Start Off with General Translation?
Thread poster: xxxKelly McGuir
xxxKelly McGuir
Local time: 18:24
Chinese to English
+ ...
Nov 11, 2005

Hi everyone. I'm new to the translation business and am currently working part-time for an education consultancy based out here in Taiwan.

I was wondering...

Is it normal practice for new freelancers (or in-house translators) to start off working on 'general' translation before moving into a specialisation? I have a few subject areas I'm interested in specialising in but I feel that I need to make sure I hone my skills in more general translation work before moving into a specific field. Is this a normal practice?

Anyway, look forward to getting to know some of you better and I'll be stopping by regularly.


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 12:24
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Start with what you feel comfortable with. Nov 11, 2005

IMO you should start out with the text type you feel most comfortable translating.

Meanwhile you could read up on subjects that interest you in both source and target language to get the feel of it. And when you feel comfortable translating these text types, you can move on to doing that.

That's what I would do.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:24
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I used to do that too Nov 11, 2005

Kelly McGuire wrote:
Is it normal practice for new freelancers to start off working on 'general' translation before moving into a specialisation?


I used to say on my résumé that I do "general and light technical" but now I'm not sure if there is such a thing. What is a "general" text? Is a general text one in which all words can be found in a normal bilingual dictionary (no subject dictionaries required)? Then you'll find that there are very few such jobs going round.


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xxxKelly McGuir
Local time: 18:24
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Nov 11, 2005

Yes, that does make sense.

I'm just not sure how much demand there may be for those subjects I'm interested in so I'm going to do a little research first before committing myself to anything.


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xxxKelly McGuir
Local time: 18:24
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What I mean by 'general' Nov 11, 2005

Samuel Murray wrote:

Kelly McGuire wrote:
Is it normal practice for new freelancers to start off working on 'general' translation before moving into a specialisation?


I used to say on my résumé that I do "general and light technical" but now I'm not sure if there is such a thing. What is a "general" text? Is a general text one in which all words can be found in a normal bilingual dictionary (no subject dictionaries required)? Then you'll find that there are very few such jobs going round.


By general, I'm meaning anything that doesn't require too much specialisation. At present, I am helping to translate and edit CVs and statements of purpose for Taiwanese students heading off to study in the UK. The closest I've come to specialisation yet is in the translation of 'managment-ese' and other business-related terms but there's only so much of that in those documents.

I'm just considering this as a first step into translation as I'm a little unsure of my abilities in anything more technical at this stage. I'd rather get the basics right before proceeding to juicier material.


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Beth Dennison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:24
Chinese to English
+ ...
Start with what you feel comfortable with... Nov 11, 2005

Kelly McGuire wrote:


I was wondering...

Is it normal practice for new freelancers (or in-house translators) to start off working on 'general' translation before moving into a specialisation? I have a few subject areas I'm interested in specialising in but I feel that I need to make sure I hone my skills in more general translation work before moving into a specific field. Is this a normal practice?



Hello Kelly!

I would suggest that you start translating in fields that you feel comfortable in, which I guess in your case is education.

I started off in this way. I taught English in China and Japan before moving into translation. I started translating texts related to education and soon found that agencies were happy with my work and willing to send me work in other fields. I now still translate in the field of education, but most translations I do are technical (for example, I translate a lot of automotive regulations, manuals etc).

So I would start of with what you know and feel comfortable with before branching out and seeing what work comes your way.

Good luck!

Beth


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xxxKelly McGuir
Local time: 18:24
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Nov 11, 2005

Beth Dennison wrote:

Hello Kelly!

I would suggest that you start translating in fields that you feel comfortable in, which I guess in your case is education.

I started off in this way. I taught English in China and Japan before moving into translation. I started translating texts related to education and soon found that agencies were happy with my work and willing to send me work in other fields. I now still translate in the field of education, but most translations I do are technical (for example, I translate a lot of automotive regulations, manuals etc).

So I would start of with what you know and feel comfortable with before branching out and seeing what work comes your way.

Good luck!

Beth


Thanks so much for the advice! I have considered education as a specialisation. Other subjects I have an interest in are astronomy/space exploration and archaeology but I'm not sure these are in heavy demand in the Chinese-to-English field. Genetics is also an interest but at an amateur level. I'm not sure I'd be very qualified to deal with it unless I get to know the subject a lot better.

But thanks again for the advice. Getting into translation has been somewhat daunting!


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Beth Dennison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:24
Chinese to English
+ ...
Chinese>English subjects in demand Nov 11, 2005

Kelly McGuire wrote:


Thanks so much for the advice! I have considered education as a specialisation. Other subjects I have an interest in are astronomy/space exploration and archaeology but I'm not sure these are in heavy demand in the Chinese-to-English field. Genetics is also an interest but at an amateur level. I'm not sure I'd be very qualified to deal with it unless I get to know the subject a lot better.



I can't really tell you what the demand is like for astronomy/space exploration and archaeology in the Chinese>English pair. I've certainly never been offered any texts in those fields, but then they're not areas that I personally specialise in.

I find that I get sent a lot of automotive regulations/manuals, medical texts, marriage certificates, diplomas, letters of recommendation and marketing surveys. I'm always very careful to only take on projects that I feel I am qualified to handle.

If you're interested in astronomy/space exploration and archaeology there's certainly no harm in mentioning that to any agencies you contact.

If you have any questions to do with the Chinese>English pair, getting started etc feel free to contact me directly through my profile as well. I have been in a position very similar to yours and may be able to help.

Beth


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Raffaella Cornacchini  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:24
English to Italian
+ ...
which are your hobbies? Nov 11, 2005

Hi Kelly,
every passion, hobby, pastime may get you into business.
Are you a gym rat? Then you may be able to translate texts dealing with sports, fitness, diet or nutrition.
Were you a girl scout? Are you an outdoorsy type? Then you may be an expert in the field of trekking boots or tents.
I started baking batches of cookies when I was seven (I just wanted to pig out, I guess) and now I work a haute cuisine magazine...
Good luck and don't give up.
raffa1


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xxxKelly McGuir
Local time: 18:24
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Getting in Chinese>English Translation Nov 12, 2005

Beth Dennison wrote:

If you have any questions to do with the Chinese>English pair, getting started etc feel free to contact me directly through my profile as well. I have been in a position very similar to yours and may be able to help.

Beth


Hi Beth,

I was wondering how you got into Chinese-to-English translation. Did you have a degree in Chinese language and went from there, or did you pick up Chinese while studying or working towards something else?

I'm just interested in finding out how other Chinese>English translators got into the business and see if I can learn from anyone's experiences.


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xxxKelly McGuir
Local time: 18:24
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the Advice Nov 12, 2005

raffa1 wrote:

Hi Kelly,
every passion, hobby, pastime may get you into business.
Are you a gym rat? Then you may be able to translate texts dealing with sports, fitness, diet or nutrition.
Were you a girl scout? Are you an outdoorsy type? Then you may be an expert in the field of trekking boots or tents.
I started baking batches of cookies when I was seven (I just wanted to pig out, I guess) and now I work a haute cuisine magazine...
Good luck and don't give up.
raffa1


I'll definately keep all that in mind. I keep forgetting there is a whole wealth of translation that's a little different to 'traditional' translation areas. That haute cuisine magazine job sounds fun!


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