Erotica & Sexology as a translation specialization
Thread poster: Elisa Fernández Vic

Elisa Fernández Vic  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:59
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 19, 2015

Hello fellow ProZ-dwellers ☺
I am an English to Spanish translator specialized in marketing and advertising. A couple of months ago I randomly found a job translating an erotic game designed for couples, and since then I have had the chance to do another translation on a similar topic for a website. This has aroused my interest (pardon the bad pun) on how erotica and sexology could work as a second specialization, especially in terms of how to market it.
I think the field has a lot of possibilities. The porn industry is an obvious one, as are erotic novels. But there also are a lot of sex-shop products, websites with tutorials and how-to manuals designed to, ahem, foster interpersonal enjoyment, that someone has to translate (and make a good job of it if possible!).
The obvious problem is that you cannot list sex-related materials as a speciality on translation directories, nor do agencies specifically advertise if they do this kind of work. Finding possible clients over the Internet and emailing them is an obvious marketing strategy, but I was wondering about other ways to market yourself on this area.
Also, I find the unique translation challenges of this area very interesting, especially in terms of terminology – finding a specialized glossary is no easy task! So I was also wondering if there is any networking group of translators specialized in this kind of materials, so we can help each other out and share experiences. (By the way, there is a great Spanish research group about erotism & pornography in translation, but they are more oriented to the academic side of things: http://www.etepiano.com/index.php/etep)
So, in short: how do you think erotica & sexology can work as a translation specialization? Have you got any experience in this area? Do you know of any networking group for translators of sex-related materials?


[Edited at 2015-08-19 12:08 GMT]


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Elif Baykara  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 10:59
Member (2015)
German to Turkish
+ ...
I have to admit that I have never considered this up to your post. :) Aug 19, 2015

You've made a very interesting point indeed..

The porn aspect (porn movies, erotic stories) is a completely different thing of course, which may require some creativity or free translation skills.

But the other aspect involving toys, instructions etc., let's call it the "mechanical aspect" is very promising. As to the products, terminology wouldn't be a problem since there are a lot of forums (effective antivirus programs advised ) where you can read about such subjects (probably with some descriptions).

Unfortunately I have no experience in this subject but as a translator of mainly medical-related files, I definitely find it interesting. I'll be following this post.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Difficult to actively market, but a great niche Aug 19, 2015

I can see that it might be difficult to target agencies unless they come up in searches. It's a shame there isn't a clear way to specify it, though that applies to many specialisations. You can certainly make it a little easier for people who are interested to find you, by adding those keywords to your profile, and mentioning your specialisation in your "About Me" text. But I don't know how useful keywords really are.

The best person to advise on that and other questions might be a fellow ProZ.com member, Jona Freeman. She specialises in exactly the same area but in different language combinations, so she might well be prepared to give you some tips if you send her a private message: http://www.proz.com/profile/1627601.

I found this which may be of interest, though I'm not sure how useful it would be: http://translationjournal.net/journal/45adult.htm.

But you shouldn't give up hope of finding agencies. I did just a quick search and identified two specialists on the first page, and they both look likely clients for you, at least from what I saw in a few seconds:
http://translation-traduzione.com/adult-content-translations/index.shtml
http://hottranslations.com/about-us/

Good luck!


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 14:59
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Special terms Aug 19, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:
The best person to advise on that and other questions might be a fellow ProZ.com member, Jona Freeman. She specialises in exactly the same area but in different language combinations, so she might well be prepared to give you some tips if you send her a private message: http://www.proz.com/profile/1627601.
Good luck!


I did academic research of Japanese pornographic movies in 1980s and found many special glossaries we cannot find in daily use. I also read an article to promote studying of foreign languages with use of erotica materials to be very effective.
In most countries, erotica is a social taboo and translation work should not be much respected or honored.

Soonthon L.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 13:29
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Kamasutra? Aug 19, 2015

The closest I have come to this kind of work is in translating into Hindi the website of Ashley Madison which recently entered the Indian market. There erotic terms were limited to the mild ones suitable in public advertisements.

But this does seem to be a promising niche for those who can develop a taste for this kind of stuff (I mean, of course, from the translation point of view).

Regarding terminology, I am immediately reminded of the famous Sanskrit erotic manual Kamasutra, which has been translated practically into every language in the world. It should also be available in the language you work. May be it will prove to be a mine of information and terms for you. If you search enough it should even be available online.

My only doubt is, will it be paying enough? Though these are widely accessed websites, by their very nature, they are very hush-hush and therefore are not of any practical value for advertisers, excepting of course of products specific to this industry. So its income stream would be unpredictable or unknown - so it is difficult to estimate whether it would be sufficiently remunerative to sustain a freelance translator. Another problem is their negative image, with many reputable advertisers not wanting to be associated even remotely with them.

The social stigma is another issue to consider. If you work in a family setting, with children around, you might have to constrain your working hours to certain times when are asleep or in school, which could affect your productivity.

Also, this work can't be displayed in your normal resume, and so it won't serve you in that direction, and will be useful only if you pursue it exclusively.

The moral and ethical issues (such as that involved in translating child pornography) will also crop up for you.

But, all things considered, it is worth exploring, as it will be an interesting chalenge to your translation abilities.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Maybe things are different where you are? Aug 19, 2015

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:
My only doubt is, will it be paying enough?

I believe this statement found online today is true:
"Porn has grown into one of the largest forms of entertainment in the world. In fact, it brings in more money than professional basketball, baseball and football combined"
So there's sure to be money in it for well-paid translators, as well as for low-paid ones.
Though these are widely accessed websites, by their very nature, they are very hush-hush and therefore are not of any practical value for advertisers, excepting of course of products specific to this industry. So its income stream would be unpredictable or unknown - so it is difficult to estimate whether it would be sufficiently remunerative to sustain a freelance translator. Another problem is their negative image, with many reputable advertisers not wanting to be associated even remotely with them.

I don't think they are all hush-hush at all. Of course, some websites are promoting illegal activities, videos, products, etc. Like any others that are illegal - arms dealing, terrorism, smuggling, drugs etc - those are hush-hush. But I doubt very much that they're the ones being targeted by the OP. I'm sure she isn't talking about child porn etc. Very, very many forms of porn, and their advertising, are perfectly legal in Europe and America. I don't know about other countries. There may be personal taboos in place, but that's a different matter altogether. We see sex shops in the high street, sex magazines in every newsagent's, porn cinemas and even live shows in some areas, and all are operating totally legally. Only if their products feature or are made available to minors, or if they depict animals, violence, lack of consent, etc do they cross the line into illegality.

this work can't be displayed in your normal resume, and so it won't serve you in that direction, and will be useful only if you pursue it exclusively.

With our NDAs and client confidentiality concerns, our CVs are necessarily rather vague when it comes to actual content. It would be a personal decision, of the type we all have to make from time to time. I'm not ashamed to say that I've translated a naturist website (although I don't currently mention it on my CV, mainly due to lack of space!), nor of the fact that I'm a naturist, though I'm sure some people find that shocking. Fortunately, we don't all have to adopt the same views on such subjects in free societies. I really don't see any problem with mentioning erotica or sexology on one's CV either.[/quote]


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 13:29
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Skepticism is still valid Aug 19, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:
I believe this statement found online today is true:
"Porn has grown into one of the largest forms of entertainment in the world. In fact, it brings in more money than professional basketball, baseball and football combined"
So there's sure to be money in it for well-paid translators, as well as for low-paid ones.


This says nothing unless we know how much money is there in these sports and how much of it is actually spent on translation (I suspect it is a minuscule amount, much of the money is pocketed as player fees and by owners of teams).

Baseball and basketball are America-specific sports and are not relevant elsewhere, and I have read that with the coming of computer based games, baseball is declining throughout the US to the extent that many baseballers fear it may soon become extinct for lack of public interest. Many neighbourhood teams are finding it difficult to motivate sufficient numbers of players to form a baseball team as the present generation prefers to lounge around at home glued to the tablet or smart phone (on which they could also be watching porno!).

There is still money in football, but the recent match-fixing scams have put a question mark on that sport too.

The point is, however much money there may be in porno, how much of it will be willingly spent on translation. Surely, translation does not enhance the porno experience except vicariously! Also, modern porn sites are mostly visual (videos and pictures) and non-textual, therefore, once the basic site has been set up, they are unlikely to generate much work for writers and translators.

[Edited at 2015-08-19 15:52 GMT]


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matt robinson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:59
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Where there's muck, there's brass Aug 19, 2015

With reference to sports, I work on a major football club website. An internationally branded club is a daily source of content that must be translated almost immediately into a wide range of languages.
I should think porn sites would have the same need to keep content fresh and publish to an international market.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Looks like the market is set to explode then Aug 19, 2015

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:
with the coming of computer based games, baseball is declining throughout the US
...
the present generation prefers to lounge around at home glued to the tablet or smart phone (on which they could also be watching porno!).

I bet there's a lot of truth in that, Bala.

Surely, translation does not enhance the porno experience except vicariously!

I guess porn is one of the few things that's totally understandable to people of all creeds and cultures even without translation. (Unlike baseball, cricket, etc.). But with translation it must surely become a lot more accessible, and certainly more marketable. It's entertainment for the masses, and they want it in their own language by and large.


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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:59
Spanish to English
+ ...
Direct clients might be the only way Aug 19, 2015

I have only been offered one, very mild, project like this by an agency. It's not exactly a field that I would like to get into, but, looking at it as a marketing challenge, I find it intriguing.

I wonder if there are any LinkedIn groups for... industry professionals. I'm tempted to look into this more, but I think my wife would kill me. ^_^


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 15:59
Chinese to English
Relationship manuals Aug 19, 2015

I don't see why you couldn't list this as a specialism. If you are professional about it, I think clients will appreciate it. Many translators don't want to do this kind of work, so if you are open and straightforward about it, it could easily become a real selling point. Just use the appropriate terminology: don't say "porn", say "adult content"; don't say "sex books", say "relationship manuals".

If you can put on your website/profile something like: "I have experience with and am comfortable working with adult-oriented material. I can sensitively translate educational, therapeutic and entertainment texts into an idiom appropriate for the target Spanish audience." - then I think you might find that it generates some business leads.


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Elif Baykara  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 10:59
Member (2015)
German to Turkish
+ ...
Very nice wording.. Aug 19, 2015

Phil Hand wrote:

"I have experience with and am comfortable working with adult-oriented material. I can sensitively translate educational, therapeutic and entertainment texts into an idiom appropriate for the target Spanish audience." - then I think you might find that it generates some business leads.


May I use this (or very similar) text in case I need it in the future?


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Elisa Fernández Vic  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:59
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Some more ideas Aug 20, 2015

Thank you all for your input - it has been really useful. Here are some things I have thought about...

Possible clients
- Porn is the obvious one, but not necessarily the most interesting.
- Sex shops.
- Sex toys manufacturers.
- Editorials & independent authors of erotica and essays related to the adult world (porn history, sexuality manuals, etc.)
- Sexology professionals, specially the ones with their own websites, blogs and video content.
- Other business related to sex work.

Rates
I have the feeling that mainstream porn sites that value quantity over quality may take the same approach to translation, but as said above, I don't think they are the only possible client. I think within the sex industry there may be a place for well-paying, quality-oriented work.

Marketing
- Although I don't think this is something to be ashamed about, maybe the nature of the work lets itself to creating specifically-tailored profiles and marketing materials just for this specialization.
- As Sheila pointed out, there seems to be some agencies specialized in this kind of content, so I will be sure to check them out.
- For the most part, direct clients seem the way to go. Emailing may work, but it will be difficult to find the right person to address it (I don't see this type of companies listing the name of their employees, but I may be proved wrong). Also, it is worth researching where do the industry professionals themselves network.

Terminology
- Looking for similar examples in-context seems to be the most useful approach, though it does require not to be easily shocked...
- Wikipedia also has lists of sexual terms that may be useful, and there are a handful of specialized dictionaries.

Sub-specializations?
I do feel this field is quite wide, and there will be literary translations, creative and promotional ones, texts that are more medical, self-help and everything in between. It certainly sounds exciting!


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Daryo
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:59
Serbian to English
+ ...
a proactive approach Aug 20, 2015

could be better

if this one is not already translated into Spanish, you can always try to find an interested publisher

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Encyclopedia-Of-Unusual-Sex-Practices/dp/0349115354

not to speak of the "collateral advantage" that if and when you finish translating it, there will not be much left to learn about the subject...


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