the office now, make sure they aren’t shirking. The minions who used to be Frannie’s minions.
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Kay Denney
Ice Scream
 

Andrew Morris
Local time: 16:06
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Had we but world enough and time Jan 29, 2020

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

The rest is a long story. Suffice it to say I have to get back to checking on my minions in the office now, make sure they aren’t shirking. The minions who used to be Frannie’s minions.


Looking forward to the next chapter!


Sarah Maidstone
Apolonia Dermit
 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:06
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
In memoriam
LT Jan 29, 2020

Hello Mervyn
LT rides again. Bravo.
Jenny


ph-b
 

Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Same here Jan 29, 2020

Elke Fehling wrote:

They told me there was no future in the translation business in 1987. Computers would soon replace humans.

But look at me today. I have been successful in my business since 1987. I live the life I always wanted to live. And computers work in my favor.

So who knows. Maybe I was just lucky and progress went so slow that the future didn't yet arrive. But maybe, just maybe, there are ways to use technology on our favor...


But I do not think it was just a matter of luck. My advice for the young girl would be: if you dream to be a translator then go for it, follow your dreams, you know:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life
.


 

Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:06
Dutch to English
+ ...
Advice Jan 29, 2020

I would say go ahead, study languages. There will always be a need for communicators, for people with an understanding of other cultures. But don't limit your options. Don't rely on a career in translation being an option. Take a joint honours. Study a language with economics or chemistry or whatever else grabs you. And, when you graduate, get some experience outside the world of languages so you have a specialism and/or another possible career path.

That's the advice I was given ma
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I would say go ahead, study languages. There will always be a need for communicators, for people with an understanding of other cultures. But don't limit your options. Don't rely on a career in translation being an option. Take a joint honours. Study a language with economics or chemistry or whatever else grabs you. And, when you graduate, get some experience outside the world of languages so you have a specialism and/or another possible career path.

That's the advice I was given many years ago, and I think it still holds today - whether or not a career in translation is still a viable option in 5 years time.
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Andrew Morris
Mr.Q
Kay Denney
 

ph-b  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:06
English to French
+ ...
Who'd have thought? Jan 29, 2020

Mervyn Henderson wrote:
The rest is a long story. Suffice it to say I have to get back to checking on my minions in the office now, make sure they aren’t shirking. The minions who used to be Frannie’s minions.


So that's what happened to The Little Translator? Such a shame, really.


 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
That island Jan 29, 2020

That tropical island you spend a lot of time on, Elke. Could be the same one I spend a lot of time on. The one I spend a lot of time on because I own it. Yep, the whole island. The whole shooting match. If you’re there now, in fact, and if you’re at a certain establishment at the same location, you might have noticed it’s strangely difficult to get some service at the pool bar today. Nobody about. That’s because I’m there right now. Mr Big’s back in town, see. You may have been intri... See more
That tropical island you spend a lot of time on, Elke. Could be the same one I spend a lot of time on. The one I spend a lot of time on because I own it. Yep, the whole island. The whole shooting match. If you’re there now, in fact, and if you’re at a certain establishment at the same location, you might have noticed it’s strangely difficult to get some service at the pool bar today. Nobody about. That’s because I’m there right now. Mr Big’s back in town, see. You may have been intrigued by that crowd in the reserved area way down at the back with the four gorillas at the entrance, ugly as sin and just as dangerous, where all the waiters are toing and froing with platters heaving with canapés and roast lamb and fruit. Yes, that’s the place. See all the pretty young things and thingettes gadding around there? You can’t miss me. Me, I’m the one on the lounger with the dodgy dayglo orange Bermuda shorts, dripping in bling, gold chains and medallions and three Rolexes on either wrist, along with the Russian dukes and duchesses and counts and countesses and marquises and marchionesses, the air ringing with the clink of Waterford crystal tumblers full of plonk and merry guffaws, like there was no tomorrow.

Frannie might have been a tosser, but he taught me a thing or two, that’s for sure. He was Number One, and he put all his effort into taking care of Number One. So that’s what I did. First I took care of Number One, and then I became Number One myself. He never even saw me coming.

I’ll tell you how I did it some time. As soon as I’ve made it up; I mean as soon as I’ve gathered my thoughts.
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Andrew Morris
Local time: 16:06
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Give the man a Booker Jan 30, 2020

Mervyn Henderson wrote:


I’ll tell you how I did it some time. As soon as I’ve made it up; I mean as soon as I’ve gathered my thoughts.


You mean it's not all true?

OT: trying to work out where you're from, Mervyn? Certain tiny details would seem to indicate British provenance, despite the overall North American feel to the story...?


 

DZiW (X)
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Real go-getter Jan 30, 2020

Andrew, did you think why she mentioned it to you—in hope of consulting or mentoring, perhaps?

If she is (1) a decent specialist and (2) can tell “pure” CAT/PEMT-operators from professional translators, (3) knows how to run the business properly and (4) can personally negotiate favorable terms, then it seems ok, providing she really knows what she wants.

As a newbie, she will need to learn the ropes of the trade—and someone rel
... See more
Andrew, did you think why she mentioned it to you—in hope of consulting or mentoring, perhaps?

If she is (1) a decent specialist and (2) can tell “pure” CAT/PEMT-operators from professional translators, (3) knows how to run the business properly and (4) can personally negotiate favorable terms, then it seems ok, providing she really knows what she wants.

As a newbie, she will need to learn the ropes of the trade—and someone reliable to advice and support her. So, would you?
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Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:06
German to English
+ ...
answering Jan 30, 2020

Andrew Morris wrote:

Yes of course: my question is for us here on the Forum. I didn't put it that way in our conversation.

Besides, I'm not sure "right" or "wrong" questions exist. What's wrong is not to question anything at all...

I know you were asking us in the forum. You were asking for advice. Or, I assume you were asking for advice. And my suggestion is that to guide a young person, the best approach is to let that person know as much as possible about the profession. The idea of "future" would not come up.

If there is no young person and you were just trying to start a discussion on "whether there is a future" etc., I'd want to know that before trying to help.


 

Andrew Morris
Local time: 16:06
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Not made up Jan 30, 2020

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

If there is no young person and you were just trying to start a discussion on "whether there is a future" etc., I'd want to know that before trying to help.


No, she really existed.

@DZiW, I gave her every encouragement, and my number and email in case she has further questions, so yes, I'd be happy to help further, as I've had many mentors. But the questions would have to come from her.

Re your other question, I guess she asked me because her mum encouraged her to, and because it's good to ask people who are doing who are already in a profession about the job you one day want to do. Nothing more significant than that..

@Maxi So here in the forum it was less about asking for advice than sharing an experience and asking your views on how you would treat the experience itself – and your views as fellow professionals – rather than what to say to her.


 
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