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Poll: Do you believe that translation work productivity decreases with age?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 06:54
Aug 13, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you believe that translation work productivity decreases with age?".

This poll was originally submitted by Hikmat

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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:54
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
I venture to suggest that it increases with age Aug 13, 2009

At least in my own particular case, productivity increases as I gain experience.


Teresa Borges
Local time: 14:54
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Age vs productivity Aug 13, 2009

In my case - I am not sure it would be correct to generalize - age has improved my productivity: more experience, less distractions, more focus and more flexibility regarding working hours… Best regards,

Teresa Borges


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
I echo Astrid Aug 13, 2009

whichever way you define "productivity".

If some previous studies are correct, the indication is that, like judges, translators get better with age, not the reverse. (Barring Alzheimer or crippling arthritis, I guess).

In this regard, you might view productivity as volume, or as quality in a given amount of product. (For that matter, once you produce a certain level of quality, it's hard to backtrack on that; i.e., there is no natural solution to someone asking for "reduced quality at a reduced price"icon_biggrin.gif)


Alma de Kok  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:54
Member (2006)
Polish to Dutch
+ ...
No because of technical progress Aug 13, 2009

Imagine a translator who started 30 years ago. What aids did he/she have? No computer, CAT, internet. His/her productivity has risen enormously ( I guess..). Maybe the brain cells slow down a little, maybe the eyes are detoriating, arthritis can make typing difficult (but we have voice recognition software don't we..), but productivity still rises. To answer this question directly we should compare old and young translators translating the same text.

Personally, I plan to work always (maybe a little less), simply because I love my job....


Wil Hardman  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Aug 13, 2009

So far I've been gradually getting older and with it my productivity has gradually been increasingicon_smile.gif I think experience and boredom threshold count for a lot and these two qualities probably go on increasing throughout your life.

However I also think that word recall, agility of mind and creativity have a part to play and I reckon at some point in life these probably start to deteriorate.

And in my pedantic translator mode... the question should probably be something like "does translation productivity decrease after a certain point in life?" If the original question were true this would imply that newborns had the fastest turnaround times and someone in their seventies would struggle to translate a sentence a dayicon_smile.gif

As a wild guess I would say the peak age for a translator is probably between 40-55
I find physical and mental peaks with regard to age really interesting and I certainly don't think anything is set in stone. I believe people's mentality and how often they exercise their body or mind to be the biggest factors in achieving peak performance.


Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 16:54
English to Russian
+ ...
It's not that simple Aug 13, 2009

First, as you start, you gain in both speed and quality, then you stop gaining in speed but go on gaining in quality and diversity of fields of expertise, than you start losing in speed while you still gain (or at least maintain) quality, and, in the end, alas, you start losing in both speed and quality. That's about time to call the undertakericon_smile.gif)


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:54
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Well, I was nearly 50 before I started... Aug 13, 2009

.. at least professionally.

I am roughly maintaining the quantity, not improving my typing skills, alas, but taking on jobs that I could never have tackled at the beginning, and still learning.

Trados helps, but a with lot of the work I do, it improves quality and consistency, but does not have much effect on quantity. Time spent maintaining Trados and not translating seems to counter the time I 'save' using it!

Experience and being familiar with clients' special requirements do count in this business, so productivity probably increases as time goes by, unless illness or other factors set in. But age per se is not a problem!



Mariam Osmann
Local time: 15:54
English to Arabic
+ ...
I don't know but Aug 13, 2009

If we talk about experience.
Years = solid experience, some texts will be as easy a pie.
If we talk about technology influence
In twenty years I don't expect that I will be able to spend the same time I spend now in front of the PC.


John Cutler  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
One variable Aug 13, 2009

One big variable in the equation is how old you are when you start translating. Many translators don't start their translation careers right out of university, so there isn't a consistent timeline to follow (e.g., 18 to 65 years old).

I started in my mid-thirties and am now in my mid-(actually late-) forties. I'm getting older, but I'm sure my productivity is increasing. I went through that initial phase of learning the tricks of the trade 10 years ago and now have a solid base of experience, which means I can produce greater volume and quality than when I was younger.

This question along with yesterday's aches and pains question is beginning to make it seem like geriatric week here at proz.comicon_smile.gif


Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:54
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
I suppose that Yes Aug 13, 2009

But only if you mean quantity, not quality of the output.

At least I can't imagine myslef doing a "double shift" in front of a computer, to accomplish an urgent assignment 30 years from now.


[Edited at 2009-08-13 10:43 GMT]


Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:54
Portuguese to English
+ ...
No Aug 13, 2009

I'm way past retirement age and doing just fine and dandy. All this stuff about deterioration is more mental than physical, and I've found that people who are happy, mentally active, interested in life, etc. tend to live longer and have fewer "old age" problems. I was reminded of this yesterday when I was translating a small text about the architect Oscar Niemeyer, who at age 101 (!) still works in his office every day and is full of passion for life and nature.


Local time: 15:54
English to French
+ ...
Yes, after a certain age/certain number of years in the trade Aug 13, 2009

Up to 56 or so, I think my productivity steadily increased - experience, memory shortcuts and better technical skills.
I noticed more recently that I tire out more rapidly (physically and mentally) and am not quite as fit or quick as I used to ("I know I came across that before - when and where was it?"). Quality night sleep also seems to belong to the past. The way life goes...


Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:54
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
I voted yes Aug 13, 2009

because in my case, I think the older I get, the less time I will want to spend in front of the computer.

However, obviously productivity will rise to a certain extent before I get to that stage because of the use of CAT tools and more experience with certain text types.


John Fossey  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:54
Member (2008)
French to English
No Aug 13, 2009

Barring medical problems, if we're talking strictly about age, productivity - both quality and quantity - increases with age, due to increasing experience. This is one of the few professions where it's true that experience really adds up. Compare to, for example, a computer programmer, or other highly technical professions such as engineering, where the technology learned and used 40+ years ago may not even be used any more (how many new computer programs are being written in FORTRAN?).

While the technology to work with is changing (computers, CAT, MT, etc.), the fundamental knowledge base (language) changes only slightly, and new developments don't invalidate old knowledge.

From another point of view, so long as new technology is taken advantage of as it becomes available, it will help increase productivity as time goes on, so, yes, productivity will increase as time (and age) goes on.

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