Starting as freelance translator English to Portuguese - some advice please
Thread poster: Lusoanglian

Lusoanglian
Local time: 13:21
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Jul 9, 2012

Hi everyone

This is probably one of the many questions that has been asked many times, but there are so many topics in this forum and many do not apply to my situation. So, I may as well ask this again.

Basically I would like to know where to begin as a translator from English to Portuguese (my mother tongue), although I can work the reverse too. I live in the UK, and I do not have any specific translation qualifications (i.e IoL, ITI, etc), but am very fluent in English language and educated to doctorate level at English Universities in the areas of Social Sciences and Clinical Psychology.

I want to come into the business to earn some extra cash, as life is hard - as many of you will know this. Lots of people have been asking me to translate stuff for them (i.e journal articles, medical reports, certificates) and I keep refusing or doing it for free, because I am not sure how to legally go about charging them or doing official translations without affecting my taxes and income.

I am very confused with the state of translation in the UK and Portugal. Do I have permission to certify a translation myself, and will it be recognised in Portugal or in the UK? What do I write in my certification statement? Do they need to be bilingual? Do I need a wet stamp or embossed seal?

Please, any one can direct me to the right place?

I will be immensely grateful for any advice.

All the best
Mike

--------------------------

Ola a todos (desculpem a falta de acentos mas o teclado que estou a usar nao tem acentuacao)

Talvez esta pergunta ja tenha sido feita antes, mas com a quantidade de topicos em existencia, os quais nao se aplicam a minha questao, pensei em comecar um novo topico com uma pergunta.

Resumidamente, gostaria de saber como comecar como tradutor de Ingles para Portugues (minha lingua materna), embora possa trabalhar em reverso tambem. Vivo no Reino Unido, mas nao tenho qualificacoes especificas em traducao. Sou fluente em Ingles e tenho qualificacoes de ensino superior ao nivel de doutoramento nas areas de ciencias sociais e psicologica clinica, adquiridas no reino unido nos ultimos 15 anos.

Gostaria de comecar um pequeno negocio de traducoes. Muitas pessoas me pedem para traduzir documentos (i.e. artigos cientificos, relatorios medicos, e certificados) e as vezes recuso, ou entao o faco gratuitamente, pois tenho receio em cobrar sem saber se o estarei a fazer legalmente.

Estou confuso com a situacao de ser tradutor no reino unido e em portugal. O que preciso de fazer? Como posso certificar as minhas traducoes? onde posso comecar? sera que preciso de ter carimbo ou selo branco para autenticar as minhas traducoes? O que escrevo no atestado de autenticidade?

Por favor, alguem me diriga ao sitio certo. Ficarei imensamente grato.

Atentamente
Mike


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:21
Russian to English
+ ...
You should definitely translate Jul 10, 2012

You should definitely translate if you are almost bilingual and you have a PhD in a particular field. I think it would be best to specialize in your area of study and expertise. I think you could definitely translate both ways, if you have a PhD from a university in the UK. You don't have to be a certified translator to provide literary or scientific translation. You may have to be certified to translate documents. This varies from country to country. It would be advisable to read some books on the theory of translation.

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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:21
Hebrew to English
Bad advice Jul 10, 2012

LilianBoland wrote:

You should definitely translate if you are almost bilingual and you have a PhD in a particular field. I think it would be best to specialize in your area of study and expertise. I think you could definitely translate both ways, if you have a PhD from a university in the UK. You don't have to be a certified translator to provide literary or scientific translation. You may have to be certified to translate documents. This varies from country to country. It would be advisable to read some books on the theory of translation.



There's a difference between could translate and should translate.

1. Being bilingual is not an automatic credential for translation. Many bilinguals simply cannot translate.

2. Translating both ways is most definitely not advisable when there are simple errors in the OP's post itself. Even a PhD from a university in the UK is not a substitute for being a native speaker, nor a credential for the English language.

3. Translation is not a "get rich quick" profession, despite what many think. Earning some extra cash is a worthy goal in the current economic climate, but I fear that expectations and reality are far removed from one another. Translation is a business which takes a lot of initial investment (in both time and money). These are realities which should not be glossed over and should be brought to the OP's attention.

4. Another aspect which has been totally ignored - the OP's language pair and the specific translation market he will be attempting to penetrate. PT>EN>PT is a saturated market already, there are plenty of Brazilians out there remember, who can and do work for less, regardless of PT variant (PT-BR or PT-EU)...which is a whole other can or worms too. Basically, it is not a simple nor easy market to break into. I would advise talking to other PT>EN>PT translators for more specific advice.

5. In the UK, there's no such thing as a certified translator/translation. The market is de-regulated.

Reading some books on the theory of translation won't necessarily help much either (unless translation theory floats your boat - it's rather dry).
Translators are professional writers in their target language first and foremost. No amount of reading Mona Baker or Lawrence Venuti et al will affect this.

I would advise more detailed and careful research into the specific translation market you intend to enter i.e. EN>PT psychology translation. I would also do a cost-benefit analysis weighing up whether the costs (dictionaries, resources, memberships, training, marketing, time etc) will be worth it for the profit (if any) you might earn. I would also reflect on whether this is really the right choice for you i.e. can you write to a really high standard in Portuguese? Can you work well under pressure with deadlines? Are you aware of the rates? The competition?
As this sounds like a bit of a "side-gig" you should also consider the legal and tax angles. UK tax laws tend to be rather unforgiving of second incomes (from what I remember when I was working 3 jobs once).
Also, I would scrap the idea of translating PT>EN unless it's informally. It will be held up to a native speaker standard and as good as you think your English is, I can already foresee possible problems in that arena....but this opinion is highly debatable are you can seach for yourself about the "native only" debate (somewhat of a misnomer but still).

Basically what I'm saying is look before you leap. It's not just a case of "I'm bilingual, I've got a PhD, let's go....!!".


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:21
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Freelancing isn't the best way to earn extra cash Jul 10, 2012

Lusoanglian wrote:
I want to come into the business to earn some extra cash, as life is hard - as many of you will know this. Lots of people have been asking me to translate stuff for them (i.e journal articles, medical reports, certificates) and I keep refusing or doing it for free, because I am not sure how to legally go about charging them or doing official translations without affecting my taxes and income.

I believe you need to speak to a tax consultant about your status. Obviously, you need to be able to provide a legal invoice or nobody will deal with you. Also, be prepared for problems fitting translation into odd moments. Most deadlines are difficult for full-time translators to adhere to, and putting the same client off a couple of times will end the relationship.

I am very confused with the state of translation in the UK and Portugal. Do I have permission to certify a translation myself, and will it be recognised in Portugal or in the UK? What do I write in my certification statement? Do they need to be bilingual? Do I need a wet stamp or embossed seal?

I imagine you're talking about translating certificates etc for administration purposes. If so, I believe these can only be prepared by "sworn translators" who are registered with the courts. I may be wrong though - it's not something I do.


What the above doesn't touch on is your ability to produce a professional-quality translation fit for publication. Speaking two languages, even at a high level, does not guarantee that in one direction, let alone in both. Apart from exceptional wrtten expression, you will need to know the techniques of translation: what to do with acronyms and proper nouns, what to do about poorly written source texts, how to manipulate texts in all formats (you can probably do that as you're young!), how to research terms effectively...

If I were you, I would start by doing at least a basic course in translating. Or it might pay to get a job in McDonald's or similar instead. I'm afraid that, however good you prove to be, you are not likely to make serious money in the first year while you are building your client base.

Sheila
Edited to correct a slip

[Edited at 2012-07-10 16:03 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:21
Russian to English
+ ...
Lusoanglian - you will do fine Jul 10, 2012

If you specialize in something you hold your PhD in and you are virtually bilingual, you should just read some linguistic materials on translation and practice translation of some texts, just for yourself, and you will do fine. If you are translating academic texts into English, it is advisable to always have an editor, or even into Portuguese, if it will make you feel better, just to make sure.



[Edited at 2012-07-10 16:35 GMT]


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XXXphxxx  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:21
Portuguese to English
+ ...
The PT>EN market Jul 10, 2012

I endorse what Sheila and Ty have said above. I work in the PT>EN pair and can certainly confirm that the market has been flooded with Brazilians, many of whom are offering translations into English that they are ill-qualified to do, at what I can only suspect are rock-bottom rates (an assumption based purely on the fact that I cannot imagine anyone would pay anything other than rock-bottom rates for the quality I see being churned out). You only need to look at the KudoZ pages of this site to see what I mean.

I’m afraid it is a mistaken assumption that simply speaking a language fluently will automatically equip you to become a translator. You may indeed have the skills and if you do, and can combine that with your expertise in Social Sciences and Clinical Psychology, then you could certainly be onto a winner, but as others have said, this can take time and considerable initial investment. Translators are expected to have reliable and up-to-date hardware and software; a number of agencies require the use of CAT tools (some of which are eye-wateringly expensive) and like to see membership of professional associations, indemnity insurance etc. It’s a lot more complicated than it may appear at first glance and perhaps too much work to be worth the bother for a bit of extra income on the side.

If you do decide to take the plunge, my advice would be to stick with translating into your native language, if it is indeed PT, and stop doing translations for free - that's certainly not doing the industry any good at all! I'm not sure of your tax situation in terms of other income, but anything you do earn will of course have to be declared to HMRC. If you have any doubts about this you would be best speaking to them directly.

As for certifying translations, this is not normally done in the UK, only if required for overseas authorities. In 20 years of translation I don’t think I’ve done this more than half a dozen times. I believe the ITI sells embossed stamps that can be used when certifying translations. You'd have to look into this.


[Edited at 2012-07-10 21:21 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:21
English to Portuguese
+ ...
On Brazilians... and on the Portuguese language Jul 10, 2012

Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:
I endorse what Sheila and Ty have said above. I work in the PT>EN pair and can certainly confirm that the market has been flooded with Brazilians, many of whom are offering translations into English that they are ill-qualified to do, at what I can only suspect are rock-bottom rates (an assumption based purely on the fact that I cannot imagine anyone would pay anything other than rock-bottom rates for the quality I see being churned out). You only need to look at the KudoZ pages of this site to see what I mean.


The Brazilian population (I guess around 200 million) is numerous enough to flood any market. However it will be up to you making sure this won't cause you trouble.

To the unwary readers, while Portuguese is legally one and the same language shared by Portugal, Brazil and other former Portuguese colonies, this applies only - with some restrictions - as a source language. Five centuries have turned the Brazilian and European variants of Portuguese into two separate target languages, at least when professional translation is at stake. A short explanation on the issues is available on this page.

So one piece of advice for your pair is to stick to your PT variant. Don't attempt to translate into the Brazilian one, just as I completely avoid translating into the European variant to stay out of trouble. And when the other variant of Portuguese is the source language, okay, I can do it, however I'll never take an urgent job when that is the case: there won't be time to research peculiarities.

This should ease any concerns Lisa's comment may have raised. IMHO no Brazilian living in Brazil can translate into pure European Portuguese.


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