Pages in topic:   [1 2 3 4] >
Criteria of a professional translator
Thread poster: Bernhard Sulzer

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:22
English to German
+ ...
Jan 18, 2015

I feel that many people sell their services far too cheap here and elsewhere and that it has a huge impact on the market.
All I can do is wait for some sort of crash that will swing the pendulum around.
But if we call ourselves professionals here but if it means working for low rates, then we are facing a new definition of "professional" that I can't be part of. It won't pay the bills and it won't be fulfilling.

What are your criteria of a professional translator?



[Edited at 2015-01-18 01:24 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
The Misha
Local time: 07:22
Russian to English
+ ...
Too much existential angst Jan 18, 2015

I couldn't help but notice this and a few other similar threads you recently started. Looking from the outside in, it seems like you have too much existential angst about these "state of the industry" matters. As one human being to another, let me tell you, it's bad for the soul and bad for the body. Take pity on yourself - relax! Once you admit that there is no "industry" to speak of, but rather a myriad individual translators, each with his or her different circumstances, niches, subniches, and still more subsubniches that quite often have very little to do with each other even within a single pair and direction, it doesn't look all that bad. Here, in the US, it all comes down to the concise, ageless formula of minding your own business. I think we should all do more of that.

As to the question you asked, I do have my own, very personal definition of what it means to be a professional: A PROFESSIONAL IS ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY! Personally, I am a professional with close to 30 years of experience and a strong work ethic. I am very good at what I do. I do not work cheap, let alone for free. I am afraid everything else is just icing on the cake.

[Edited at 2015-01-18 03:22 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 13:22
English to Russian
+ ...
Professional = conscientious before everything else Jan 18, 2015

The title says it, but in fact I wanted to loosely quote an older colleague (excuse the profanity): "Don't moan about the translation market going down the drain - it's not the degradation of the industry, it's your own professional growth. You just have to understand that at any given point in time, 80% of all translations on the market are shit. It comes in various degrees of stinkiness: very stinky, not quite so stinky, or even perfumed. They all sell, each at its price. However, most clients are unaware that translations of proper quality even exist, so you need to educate them and demonstrate how good a translation can be. Those few who really want the quality will come to you and stay, and those who don't were never to become your clients anyway."

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:22
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Educate Jan 18, 2015

Anton Konashenok wrote:

... most clients are unaware that translations of proper quality even exist, so you need to educate them and demonstrate how good a translation can be. Those few who really want the quality will come to you and stay, and those who don't were never to become your clients anyway."

Thanks, Anton. Agree. Especially with above.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
inesec  Identity Verified
Latvia
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
proper education Jan 18, 2015

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:



What are your criteria of a professional translator?



[Edited at 2015-01-18 01:24 GMT]



A professional translator should have at least a bachelor's degree in translation, otherwise he/she is simply a wannabe translator not a professional one. End of story. I cannot figure out what is all the fuss about. Determine your own rates at your own discretion and don't worry about other people's business. Just saying...

[Edited at 2015-01-18 05:42 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:22
English to Japanese
+ ...
I beg to differ Jan 18, 2015

Maija Cirule wrote:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:



What are your criteria of a professional translator?



[Edited at 2015-01-18 01:24 GMT]



A professional translator should have at least a bachelor's degree in translation, otherwise he/she is simply a wannabe translator not a professional one.


If a musician or an actor/actress does not have a Bachelors or even Masters (PHDs) in those fields, then you can't call those people professional? I wonder how many of those people only in Hollywood have the proper education and degrees who could really be called professional. And having those degrees doesn't make one a Grammys, Emmys and all the other award nominees and winners.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
inesec  Identity Verified
Latvia
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
how many physicians Jan 18, 2015

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:

Maija Cirule wrote:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:



What are your criteria of a professional translator?



[Edited at 2015-01-18 01:24 GMT]



A professional translator should have at least a bachelor's degree in translation, otherwise he/she is simply a wannabe translator not a professional one.


If a musician or an actor/actress does not have a Bachelors or even Masters (PHDs) in those fields, then you can't call those people professional? I wonder how many of those people only in Hollywood have the proper education and degrees who could really be called professional. And having those degrees doesn't make one a Grammys, Emmys and all the other award nominees and winners.


or surgeons, or lawyers without any degree you know? Recently, I translated several fire pump operational manuals translated from German into English by a very "creative" translator and it was a sheer disaster. Not everyone who knows two languages can be a translator. Well, this topic has been discussed at various forums and I see no point to waste my precious time.
Have a wonderful Sunday.

[Edited at 2015-01-18 07:03 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:22
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Disagree Jan 18, 2015

Maija Cirule wrote:
A professional translator should have at least a bachelor's degree in translation, otherwise he/she is simply a wannabe translator not a professional one. End of story. I cannot figure out what is all the fuss about. Determine your own rates at your own discretion and don't worry about other people's business. Just saying...

How do you explain the fact that there have been excellent translators for many centuries, even before translation was even considered a science? Are you implying that translators before the 1970's (when some universities started to offer degrees in translation) were not professional?

Your vision is tremendously simplistic and does not acknowledge the fact that translation requires not only knowledge in translatology, but also in languages, cultures, and the subject matter. Having a degree in translation confirms that you know about translatology and know enough of languages and foreign cultures to be awarded your degree, but does not magically turn you into a trusted professional.

I do agree that higher education in translation is desirable, but have known many really bad and unprofessional translators who had the BA or MSc in translation. We also have to give some credit to our elders, those who came into translation from other sciences and disciplines and contributed to the good name of this young science with their excellent work and insight.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:22
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
One question Jan 18, 2015

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
What are your criteria of a professional translator?

Is it not so that, when asked the question "What are your criteria of a good person?," most people will define themselves?

I see the same risk with your question. Those who have a BA, MSc, or PhD in Translation will immediately say that you are not professional if you lack higher education in Translation. Those who have a degree in Linguistics would gladly expel any translator who does not know much about Linguistics. Those who are lawyers would ban legal translations by those who only have a BA in Translation. Those who came from other trades feel that their specialist knowledge acquired elsewhere is a must in translation. In general, those who have achieved a certain academic level tend to feel that others less academically qualified are beneath them.

I would say that professionalism bears plenty of meaning in itself: if you are a professional you are also a professionalist. Being a professional means that your work covers your short-term needs and long-term plans. Being a professionalist means that you actively promote and defend the good name and advancement of your profession by means of your actions, your words, your self-respect, and your respect towards others.

Part of being a professional is giving credit to the good work of other professionals whatever their background and level of qualification. A lot of being a professional is being a good business partner, one who is proactive, flexible, responsive, responsible, fair, and honest. If they could teach these things at university, I would definitely ban any translator who did not pass these subjects with high marks! (Just joking folks!)


Direct link Reply with quote
 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:22
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Yes, but... Jan 18, 2015

Maija Cirule wrote:

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:

Maija Cirule wrote:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:



What are your criteria of a professional translator?



[Edited at 2015-01-18 01:24 GMT]



A professional translator should have at least a bachelor's degree in translation, otherwise he/she is simply a wannabe translator not a professional one.


If a musician or an actor/actress does not have a Bachelors or even Masters (PHDs) in those fields, then you can't call those people professional? I wonder how many of those people only in Hollywood have the proper education and degrees who could really be called professional. And having those degrees doesn't make one a Grammys, Emmys and all the other award nominees and winners.


or surgeons, or lawyers without any degree you know? Recently, I translated several fire pump operational manuals translated from German into English by a very "creative" translator and it was a sheer disaster. Not everyone who knows two languages can be a translator. Well, this topic has been discussed at various forums and I see no point to waste my precious time.
Have a wonderful Sunday.

[Edited at 2015-01-18 07:03 GMT]

In translation, the quality depends on the person's intelligence and diligence, not their degree. I haven't a degree and, well, it's not acceptable to say about myself I am very good, let's say that I am very sought after, OK? And I could show you really shitty work done by people with beeeaaauutiful diplomas.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:22
Dutch to English
+ ...
What is in a degree? Jan 18, 2015

A lot of being a professional is being a good business partner, one who is proactive, flexible, responsive, responsible, fair, and honest. If they could teach these things at university, I would definitely ban any translator who did not pass these subjects with high marks! (Just joking folks!)


Hear, hear!

I do have a degree (or rather three) but not in translation and I am very sought after (for more than 25 years now).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 12:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Being professional Jan 18, 2015

This is slightly adapted from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/professionalism.htm

Competency
Professionals get the job done. They're reliable, and they keep their promises. If circumstances arise that prevent them from delivering on their promises, they manage expectations up front, and they do their best to make the situation right. Professionals don't make excuses, but focus on finding solutions.

Honesty and Integrity
Professionals exhibit qualities such as honesty and integrity. They keep their word, and they can be trusted implicitly because of this. They never compromise their values, and will do the right thing, even when it means taking a harder road.

More than this, true professionals are humble – if a project or job falls outside their scope of expertise, they're not afraid to admit this. They immediately ask for help when they need it, and they're willing to learn from others.

Accountability
Professionals hold themselves accountable for their thoughts, words, and actions, especially when they've made a mistake. This personal accountability is closely tied to honesty and integrity, and it's a vital element in professionalism.

Self-Regulation
They also stay professional under pressure. They maintain a calm, business-like demeanor, and do everything possible to make the situation right. Genuine professionals show respect for the people around them, no matter what their role or situation.


Obviously not exhaustive!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A few 'symptoms' of professionalism in translation Jan 18, 2015

I'd have my personal agree/disagree views on almost each post presented here so far, so I'll refrain from 'voting', and add my own instead.

Here are just a few of the symptoms of what I consider professional translators.


1. A professional translator will decline any job they are not competent to do.

If it's technical stuff about some subject matter they don't know squat about, they'll shy away from the assignment, just as a MD will divert to a colleague anything that is completely outside their specialization.

If it's not translation from any of their working languages, no matter how close it is (e.g. PT/ES), they will turn down the offer.


2. A professional translator will do 'first-aid' translation as such.

In the cases above, when there is NO other option, a professional translator WILL translate outside their knowledge zone, or from a language merely akin to one that they really master, however emphatically advising their client to get thoroughly adequate expert reviewing.

The analogy here is that e.g. an ophthalmologist, ENT doctor, or even a psychiatrist will carry out first aid procedures such as immobilizing a broken limb, stop the bleeding, etc. to mitigate suffering, as well as to help ensure that the victim will live long enough to be treated by the proper specialist.


3. A professional translator has his/her rates set for every service they perform.

The professional is not interested in listening to "We will pay $..." from prospects, even if that is higher than what they'd charge. The pro will state "I charge $..." for this, and stick to it.

Of course, payment terms & methods are outside the professional translator's work. Their preset rates should be net. If the client, for any reason, wants to pay via an expensive or troublesome method, or wants so secure a loan (term payment) from a professional translator (in lieu of a banker), it is up to the translator to accept that proposal or not, and to charge extra whatever they think it costs.


4. A professional translator is always responsible for their work.

In case reasonable flaws (to err is human) are found in the professional translator's work, they'll fix these immediately at no charge. Item #1 above should have preempted the possibility of the translator not being able to do so properly.

If the alleged flaws are fictitious, a professional translator will stick to their guns and, on request, provide supporting evidence, however under NO circumstances will accept any cut on their pay resulting from expenses of having such false flaws ascertained or fixed by some third party.


There are many more, however these should help getting the list started.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:22
English to Japanese
+ ...
You're digressing Jan 18, 2015

Maija Cirule wrote:

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:

Maija Cirule wrote:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:



What are your criteria of a professional translator?



[Edited at 2015-01-18 01:24 GMT]



A professional translator should have at least a bachelor's degree in translation, otherwise he/she is simply a wannabe translator not a professional one.


If a musician or an actor/actress does not have a Bachelors or even Masters (PHDs) in those fields, then you can't call those people professional? I wonder how many of those people only in Hollywood have the proper education and degrees who could really be called professional. And having those degrees doesn't make one a Grammys, Emmys and all the other award nominees and winners.


or surgeons, or lawyers without any degree you know? Recently, I translated several fire pump operational manuals translated from German into English by a very "creative" translator and it was a sheer disaster. Not everyone who knows two languages can be a translator. Well, this topic has been discussed at various forums and I see no point to waste my precious time.
Have a wonderful Sunday.

[Edited at 2015-01-18 07:03 GMT]


Physicians, surgeons and lawyers CANNOT practice if they don't have a degree and pass a test. But translators don't need to have a degree in order to become (or even claim) to be a one. Like Evaver and Marijke, I also don't have a degree in translation, because when I went to school there was no such thing and didn't go back to school later to get a degree in translation. Yet, I manage to be in this business for 26 years and sought after.

Enjoy the rest of the day.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 17:22
Member (2013)
English to Russian
Ah, the good old no true Scotsman Jan 18, 2015

Yes, a person can be a professional translator without having a relevant degree. The previous posters have made many good points, so I won't delve into that.

I'll make another point, instead.

You see, not every single client needs a Professional Translation™ — especially small businesses and direct clients. They may not be able to afford a high-profile specialist, or they may not need a perfect translation to begin with. Such clients, mostly, understand full well that the product of their hiree's work won't be impeccable, and they're okay with that.

This is especially true about subtitling, I think. Just looking from my high horse (4 meters high, no kidding!), I see amateur subtitlers everywhere, doing something they have little understanding of, for peanuts. And I am totally fine with that, because the few clients who really know what's up will find their way to a top-notch specialist no matter what. If you need quality, you'll get quality; if not, then so be it.

When it comes to the freelance market, people of all skill levels are needed, for different tasks and purposes, and that's why I find freelancing so wonderful. You can be a novice and work for free, to build your portfolio or collect client feedback, you can be moderately skilled and work for a decent reward, or you can be a sought-after expert swimming in gold coins like Scrooge McDuck.

[Edited at 2015-01-18 17:28 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3 4] >


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


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

Criteria of a professional translator

Advanced search







Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »
Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »



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