How to become an English-German translator - help needed
Thread poster: LeonFeursturm

LeonFeursturm
Local time: 22:27
German to English
Jul 15, 2013

I can give a short bio.
My name is Chris. I am 22 years old and I have been living in Germany for the past two years now and before that I lived in America my whole life. My native language is English and my second language is German. I have been perfecting it over past two years. I have gotten to the point where I am confident in my abilities in German, that I would like to start translation work. The problem is that I have no experience whatsoever in translating. I mean, we all have to start somewhere. I want to get into free lance translation, that I could hopefully later build into a small business.

My question is to anybody who is willing to listen and reply is where do I start?
This website seems like good starting point, but even here I seem a bit disoriented.
I saw that they offer courses and things along those lines for people who are in my position.
I just thought that maybe could help direct me in a good direction and I could go on my own from there.
Any help would be very appreciated.

Thank you

Chris


 

Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:27
German to English
A couple of ideas Jul 15, 2013

Welcome, Chris, and good luck with your career.

If you browse the forums on this site you will find a lot of information about getting off the ground as a translator - but here are a couple of ideas to begin with:-

1) Get yourself a specialism. Most translation is highly specialised and no translator can possibly be good in every field. You'll need to specialise in something - some of the many aspects of technology and enginnering, or finance, or medical, or legal, or environmental, or whatever. The joy of that is that you can choose whatever field you have particular interests in (and you have kept quiet about what you are actually doing at the moment - whether you are studying or working, for example) and build on it - become familiar with the really obscure terminology in that field and learn all you can about it. Thinking that you can look up unfamiliar terminology in a dictionary as you go along is setting yourself up to be a bad translator - unless you actually understand what a specialised text is talking about, you are very soon going to put your foot in it with an inappropriate translation. So when you say you are "confident of your abilities in German" I would ask "confident at what level"? - do you just mean that you are confident in everyday German, so that you can pick up a newspaper or a novel and read it as easily as you could the English equivalent - which is a start but doesn't yet qualify you to be a translator - or do you mean that you could pick up an academic journal in your specialist field and read the papers and articles with total comprehension? A lot of people would in fact say that the best training for a translator is to work in something else - get yourself a job in computing, or finance, or business and when you have worked in that for some years you will have the background to set yourself up as a translator in that field.

2) Get yourself a qualification. Every country has exams for translators. Passing them will demonstrate to people who might give you work that you have at least a basic level of competence as a translator.

There is loads more that might be said but that's just my ha'p'orth for starters. Once again, good luck!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:27
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Why do you want to be an English-German translator? Jul 15, 2013

That has to be the basic question here. Why do you think you'd do a better job of it than a native German speaker? Wouldn't you be better employed translating from German into English? After all, you've been speaking English for 20 years longer.

The one golden rule I can see in freelance translation (as opposed to in-house translation), where clients have free choice between many hundreds if not thousands of possible providers, is to do what you do best. If you don't express yourself better when writing in English than in German, I'll eat my proverbial hat.

Edited to say that I see that your profile has you as DE>EN, so perhaps the title was a slip. Maybe the per-word rates you post on the profile were a slip too, otherwise that may be the problem.icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2013-07-15 20:17 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-07-15 20:18 GMT]


 

Paul Malone  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:27
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
I agree with Sheila, you should correct the slips! Jul 15, 2013

In your circumstances, Chris, as Sheila has already pointed out, you need to be looking at becoming a German to English translator, rather than the other way round, based on the explanations you've given us.

As Sheila has already mentioned, you also need to look at the rates you are offering. I think I can confidently say that no client will be willing to pay you between ten and twelve euros per word!

Also, your profile gives absolutely no information about your translation experience and the speciality fields that you are able to offer.

If you want to be taken seriously as a professional translator, which I assume you do, given that you created your profile over a year ago and that you are now asking where you should start, then you must present yourself as such.

In my opinion, you need to do much more work on your profile, and at the very least ensure that it is free of major errors.

Please feel free to drop me a line if you think I could help you. I'm fortunate enough to have plenty of work and I'm willing to share what I know.

Best regards,
Paul


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ditto Jul 16, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

That has to be the basic question here. Why do you think you'd do a better job of it than a native German speaker? Wouldn't you be better employed translating from German into English? After all, you've been speaking English for 20 years longer.

... If you don't express yourself better when writing in English than in German, I'll eat my proverbial hat.

br>
[Edited at 2013-07-15 20:17 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-07-15 20:18 GMT]


I agree with Sheila. My advice is to stick to translating into your mother tongue, which you say is English. Then, try to find direct clients rather than banking on agencies to provide you with work. The best way to do so in my experience is by word of mouth, through friends, colleagues or acquaintances. Try to find out if there are any translators' associations in your area, they might help too.


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:27
German to English
Can you offer a third language? Jul 16, 2013

neilmac wrote:

My advice is to stick to translating into your mother tongue, which you say is English.


Do you also speak a third language?


 

LeonFeursturm
Local time: 22:27
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Ger-Eng Translator / Misunderstanding Jul 16, 2013

I see a lot of comments here related to my post. I am sorry for the misunderstanding. that is my fault and I will attempt to clarify in this post.

So, the reason that my profile has not been filled out and is over a year old is because that I created over a year ago and wanted to start doing translation work then. The problem was that I didn't really have time to dedicate to it and thus did not fill it out.

For those who are familiar with it I am doing my Abitur in Dortmund, Germany. After I am done with that, I will go to study at the University of Bochum. I'd like to take up languages there and become specialized in a field. That is my end goal. However, it will take about 5-6 for me to reach this end goal.

In the mean time I want to do a little translation work, nothing really serious, for example translating small court documents, articles, birth/death certificates, etc. This is something for which there is most definitely a need and something that someone without expertise knowledge in certain field could do. That is why I think the German that I have learned up until now would suffice for that.

Secondly, I do not have another language to add to that yet. I am working on studying Japanese and French, but that will take a couple years before they are of any use to me.
As of now, I can only say that I can do English>German, German> English work. I am not looking into translating a car manual or a math book. I am simply looking for small work, that I can do in my spare time and that will bring me in a little money.. I hope though that after I am out of school in a 5-6 years, that I can take up serious translation work in German, French and English. Only time can tell.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:27
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Nothing serious? Jul 17, 2013

LeonFeursturm wrote:
In the mean time I want to do a little translation work, nothing really serious, for example translating small court documents, articles, birth/death certificates, etc.

I'm sorry, but I can't imagine where you got the idea that these documents aren't serious. Articles may or may not be, but the others? A person's whole life could depend on the correct translation of those texts. I believe you'll find that most of them will need the stamp of a court-approved translator anyway.

If you'd like to do some non-serious translation, for a little money, I advise you to look for interesting blogs in one language and propose to the author to translate them into the other language. I would imagine that there would be a fair number of German speakers who would be very interested in having their blog available in English.


 

LeonFeursturm
Local time: 22:27
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
youre right sheila Jul 17, 2013

youre right. they are very important documents. i should learn to express myself better. when I said not serious, i meant that there isnt much on those documents meaning the word count. that is what ivmeant. there isnt much room for anything to go wrong with th translation but i do undertand the importance of the documents. but that is a good idea with the blogs. couls you elaborate more though? meanin should i just look for websites and shoot them an email?

 

LeonFeursturm
Local time: 22:27
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
quality Jul 17, 2013

sorry about the lack of punctuation. i am typing it on my cell phone and i dont have a lot of time. but if you could point in directions or give me nore ideas bout non serious translation work, that would be great.

 


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