My way as an English>Chinese freelance translator
Thread poster: Li Cao

Li Cao  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:14
Chinese to English
+ ...
Sep 8, 2008

I decided to post it at here as a recorder to encourage myself to go on. Any suggestion, correction, or support is very welcome.

1. Why do I want to be a freelance translator?
To be honest, I did not have any formal education or training to be a translator. I want to be a translator is because first, I am tired of my current work. After spent six years in my current field, I finally realized that I was in the wrong field. Second, I speak two languages fluently; one is Chinese, my native language. The other is English, I have stayed in USA for many years, having no problem in reading and talking. Furthermore, I like reading very much, both in Chinese and English. I always want to introduce some excellent science popularization books to Chinese people.

2. What do I need to be a freelance translator that I can make a live?
I have a little translation experience, very limited. I once translated the instructions and attentions of some multi-Vitamins, deep-sea fish oil, and facial cream for my family. I also translated the abstract of my husband’s Ph D thesis, so my father could understand what it was about. When I was in China, I translated the abstract of my scientific paper from Chinese into English. It was more like writing in English than translating, though. Even if I am confident in my language ability, should I be able to make a living as a freelance translator? I understand that it must takes some time, but how long it would be?


[Edited at 2008-09-08 21:56]

[Edited at 2008-09-09 01:30]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-09-09 14:08]


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Shirley Lao  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Visit the KudoZ Forum and the Chinese Forum Sep 10, 2008

I suggest that you attempt to answer some KudoZ questions and visit the Chinese Forum.

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Li Cao  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:14
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank you, shirley Sep 10, 2008

Thank you for your reply and suggestions. I did answer some questions, but not very much.

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AniseK  Identity Verified
Malaysia
Local time: 11:14
Japanese to English
+ ...
Keep going.... Sep 11, 2008

Give yourself time and keep on studying. Not having a proper training as a translator should not stop you. Lots of translators here on Proz do not have formal training, and they are translating. Well, at least that is what I've been telling myself when I can't seem to get any work:-)

This doubts you are having right now is very common, especially for a newbie. Yes, I'm a newbie too! And yes, late nights, I do have the same doubts that you are having right now. Will I be able to make a living out of translation? Seems like there are lots of translators out there already.

The thing is, right now, when you have time, you can concentrate on building up your translation skill. Do you have any translation school nearby? Why not attend translation classes? There are also lots of translation guide books that you can read. There is a difference between being fluent in two languages and being able to translate. What sort of translation work are you interested in? Technical? Legal? Art? Advertising? Medical? It's a good time to find out if you haven't decide yet.

Reputation have to be build, slowly and painstakingly. So, be positive and send out your resumes to as many agencies as you can. Some of them will reply and you may have a chance there! Give yourself three months, if you don't have any feedbacks from the agencies, then there must be something wrong with your approach. You may need to change something. This is just getting positive feedbacks, not job offers! I like agencies who gave me tests and feedback. It's a good way of getting to know how you do as a translator You can also build a website, and post your translations there - just be careful of copyrights.

Good luck!


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Li Cao  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:14
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks a lot, AniseK Sep 11, 2008

Thank you so much for your helpful reply. Your reply made me feel much better when I knew that I was not the only one suffered. When I wrote this post, my feelings was mixed, part of depressed, part of excitement.

All your suggestions are effective. I will concentrate on improving my ability recently, but not spend my time wondering and worrying. And I also plan to learn some CAT tools, hope that will help.


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