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Thread poster: George Trail

George Trail  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:53
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Apr 23, 2010

Everyone has to start somewhere - but what sort of "general" document translation projects should you be eyeing until you can call yourself a "specialist" in one area or another (maybe legal)? I got these ideas from a number of websites (most of them being those of translation agencies):

Corporate and other surveys, Training manuals, Annual reports, Business proposals, Contracts, Feasibility studies, Technical manuals, Promotional materials, Corporate and other newsletters (especially for multinational companies), Research papers, Business records, Legal documents, Genealogical research data, Ads, Product labels, MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets), operator manuals and assembly instructions, handbooks, product catalogues, EU texts, travel brochures, newspaper articles, computer programs, medical texts, legal documents, diplomas, package labels, letters

Types of documents: Medical, Computer, Business, Marketing, Legal, Financial, Engineering, Pharmaceutical, Technical Manuals, Patents, Annual Reports, Advertising Copy, Marketing Collateral, User Guides, Brochures, Case Studies, Data Sheets, Medical Records, Newsletters, Reference Manuals, Training Manuals, Marketing Materials, Emails, Press Releases etc. Web Sites - HTML editing, databases, meta tags, applications, etc. Software, CD-ROM Titles, Presentations, Surveys, Thesis etc.

Technical translations: training manuals, operator manuals, owner handbooks, export tenders, health & safety guides, information documentation, patents, drawings, spare parts lists, software manuals

Medical, pharmaceutical, scientific translations: technical product guides, promotional documents, clinical trials and research papers

Commercial translations: business correspondence, financial reports, annual reports, research reports, research questionnaires

Marketing translation: promotional material in particular advertising copy where the style and choice of words is highly specialised. In-house magazines, press releases, promotional catalogues, scripts, publicity material requiring copy for maximum impact in the market place


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:53
Member
Italian to English
First documents Apr 23, 2010

Your first documents will be the ones you can persuade others to let you translate, and that are within your capabilities as as translator. Concentrate on the skills and knowledge that you do have and lever these to get your first jobs.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:53
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Those you can do Apr 23, 2010

George Trail wrote:
Everyone has to start somewhere - but what sort of "general" document translation projects should you be eyeing until you can call yourself a "specialist" in one area or another


I've been a professional translator for 3 years and I wouldn't touch 75% of the texts you mention, and I don't think that will change, ever. I don't have medical, legal, engineering, chemical, ......... experience or knowledge so how can I translate the texts?

I'd tackle any of them for a favour if it wasn't for an important reason (ie I wouldn't translate a friend's medical report concerning cancer because the consequences of a wrong translation could be upsetting or worse but I would translate their publicity about a model engineering club on the grounds that I'll do it passably well and it'll save my friend money).

But not for money.

Mind you, this profession has the habit of throwing in nasty surprises even when you specialise. I specialise in tourism and often do brochures and leaflets. However, leaflets about my local area sometimes go into great depth about pilgrimages, the Crusades, Gothic churches, Roman bridges, etc. These weren't part of my specialist knowledge, but I'm learning!


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:53
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
first document = specialist document anyway Apr 23, 2010

You cannot not be a specialist.
You must have something that others do not have.
Do you like knitting, scuba diving, pyramids of Egypt, do you like vampire movies???

There must be something that sets you apart from all those other translators in the World (and I don't mean your tariff is lower !!!)

Even if you are fresh out of school your parents probably had some sort of profession, or you likes stamp collecting... ...or you likes a specific author....

come on - ANYTHING WILL DO!!

Ed


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:53
English to German
+ ...
First document Apr 23, 2010

A proper CV without typos.



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RobinB  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:53
German to English
General? Apr 23, 2010

Are you really trying to suggest that annual reports, contracts, EU texts, legal documents, financial reports, research reports, etc. are "general" documents?

It may be that a lot of agencies consider them to be "general" because they don't have to expertise to translate them competently. But that's no excuse to consider these - and most of the other text genres you mention - to be in any way "general".

You have to ask yourself three main questions:

1) What can you already bring to the table in the way of domain expertise?
2) Which domains do you feel (or think you'll feel) most comfortable in, in the sense that you'll be willing to invest time and money gaining expertise in them?
3) Which domains are likely to offer strong, steady (or even growing) demand in the foreseeable future?

Then do a classic SWOT analysis of the answers to these questions and see what the results are. If you don't like them, try again. Or look at a different career.

If you adopt a scattergun approach to translation ("a little bit of this, a little bit of that"), you can work for decades and still end up with absolutely nothing to show for it. Apart from poverty, a lot of frustration and shattered illusions.


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Katja Schoone  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:53
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
with Nicole Apr 23, 2010

If you want to do yourself a favour invest in a native German translator for your CV, there is not one sentence without grammar/style etc. errors.

According to your profile you have quite a lot of experience, why then this question?

And last, but not least, if you want to work as a professional translator then start with professional rates (and EUR 9.50/hour is not what I consider professional).


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 21:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
idem for the French version Apr 23, 2010

Katja Schoone wrote:
If you want to do yourself a favour invest in a native German translator for your CV, there is not one sentence without grammar/style etc. errors.


MediaMatrix


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xxxDesdemone
Local time: 22:53
French to English
Second.... Apr 23, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:

A proper CV without typos.



A sample translation (French to English business correspondence) free of mistranslations.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:53
English to German
+ ...
Also: an English proofreader for the CV Apr 24, 2010

Hint:

vice versa [ˈvaɪsɪ ˈvɜːsə]
adv
with the order reversed; the other way around
[from Latin: relations being reversed, from vicis change + vertere to turn]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers



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Cilian O'Tuama  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:53
German to English
+ ...
First prove yourself, then charge accordingly. Apr 24, 2010

Katja Schoone wrote:

And last, but not least, if you want to work as a professional translator then start with professional rates (and EUR 9.50/hour is not what I consider professional).


I beg to differ here because to me it implies that if your rates are high, you must be good.

It should be the other way round. First prove that you're good, and only then start charging professional rates.

Why is it that here on Proz everyone posing as a translator is immediately assumed by other members to be a "good" translator. Safety in numbers?

@George:
Your hourly rate might be okay. Maybe too low, but it could even be too high if it takes you a working day to produce what a seasoned pro can churn out in an hour. Newbies are slower/cautious/wary/unsure, nothing abnormal about that - part of the learning experience.

Charge professional rates when you are on a par with pros, quality-wise and time-wise.

Charging higher rates does not make anyone better.

Cilian


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 21:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
First documents? - Back to square one. Apr 24, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:
A proper CV without typos.

Katja Schoone wrote:
... invest in a native German translator for your CV...

MediaMatrix wrote:
idem for the French version.

Nicole Schnell wrote:
Also: an English proofreader for the CV.

Cilian O'Tuama wrote:
First prove yourself, then charge accordingly.


I hate to say this, George, but I'm not yet convinced that you're ready to tackle any of the document categories you mentioned when you started this thread.

MediaMatrix


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:53
English to German
+ ...
Specialization vs. type of document Apr 24, 2010

Two things that should never be mixed up.

Nobody can be a specialist in writing manuals or brochures or annual reports.

Example: A translator who has written 38 brochures during his career but has no idea whatsoever about oil drilling, will not be able to write a brochure about core bits or oil rigs. It takes a specialist in this technical field.

There is no such thing as a specialist for writing brochures. Or any other type of document, for that matter.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:53
French to English
+ ...
What resources do you have? Apr 24, 2010

When you actually break it down, it's hard to define what "specialist" really means. But for me personally it's more to do with what expertise I actually have to bring to translation, rather than knowledge acquired through translation:

- "specialist" fields are ones where I personally have studied intensively and/or practised in that field;
- "working" fields are ones where I have studied those fields to a lower level and/or have close contacts in that field.

So for what it's worth, just to expand a bit: I claim to be a "specialist" in IT because I have worked for several years as a full-time programmer and have industry certification; I claim to be a "specialist" in linguistics because I have a couple of degrees in the subject. In either of these subjects, I'd generally be very confident from my own knowledge and experience that my translation was accurate and sounded as though it was an original document produced by a specialist in that field.

I would also claim to be a "specialist" in mathematics because I have an A-Level in the subject, did an additional statistics course at university and as part of my IT work have since had to gen up on a few additional bits of maths over the years, even though I've not actually taken a formal exam. Again, I would be confident that I was "speaking the lingo" of mathematics, and I would be able to make an honest assessment as to whether I really understood a text in this area sufficiently.

Then, I would claim to be able to "work" in the fied of education because my partner and several close friends are university lecturers in education and hence I've been "exposed to the lingo" of that field and they are consultable at any time, and to "work" in some natural science fields since I studed chemistry to A-Level and my partner's brother is a biologist. So I might translate a brochure for a company selling environment-related products. But I probably wouldn't think of translating an academic paper on chemistry, because I wouldn't be confident that I'd understood the text enough to make decisions about appropriate translation.

But there's clearly a continuum going on here-- I'm not exactly sure where the appropriate line is between "specialist" and "non-specialist with working knowledge".


[Edited at 2010-04-24 03:15 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-04-24 03:16 GMT]


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:53
French to German
+ ...
This goes without saying... Apr 24, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:

A proper CV without typos.



but it is better when it is said. (Bad translation from the French expression : 'Cela va sans dire, mais ça va mieux en le disant')

[Edited at 2010-04-24 09:29 GMT]


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