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Off topic: What was your first translation assignment ever?
Thread poster: Seadeta Osmani

Seadeta Osmani  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:18
English to Croatian
+ ...
Nov 18, 2004

Dear colleagues,

I was wondering-- do you remember what was the topic/field of your first translation assignment in your translating career?

Mine was short stories for children-- just about the pressure I could take back thenicon_smile.gif And I still love going back to them and through them just to remind myself how did all of this begin for me...

How about you?



Kathinka van de Griendt  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:18
German to English
+ ...
Early days... Nov 18, 2004

Hi Seadeta, you really took me back a long way! My VERY first translation was for my riding school in South Africa. They wanted me to translate a theoretical book on horse riding and I did a 240 page job in 3 months. I sweated and strained and cried and asked my mother, but in the end it turned out rather well. My boys learnt from it when it was their turn to jump on a horse's back and I like browsing through it to have a good laugh now and againicon_smile.gif)
Thanks for jogging my memory!


Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:18
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Specialize :-) Nov 18, 2004

Hi Seadeta,

My first translation assignment was a list of 70 ingredients for a homeopathic medicine. This was long before Internet happened. I was forced to visit the university library twice, merely to ascertain that one quarter of the ingredients didn't exist, neither in English nor in Dutch. I made 100 bucks in three days (and was glad). It was my last medical translation.



Maria Eugenia Farre  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:18
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Magazine Articles on the Election of Bill Clinton Nov 18, 2004

That's an interesting thread! I remember that the first larger assignment I ever got was translating a selection of 6 or 7 articles from TIME magazine when Bill Clinton got first elected president of the United States in 1993. The client was a Brazilian politician now fallen in disgrace and he wanted to know what the media were saying about the new administration.

As luck would have it, I was only offered the job because I was teaching English as a foreign language at his office and I accepted it without even blinking or thinking if the job was too difficult for a beginner.

I remember that I was several weeks late and that midway through the job I was pulling my hairs to try to get it right and suffering miserably to make the translation flow in Portuguese. But aside from the heavy-handed style, I still blush to think of the many mistakes I made in that translation.

Funnily enough, years later I began translating a lot of journalism on a regular basis and developed a genuine love for it.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane!



sarahl (X)
Local time: 08:18
English to French
+ ...
Medical! Nov 18, 2004

Way back in high school, for a friend of mine who was in med school. I never stopped since!icon_biggrin.gif


Rahi Moosavi  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:18
Member (2004)
Farsi (Persian) to English
+ ...
R.E.M. Nov 18, 2004

I clearly remember this. A local magazine faced with a 17 year old kid - me in 15 years ago - who persistently wants to translate gives up and publishes my work. It was a two page article on R.E.M. (Rapid Eye Movement) I translated from Scientific American.


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:18
German to English
Flora and fauna in the Titicaca basin Nov 18, 2004

It was 1969, and a geographer needed a few articles translated from German into English. At the time I wasn't even sure where Lake Titicaca was. It was fairly interesting, and I only had to summarize most of it, and the prof. then asked me to translate paragraphs that were relevant to his study. I made the princely sum of $20 for a few hours work.


Ivana de Sousa Santos  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:18
French to Portuguese
+ ...
My first translation was about Golf Nov 18, 2004

I translated an article about a female golf player (I can't remember her name and I don't have that translation anymore because it "died" with my old computer).

The most interesting part of this job was that I never got paid for it.icon_smile.gif It was a private translation, I mean, not for an agency. It was for a young lady. I did the translation, then she asked me to do another work concerning the translation (a kind of school job that she didn't know or have the time to do). She picked the work I had done, told me that she was going to ask her teacher if it was alright (if it wasn't she would give it back to me for the corrections) and I never saw her again. I didn't even knew how to contact her. She lived in a building close to my place (I didn't quite knew which one and which floor) and I decided to forget about the money a while afterwards.

The total amount would be about 10€ (at that time - 5 years ago) I was still at university doing my translation degree and I used to charge !!!2.5€!!! per page.

But we live and we learn from our mistakes. I rised my prices and I always have my client's contact. No problems until now!


Alejandra Villarroel  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
Forestry in 1993 Nov 18, 2004

I was still student though.
One of my teachers referred a *customer* she was not interested in (another student... with a student budget.)
It was a rather general paper on soil management written in English. It was approximately 5k words and I had one week to translate it.
About that teacher, she was nice enough to supervise the process, answered all my questions and even proofread the text before delivery.
I made just it enough money to buy a pair of shoes, but I felt ohhh-so-important!icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2004-11-18 20:07]


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:18
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Recipes for my mother? Nov 18, 2004

I started inside the family - maybe even earlier. (The recipes were when I moved to Denmark aged 27.)

Then books for my son, more recipes, a tourist guide to the local church. (20 years later they've just revised some of the information, added new details and better pictures - and my old translation was still usable in parts!)

I started seriously on dendrochronology (tree-ring dating, more reliable than carbon 14 dating) for a brother in law.

My first day at the agency, a customer wanted an article from the business paper I had read over breakfast to calm my nerves... so I was allowed an easy start. Next day it was a technical description of a mechanical device (brush) for sweeping snow off pavements. It reminded me of the time I proof-read patents at a printer's. (Never mind what it means, as long as it's spelt correctly!!)

Law... I loved law! It terrifies me, but it's fun.

I'm addicted!


Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
English to German
+ ...
Farewell Letter 1983 Nov 18, 2004

A sophisticated seven pages farewell letter from a German sales representative to his Japanese mother company, who had just sacked him.

Translation from German into English, job contact by a student's work agency, 1.30 DM per line (0.65 EUR), it took me one day and one night on a typewriter. At that time I simply didn't know that professional translations are only into one's mothertongue.

Today, I have five years full-time experience and would never dare to accept such a job.icon_lol.gif

PS: My client was very satisfied.icon_smile.gif

PS2: How comes, that the usual rate is exactly the same twenty-one years later, although all other prices have more than doubled?icon_confused.gif

[Edited at 2004-11-18 20:52]


Dinny  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:18
Italian to Danish
+ ...
Pure madness, I guess... Nov 18, 2004

About twenty years ago somebody said "since you speak Italian, could you maybe help me out translating this market report from Danish into Italian?"

It was not so much the actual translation that caused the problems, but the report was VERY critical towards a governmental Italian institution... and the comments afterwards were terrifying, any single comma left out or included was disputed so as to turn the meaning of the phrase.... NEVER again will I translate into what is not my native language without having a native proofreading everything BEFORE I deliver!icon_wink.gif


Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:18
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
User manual for a knitting machine... Nov 18, 2004

It was a job for a friend who bought knitting machine but couldn't read the manual. I typed it on the type writter. It took me 3 or 4 months to complete it - geee, what was I thinking when accepting this job?? But well, I was still a teenager then and had no clue what this job really was. Anyway, after this experience I decided that this was exactly what I wanted to do in my life.icon_biggrin.gif



Marion Schimmelpfennig  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:18
Member (2003)
English to German
slogan for financial institute or interpreting at my sister's wedding? Nov 18, 2004

Good question!

I don't remember what was first - a claim for HSBC or interpreting at my sister's wedding. The claim was approved of, the interpreting was a bit of an embarrassment. My sister married a Texan back then, and the law required a simultaneous interpreting because her bride didn't speak German good enough. My brother-in-law afterwards told me that all he could remember was talking me about all those "bad times" a marriage will probably have. But we all also had a good laugh.

I then pursued adaptation instead of interpretingicon_smile.gif


Leonardo Parachú  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
Bid for airport pavement construction Nov 18, 2004

Just a year ago: 4 Powerpoint presentations dealing with the technical specifications and legal terms of the bidding.

Actually, my first translation-related assignment was to align. And my first paid translation ever, for which I have Clarisa Moraña to thank (I don´t consider it a job since I was just playing back then some four years ago), were some chapters of a journalistic article on a famous German magazine).

Since those Powerpoints my mind has travelled too many ways, through too many CATS and too many subjects.

Regards to all,

[Edited at 2004-11-19 01:55]

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