branching out into the fields of sports and tourism translation
Thread poster: James Greenfield

James Greenfield  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:48
French to English
+ ...
Apr 8, 2014

I was wondering if I could ask for advice. I have been receiving regular work for 2 months in my chosen specialisms, finance, business and legal (private law) translation, but I am now thinking about branching out into different fields. I would prefer to undertake tourism and sport related translations. I feel comfortable in my existing specialisms, it's just I'd like a broader spectrum of work. Also I feel like I am taking too long over technical documents. The clients and agencies I work with are happy with the results but the resulting hourly rate is too little. My main interest is sports translation, although I am unsure of the size of this market. I have quite a wide knowledge of alpine skiing, I wonder whether that might be a possible avenue. I also have an interest in football, snooker, cricket, rugby and cycling.

When I first started translating I was mainly offered business and financial documents and also contracts, so these became my specialisms. I worked hard to gain greater expertise in these specialisms but now I would like my work to better reflect my interests. Any advice is wlecome.


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Texte Style
Local time: 12:48
French to English
Tourism can be very time-consuming Apr 8, 2014

I can't say much about sports except that there are some big French retailers of sports goods who are always looking out for translators, which could be a good lead for you.

Other than that, I don't think that tourism is the way to go if you want something quick'n'easy, because it's not if you consider that if a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing properly (one of my mantras). I personally love it, but it can be very time-consuming, you find yourself having to research medieval cathedrals in great detail (now what would you call those fancy little scrolls on the window panes? they describe them in great detail in a French wikipedia entry on medieval architecture but not a word in an "equivalent" entry in English - maybe cathedrals in Britain don't have them? and in the US? no wait, they don't have medieval anything in the US ... let's find a picture of an English cathedral, hmm yes they're not as fancy as the one in Chartres, oh hang on, it's not the same period at all, let's google cathedrals in the UK circa 1300 hmm only mentioning stained glass, nothing about the scrolls, would "scrolls" do? - but I put that for those other thingies, I can't just put it everywhere - let's look in the thesaurus - yes but they're not architectural terms..)

Of course there's plenty of more run of the mill stuff even in tourism, with endless descriptions of hotels, "Germaine vous invite dans son hôtel avec 12 chambres confortables dotées de TV WC AC Wifi" but you do have be careful not to just put the same thing each time because each place needs to sound outstandingly unique. If no customers come by way of the EN website it'll be your fault. And you have to rework it to make it appeal to NESs: an Englishman won't be tempted by "refined snails" for example - we're bordering on transcreation here, which again can be incredibly time-consuming!


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 12:48
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
So well put Apr 8, 2014

Texte Style wrote:

(now what would you call those fancy little scrolls on the window panes? they describe them in great detail in a French wikipedia entry on medieval architecture but not a word in an "equivalent" entry in English - maybe cathedrals in Britain don't have them? and in the US? no wait, they don't have medieval anything in the US ... let's find a picture of an English cathedral, hmm yes they're not as fancy as the one in Chartres, oh hang on, it's not the same period at all, let's google cathedrals in the UK circa 1300 hmm only mentioning stained glass, nothing about the scrolls, would "scrolls" do? - but I put that for those other thingies, I can't just put it everywhere - let's look in the thesaurus - yes but they're not architectural terms..)



I wish that the clients who send us these tourism texts had just a tiny inkling of some of the lengths we go to for their translations. Personally I find it very satisfying, and love it, but is it worthwhile for me financially to spend so much time? Well, no. So I don't accept exclusively tourism.


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Peter Simon  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:48
Member (2013)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Me too Apr 8, 2014

Hi, I'd also like to translate for the tourist industry, I'm really interested in architecture, arts, and the like mentioned before. Alas, I haven't seen any jobs in this field anywhere in the last year. Oh, ok, I work between English and Hungarian, and would also take something from Dutch, but no, there's nothing. Strange, because Hungary is one of the greatest tourist nations per capita, lots of Dutch used to come to Hungary, but tourism is prone to political changes as well.

This all means that no, we can't live on tourism.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:48
French to English
+ ...
If the essential issue is productivity, work on that issue Apr 8, 2014

James Greenfield wrote:
I feel comfortable in my existing specialisms, it's just I'd like a broader spectrum of work. Also I feel like I am taking too long over technical documents. The clients and agencies I work with are happy with the results but the resulting hourly rate is too little.


If you're essentially happy with the material per se and are getting a regular stream of work in those areas, but your main issue is productivity, then I would personally be tempted to work at those specialisms with a view to being more productive in them over time. Whichever area you choose, there's going to be a productivity curve, so I would be tempted to stick to ones where in practice you are finding there is good, regular work.

The other thing to think about is which area the areas where you will be able "market" yourself as having some demonstrable edge over other translators competing for the same work. I think tourism could be a difficult area to do this "from scratch": for an average person, I think it's less likely you'll have something from your formal studies that coincides with this area, and you end up competing on woollier notions such as your general prose writing style.

Potentially, sport could be a good niche area to market yourself in if you genuinely have unique experience in that area. But I suspect you'll have to do more work to find clients in that area yourself, whereas in areas such as business and finance it's easier to let agencies do that job for you.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:48
French to English
+ ...
Peter illustrates my point Apr 8, 2014

Peter Simon wrote:
Hi, I'd also like to translate for the tourist industry, I'm really interested in architecture, arts, and the like mentioned before.


I think this illustrates my point quite well: I'm sure agencies are inundated with translators who love dreamily wandering around mediaeval churches and ruminating away the occasional afternoon in the Louvre. But, unless you actually have a Masters in the History of Architecture, how do you turn your interest in architecture and arts into a demonstrable advantage over the hundreds of other arty vagabonds?


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Zuzana Novotná  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 12:48
English to Czech
+ ...
Websites Apr 8, 2014

Tourism: Do you live in an area visited by tourists speaking your working languages (French, Spanish)? Try offering your services to local restaurants, BBs, golf courses etc. They may need somebody to translate their websites into French/Spanish, for example. It could be even easier if any of your friends worked in this industry... I guess you´ll very likely be turned down, but why not take a chance

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KateKaminski
Local time: 11:48
German to English
Tourism = extra time Apr 8, 2014

I am also a legal and financial specialist who has translated the odd tourism document. The tourism texts take much longer. With a contract, you are familiar with the concepts and terminology. Of course there is often some research involved and accuracy is extremely important. However, with experience you get into a flow and use the same style with every contract.

Tourism texts are advertisements for a specific destination - if you have never been there, you will need to do some background reading, research place names, think of catchy ways to describe the destination and sell it to the appropriate target audience. It's a whole different kettle of fish.


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dianaft  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:48
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Agree with the above Apr 9, 2014

I tend to stay clear of tourism texts, mainly because I feel that "I can't talk that way". I very seldom enjoy reading reading a tourism text, so I wouldn't like having to write one. I can't even count the amount of times that I have been contacted for translations in this area with a relatively low rate attached and the argument "but it's easy". I don't find it easy. I prefer a contract any day.


Saying that, I do work with my little pet subject sometimes - rock-climbing and related extreme sports. I didn't "branch out" to gain an additional market though. I'm a keen climber and have dabbled in many other dry extreme sports throughout my life. It's not just words, it has a lot to do with grasping the mind-set of the people involved and to do that, you have to live it yourself. I have never looked at how my rate translates into hourly earnings. I charge the same, but it's a very different way of working and productivity can vary a lot. It's only the odd assignment. If I had to research terminology, it wouldn't be worth it. I gained my main client after accepting a 500 word proofreading assignment, where I picked up on a terminology error that you cannot look up in a dictionary. You only notice these things, if you practice the sport yourself to a reasonable standard.
I worked with horses for many years and in various countries, mainly on international competition yards. I know that there are many words and phrases for which one of my languages doesn't have an equivalent term - and this actually affects the riding style of the competitors within the same horse sport discipline. Because the term is missing, the concept is not as clearly formed in people's heads.

I'm sure this applies to any sport, not just extreme sports. I would suggest carefully evaluating your experience and also your interaction with other skiers in both languages. There is a market, no doubt about that. It's more difficult to break into than any mainstream subject, but once you're in, you're in.
I don't actually market myself very much in this area, I only sort of note it on my profile "by the way". If I were to increase my focus on extreme sports, I would target event organisers, specialist magazines, training providers in the source language country, as well as some high flying professional who maintains a blog. You might want to attend international events and hand out business cards. It's a fairly small scene, so get to know people and network in person.


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:48
French to English
+ ...
Specialist agencies Apr 9, 2014

Hi James,

There are a number of agencies who specialise in sports translations, so why not get in touch with them and offer to do a test translation in view of your unproven experience in the field? Otherwise, work on building up your ProZ profile in those areas, answering questions and getting a reputation for knowing your stuff in your respective sporting areas. I notice you don't mention your interests in your ProZ profile so there's no way any prospective clients can know you would be happy to accept work in those fields. I also notice you don't have any key words listed - why not add key words relating to your specialisms/interests in all of your languages so you come up on client searches?

I am a keen skier (as you can tell from my profile picture!) and have done a number of skiing / snow sports translations over the years via ProZ searches. Likewise tourism texts, which I enjoy, but find tremendously time-consuming as others have said, so wouldn't want to do all the time. It's good to have a mix, but you do need to have a base load which is reasonably productive!

Good luck!


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Texte Style
Local time: 12:48
French to English
Spark Apr 9, 2014

dianaft wrote:

I tend to stay clear of tourism texts, mainly because I feel that "I can't talk that way". I very seldom enjoy reading reading a tourism text, so I wouldn't like having to write one. I can't even count the amount of times that I have been contacted for translations in this area with a relatively low rate attached and the argument "but it's easy". I don't find it easy. I prefer a contract any day.



Exactly. Everyone thinks it's easy because it's easy to understand. However, writing prose that's easy to understand, true to source, AND appealing, is no mean task. You need a flair for it, which can be cultivated, but the spark needs to be there, like coil upon coil of electric wiring is no good without the spark.


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James Greenfield  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:48
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Apr 9, 2014

Thank you very much everyone for your kind answers. I think I will concentrate mainly on my existing specialisms but also try to branch out into sports translation. I have a good level of knowledge in this field and will look into agencies that deal with sports translation and also market myself to direct clients. I think it would be hard for me to undertake translations in the field of tourism. I remember I once translated a tourism document for an agency about Iberian ceramics. It proved very tricky and I had to spend a long time researching the subject. With sports documents I have a pool of knowledge to draw from so I would feel more confident with this field. I have found some agencies that focus on sports translation so I'm going to contact them and ask if I can do a translation sample.

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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:48
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Au contraire ! Apr 10, 2014

I think tourism (if you ARE a specialist!) and DO KNOW about architecture, wine, food, etc can be handled relatively quickly - (or if you are not familiar with these subjects, you can stick to general hotel and room descriptions -probably at even lower rates- booking.com around 0,04 ! (yikes!)) ...

In general I handle tourism 2 / 3 times quicker than technical work (even considering I've actually been working in the technical field for over 12 years)...

Sports - is not really my thing (except for all types of martial arts),
but on the rare occasions I did take on sports (betting/gambling) and ski/wintersports guides I learnt my lesson very fast - you need specialist knowledge for everything!

And there is another problem, for both tourism and sport the rates are generally about 1/2 of technical translations, sometimes as low as 0,06 euro/source word - so UNLESS you are really 3 times faster there is no point in doing it (except for dreaming away while doing research on exotic locations)

All things considered, I like tourism as an addition to my technical work, and honestly, I do make more money from tourism (by the hour)...

My advise: get some good reference books on architecture, I'm sure they exist, and just do it ! and enjoy it - and try to get the best rate possible - if you are not fast enough to compensate for the lower rates - at least you tried...


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