Finding a specialism
Thread poster: SEM_938

SEM_938
United Kingdom
Spanish to English
Jan 28

Hi, everyone.

I work with a very common language pair (Spanish-English) so I want to specialise as soon as possible. The problem is that I don't know what I could specialise in. I have a BA in Philosophy and Spanish and an MA in Translation Studies so I would really like to translate philosophical texts. I just don't know whether there is a lot of demand for that. I also don't know whether there's a market for journalistic translation in my language pair. I have a lot of experience translating and writing journal articles so would be comfortable and interested in this area.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:00
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It's a starting point Jan 29

SEM_938 wrote:
I work with a very common language pair (Spanish-English) so I want to specialise as soon as possible. The problem is that I don't know what I could specialise in. I have a BA in Philosophy and Spanish and an MA in Translation Studies so I would really like to translate philosophical texts. I just don't know whether there is a lot of demand for that. I also don't know whether there's a market for journalistic translation in my language pair. I have a lot of experience translating and writing journal articles so would be comfortable and interested in this area.

I see no reason why you shouldn't have philosophy as your N°1 specialisation, if you know enough about the subject in both languages, but I think you'll need to add a few other areas. Journalism sounds like a good bet, although of course those jobs will quite often be classified under the subject matter than as journalism. I get offered (and accept) a lot of magazine articles, press releases, etc under my "marketing" hat, and they might also be going to people who specialise in sport, jewellery, wine, education, ... too.

As your profile says you live in the UK, where there are no barriers to giving freelance translation a go - unlike here in Spain icon_frown.gif - there's nothing to stop you giving it a go. If you're going to be using this site as your shop-window, your profile will need to be complete of course, but there are a host of other things that will be important. Take some time (lots of it!) to read all the information in the Site Guidance Centre.


 

vanessalmeidac
Portugal
Local time: 05:00
Portuguese to English
+ ...
I feel the same Jan 29

Hello, I have the same struggle as you, I have a very common language pair (English-Portuguese) and I'm trying to specialise too... The only plus is that I'm native Portuguese (from Portugal) and from Brazil.

[Edited at 2018-01-29 17:52 GMT]


 

Hedwig Spitzer Cáceres  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 00:00
French to Spanish
+ ...
Specialization usually finds you Jan 29

Once you find regular clients on regular subjects, you can also start your specialization. This has happened to me over the years. It could be a permanent or long-term specialization or a more short-term one. The result is that now I only have a few fields of specialization and I don't accept jobs on fields I am not familiar with. I specialize icon_wink.gif.

The important thing is to start on something you are familiar with and then attend congresses, classes, and study to gain a strong knowledge on your subjects of work.

Good luck!


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:00
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Strive for a balance between what you like and what pays the rent Jan 29

SEM_938 wrote:
I have a BA in Philosophy and Spanish and an MA in Translation Studies so I would really like to translate philosophical texts. I just don't know whether there is a lot of demand for that.

Neither do I. It's good that you're looking for a specialism, and also good that you are questioning your first impulse. How many philosophy texts are written every year? How many texts are written in Spanish? How many of those texts are going to be translated? There's your market. And you probably won't achieve more than a fraction of that market either.

If you were going to specialise in something like philosophy, I would pair that with something very commercial and practical, to help you through the lean times. Of course, I know nothing about philosophy, and it may be that there is a vibrant and lucrative market there, with high barriers to entry. But you would probably already know more about that than anybody on this forum. Look for philosophy journals, conferences and so on in Spanish. Try to get a feel for what is going on.

I also don't know whether there's a market for journalistic translation in my language pair.

I think you'll find that the consensus is that print journalism of the traditional kind has imploded over the past decade or so. If media companies can't pay journalists, or won't pay journalists, how much will they be willing to pay translators? If you're working for a trade journal of some kind, there may well be demand, but that ideally requires a specialisation in whatever the journal does -soil mechanics, electronics, textiles, whatever.

Dan


 

Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:00
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
add proofreading? Jan 30

Philosophy could not be further removed from my interests.
But it's still a very popular subject at universities around the world. If your academic writing skills are up to scratch, and you are familiar with and able to follow the style guides of the major journals, it's worthwhile marketing your services to students looking for publication, as well as contacting the major journals in the field directly. If possible, offering both translation and proofreading services. The proofreading market is probably bigger in a time where everyone thinks their English is good enough to do it themselves. Once you break into that segment, the actual translation jobs will follow. Students are very good at passing recommendations on to their peers.
Blogs are another possible market, and the pay can be quite good and regular. I believe there is quite a bit of activity in political and legal philosophy - if you're prepared to branch out to branch out towards those.
Again, I don't really deal with your preferred subject area, but I keep a few blog clients that have stuck around for several years.


 

SEM_938
United Kingdom
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all for your advice Jan 30

Sheila Wilson wrote:

As your profile says you live in the UK, where there are no barriers to giving freelance translation a go - unlike here in Spain icon_frown.gif - there's nothing to stop you giving it a go. If you're going to be using this site as your shop-window, your profile will need to be complete of course, but there are a host of other things that will be important. Take some time (lots of it!) to read all the information in the Site Guidance Centre.


Thank you for your advice. I'll try and complete my profile straight away and will spend some time reading the info in the Site Guidance Centreicon_smile.gif

Hedwig Lugaro wrote:

Once you find regular clients on regular subjects, you can also start your specialization. This has happened to me over the years. It could be a permanent or long-term specialization or a more short-term one. The result is that now I only have a few fields of specialization and I don't accept jobs on fields I am not familiar with. I specialize icon_wink.gif.

The important thing is to start on something you are familiar with and then attend congresses, classes, and study to gain a strong knowledge on your subjects of work.

Good luck!


I actually never thought about this! Thank you for your adviceicon_smile.gif

Dan Lucas wrote:


If you were going to specialise in something like philosophy, I would pair that with something very commercial and practical, to help you through the lean times. Of course, I know nothing about philosophy, and it may be that there is a vibrant and lucrative market there, with high barriers to entry. But you would probably already know more about that than anybody on this forum. Look for philosophy journals, conferences and so on in Spanish. Try to get a feel for what is going on.


Thank you! I'll get right on that straight away!

Diana Obermeyer wrote:

Philosophy could not be further removed from my interests.
But it's still a very popular subject at universities around the world. If your academic writing skills are up to scratch, and you are familiar with and able to follow the style guides of the major journals, it's worthwhile marketing your services to students looking for publication, as well as contacting the major journals in the field directly. If possible, offering both translation and proofreading services. The proofreading market is probably bigger in a time where everyone thinks their English is good enough to do it themselves. Once you break into that segment, the actual translation jobs will follow. Students are very good at passing recommendations on to their peers.
Blogs are another possible market, and the pay can be quite good and regular. I believe there is quite a bit of activity in political and legal philosophy - if you're prepared to branch out to branch out towards those.
Again, I don't really deal with your preferred subject area, but I keep a few blog clients that have stuck around for several years.


Thank you so much for this advice!:)


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:00
French to English
Political science, law Jan 31

There is a fair bit of overlap from philosophy into the field of political science, which is an offshoot from the wider discipline of law. Your background in philo gives you some excellent grounding to take on texts in those fields.

You say you have lots of experience translating journal articles. So think of how philo can expand and overlap and your fields will come into their own.

"Journalistic" texts do not really mean much to me, but that could just be me. Is it a field in its own right? The Sun and the Financial Times are both (theoretically) in the field of journalism. I think the disciplines, themes and subjects you are interested in are a great starting point for you to expand and grow quite well!


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:00
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
What about hobbies? Jan 31

My mother taught me dressmaking and I do a bit of sewing now and then. Simply having learned the lingo meant I was able to turn in a great test translation at an agency specialising in fashion. This is now my top speciality, because I turned out to have a flair for translating the bumph that nobody reads next to the photos on fashion websites.

Similarly, as a PM, I needed to place a translation on a horse-riding show once and had no idea who to send it to. It was pretty technical too. Finally I did a search in our database and it turned out that a translator specialising in tough legal stuff rode horses in her spare time. She was delighted to do the job and congratulated herself on mentioning her hobby in her profile.

So maybe you enjoy something similar? Sports is another big thing, we did a heap of translations for FIFA at one point.


 


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