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Demand for Hebrew > English translation
Thread poster: Ty Kendall

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:48
Hebrew to English
Aug 19, 2011

I am at a crossroads, so to speak.
My native language is English, and my main language is Hebrew. I also am familiar with Greek.
Ideally, I would like to pursue a career in translation using Hebrew (HE > EN). Although I am uncertain of the level of demand (especially if i remain in the U.K).
How feasible is it to make a career of Hebrew translation? I just want to resolve this before I continue my studies as my intended academic route includes a Hebrew element.

Any advice/information/anecodes...anything really will be greatly appreciated.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:48
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Hello Aug 20, 2011

Welcome to ProZ.com!

I don't speak a word of Hebrew (apart from one or two that I couldn't begin to write down) so hopefully someone more qualified wil see this post and help.

However, if you go to the advanced translators' directory, you'll find there are quite a lot of HE>EN translators registered here. If you restrict your search to the UK, there are very few. Many clients prefer their translators to be living in the target language country, so their language contains all the up-to-the-minute colloquialisms. In that way, living in the UK could work for you, although of course you may be less aware of local customs and events in the source-language location. The ideal is to be able to prove to clients that you have a lot of contact with both.

There seem to be a lot of HE>EN questions asked/answered on KudoZ, which is an indication (to some extent) of the level of work available. There have been 12 HE>EN jobs posted on the job board this month already - representing a very small proportion of work available in this pair on ProZ.com (most being through direct contact through the directory), and of course a much smaller proportion of work available to a professional translator.

So, I would suspect (but can't guarantee) that there is a healthy amount of work in this pair, with a sufficiently low number of good translators to enable reasonable tariffs to be set. However, it would be good to have Greek>EN to supplement. How about adding Yiddish as a source language?

As I say, you need advice from translators who work in your pair, but failing that you could do worse than spending time looking around the site, finding information for yourself. For example, how about posting a question on the Hebrew forum? Of course, the answer may already be there, but I wouldn't know!

Good luck with whatever you choose to do!

Sheila


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:48
Hebrew to English
TOPIC STARTER
Helpful! Aug 20, 2011

Thank you for your response. Since I am new to the site I wasn't sure exactly where to post this (it even got moved by admin from where I initially posted it). I was going to post it in the Hebrew section but I wasn't sure if it was "on-topic" enough or if it would be just an annoyance to the other experienced translators.

I did peruse the Hebrew translators on here and was surprised by the sheer number, but like you, noticed that most of them are in Israel or the U.S.

I have noticed this type of thought in many threads i.e. do I follow my dreams doing a language or specialisation I love even though there may not be much profit in it, or do something more lucrative which leaves me cold as far as being interested in it goes.

Personally, I'm a follow-your-heart type of person, so the choice seems an obvious one to me. (Although those nightmares of being a penniless translator having to do something totally unrelated to language gives me the shivers). Although I know there are more careers using Hebrew other than pure translation. So there are avenues within avenues I suppose.

I will continue to talk to people on here and investigate the market forces involved as you suggest. Thank you very much for your prompt input, very much appreciated!

Any other comments or opinions from other translators out there are still most welcome!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:48
English to Portuguese
+ ...
At least your direction is right Aug 20, 2011

This should be in the anecdotes section, the input from an outlander.

Once I took a trip that included one week in Southern England immediately followed by a week in Israel. Speaking US-English, I had less communication problems in the second week, i.e. percentagewise more people spoke English in Israel than in England. Of course Israelis do it with their peculiar accent, depicted in the movie You Don't Mess With the Zohan, but they do it well.

So if there is a market, demand for HE > EN should be much higher than EN > HE.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:48
Hebrew to English
TOPIC STARTER
Not exactly constructive but ok Aug 20, 2011

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

This should be in the anecdotes section, the input from an outlander.

Once I took a trip that included one week in Southern England immediately followed by a week in Israel. Speaking US-English, I had less communication problems in the second week, i.e. percentagewise more people spoke English in Israel than in England. Of course Israelis do it with their peculiar accent, depicted in the movie You Don't Mess With the Zohan, but they do it well.

So if there is a market, demand for HE > EN should be much higher than EN > HE.




Well I certainly wouldn't even consider translating EN > HE since Hebrew isn't my native language.
As I mentioned, it was admin that placed my query here, not me.
Your anecdote suggests that you should broaden your experience of English. To suggest that more people speak English in Israel, than in England itself is rather laughable.
English is a global language, not resitricted to North American usage or norms. Not to mention that if "ownership" were to be under discussion, it should really belong to the original home of the language, England.
So thanks for your input anyway.


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Eileen Cartoon  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:48
Italian to English
documents and legal Aug 20, 2011

I have been studying Hebrew for a year now (for my own personal satisfaction) and I have had some contact with pharmaceutical companies in Israel. For all of these companies, the in-house language is not Hebrew but English. If they have branches, vendors, agents, or whateever in another country they may want translation from whatever local language into English (in fact I was contacted by a company to translate research from Italian to English). I'm not that sure how much actual translation from Hebrew to English will be available. I don't want to discourage you but, unless you are speaking of biblical translation, I am afraid there won't be a steady flow. Even manufacturers of machinery in Israel write their manuals in English in-house.

On the other hand, since most of my clients know I have contacts who know Hebrew, I am often getting calls to recommend someone either to translate, or proof read advertising materials or instruction manuals geared to the Israeli market. For example, where I am, in Italy, Italian manufacturers of coffee machines, cosmetics, etc. who need to include instructions for their equipment in Hebrew when it is sold on the Israeli market.

I really wish you good luck and don't want to discourage you but... Don't stop studying the language, but keep your options open.
Eileen

[Edited at 2011-08-20 15:43 GMT]


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:48
Hebrew to English
TOPIC STARTER
Good advice, thank you! Aug 20, 2011

Thank you for your advice Eileen! You haven't discouraged me don't worry. I know if I pushed hard enough I'm sure I would find a niche somewhere, I'm just invesitgating possibilities at the moment.

I definitely won't stop studying Hebrew, I've studied it ever since I was 14, and 16 years later it's still in my life so I wouldn't just drop it like a wet fish.

If anything I would just look at other avenues, there is work out there for Hebrew speakers which isn't pure translation. Export sales and technology firms (Google and Facebook are big recruiters in Northern Ireland for foreign language specialists). So translation is my preferred, although not my only option.

I wish you luck with your own Hebrew journey. It's a challenging, but rewarding language in my opinion!


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Dave Bindon  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 02:48
Member (2010)
Greek to English
Greek etc Aug 20, 2011

Hi Ty,

Being 'familiar with Greek', unless you're seriously understating your knowledge of the language, is not going to help you professionally. There are very few clients who will pay good rates to have a native English-speaker work on the translation, and they expect far more than 'familiarity' with the language.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:48
Hebrew to English
TOPIC STARTER
Clarification - Greek etc Aug 20, 2011

I just want to clarify that my ability in Greek is in no way good enough for translation, and I am fully aware of this. I didn't intend on implying it was.

My L2 is Hebrew and this is the language I want to work in. I was simply responding to the question of what other languages I could work with. I am only really passionate about one other language - Greek.

Although I know I would need at least 10 years more study and a period of residence in Greece/Cyprus to anywhere near approach being qualified to translate Greek.

Hence my reluctance to go down this route, although I would love to dedicate more of my time to studying Greek! It's a beautiful language!


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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:48
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
My opinion Aug 21, 2011

Go for it. It is true that, in Israel, a lot of documentation is written directly into English and then translated into FIGS (French, Italian, German, Spanish) for example.
However, there is plenty of work in other fields. If I were you I would try to get a thorough understanding of legal Hebrew and specialize in Legal Hebrew into English translation. I receive a lot of requests for translations from legal Hebrew into Italian so I assume there must be much more from Hebrew into English. This is just an example of a field in which documents are originally written in Hebrew.

Laura


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:48
Hebrew to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Laura! Aug 21, 2011

Thank you Laura, I suspect that despite the difficulties (and I'm sure there are many) that if I searched hard enough I should be able to find some niche or speciality that would be open to me. In addition, I had also suspected that legal translation would be a logical choice.

Even if this option were to close, I'm sure I could find another. Thank you for your positive and constructive feedback! Very much appreciated.


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Transitwrite  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:48
French to English
+ ...
Techshoret Aug 21, 2011

Hi,
I would advise you to join the Techshoret forum. I often see people looking for translators on there. Its an Israeli forum for technical writers..... You need to justify your request to join, but if your translation area is technical it may be ok. Sorry I have not read any of the replies to this thread, just the title, so I hope I have not repeated somebody else's advice...
Hatslaha!
Sharon


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Dave Bindon  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 02:48
Member (2010)
Greek to English
Greek etc Aug 21, 2011

TyKendall wrote:

I am only really passionate about one other language - Greek.

Although I know I would need at least 10 years more study and a period of residence in Greece/Cyprus to anywhere near approach being qualified to translate Greek.

Hence my reluctance to go down this route, although I would love to dedicate more of my time to studying Greek! It's a beautiful language!


It certainly is a beautiful language (although its 'beauty' from the linguist's point of view can often make it a challenge to translate into English). Since you're passionate about it and you're realistic about how long it could take to reach the necessary standard, go for it!

Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any queries about the Greek>English translation market, or about the Greek language itself.

Good luck!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:48
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Off-topic: English in England Aug 22, 2011

TyKendall wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
Speaking US-English, I had less communication problems in the second week, i.e. percentagewise more people spoke English in Israel than in England.


Your anecdote suggests that you should broaden your experience of English. To suggest that more people speak English in Israel, than in England itself is rather laughable.
English is a global language, not resitricted to North American usage or norms. Not to mention that if "ownership" were to be under discussion, it should really belong to the original home of the language, England.


It was intended to be laughable. I was told that in Israel people have ESL classes from kindergarten all the way through college, and apparently it works, rendering a unique national accent in English. Meanwhile in England too many inextricable regional accents have been around for centuries, and many of these can really baffle untrained foreigners. Most of them don't sound like English to me; this was my point.

On another front, I've recently seen a reference to an article somewhere (Linkedin?) saying that England is concerned with the staggering cost of providing interpreting services (at law enforcement, healthcare, etc.) to foreign residents, immigrants who haven't learned English.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:48
Hebrew to English
TOPIC STARTER
Reply to off-topic Aug 22, 2011

The regional accents aren't that difficult to understand. Yes a handful of them can be extreme (Glaswegian, Geordie, Scouse, Cockney) but many of them are more 'neutral'.

US English has its fair share of accents too. Trying to understand someone from the southern states, say Louisiana, can be a challenge even for the most linguistically exposed.

However, an abundance of accents and dialects is a problem that learners of most languages have to deal with. I learnt (High) German at school. If you dropped me in Switzerland, or even rural Bavaria, I can guarantee I'd struggle to say the least.

The same can be said for Greek, Arabic, Spanish (for me Cuban accents were a nightmare!) - and many more.

So I do sympathise, but it's just an fact of life, or of learning languages.

You are correct about the article you read, but it's a difficult topic and has little to do with translating/interpreting per se. It's more about politics and immigration. Two things we have big problems with in this country at the moment. The cost of translation issue is just another symptom of this.

The situation is that when a government funded institution has to resort to translating literature etc into 20+ languages, not only is the cost an issue, but the conditions which allows this to occur in the first place.


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