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DipTrans, BDÜ, CIoL - for seasoned translators?
Thread poster: Erik Freitag

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:48
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
May 18, 2015

Dear colleagues,

This is a crosspost from the German forum, sorry for that.

I'm having a bit of a luxury problem, I'd appreciate any input from seasoned colleagues and outsourcers.

I have been quite successfully translating for a little more than 10 years now. I have always been mildly annoyed by the fact that, coming from a different trade, I have no formal qualification as a translator. Hence, I decided to sit the CIoL DipTrans, just for the fun of it.

On the assumption that this exam, in spite of its reputation as a very difficult one, should be no serious challenge to a seasoned translator, I did not prepare for it in any way. I did indeed find it quite easy (adverse conditions like not being allowed to do research online aside), and passed with two distinctions. An unnecessary doubt about one sentence led me to add a translator's note, which in all probability has cost me the third distinction.

Anyway, this leads me to doubt whether I may have misjudged the value of this certification (and the membership of associations like the BDÜ or the CIoL that goes with it).

Hence my question: Does the DipTrans and/or membership in BDÜ/CIoL add value to the portfolio of an already experienced translator? Or may it actually harm my reputation, like a doctor who, after successfully running his practice for ten years, suddenly starts advertising that he now also holds a certificate in first aid?

Any thoughts appreciated, especially from outsourcers and seasoned colleagues,
kind regards,
Erik



[Bearbeitet am 2015-05-18 09:48 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:48
Member (2008)
Italian to English
That reminds me May 18, 2015

That reminds me of my Level 2 vocational qualification in business planning. I never mention it to anyone. Although the course was very useful to me, mentioning it would equate to shooting myself in the foot.

As a seasoned translator who's been doing it for more years than I care to mention, I find that my university degree in my specialist field is more useful to me than any degree in translation could be, although I am aware that certain agencies do require a specialist qualification in translation.



[Edited at 2015-05-18 10:06 GMT]


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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:48
Portuguese to English
+ ...
There's no need to advertise it, if that's what you're worried about. May 18, 2015

If you include this information in the CV that you send to agencies or if it gives you more confidence when dealing with agencies in general, then what is the harm in that? Direct clients however never cared and never will.

All in all, it's definitely not a bad move as it's a highly regarded qualification.


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:48
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Worth it for some clients May 18, 2015

Erik Freitag wrote:
like a doctor who, after successfully running his practice for ten years, suddenly starts advertising that he now also holds a certificate in first aid?

An amusing analogy, thanks for the chuckle. However, some people - who are prepared to pay good money - really do like official bits of paper.

I had an agency contact me a few months ago. They became quite pessimistic when they realised that I did not have a Japanese Language Proficiency Test qualification. Apparently a 4-year degree in Japanese, 20 years living in Japan and nearly two decades of front-line work in the industry that was the subject of the document do not, for their client, outweigh the lack of a JLPT certificate that I could easily have passed by the end of my second year in college. An extreme case, to be sure, and I didn't lose sleep over it.

But like Diana says, having the right pieces of paper listed on your CV can only do good rather than harm. And it's a nice concrete indicator of continuing professional development. I think it's good to challenge oneself with things like this from time to time.

Regards
Dan


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:48
French to English
+ ...
Can't hurt May 18, 2015

Erik Freitag wrote:

Does the DipTrans and/or membership in BDÜ/CIoL add value to the portfolio of an already experienced translator?


Just because you found it easy to pass, that doesn't mean the DipTrans is worthless. Somebody has to be at the top end of the bell-curve and there's no reason it shouldn't be you

I've found the DipTrans a useful piece of paper to show agencies, particularly in the early days (I took it when I'd been translating for a year or so). I don't know about the BDÜ but I haven't found CIoL membership to be ultimately all that useful and I resigned my membership last year. I still advertise the fact that I hold the DipTrans, as it's a basic sign that I take this business seriously.

Once I became eligible to take the ITI exam I did so, and I've found that much more useful; it's a specialised exam so is real proof of expertise in my field, and some very decent clients look for translators in the directory of MITIs.


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 19:48
English to Russian
+ ...
Not really worth it May 18, 2015

From the standpoint of a translator with 30 years in the industry, I'd say such a degree is only a partial substitute for a good professional reputation. Moreover, an agency's insistence on such a certification despite a wealth of hands-on experience, as in Dan's case, is probably a hallmark of a bad client potentially prone to nitpicking but failing to understand actual quality. As a counterexample, most state-mandated language exams for foreigners are waived if the person has a degree obtained in that country.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:48
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never heard... May 18, 2015

Never heard such thing as hiding postgraduate-level qualification, as is the DipTrans in the UK.

I have met some reputable translators with constantly high workloads at good rates who had to take some parts of the DipTrans more than once. The exam has a generally low pass rate despite the fact that most people try after years of experience, a degree in translation, and/or specific training courses specifically geared towards passing the DipTrans.

Just count your blessings that you got two distinctions. The fact that you got them in your first try (in English into German, I assume) does not mean that you would get them every time, since this is not an exact science and you could eventually find graders who might not like your approaches or your style.

[Edited at 2015-05-18 19:14 GMT]


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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:48
Portuguese to English
+ ...
There's a difference between a PGDip and a postgraduate-level qualification May 18, 2015

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
Never heard such thing as hiding postgraduate qualification. The DipTrans is recognised as a postgraduate diploma in the UK.


No, it's a postgraduate-level qualification and not a postgraduate diploma. There's a huge difference, as you do not need a BA to sit the DipTrans, do you?


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:48
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Good point - Corrected May 18, 2015

Diana Coada, PGDip DPSI NRPSI wrote:
Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
Never heard such thing as hiding postgraduate qualification. The DipTrans is recognised as a postgraduate diploma in the UK.

No, it's a postgraduate-level qualification and not a postgraduate diploma. There's a huge difference, as you do not need a BA to sit the DipTrans, do you?

Indeed you are right. I reckon I was blinded by passion. It is corrected now. Thanks a million Diana!


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:48
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Really? May 19, 2015

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Just count your blessings that you got two distinctions. The fact that you got them in your first try (in English into German, I assume) does not mean that you would get them every time, since this is not an exact science and you could eventually find graders who might not like your approaches or your style.


You may be right, but this would shed quite a dubious light on the evaluation process, don't you think? I do hope the graders can do better than that.

That aside, you're of course right that there's no guarantee that I'd pass next time.


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:48
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! May 19, 2015

Thanks for all your comments. It seems that there is no consensus on this.

It seems it doesn't add very much to my profile, but can't do much harm either.

I think I won't add it prominently (i.e. as part of my user name, as some colleagues do), but just add it somewhere in my profile and on my website as another box for potential clients to tick.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:48
Member (2008)
Italian to English
No letters May 19, 2015

Erik Freitag wrote:

Thanks for all your comments. It seems that there is no consensus on this.

It seems it doesn't add very much to my profile, but can't do much harm either.

I think I won't add it prominently (i.e. as part of my user name, as some colleagues do), but just add it somewhere in my profile and on my website as another box for potential clients to tick.



Yes; here in Europe at least it's considered a bit cheesy to put a string of letters after your name to prove how many degrees and M.Phils you've got. The really elegant thing should be just your name. Everyone should just know who you are. The most distinguished, famous people I know (yes, I know a few) just put their name at the top of their headed paper. The presumption is that the entire world knows who they are. No need to prove anything. I tend to take the same approach.



[Edited at 2015-05-19 16:44 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:48
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Translation is not an exact science May 19, 2015

Erik Freitag wrote:
Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
Just count your blessings that you got two distinctions. The fact that you got them in your first try (in English into German, I assume) does not mean that you would get them every time, since this is not an exact science and you could eventually find graders who might not like your approaches or your style.

You may be right, but this would shed quite a dubious light on the evaluation process, don't you think? I do hope the graders can do better than that.

Neither translators nor graders are machines, and there is a million ways of translating the same text. If the translator and graders are all on the same page not only about the mere contents of a translation, but also in terms of translation strategies, pragmatics, style, etc. the translation is deemed to be good, and the opposite is also true if there are different ideas of what constitutes a good translation. Just as in any other kind of art or craft.


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:48
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Exact science? No, of course not, but... May 19, 2015

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Erik Freitag wrote:
Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
Just count your blessings that you got two distinctions. The fact that you got them in your first try (in English into German, I assume) does not mean that you would get them every time, since this is not an exact science and you could eventually find graders who might not like your approaches or your style.

You may be right, but this would shed quite a dubious light on the evaluation process, don't you think? I do hope the graders can do better than that.

Neither translators nor graders are machines, and there is a million ways of translating the same text. If the translator and graders are all on the same page not only about the mere contents of a translation, but also in terms of translation strategies, pragmatics, style, etc. the translation is deemed to be good, and the opposite is also true if there are different ideas of what constitutes a good translation. Just as in any other kind of art or craft.


Sure, but in my humble opinion a grader who is worth their salt should be able to abstract from their personal views and recognize a good translation even if it differs from how they themselves would have translated.

In other words: If I failed the next time, it would much more likely be due to an objective error than to the likings of an individual grader.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:48
Member (2008)
Italian to English
After Babel May 19, 2015

According to one of the greatest translators and thinkers about translation, George Steiner, real translation between languages is impossible because the original meaning is always lost: the translated text is tainted by the translator's own cultural beliefs, knowledge and attitudes.

Who would dare to argue with Steiner?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_Babel


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