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Is there a world record for the fastest translator?
Thread poster: José Guedes

José Guedes
Brazil
Local time: 06:23
Member (2012)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
May 10, 2013

Hi guys!

I was just wondering, does anyone know if there is a world record set for the fastest translator in any language or in a specific one? I did a quick Google search and couldn't find anything. I am a very fast typist at an average of 120 wpm with bursts of up to 170 and I think I might have a shot! I have never practiced it with the objective of getting better and it always happened organically through work, so I think I need to do some objective training in order to perform at my best in a stressful situation like translating in front of people in an attempt to establish a record. I am open to suggestions on methods!

My personal best was a non-technical translation of an e-mail of 360 words, which I translated in around 6 minutes, with no misspellings or wrong translations. That amounts to an average of 3600 translated words per hour assuming that speed could be kept (which I don't think is a realistic assumption right now), it is a considerable amount, isn't it? My personal best for a whole hour translating material of similar complexity is 2400 words, with a few minor misspellings that the spell check missed. What are your personal bests? Do you think there is a realistic chance that through training I could set such a record? It would certainly be an interesting achievement! Thanks a lot.

Kind regards,

José Guedes


 
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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:23
English to German
+ ...
Have you ever thought of raising your rates? May 10, 2013

Then you don't have to type that fast.icon_smile.gif

Creating a good translation is a lot like making love. Believe me - being first and really fast won't earn you many laurels.


 

José Guedes
Brazil
Local time: 06:23
Member (2012)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
This is not something I try to achieve May 10, 2013

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Then you don't have to type that fast.icon_smile.gif

Creating a good translation is a lot like making love. Believe me - being first and really fast won't earn you many laurels.


I understand! Translating (or languages in general) is one of my three passions, alongside with music and, first and foremost, meditation!

My hand coordination comes from having grown up with a computer keyboard in front of me. I have had repetitive strain injury for 9 years now from spending too much time in front of a computer and guitar/piano playing (it has become very manageable thanks to very long stretching sessions of around 2 hours spread out throughout the day and strategic resting pauses).

The reason why I type fast is not that I want to make more money or end quickly. It is as second nature to me as speaking at around 80-100 wpm is to a public speaker. It is not something I make an effort to achieve, it is absolutely involuntary, consequential. My fastest typing speeds always occur when I am relaxed and enjoying what I am doing, never when I am trying hard to do something.

I am in my 20's an don't have a family to support. I certainly don't need more money than what I already earn to survive. Translating, as I am sure you know, is a very well-paid and, to be quite truthful, overpriced industry. Anything I earn beyond what I already do is certainly welcome, but only as a bonus.

I have been translating as a hobby ever since I was 9 years old, when I translated a few walkthroughs and game guides for my friends. From then on I was hooked. I only started monetizing this 5 years ago, and very slowly because my needs were very small. Only recently did I start taking more jobs than I needed in terms of money, simply because I fell in love with this art and wish to build a long and fruitful career out of it. Perhaps one that will include being the fastest translator, who knows! This is certainly not my life's goal and just a minor curiosity.

Please don't interpret this as some personal attack as you seem to have been doing. I am just interested in this. I certainly don't in the think slightest this is the defining characteristic of a great translator. This is just a minor side entertainment, a hobby.

[Editada em 2013-05-10 04:01 GMT]

[Editada em 2013-05-10 04:02 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:23
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Switch to an ergonomic keyboard May 10, 2013

This is indeed an interesting topic that has been raised several times. I can only tell you that I know of several people who, in the optimal conditions (knowledge of the matter at hand, no external nuisance, reasonably rested mind) can translate 10,000 words on a number of different subjects within 8 hours, for days on end.

Measuring translation speed in a competitive environment would require a number of similarly qualified and experienced translators, a jury of world-class, recognised translators, and a set of agreed possible subjects to choose one from at random. The text should be sufficiently challenging (an email would not do) and should have a size of at least a thousand words. A competition in such "lab conditions" would quickly reveal that fast typing is only one component of an agile translator. Translating quickly with a good quality is more about a sharp mind.

My main recommendation to you is that, if you already have repetitive strain injury at your young age, you take it as a serious goal not to abuse your body, and try to slow down in your typing and cut down in your guitar playing. It will automatically improve the quality of your work too. You are young now and we have all been there, but in due time you will see the difference between your fast translations and your good translations.

And for God's sake, get an ergonomic keyboard! Any split, angled/tilted keyboard will do wonders in your situation, and you will get used to it in 24 hours. For the last 17 years I have been translating an average of 10 hours a day at a quick pace and haven't had any discomfort whatsoever in my wrists. (I don't play the guitar, though.)

Good luck and thank you for raising this topic. Interesting indeed.


 

José Guedes
Brazil
Local time: 06:23
Member (2012)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you very much for your response! May 10, 2013

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

This is indeed an interesting topic that has been raised several times. I can only tell you that I know of several people who, in the optimal conditions (knowledge of the matter at hand, no external nuisance, reasonably rested mind) can translate 10,000 words on a number of different subjects within 8 hours, for days on end.

Measuring translation speed in a competitive environment would require a number of similarly qualified and experienced translators, a jury of world-class, recognised translators, and a set of agreed possible subjects to choose one from at random. The text should be sufficiently challenging (an email would not do) and should have a size of at least a thousand words. A competition in such "lab conditions" would quickly reveal that fast typing is only one component of an agile translator. Translating quickly with a good quality is more about a sharp mind.

My main recommendation to you is that, if you already have repetitive strain injury at your young age, you take it as a serious goal not to abuse your body, and try to slow down in your typing and cut down in your guitar playing. It will automatically improve the quality of your work too. You are young now and we have all been there, but in due time you will see the difference between your fast translations and your good translations.

And for God's sake, get an ergonomic keyboard! Any split, angled/tilted keyboard will do wonders in your situation, and you will get used to it in 24 hours. For the last 17 years I have been translating an average of 10 hours a day at a quick pace and haven't had any discomfort whatsoever in my wrists. (I don't play the guitar, though.)

Good luck and thank you for raising this topic. Interesting indeed.


Thank you very much for your response! You made some very good points. I certainly think there should be categories for different subjects in different levels of complexity if you wish to accurately measure translating speed.

Thank you for your recommendations about RSI. Luckily, I went to a professional only two years after the onset of the condition and have taken preventive measures ever since which have helped me tremendously. Nowadays I am extremely conscious about that and am glad to say my hands are almost as good as if I had never had it, as long as I respect my slightly stricter limits and stretch thoroughly. And ergonomic keyboards are indeed heavenly things!


 

Norskpro
Sweden
Local time: 10:23
Member
English to Norwegian
+ ...
overpaid industry May 10, 2013

ZeHgS wrote:


Translating, as I am sure you know, is a very well-paid and, to be quite truthful, overpriced industry.



Well, if uneducated people with hardly any life experience can make a good amount of money from translating, maybe by typing very quickly, they are probably overpaid. Many translators are highly educated, intelligent, eloquent people with many years' experience in their fields. The quality of what they deliver is often disproportionate to the low pay they get.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:23
English to German
+ ...
Why, Ratei? Those "fast" translators cost a lot of money. May 10, 2013

Raitei wrote:
I would rather deal with a "fast" translator than one on top of a pedestal.


Rant fertig.icon_wink.gif



BTW, I type pretty fast, too, but I don't brag about it because it is not relevant for my profession. I am not a secretary.

So, where does the "top of a pedestal" come from? I pay any rate the translator requests - all I want is a flawless text. Those early deliveries ("Hey, look how fast I can type! I delivered two days early! Boy, am I good!") cost me a lot of money because the editor who is paid by the hour has to clean that mess and all of the sudden costs me twice as much than calculated. Translation is not measured by speed, but by the quality of the product.


 

José Guedes
Brazil
Local time: 06:23
Member (2012)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not what I meant May 10, 2013

Norskpro wrote:

ZeHgS wrote:


Translating, as I am sure you know, is a very well-paid and, to be quite truthful, overpriced industry.



Well, if uneducated people with hardly any life experience can make a good amount of money from translating, maybe by typing very quickly, they are probably overpaid. Many translators are highly educated, intelligent, eloquent people with many years' experience in their fields. The quality of what they deliver is often disproportionate to the low pay they get.



I understand your point. However, you will agree that translating is a very expensive endeavor.

We are the only means of communication and sharing of knowledge between different languages and therefore are indeed essential to the proper functioning of society.

If you will notice, however, I said we are "well-paid", not overpaid, and I said it is an overpriced industry, referring again to the high cost of translation projects in general, as well as comparing our potential income to that of public servants such as policemen and firemen and other people whose jobs require them to sacrifice more than we do.

It takes a lot of talent to be a translator. Not only do you need intimate familiarity with both source and target languages, which takes years of close contact with both cultures, but you also need an incredible ability as a writer to choose the precise words to evoke the intended feeling in the reader's mind. Those are rare things and should indeed be rewarded. My original point was just that greed for money was certainly not my motivator in seeking to establish a world record as the fastest translator. I, again, meant no offense.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 16:23
Chinese to English
World records are just a bit of fun May 10, 2013

Nicole Schnell wrote:

I can't believe why people take pride in being "fast".

Everything you say here is absolutely right, but perhaps a little misdirected. There are world records for fastest burger flipping - but I don't think anyone mistakes them for indicating true skill in the kitchen. There are world records for heaviest weights hung off testicles, and I don't think anyone thinks they represent anything at all; they just are, in a zen kind of way.

But yeah, speed is not for the professionals.


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:23
Italian to English
Guinness World Records May 10, 2013

Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any mention of the most words translated in any given set of circumstances on the Guinness World Records site:

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/explore-records/

Who wants to be the first translator to secure an entry?

[Edited at 2013-05-10 06:10 GMT]


 

José Guedes
Brazil
Local time: 06:23
Member (2012)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Lots May 10, 2013

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Raitei wrote:
I would rather deal with a "fast" translator than one on top of a pedestal.


Rant fertig.icon_wink.gif



BTW, I type pretty fast, too, but I don't brag about it because it is not relevant for my profession. I am not a secretary.

So, where does the "top of a pedestal" come from? I pay any rate the translator requests - all I want is a flawless text. Those early deliveries ("Hey, look how fast I can type! I delivered two days early! Boy, am I good!") cost me a lot of money because the editor who is paid by the hour has to clean that mess and all of the sudden costs me twice as much than calculated. Translation is not measured by speed, but by the quality of the product.


I think it has already been established we are talking about fast speeds without any measurable loss of quality. If you wished to participate in this discussion in a constructive manner, you could instead have simply answered "I think it is important that there should be an objective judgement of the quality of the translation in order to disqualify (to put in your own terms) quick and dirty jobs", to which I would have answered "I completely agree".

Nobody here is bragging about anything. If you were offended by anything anyone said, I assure you it was not intentional.

Phil Hand wrote:

Nicole Schnell wrote:

I can't believe why people take pride in being "fast".

Everything you say here is absolutely right, but perhaps a little misdirected. There are world records for fastest burger flipping - but I don't think anyone mistakes them for indicating true skill in the kitchen. There are world records for heaviest weights hung off testicles, and I don't think anyone thinks they represent anything at all; they just are, in a zen kind of way.

But yeah, speed is not for the professionals.


That is an excellent point. I regard this translating speed record exactly as one would regard the fastest burger flipper, onion chopper or any record holder of the kind.

I just think you mean "haste" is not for the professionals, not speed. Speed is something that should be invisible to the translator and the people reading the translation. We are not talking about rushing jobs, just very accurate, coordinated fingers that attempt to move as fast as the mind can think. Professionals increase their speed very gradually, as they get better in the several skills that are necessary for a fast translation, for example: experience with the subject, typing speed and mental agility.

Again, simultaneous interpreters are very used to translating content at a much faster speed than I currently do, and good ones do so in a fast, precise and error free manner. This type of speed is absolutely possible to be achieved while maintaining good writing style and a virtually error free translation. I think this conclusively proves that one of the few things preventing a translator from achieving such speeds, aside from quickness of mind, is their typing speed.

Giles Watson wrote:

Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any mention of the most words translated in any given set of circumstances on the Guinness World Records site:

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/explore-records/

Who wants to be the first translator to secure an entry?

[Edited at 2013-05-10 06:10 GMT]


Interesting! Thanks, this is what I wanted to see. People interested in this, not people mistaking our thoughts about nifty little achievements as us being under the misconception that a good translator is someone who translates fast, much less people throwing tantrums because we are talking about this.


 

564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 10:23
Danish to English
+ ...
If there was, it would not have been set up by professional translators May 10, 2013

What a weird idea.

How could you possibly establish a world record for something as incredibly diverse as the art of translation? In order to have a world record for anything, surely you must need something specific to measure against. Texts that are submitted for translations will (almost) always be different, as the idea of translating the same text over and over again is, forgive me, ridiculous.

In order to train for a world record, that is generally what you do, isn't it? You practice a specific skill by repeating a specific exercise over and over again, such as swim 100 metres against the clock, eat as many burgers as possible in 10 minutes, jump from the highest point above earth etc. etc. The very idea of practising translation of the same text over and over again to become 'the best' is just plain silly, as you would only need to do your research for that same text the first time you translate it; after that you would not be translating any more, you would simply be recalling a translation from memory.

Apart from this, I am with Nicole on this one!


 
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