Road to becoming a translator(First step)?
Thread poster: Lithium381
Lithium381
Spanish to English
Jun 30, 2004

Greetings! This is my first post ever here, so plese be patient. I am not a translator as of yet. I have only recently made the decision that this field is what i want to do with my life...
I am a 2nd-year college student at a local school, set to transfer after next year. I would like to work with English/Spanish and possibly Japanese. I have talked to my school counselor and we've worked out a plan to allow me to graduate with a B.A. in Spanish, with my minor in Japanese, within three years from now. That's the first of many steps i will have to take down this road.
I was curious to know what things lie ahead of me, any bits of advice you can give me; if you've made a mistake, share you experience so maybe i can avoid them. What are major things i will have to accomplish? Any information is greatly appreciated, thank you for your time.

An aspiring translator,
Ray


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:34
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hi, and welcome Jun 30, 2004

Study all the variants of your mother language, learn your source languages thoroughly, wander through the world in which those languages are spoken and live the culture.

If you're still taking a BA in Spanish, I presume you're not yet in translation school level (I could be wrong). Take it as an MA -- or jump right in and start working, and think about this as a future possibility. Between then and now, you have a lot of time to think about it (you may decide to specialise in something else, too.)

Above all, enjoy the experience. We're quite a laid-back lot (until we go into interpretation mode).



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Selcuk Akyuz  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 06:34
Member (2006)
English to Turkish
+ ...
specialisation is necessary Jun 30, 2004

Parrot wrote:

(you may decide to specialise in something else, too.)



Yes, you may consider specialising in one or more subjects for the future of your profession. Probably you will not have the required time for it in the future.


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Edwal Rospigliosi  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:34
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Read, read and read Jun 30, 2004

A mistake I've seen sometimes is people thinking that a degree in Translation is enough. Believe me, it's not, it's only the beginning. You start your specialization way before you get your degree, perhaps even before you start college.

Begin to read everything you can in your target language. Newspapers, books, magazines, everything. It will give you a command of language way beyond the boundaries of your college education. It will also enhance your vocabulary and writing skills.

If you can, get an early contact with your target languages, whether through the chat, penpals, native-speaking friends, etc. That way, you will lose the fear. Yes, there is fear, specially when you are a just-graduated translator and you face your first living, breathing foreigner (it happens more frequently than you think) .

And of course, visit ProZ frequently.

Regards and take care

Edwal


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Lithium381
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
How to choose specialty? Jun 30, 2004

I was considering specializing in business, now that you've mentioned it, i was originally going to minor in it, but switched it to Japanese earlier this year. Who knows, it may change again. Currently I work 40hr/wk at a local resturant as the assistant manager; most of our kitchen crew is hispanic, so that is an invaluable resource for me. One of my hobbies in daily life is electronics, such as building computers, making a set of speakers, etc.. Would i be able to turn that into a specialization more easily than business, in which i have intrest but currently no experience?

Thank you for your replies~!
-ray


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 05:34
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Anything you ever learn will probably come up in a translation sometime! Jul 1, 2004

That's my experience anyway (well, almost...)

Specialising is fine - and necessary. But keep your options open. Variety is very refreshing after a long, intense job, even if it is your favourite topic. Then it is useful to be able to turn your hand to whatever is going in those inevitable periods where your speciality seems to dry up. The bills don't!

Besides, texts have no respect for specialities! 'Legal' texts are full of technical stuff, 'technical' texts have to appeal to customers and comply with legal regulations, while 'tourist' texts about cosy seaside towns may be all about the fishing industry, boat-building and quaint building techniques...

I wanted to be a doctor, but luckily, with hindsight, didn't make medical school. I've worked in jobs from child-care to paint production, and just completed an open university course in medical translation - and I'm old enough to be a grandmother!

Have fun, live life - but do it in both or all your languages!

And good luck!


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:34
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Everything you 'love' can be a specialization Jul 1, 2004

A colleague of ours once recounted at an ITI event how his love for Old English Sheepdogs made him a specialist in the field. (Actually, he was into software... which he does as well.)

Then, there are the specializations that choose you, which you develop over time. I was not originally the best person to choose for railway engineering, but a mammoth project earned me credits with the national railway company, enough for them to recommend me to other national railway companies. After a few years and miles of tracks laid clear across North Africa and Europe, I still get them, and other transport companies as well... despite my preference for legal work and art. (I suppose I could relate this to my fascination with travel. Lonely Planet maps and guides became a standard reference, but the best part was, getting information and confirmation on the ground from the countries involved through KudoZ).

Other people also have their own unique ways of viewing specializations. I remember an assignment I was hoping NOT to get because it involved dentistry, but I was short-listed. It turned out that the author (a dentist, who was hand-picking his translator) wanted someone who would understand his work as "art". He already knew enough dentistry to cover all the gaps, what he needed was someone who could explain color theory, contrasts and transparencies as applied to prothesis-making, and convince the readers that tooth caps are sculptures on the most intricate scale.

I suppose that the bottom line is, whatever you choose becomes "interdisciplinary" in the real world.


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Lithium381
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Any other essential steps? Jul 4, 2004

I suppose once i finish my degree i can start accepting jobs. It's been suggested to start taking jobs before you're done with school..what would be a good path to take? Should i find an agency that would maybe take an internship? I suppose the biggest thing is getting my name heard, so start taking small jobs around the area? I don't have a huge vocabulary in any one specific field yet, fairly general conversation is all i have studied so far.

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David Jessop  Identity Verified
Spain
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Live where your non-native languages are spoken. Jul 5, 2004

Hi Ray,

Great question, one I have considered with myself. If I have any suggestion for you, it is to live for a while where your non-native languages are spoken. Go to Japan for a year. Go to Spain or Latin America for a year. Of course, everyone´s experience is different. However, from my personal experience, I took six years of French in junior high and secondary school. Today, I can barely put together a sentence in French and really do not understand it when it is spoken. I did not have any connection to the language, culture, etc., and that is why it did not "stick." I was not invested in it. However, when I was 18, I went to Guatemala for 8 weeks to study liberation theology. During that time, I took an intensive Spanish course. I cannot say I left Guatemala speaking fluently after only 8 weeks, but I certainly could communicate. This was due to my investment in the people, culture, lifestyle, and hence, the language. I have lived in Latin America now for over a year and am quite fluent in Castilian because of my personal energy investment. Good luck to you, and if you decide to come to Bolivia, look me up.

Saludos de La Paz.

David


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John Simpson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:34
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Go abroad for five years, at least. Jul 5, 2004

Qualifications are great and time at university is usually fun. However, when it comes to really knowing a language then you must invest time in a country where that language is spoken. I came to Madrid in 2000, after a BA and a MA in translation, and soon discovered that I had a lot to learn.
Teaching English is a handy passport to live abroad and it lets you do other things as you are not usually in a 9 to 5 job. In the morning I took a ceramics course and this helped greatly in improving my level of Spanish, and it was very enjoyable.
With time you will see that not everything has to be so black and white (qualifications, work experience...) and you should "go with the flow".
Enjoy life!

John


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Lithium381
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Sounds like a good plan, but..... Jul 5, 2004

I actually was planning a trip to Mexico the year after i finished my BA, not sure how long i was thinking of staying, as i haven't studied any of this i dont' know what the law would allow, so how long would i be able to stay etc...how would i support myself? Geuss these are all independant questions dependant on where i go. As i've said, i still have three more years of school left, lots of time to think..Is there a possibility of finding a family to host me for my stay there? I am currently unaware of programs that exist such as those. Thank you all again for your suggestions

-Ray


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