Need help in career choice
Thread poster: xxxVleod
xxxVleod
Sep 28, 2011

So hi everyone,

I guess you get this kind of question a lot but i have to ask for specific answer. I have recently finished a Computer Programming Course of 2 years in a College (DEC) that's what its called in Canada. But the demand in this kind of field is mostly reserved to those who complete a B.A in Computer Sciences, so here i am having a Job which i do not like much. But the thing i know is that i always knew my way around learning languages (even Programming Languages ^_^ ), so i am thinking about pursuing a career has an Interpreter / Translator.

But! The thing is i want to translate / interpret a language which i do not know. (Arabic,Hebrew,Farsi)

So far my language bag is French, English, (a bit of Spanish), (a bit of German).

So i am wondering which university is offering the best program to do so in Canada. Also is a B.A in Linguistics enough or must i do some sort of B.A program in Translation to do so.

"I know its a lot of questioning, but you know time is an investment which must be well placed."


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:50
Hebrew to English
A few pointers.... Sep 28, 2011

Vleod wrote:
so i am thinking about pursuing a career has an Interpreter / Translator.


First of all, you need to decide which one you want to be. They aren't the same thing and require very different skills and training.

But! The thing is i want to translate / interpret a language which i do not know. (Arabic,Hebrew,Farsi)


I'm not sure why you'd want to do this when you already have other languages in your "language bag". It would mean learning a new language from scratch and (as I have experience in those languages) trust me, they aren't the easiest and will take years (and years and years) no matter how talented at languages you are to reach a level good enough to make them your source language. So if this is the path you really want to go down, it's going to be a looooong term investment and a career which is a good few years off. Also, if you are interested, in my opinion you'd be better off with Arabic or Farsi, there's far more demand. (And I say that with a heavy heart being a Hebrew translator myself :-/) Also, there are other rare-language combinations with hardly ANY translators working in them, so if you learnt one of those you could corner the market (theoretically).

So far my language bag is French, English, (a bit of Spanish), (a bit of German).


Not sure how proficient you are in French and the others, (a bit of) a language is unlikely to be enough to work with. If you already have a language you are "fluent" in, you'd be better off sticking with that (at least for now), also you don't specify your native language - since this is the (only) language you should be translating/interpreting into, this is an important consideration.

So i am wondering which university is offering the best program to do so in Canada. Also is a B.A in Linguistics enough or must i do some sort of B.A program in Translation to do so.


I can't comment on universities in Canada, but that's irrelevant since most translators value a degree in a specialization (IT, Biology, Engineering etc) more than a degree in translation.
Also a degree in translation is usually highly theoretical (which is great for theoreticians) but whilst a knowledge of translation theory is useful (prefereable perhaps) for working translators, it isn't a magic formula that churns out wonderful and qualified translators. Many people choose to do a masters degree in translation after a more specialized B.A. Pure translation theory is more of an accessory, it's nice to have but it's not the end of the world if you leave it at home.

I have recently finished a Computer Programming Course of 2 years in a College (DEC) that's what its called in Canada. But the demand in this kind of field is mostly reserved to those who complete a B.A in Computer Sciences, so here i am having a Job which i do not like much


I'm a bit fuzzy here on your intended meaning, you've just spent 2 years at College but would need to do a full B.A in Computer Science to compete in this field? Is this why you are not satisfied with this career path? If more time in formal study is what is putting you off, then a career in translation/interpreting is probably not the best idea either, especially if you intend on going into a language you haven't even begun to learn yet. The trouble with languages is that you never learn it all, even so-called "fluent" speakers still learn new words, new structures every day. It's more of a lifelong learning process.

I'm trying not to be too gloomy, because I like to encourage people in following their dreams, but that's another thing - it's hard to tell from your post whether you really have true passion for language/translation. It's more like "don't feel like doing I.T, I'm quite good at languages, why not...." . Whilst you wouldn't be the first translator to "drift" into translation, I would suggest that it is a profession that you have to be enthusiastic about (more and more so...for various reasons).


I just want you to be aware of the obstacles.
If you do decide to go ahead...Good Luck!

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” William Arthur Ward


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:50
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My two cents Sep 28, 2011

Vleod wrote:
But! The thing is i want to translate / interpret a language which i do not know. (Arabic,Hebrew,Farsi)
So far my language bag is French, English, (a bit of Spanish), (a bit of German).

I entirely agree with Ty in the sense that getting to know a language enough to be able to translate it requires very many years of study. You can see this in newly graduated translation students who learned a language only in university. They have a hard time grasping the real meaning of the foreign language.

Translation is not only about the words, but about the whole culture and mindset behind a language. The more different that culture and mindset is from the culture you grew in, the more study and immersion you need in the target language, and that takes quite some time and investment. I don't think you would be able to translate professionally from any Asian language without an Asian family background in under 4-5 years of systematic study, unless you were really Sprachbegabt as they say in German. Translating into that language with a professional quality could take double that time at least.

Personally I would do two things to better evaluate your knowledge and set realistic goals:
- Get your language skills evaluated in each of the languages (including your mother tongue) by means of an exam with an accredited institution, like the Instituto Cervantes in Spanish or the Goethe Institut in German... You could also pay teachers of those languages to evaluate your skills and suggest an action course about how to improve them (including your mother tongues)

- Take a crash course about the Asian language you are more interested in (I would go for just one language at first), so that you can better think about whether you are able to learn it to a near-native level

- Participate in a crash course about translation, to get an idea of what skills are required and what is translation all about

After you have evaluated your current skills, you can decide whether translation is really for you and is, realistically, a potential career in a reasonable span of time.

Good luck!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some random answers Sep 28, 2011

Vleod wrote:
But the thing i know is that i always knew my way around learning languages (even Programming Languages ^_^ ), so i am thinking about pursuing a career has an Interpreter / Translator.


A computer language is easy to learn because you only need to solve problems with it, and not communicate with it. A computer language is not really a language, in fact -- it is just a protocol.

But! The thing is i want to translate / interpret a language which i do not know. (Arabic,Hebrew,Farsi)


If you go live in a country where only this language is spoken, and you take language lessons, you may be able to learn it well enough in 3 years to be able to translate from it. If you study it in your own country, it will take 5-8 years to learn it well enough.

So far my language bag is French, English, (a bit of Spanish), (a bit of German).


Your language bag is French and English.

Also is a B.A in Linguistics enough or must i do some sort of B.A program in Translation to do so.


Studying linguistics if you want to become a translator is like studying computers if you want to become a programmer. You'll have more value from a translation course than from a linguistics course.




[Edited at 2011-09-28 09:39 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Translate into what? Sep 28, 2011

Apart from what initially strikes me as an odd premise (translating a language you don't know??), the question springs to mind : "into what"?

From excerpts like "so here i am having a Job which i do not like much" I can't help but deduce that the asker's command of English as she is spoke seems somewhat... ropey. I may be mistaken, but that's my first impression. No offence intended.

On a slightly less curmudgeonly tip, I'd like to add that I second everything Tomás CB says.

[Edited at 2011-09-28 10:48 GMT]


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:50
Hebrew to English
Agree with Neil... Sep 28, 2011

neilmac wrote:

Apart from what initially strikes me as an odd premise (translating a language you don't know??), the question springs to mind : "into what"?

From excerpts like "so here i am having a Job which i do not like much" I can't help but deduce that the asker's command of English as she is spoke seems somewhat... ropey. I may be mistaken, but that's my first impression. No offence intended.

On a slightly less curmudgeonly tip, I'd like to add that I second everything Tomás CB says.

[Edited at 2011-09-28 10:48 GMT]


I agree with Neil, I don't think English is the poster's first language. There are a few little signs:
"reserved to" instead of reserved for
the repeated use of "to do so"
and the overall tone of the passage seems somewhat "off" in a way that is usually explained as being written by a non-native speaker.

I apologize if English is your first language and if it is you need to be more vigilant in your writing(at least on here). Whilst it's usually alright to be lax in emails and forum posts, on a site for translators and interpreters you're going to get crucified for poor writing.

I also agree with Samuel in some respects, but not completely on his final point. I do admit that a specialized degree in translation may be "better" in some respects, but I studied Linguistics and it included more than enough translation theory as well as Morphology, Syntax, Pragmatics, Semantics...etc all of which is invaluable to me as a translator.... So I guess it depends on the content of the course as well as the course itself.


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xxxVleod
TOPIC STARTER
In Details Oct 3, 2011

Sorry i should of describe the details of my situation.

Actually my discouragement of the Information Technology field is mainly because of inability to quickly grasp mathematical concepts, i don't see myself doing Mathematics. Its sounds a bit strange but its the actual situation! I shouldn't have gone into that field since i always been the history guy, which is something that is really easy for me.

But i am wondering what kind of good i can do to myself? I know the best way to learn a new language is immersion, am familiar with the concept my mom thought me when i was 7 years old. Do you guys know any way's i could learn without paying a huge amount of money or by any relief organisation?

And for my question about university. In fact it was simple! Let's say if i pick the field of Interpretation and want to interpret Farsi. How do i get there, which course would i need, is it a B.A in Linguistic, or a major in the specific language i want to interpret?

I know the learning of a new language can be hard, but trust me i am more determined than i sound.

Also sorry for my mistakes, my native language is French. (yes i am fluent in English)


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:50
Hebrew to English
No quick fixes..... Oct 3, 2011

Vleod wrote:

Sorry i should of describe the details of my situation.

Actually my discouragement of the Information Technology field is mainly because of inability to quickly grasp mathematical concepts, i don't see myself doing Mathematics. Its sounds a bit strange but its the actual situation! I shouldn't have gone into that field since i always been the history guy, which is something that is really easy for me.


Ok, well....we all make mistakes. But if you are the "History guy" why not look at getting into this? Why try languages? Are you not repeating the same mistake you made with Information Technology?

But i am wondering what kind of good i can do to myself? I know the best way to learn a new language is immersion, am familiar with the concept my mom thought me when i was 7 years old. Do you guys know any way's i could learn without paying a huge amount of money or by any relief organisation?


The simple answer here is teach yourself, or go to Iran (if it's Farsi) or the country where the language is spoken. Also, learning a language at 7, and then as an adult are very different things, don't presume it will be as easy now as it was then. Reading between the lines of this paragraph, it seems to me that you are asking if there are any shortcuts. I'm afraid there aren't where languages are concerned, it's going to cost you something (money for books, classes, time spent studying). No pain, no gain.

And for my question about university. In fact it was simple! Let's say if i pick the field of Interpretation and want to interpret Farsi. How do i get there, which course would i need, is it a B.A in Linguistic, or a major in the specific language i want to interpret?


I think you're getting ahead of yourself here. Admittedly, you haven't even begun to learn the language yet. First of all, you'd need to be flawless in Farsi (so at least 7+ years away then). In addition, it's a question which would require an essay to properly answer. It depends on where you want to interpret, who for, for what purpose.....an interpeter for a local authority would have very different pre-requisites from a court interpreter, or an interpreter working at the U.N. for example....but it's far too early to concern yourself with this when you haven't even started learning the language you want to intepret. In any case, any information given here would be long out of date in about a decade when the time comes for you to start worrying about this.

I know the learning of a new language can be hard, but trust me i am more determined than i sound.


Determination is important, but so are other factors. What kind of intrinsic/extrinsic motivation do you have? Do you have any interest in the target cultures? Any desire to live in the target language speech community? (This would be a must if you intended on interpreting in this language). Once you get bogged down in irregular verbs and weird syntax, you're going to need a lot of motivation to keep going past the plateau stage. It's hard to tell whether you're more interested in the career or the language. The language comes first. The career is secondary.

Also sorry for my mistakes, my native language is French. (yes i am fluent in English)


Alright, then you need to determine what demand there is for Farsi > French interpreting (as this is the only direction you should be translating/interpreting into. You may consider yourself to be fluent in English, but your last post had a lot of mistakes, some rather basic. I don't want to be too critical of your English ability, I would just suggest that it could be improved somewhat, and you should never interpret/translate into a language that you aren't a true master of.

Edited for formatting

[Edited at 2011-10-03 09:03 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:50
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I agree Oct 3, 2011

Ty Kendall wrote:
Alright, then you need to determine what demand there is for Farsi > French interpreting (as this is the only direction you should be translating/interpreting into. You may consider yourself to be fluent in English, but your last post had a lot of mistakes, some rather basic. I don't want to be too critical of your English ability, I would just suggest that it could be improved somewhat, and you should never interpret/translate into a language that you aren't a true master of.

Indeed. May I also add that the business side of a translator's career very often takes place in English, and customers expect you to master English a bit better than themselves. If they see this kind of mistakes, you drop off the list, so definitely one of the goals in any plan should be to take consistent English lessons.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 08:50
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Chipping in... Oct 4, 2011

As someone who drifted into translation, even with a background where translation was a frequent topic at family mealtimes...

I won't repeat all the good advice above, although I agree with it.

You have to be perfect at your target language, or close enough for only a very light proofreading to be necessary. That sounds like French in your case - most people only manage it with their native language, though I know several Danes who write excellent English. It can be done.

You can start translating, even if you are less than perfect at your source language, as long as you know your limitations and take time to check or get help when needed. It is a good way of learning, and to some extent you never stop learning anyway.

With regard to starting a new language: if you have plenty of time, follow your heart and learn a new language. If you need to start earning money soon, then concentrate on one of the languages you already have some knowledge of, perhaps two of them.
You CAN take up another language later - it is never too late!

In principle, you do not strictly need a university degree, but you do need a very thorough knowledge of your languages and cultures, and where they differ or are similar. A translation degree is a good foundation to build it on, but experience is indispensable.

You need to decide whether you prefer interpreting or translation. Some people are good at both, but many have a strong preference for one or the other.
I personally am hopeless at interpreting. Some really good interpreters are less good at translating on paper or less happy with it.
You can then focus mainly on whichever you choose.

This again may determine what kind of language - text genres or contexts for spoken language - you aim to study and work with.

And you need a subject area. IT could be fine - you do not necessarily have to know your subject in enough detail to practice. But you do have to understand it in both languages, and become familiar with the special terminology and professional culture etc. etc. A training that gives you an 'inside' view of a profession is a great asset for translation, so your IT background will certainly not be wasted.

And best of luck!



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