Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Translation Student: suggestions for additional languages to study?
Thread poster: MarianaPereira

MarianaPereira
Portugal
Local time: 10:38
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Dec 19, 2011

Hi everyone!

My name is Mariana and I'm a 18-year-old translation student from Portugal. I'm studying in Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto. At the moment I'm learning how to translate from portuguese to english and spanish but next year I would like to learn another language. I've thought about learning japanese or italian but I don't know if those languages are very demanded in terms of translation. Since this forum has lots of professional translators, could you please tell me what language should I learn?

Thank you very much!

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2011-12-19 15:58 GMT]


 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
Concentrate Dec 19, 2011

Work on those languages you already know best, they go on forever, concentrate on them. Do not think you can just pick up more and more languages and translate them competently, it is an exercise in futility.

"Quien mucho abarca poco aprieta"


 

Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:38
Swedish to English
+ ...
Too many languages Dec 19, 2011

MarianaPereira wrote:
I'm learning how to translate from portuguese to english and spanish but next year I would like to learn another language. I've thought about learning japanese or italian.

Different countries have different conventions about translation, but even so I am astonished that you are learning to translate apparently from your mother tongue into other languages.

If you believe in quality rather than quantity, rather than learning a new language I would say that you should devote your time and effort to improving your existing languages to an even higher level. That way you can offer a premium service.

I have never understood why translators are so keen on offering multiple languages. Specialising in languages is as important is specialising in subject areas, and an effective way of offering quality.

To paraphrase a famous saying: why be a Jack of many languages when you can be a Master of one.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:38
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Do what you find easier and/or more enjoyable Dec 19, 2011

Hello Mariana,

Firstly, I'd like to welcome you to ProZ.com and the world of professional translation.icon_biggrin.gif

As far as language pairs go, I don't think there are any pairs of mainstream languages that don't have any work at all. It all seems to balance out quite well, with loads of translators in my pair, where there's a massive workload, whereas more uncommon pairs have fewer translators and smaller amounts of work. Of course, whichever language pairs you choose, you'll be using them for a good part of your life, so it's important to choose languages you like. But the main thing is to be good at what you do - only that way will you get to enjoy the best bit: the income!icon_razz.gif

On the subject of doing what you do best, it seems to me that your university is going about things in a rather odd way. Are they really expecting you to translate OUT OF your native Portuguese INTO foreign languages? I'm afraid that, generally speaking, if someone needs a text written in English (whether new copy or a translation), they are most likely to choose an English native professional or perhaps someone who has spent a good part of their life in an English-speaking. Only then are they (almost) guaranteed a text that flows naturally in the correct register and without any grammar issues. Sometimes, for highly specialised terminology, a translator native to the source language is preferred, but only in conjunction with an English proofreader. As for translating between two foreign anguages, that isn't considered at all professional.

I really hope that your education is giving you a good grounding in translating INTO Portuguese. To be honest, I would have thought that two source languages was sufficient. After all, in one or two years you're not likely to perfect another language and maybe you would be better off perfecting your other languages and specialising in particular areas of terminology. As we sometimes say in English, you want to avoid being "Jack of all trades, master of none".

Hope that helps.

Sheila

Edited to say I hadn't seen Peter's posting but of course I think most of us would give the same advice.


[Edited at 2011-12-19 17:31 GMT]


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:38
Hebrew to English
Can't agree more Dec 19, 2011

Peter Linton wrote:

MarianaPereira wrote:
I'm learning how to translate from portuguese to english and spanish but next year I would like to learn another language. I've thought about learning japanese or italian.

Different countries have different conventions about translation, but even so I am astonished that you are learning to translate apparently from your mother tongue into other languages.

If you believe in quality rather than quantity, rather than learning a new language I would say that you should devote your time and effort to improving your existing languages to an even higher level. That way you can offer a premium service.

I have never understood why translators are so keen on offering multiple languages. Specialising in languages is as important is specialising in subject areas, and an effective way of offering quality.

To paraphrase a famous saying: why be a Jack of many languages when you can be a Master of one.


I really can't agree more with Peter. When I was a kid, I wanted to learn every language out there. In the real world though, it just isn't practical (or desirable - for me).

Furthermore, in the translation arena, having a long list of language combinations will often lead to suspicion and doubts about your professionalism.

I focused on just one language - my favourite language - (when I let go of my immature desire to have lots of language "badges") and I think the idea of specialising in a language is just as important as specialising in a subject field. Let's face it, languages are inifinite, even with just one language, it's impossible to learn everything - you can learn the same language for a lifetime and still learn new things after 40,50,60+ years. Why spread yourself ever thinner taking on more (unnecessary) languages?

However, the decision is a personal one, and one which is entirely yours. Consequently, if you decide to take on another language (against the advice of almost everyone on here so far) then I'd suggest Italian. Already being a speaker of Romance languages should ease the burden somewhat, taking on Japanese would be folly in my opinion.

A language that is so different from any language you already speak and one which is notoriously difficult to learn (3 different writing systems, honorifics etc) ...

I'm sure you could make a fair living just doing English/Spanish > Portuguese without having to translate into a non-native language or learn additional languages, these are big languages, with a fair supply of work. I doubt you'd ever go short enough to need more combinations.


 

Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:38
German to English
I agree too Dec 19, 2011

In the occasional situations when I am looking for a translator to work with, I always focus my selection on translators who offer just one language pair - the chances that they will be really good at their one source language are so much higher.

 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:38
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Master of more than two Dec 19, 2011

Peter Linton wrote:

To paraphrase a famous saying: why be a Jack of many languages when you can be a Master of one.


A translator must be a master of at least two languages. And if two, why not three or four? I'm not saying there isn't a limit to the number of languages, but why the assumption that you can only master one language in addition to your native language?









[Edited at 2011-12-19 19:39 GMT]


 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:38
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
False choice Dec 19, 2011

Sheila Wilson wrote:

As we sometimes say in English, you want to avoid being "Jack of all trades, master of none".


Peter Linton wrote:

To paraphrase a famous saying: why be a Jack of many languages when you can be a Master of one.


This false choice keeps getting repeated. Nobody claims you can master all/"many" languages.





[Edited at 2011-12-19 20:19 GMT]


 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:38
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Number of source languages Dec 19, 2011

Armorel Young wrote:

In the occasional situations when I am looking for a translator to work with, I always focus my selection on translators who offer just one language pair - the chances that they will be really good at their one source language are so much higher.


I could name a few translators who have three source languages and who are much better translators than most of those who offer just one source language. There are other things than number of languages that determine how well a translator knows a language.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:38
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Forget Italian Dec 19, 2011

Unless you want to finance Italian companies with your work (they pay very late indeed, and the terms keep increasing), I would scrap Italian completely.

I agree with the colleagues: concentrate on becoming an excellent translator of English and Spanish into Portuguese, and you will have plenty of work.

If you want something exotic, and since you are very young, try Korean, Japanese, or even Chinese. By the time you have learnt enough Chinese (i.e. 10-15 years from now), it is possible that the business environment in China feels less like the Caribbean in the times of the pirates and that you find sensible customers there.


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:38
Hebrew to English
Yes..... Dec 19, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Unless you want to finance Italian companies with your work (they pay very late indeed, and the terms keep increasing), I would scrap Italian completely.

I agree with the colleagues: concentrate on becoming an excellent translator of English and Spanish into Portuguese, and you will have plenty of work.

If you want something exotic, and since you are very young, try Korean, Japanese, or even Chinese. By the time you have learnt enough Chinese (i.e. 10-15 years from now), it is possible that the business environment in China feels less like the Caribbean in the times of the pirates and that you find sensible customers there.


I forgot how young she was....in that case Japanese wouldn't be such an uphill struggle since you certainly have time on your side.


 

Marie Safarovic
Russian Federation
Local time: 13:38
Russian to German
+ ...
be passionate about your language Dec 19, 2011

Dear Mariana,

first of all, I am not (yet) a professional but still felt like adding my personal thoughts on the matter:

While I agree with what has been said I think it's is also worthwhile mentioning that no matter which language you choose to learn, it is really vital that you are passionate about it- and by that I don't only mean the language itself but also the culture(s) in which the language is used. Be clear about it, this will be a life-long process so don't just pick a language because people tell you it is a useful one to learn -

and anyway, which language is needed also depends on many factors and is subject to change.

I am currently studying Russian and I can tell you, I have never regretted it - for me it is like living a dream and my curiousity for this language, this country and its people is never ending. It wouldn't be the same experience had I simply chosen to brush up my French.

So what is my advice? If you have the strong desire to learn Japanese then do it! But pay more attention to your translation studies and focus on them. Take up Japanese as a hobby and then maybe later see if you want to study it professionally and if you have the stamina to bring it up to the required level. You are still young.

Could you tell us more about your translation studies? I think we would all like to know whether you exclusively work into your B language or whether you are also trained to work into your native tongue.

I haven't read every single post entirely but one other important piece of advice I would like to give you is: Cultivate your mother tongue! It is the single most important language in your combination, believe me. You will eventually get a job because of your excellent mastery of Portuguese. And yes, even that requires work. Read a variety of texts from different genres, build up a database of expressions, glossaries, synonyms etc.

Best of luck and let us know what you've decided!

Marie.


 

Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:38
Spanish to English
+ ...
Predict the market future! Dec 19, 2011

While bearing in mind all the comments above with regard to spreading yourself too thinly, you might also like to take a very commercial view of your studies: which languages are going to have increasing demand for their translation into Portuguese in the mid-term future, and which are spoken in countries where you might be able to spend enough time to acquire competence? (In other words, Chinese may seem a great idea, but can you afford to learn it properly?)

This was the question that an ex-student of mine asked himself when he started out on his translation degree. He considered which countries were going to be joining the EU: he was sorely tempted by Czech but took a look at the population and relative potential business impact on the EU, and finally decided on Polish (so his pairs are from PL>ES, FR>ES and EN>ES). He went to Poland on graduation and he lived and studied there for over a year, having managed to get a sizeable grant and with help from a part time job at a branch of the Instituto Cervantes. He then started work in France and Belgium, which were close enough for him to return frequently to Poland to keep working at his language skills. He now works in Brussels as an interpreter and on commerical missions for Polish businesses to Latin America. (I like to bask in the reflected glory of having helped him with his English studies and to prepare his university entrance exam!).

Perhaps you could pursue a similar line of reasoning?


 

MarianaPereira
Portugal
Local time: 10:38
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to everyone who answered so far Dec 19, 2011

It's really nice to have lots of different opinion from professional translators and I am extremely happy to see the passion you guys feel for translating.

As many of you said, I'm still very young, so I still have plenty of time to focus on another languages. In case you're curious, this is my bachelor study plan at the moment: http://sigarra.up.pt/flup_uk/PLANOS_ESTUDOS_GERAL.FORMVIEW?p_pe=740

When I finish this bachelor, I want to do this Masters Degree in Translation:
http://sigarra.up.pt/flup_uk/planos_estudos_geral.formview?p_Pe=668

I'd also love to do an traineeship in the European Parliament when I have the chance. I think it would be an amazing opportunity and I could learn a lot!

At the moment, I guess I'm going to focus on finishing my bachelor and mastering my English and Spanish translation skills. I might learn a new language but just for curiosity and to communicate with people all over the globe, rather than for translation.

[Editado em 2011-12-19 22:27 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:38
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
@ Michele Dec 19, 2011

I'm certainly not saying a translator can't have more than one source language, and I'm sure nobody else is here is saying that. Nor should a saying being taken literally.

I know young children who already have three languages and will probably add to them in school studies without blinking, but what we're talking about here is giving advice to a young student who doesn't necessarily have any experience of using her existing two source languages outside of the classroom, nor any professional experience whatsoever. For this particular person, it seems to me that perfecting her existing skills set would be more useful than adding new arms to it.

Sheila


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Translation Student: suggestions for additional languages to study?

Advanced search







WordFinder Unlimited
For clarity and excellence

WordFinder is the leading dictionary service that gives you the words you want anywhere, anytime. Access 260+ dictionaries from the world's leading dictionary publishers in virtually any device. Find the right word anywhere, anytime - online or offline.

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search