Working abroad
Thread poster: Arthur Barros

Arthur Barros
Brazil
English to Portuguese
Jun 7, 2015

Hello everyone,

I don't know whether this has already been asked before, but I have a very specific issue and I would appreciate an input from the experienced translators here on Proz.

I've been trying to establish myself as a translator by slowly acquiring experience from a few translation agencies in my country. The language pair I work with is English/Brazilian Portuguese. The problem is, I'm probably moving soon to a foreign country which native language is neither Portuguese nor English. I will learn and work using their language as soon as I'm confident enough, but for the time being I won't manage to work with anything other than my current language pair.

My question is, how difficult is it to maintain contact with foreign agencies that work with my language pairs, even while living in an unrelated country? Is it even feasible or realistic?

I've seen translators in this website that work with pairs that are also different from the native language of the countries they reside in, so I would definitely appreciate some advice on this issue.

Thanks in advance.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:19
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
I don't see why it should be a problem Jun 8, 2015

Most translators work with many agencies including some that are not located in the country of their target language or their source language. The fact that you will be living in a country not related to either of yours should not make any difference.

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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 01:49
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Internet Zindabad Jun 8, 2015

The second term may be unfamiliar to you; it is a Hindi/Urdu word, which means, "Victory".

Figuratively, it just means that the Internet is a great saviour of us all. Most of the modern translation agencies work using the Internet and client and translator rarely meet or see each other in person.

It is, therefore, immaterial where you live and you should be able to continue working as you have been working before while you were located in Brazil.

However, some mundane issues such as bank accounts, taxes, and other government regulations might need to be sorted out which you can do with help from professionals in these areas.

Neither should it be a problem for you to remain in touch with your source and target languages in your new location, provided it is not in some backwaters of the world which is cut off from the Internet. But if it is well connected digitally, you should be able to remain connected to your languages on a daily basis. You should pay special attention to doing this as otherwise eventually over a period of several years you will lose your grip over your languages through a well documented process known as language attrition/language interference (the dominant language of the area where you now live influencing how you use your own languages).

To avoid this, you should plan to visit your original home frequently and spent time among the speakers of your languages so that you retain your grasp over your languages.

About your picking the language of your new home to proficiency levels sufficient for translation, I am less sanguine, and I personally don't even think it is possible, as learning a new language as an adult is a near impossibility, especially to the levels of proficiency that a profession like translation demands.

[Edited at 2015-06-09 06:58 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:19
Russian to English
+ ...
It is possible to learn a new language Jun 8, 2015

as an adult if you are talented in that area (easily learn languages—other people may have other talents), but it will take you about ten years to master it to the level so you can translate from it, without any major difficulties.

It may also depend on the language, or its writing system. It may be easier to learn a language with the same, or almost the same, alphabet.

[Edited at 2015-06-08 07:47 GMT]


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Fabio M. Caldas  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 03:19
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I concur with Mr. Doughty Jun 8, 2015

Arthur Barros wrote:

Hello everyone,

I don't know whether this has already been asked before, but I have a very specific issue and I would appreciate an input from the experienced translators here on Proz.

I've been trying to establish myself as a translator by slowly acquiring experience from a few translation agencies in my country. The language pair I work with is English/Brazilian Portuguese. The problem is, I'm probably moving soon to a foreign country which native language is neither Portuguese nor English. I will learn and work using their language as soon as I'm confident enough, but for the time being I won't manage to work with anything other than my current language pair.

My question is, how difficult is it to maintain contact with foreign agencies that work with my language pairs, even while living in an unrelated country? Is it even feasible or realistic?

I've seen translators in this website that work with pairs that are also different from the native language of the countries they reside in, so I would definitely appreciate some advice on this issue.

Thanks in advance.


Hi Arthur,

I agree with Mr. Doughty. From my own experience, I can tell you that the only difficulty you might have to communicate with your clients, or acquire new ones, is if the country in question does not have a good internet provider.

If I were you, I would start to think about being paid in this new country and not in Brazil. As you might know, you will have to pay two currency conversion rates (possibly), and the highest IOF of all times (at least from my generation perspective). However, Mr. Lakshminarayan already addressed to this as I was writing my post.

Another thing that takes time to get used to is the different time zones. If your clients are all from Brazil and you are moving to New Zealand for example, that might mean waking up at 1 am or so every day.

You mentioned that you are going to work in this country (if I may ask, which country is it?), you will probably get a permit to work only with the company that is hiring you and not allowed to work as a freelancer, at least not with companies within the same country. Where I live, if you do not have a work permit and is caught working you can get up to 5 years in prison.

Regards,

Fábio M. Caldas


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:19
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It can be done Jun 8, 2015

When I moved from France to Spain I only lost one client, the only one who lived close enough for me to have met in person (a direct client). I did keep my bank account there open to make matters easier for them, but I'm about to close it and I'm not expecting problems.

The problems will be on your side, so it depends how much you want/need to relocate. Setting up a business and keeping the taxman happy when you don't speak the language; keeping up your current languages while learning a new one; possible time differences; maybe additional costs for receiving payments; difficulties in accessing the courts etc if need be; justifying your suitability to new clients - these are all problems for you to deal with.

As for a new source language, a lot will go depend on your age. I'd learnt French at school and kept it alive and was ready to translate after 10 years living there, starting from age 40. If I'd been younger and/or with a French rather than English family it would have been earlier. I spoke my first words of Spanish at 56 and I'll never be able to translate from it professionally. Might do it one day in exchange for a bottle of local red though.

Do make sure you can still trade profitably though. Your existing clients will no doubt want their currency, their preferred payment method, their working hours... But you have a business - and a personal life - and there must be a limit to your flexibility.


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Arthur Barros
Brazil
English to Portuguese
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Jul 2, 2015

Thank you so much for the thoughtful replies. Sorry for the fairly late response (I hope it's fine for me to resuscitate the topic).

I appreciate the advices and information. It seems there are many things to consider, indeed. I will have to think thoroughly about it, especially when it comes to legislation, currency exchange and taxes.

As for Fabio's question: I might move to Poland. Their time is 3-5 hours later in relation to Brazil (depending on daylight saving time). So the time difference might as well be an advantage, depending on the circumstances.

Sheila, it's impressive that you managed to learn a new language and translate on it. It would probably take me just as long, although I will be with a Polish person. But as Mr. Balasubramaniam pointed out, and considering how hard Polish is, it must be nearly impossible.

When it comes to keeping my linguistic skills, that's something I didn't consider, but that I might have to be careful about. I love writing and reading in both languages and wouldn't lose the habit, but having some exposure and actually interacting with people from my home country is definitely crucial.

Once again, thank you everyone for the information and advices.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:19
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Just to clarify Jul 3, 2015

Arthur Barros wrote:
Sheila, it's impressive that you managed to learn a new language and translate on it. It would probably take me just as long, although I will be with a Polish person. But as Mr. Balasubramaniam pointed out, and considering how hard Polish is, it must be nearly impossible.

I don't, and probably never will, translate from Spanish. 57 was way too late to start learning a new language though we're both making huge strides according to our trainer. I don't know about that, but I do know that most British expats here don't put more than about half an hour's effort into it before giving up entirely. They just shout a bit louder in English - makes me feel really ashamed of my country-folk. No way could/should a translator behave that way!

But I see you may have another motivation for moving to Poland than purely professional. If the change is welcomed (or even required) for personal reasons, then that's a very strong reason for making it work professionally, IMO.


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Animal_Soul
Spain
Spanish to English
+ ...
Language interference and currency conversion rates Jul 16, 2015

Hi everyone,

Interesting post. I experienced language interference during my long 'stay' in England (though I didn't know there was a term to describe it, thank you Balasubramaniam L!). I am Spanish and went to London when I was 19, but liked it so much that what was initially a visit to improve my English became a 21 years' stay! I always knew you could lose anything you didn't practise, though it never even occurred to me that it could happen with your native language, but lo and behold, it did! Of course, I didn't 'lose' it, but I started to forget how to say certain things, or would 'anglicise' them, or simply mix both languages in a word (speaking Spanish, I'd say "eggo" instead of "huevo", or "glassas" instead of "gafas", ha ha ha!).

I'd like to start translating again, but actually find the internet a bit overwhelming, so I'm looking for translation agencies in my province to pay them a physical visit, so I can talk to someone who can advise me. I'll look into contacting with other agencies via the internet once I have more confidence (I've never worked with an agency before).

I agree with you about the Brits in Spain, Sheila Wilson... I'm now back in Spain and the ones I have met cannot be bothered with learning Spanish, and they gather in communities where they don't need to, as they all help each other. I can understand it though, as they tend to be pensioners, and it's too difficult for them to learn a new language from scratch.

As far as the currency conversion rates, a very resourceful friend of mine who's working from Spain for an English company recommended a currency exchange market place that saves you a hell of a lot of money. As I find it so hard to make decisions when I have too many choices, I was relieved that she recommended them from her own experience so I didn't have to think too much!, he he. You can get info clicking here, if you like: Currencyfair. (I don't know whether I'm allowed to insert a link or not, I've done a search within Proz but couldn't find an answer; if not, maybe an admin can edit my post...?)


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