How do university students start?
Thread poster: ExScientiaVera
ExScientiaVera  Identity Verified
Faroe Islands
Local time: 10:55
Danish to English
+ ...
Apr 19, 2013

I will be open about this.
I am not studying to become a translator. I am studying physics.
I want to earn an income by translating between Scandinavian languages.
I already know agencies are not going to touch me.
I understand PMs want freelancers that are professional translators.
That said, I hope the urge to tell me I shouldn't even try is quiet now.
I want advice on how I can start as a professional freelancer while I study physics.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:55
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
A couple of questions Apr 19, 2013

Just so that those who feel qualified to answer have more of the picture:

What language(s) are you studying in?

How much have you studied physics (and your other specialisations) in your other languages?

Do you have no intention of getting industry experience in your specialisations?

Have you had formal language training as proof of your language ability?

Are you thinking of doing a Master in translation studies, or any other translation qualification?

I think those will do to be going on with.


Edited to say: Sorry, that's more of a commune than a couple!



[Edited at 2013-04-19 08:11 GMT]


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ExScientiaVera  Identity Verified
Faroe Islands
Local time: 10:55
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A commune of answers Apr 19, 2013

I study in Danish and Faroese.
I have been studying physics on my own for a while. I will be applying to a university in the near future, but I have had a head start with classes in astronomy and physics 'A'. I have studied the first year of a degree in business administration in Faroese, with complete exams. I studied a year of agricultural sciences in Danish. I have two years of agriculture trade experience.
I want to specialize in sciences, working with Danish-English and Norwegian-English pairs, but I am not picky.
I have had some formal language training in Danish and completed a full HF degree in Danish. I have taken a few courses in Faroese. I am self taught in Norwegian.
I have been offered a chance to enroll in the master degree program for Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington, but I want to focus on an undergrad in physics first.

So does this information help?


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
My 2 cents Apr 19, 2013

AFAIK rates for these language pairs are high; if I were you, I'd avoid agencies whenever possible and try to find direct clients, perhaps associated with your scientific studies or the academic area in general. Ask around your university or faculty about any possible translation or proofing/ editing work they know about in your pair/s.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:55
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Market yourself as a specialist Apr 19, 2013

Neilmac's suggestion is a good one - direct clients will pay better rates and know what expertise they're looking for. It seems that you ought to specialise in those things that some of us can't do i.e. highly technical texts. And I don't agree that agencies looking for that type of work will necessarily turn you down. You need to make sure you market your real strengths where they are needed - not as an all-rounder to agencies who do a bit of everything.

One thought is that you might want to start off as a proofreader. Many translations into English from Scandinavian languages are done by Scandinavians whose English is excellent, but their translations will almost always benefit from a native polish.


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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:55
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Native English speaker Apr 19, 2013

It would be interesting to know why, as a native speaker of English, you feel qualified to translate into two non-native languages. You do say you are a student, so some background on how and when you learned your languages would be helpful. I am especially intrigued by the fact that you offer translation into both Danish and Norwegian, two languages that are so closely related that even just translating FROM them requires great attention to the sometimes subtle differences.





[Edited at 2013-04-20 02:40 GMT]


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ExScientiaVera  Identity Verified
Faroe Islands
Local time: 10:55
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
withdrawn following email exchanges Apr 19, 2013

reply withdrawn

[Edited at 2013-04-20 13:54 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:55
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Welcome - I find there is plenty of work, but... Apr 20, 2013

Start asking about academic proofreading, as neilmac suggests.

Often it will not be well paid - the funds are simply not available. My experience is in humaniora - the situation may or may not be better in your fields, which are more commercially oriented.
Obviously, you can't live on this, but it gets you a foot in the door. Satisfied clients recommend you, and where there is funding, don't be afraid to ask for a realistic rate.

I would drop the idea of translating into Scandinavian languages. Even after 35 years of living in Denmark, I reckon my Danish is as good as most natives', but not up to professional academic standards. It's not for lack of trying!
On the other hand, there are lots of jobs in marketing and business where real native English IS required, even in Scandinavia. Concentrate on really good English, don't spread your net too wide, and you have a chance.

As many people on this site will tell you, expert knowledge of your subject area is absolutely indispensible, and in the future this will apply even more if and when MT takes over the really routine stuff. You are on the right track.

Where you live, distance learning is probably your best proposition. I took an ED with the University of Southern Denmark under the 'gamle ordning', but there is an updated version. (You want to aim for ED2 if you can.) SDU was much easier for non-Danes to negotiate with at that time than the business school in Aarhus, but a lot may have changed since. Once you get in, the Aarhus courses are also excellent - I have taken some later.

You can take modules, and need not take the whole programme. Take a module on technical translation, for instance. The science is almost a side issue, but the approach to translation is useful.

You will then then have a language training to prove to agencies that you are serious. With your background, I would fish around DTU - the Technical University of Denmark - they will need academic proofreading and translators who can really handle the science.
_________________
I don't know so much about Norway and Sweden. I do translate a little, especially from Swedish, but really mostly marketing and 'general' texts - better not to be over ambitious, but do things really well within your scope. I have translated a fair amount of tourist information ... and the money doesn't smell! It is not all what I used to call 'stockroseidyll'. Museum guides can be fascinating, and in fact often call for research into highly specialised terminology. Be prepared to take on marketing and anything for the 'general reader' - to earn a living in between the specialist jobs.

Apply to agencies anyway, and send samples of your work. (Find some texts that are public domain, and translate a page or two that will show your style.) A lot of the time they simply need someone who can do the job within the deadline.
Don't expect a lot of work fast! But sometimes people come back to me months later - it IS worth being in their database.

Best of luck!


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ExScientiaVera  Identity Verified
Faroe Islands
Local time: 10:55
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Apr 20, 2013

Thank you Christine. That was the best advice anyone has given me yet.
I looked at the university website, and only one degree is available as a distance education course.
What specialization in ED did you take?


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:55
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The structure of the programme was different... Apr 21, 2013

Under the 'gammel ordning' that I took, the structure was a bit different.

The nearest to ED1 was called 'korrespondentuddannelsen', and in fact I took it in French and some modules in German, because the Aarhus School of Business would not acknowledge my English B.Sc. as a sufficient qualification for admission! (It was called 'Information Science', but more like technical librarianship with some technical German.)

I had 'A' levels in French and German - roughly equivalent to Gymnasium/HF in the Danish system. They would not let me do the next stage with English either, but SDU did. It looked most like the Oversættelseslinjen today: One module terminology, 2 technology, 2 Law, one Economics and one Text analysis and linguistics. There was a project somewhere, too.

Later I did the medical translation module and shorter courses based in Aarhus. I'm not sure it is still available, but there will be other options.



[Edited at 2013-04-21 19:31 GMT]


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 11:55
English to Polish
+ ...
Students Apr 23, 2013

Just like a translator who is not a specialist in an area but learns it in order to help out with a larger project, you need to start with a good proofreader covering your back. This most likely means not earning anywhere close to what a full-fledged translator does but it's a start. Make sure your status is not omitted in any papers, understandings or specifications but always fully recognised as a student who needs guidance, has to be verified, and can't have big fat liability heaped on him (or there's gonna be trouble).

Get some internships if there are any in your reach (though I'd even try cold-calling), perhaps try to assist translators. But make sure you're grammatically, syntactically, typographically and otherwise sound, in order to limit the amount of proofing needed. Junior translators who are good receive work from senior translators who know it's enough to proofread the work and make some tweaks instead of needing to do it over from scratch. I got quite a lot of work like that when I was new.


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