Rare language pair translator looking for advice
Thread poster: Hussein BONAUD

Hussein BONAUD
France
Local time: 22:04
French to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
Jan 5, 2010

Greetings, Translators and fellow wannabe translators.


Im pretty new here, so let me introduce myself.

I'm french of french origins, but have spent quite a lot of time in Iran (17 years exactly) since I was a child, though making frequent trips back to France. I learned farsi by attending primary school in Iran, while pursuing my french scolarship with the CNED (national center for distant learning). This way I learned farsi on a "native language" level, while keeping my french fluent.

Since french is as hard to master for iranians as farsi is hard for french speaking peoples, I was requiered quite early to do some translation jobs back in Iran, first of all for some fellow students, no charges taken. Then, as experience came, I started charging my work... very cheap. In fact, one can not make a living out of translation in Iran.

When I settled back in France in 2007, the idea of making a living out of translation didn't occur to me because of my experience in Iran... until recently, as I started a close collaboration with the official cultural mission of the iranian embassy in Paris, the "centre culturel d'Iran".

Now, as I am trying to get started, there are two major drawbacks.

First of all... as I didn't really think of becoming a professionnal translator my studies were not oriented around learning languages and literature. Now I'm wondering if it makes any sense to put in my resume or CV that I have a degree in physics (Licence de Sciences Physiques et Chimiques) as it is not really going to help. Or is it? Will I be taken seriously as a translator if translation and literature are two words that appear nowhere in my scholarship? It hurts to say that since my personnal interest in literature and my knowledge of both persian and french literature is far above "average"...

On the other hand there is no certified french>farsi/farsi>french translation oriented course in any french university. The only place to learn persian is the INALCO (National institute for learning oriental languages and civilisations) and it's not really a "translation oriented" cursus. It's more of a general course about Iranian culture and language... and I am already more than above qualified for anything they may teach me. Is it worth the hussle to attend 2 or 3 years of courses just to get the paper?

In fact I am already teaching persian at the "centre culturel d'Iran" and I have students that dropped the INALCO to attend my courses. (The ones who where more interested in actually learning farsi than getting the "paper"). I already talked to french people with a degree in persian, and iranians with a degree in french and...well...how to put it so that it doesn't sound crude... well, I think you got my point.

The good point is... I do not have any official diploma (French), but no one else does either. ^^


The second issue I am facing is that most, if not all, of my translation works were done in Iran, including some simultaneous interpreting and other stuff. Now, can I mention these works in my "experiences" field, knowing that no one can actually get in touch with my clients if not already living in Iran (since most of them dont speak any foreign language or have any mean of beeing contacted from abroad) ? Or will I look like I'm filling the blanks with cheesy stuff to look more experienced than I really am?

I hope to get some help and advices from well established translators who, like me, are working in a rare language pair and maybe even faced the same issues.

Thank you all, and best wishes for this year 2010.

Hossein

[Edited at 2010-01-05 18:00 GMT]


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ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 23:04
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Your Degree Definitely Helps Jan 5, 2010

Hossein Bonaud wrote:

First of all... as I didn't really think of becoming a professionnal translator my studies were not oriented around learning languages and literature. Now I'm wondering if it makes any sense to put in my resume or CV that I have a degree in physics (Licence de Sciences Physiques et Chimiques) as it is not really going to help. Or is it?


I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in mechanical engineering, and I put all those in my resume. Sometimes a client looks for a translator with a certain degree, for example, there is currently an ad that is looking for medical doctors. So, your degree in physics definitely helps.

As far as your experiences concerned, I would put them all in the resume as well. The fact that someone cannot contact those institutions is just a minor detail here. Your experience is a major issue, the problem you mentioned is just a minor detail.

Best of luck here at ProZ and outside as well. Have a good year!

Sincerely,
ATIL


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Jean-Pierre Artigau
Canada
Local time: 16:04
English to French
+ ...
Suggestions Jan 5, 2010

You shouldn't confuse knowledge of two or more languages and proficiency as a translator. This is the most common error made by bilingual people, they think this automatically gives them an ability as translators.
You perfectly know French and Farsi, which is an excellent starting point. Now I suggest you take some translation courses (why not English to French if they are available, since Farsi-French doesn't seem to exist), so you get an idea of the common pitfalls any professional translator should know (i. e. respect of grammatical rules in the target language while reflecting the meaning of the original message, and the many tricks-of-the-trade). You will have to discover the many common mistakes made by fluent French-speaking people when translating.
Another option would be to find a mentor or accept "subcontracting" work from an English-French (or Farsi-French) translator that will comment your work and allow you to acquire come experience (don't expect high rates at this stage).
Then you will have to "transfer" this knowledge to the other combination (Farsi-French).

Good luck.


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:04
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Just tell your story Jan 5, 2010

Hi Houssein,
I think you should just tell your story more or less the way you did here. People like to know how you learned a language and what kinds of experiences you've had, even if they're different from other people's experiences.

Sure, put the degree on your profile, and anything else you have. Explain the circumstances of your work in Iran...no one will hold it against you!

Put some translation samples up, too.

I sympathize with your case, because mine is also different: I never studied my source language, have never taken a translation course, and have no college degree. I also started translation work when I was past middle age. So we are all different, but we have our good points, and that's what we need to show to prospective employers.

Good luck!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Good advice Jan 5, 2010

Jean-Pierre A wrote:

Now I suggest you take some translation courses (why not English to French if they are available, since Farsi-French doesn't seem to exist), so you get an idea of the common pitfalls any professional translator should know (i. e. respect of grammatical rules in the target language while reflecting the meaning of the original message, and the many tricks-of-the-trade).


Very good advice, I'd say. You obviously have a reasonable level of English, good enough for an English to French translating course. Even if that language pair doesn't interest you professionally it would give you a good foundation in translation studies in general to add to your languages and science degree. You would then be able to supplement your income as a specialised French Farsi translator (presumable in more-or-less all subjects) with a specialisation in scientific texts from English to French and/or Farsi.

Whether that route appeals to you or not is for you to decide but it seems the obvious one to me.

Good luck anyway.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 23:04
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
You have excellent chances Jan 6, 2010

I would also remind you that there are good books about translation. But no course or book will make you a translator, only working as one for a few years. Just jump into it. Wish I had your scientific degrees!

Regards
Heinrich


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Hussein BONAUD
France
Local time: 22:04
French to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all... Jan 6, 2010

for your help, great advices and feedback.

I understand that I need to learn a lot before I can establish myself as a pro translator, but it helps to see a dedicated community willing to help me on the way.

I take good note of all that's been said and I start working on my resume right now.

And I start looking for some books and a good translation school.

Wish me luck


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 23:04
Turkish to English
+ ...
Rare language pair? Jan 6, 2010

I would question whether French-Farsi (or vice versa) can be classified as a 'rare language pair'. Farsi is the official national language of a country with a population of some 65 million, and French is an official UN and EU language and is also the official language of 29 countries worldwide. I would imagine that there must be reasonable volumes of work between these two languages, certainly sufficient to remove this pair from the 'rare' category.

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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 22:04
Italian to English
+ ...
Consider This View Jan 6, 2010

You say you want to make a living as a professional translator. Good, translation is a business, and yes, with a physics degree you chances are excellent.

Businesses need customers who pay. Forget about literature, I believe that Iran's biggest business is oil (physics fits right in), and French companies are involved in Iran's oil business, plus all related businesses like machine tools.

These are the kinds of companies that have money to pay service providers.

In addition to a short translation course - even online (forget an expensive masters, paying customers do not care), brush up on your physics and perhaps take a few short courses or do some serious reading in mechanics, perhaps even look for a job with a manufacturing or oil company.

In short, if the goal is the make a living as a professional translator running your own business, I would absolutely highlight the physics degree and hide with embarrassment an interest in literature and teaching experience.


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