Poll: Do you specialize in certain field(s)?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 13:43
SITE STAFF
Sep 13, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you specialize in certain field(s)?".

This poll was originally submitted by Elodie Bonnafous. View the poll results »



Direct link Reply with quote
 

Anna Spanoudaki-Thurm  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:43
Member (2009)
German to Greek
+ ...
yes! Sep 13, 2010

I can't imagine how it is possible NOT to specialise.

It would be interesting to read comments by colleagues who have answered "no".


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:43
Member
German to English
+ ...
Sort of! Sep 13, 2010

I wouldn't say I'm a specialist translator. I like to think of myself as a generalist as my bread-and-butter material is general commercial texts which require no great specialist knowledge, just a bit of linguistic finesse. There are more technical areas which I'm also comfortable dealing with, and areas I will steer well clear of, but the vast majority of what I do is not in my specialist areas, because it is not specialist at all!

Direct link Reply with quote
 

María Eugenia Wachtendorff  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 17:43
English to Spanish
+ ...
Specialization is a must! Sep 13, 2010

In my experience, if you want to have a stable client portfolio that keeps you busy, you need to specialize in at least 3-4 fields.

Quoting Anna, It would be interesting to read comments by colleagues who have answered "no"!

Cheers!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Amandine Added  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:43
English to French
+ ...
Better be Sep 13, 2010

I think that specialisation is compulsory in some areas, we should not forget that we translate from or to languages that are not our native one and in some cases: legal, technical, engineering... you cannot translate if you have never worked in this field. it is also an asset on a profile and most clients (working in these field) checked most of time our abilities within the field.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Simon Cole  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:43
Member (2008)
French to English
As much as possible Sep 13, 2010

Like Mary, I do a wide variety of things (work is work, after all) but aim to recognise my limits so as to avoid getting out of my depth. Certain fields are preferred and more enjoyable because of previous experience, but we can't always choose.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 22:43
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Process of elimination! Sep 13, 2010

Like Mary, I like to regard myself as a generalist.

I translate a very wide range of texts, but often my target readers are not specialists. It may be information to the public from authorities etc. or to customers who do not themselves specialise in the products they are buying, e.g. B2C communications. Here, my specialism is the language as much as the subject area. Marketing, where as one PM put it, I really spend time fine-tuning and polishing the result.

There are a great many areas that require real specialists, and I keep a respectful distance or recommend a colleague who knows more about the area than I do when offered jobs of that kind.

I do have my specialist fields, of course, and would probably try to specialise more somehow if I had started at a younger age. Life has dealt me a hand of medium-good cards with no clear trumps, i.e my experience is wide but not deep. I concentrate on delivering the best quality I can with those.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:43
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
yes some Sep 13, 2010

I do work in several areas but specialize, or work more in a few. I like medical and health science. However I don't market myself as a specialist. I like doing different fields of interest.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 23:43
English to Russian
+ ...
Yes, but... Sep 13, 2010

I answered "yes" but it would be more correct to say that there are some fields where I avoid taking translation jobs.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:43
English
+ ...
I guess you could say I'm a generalist who specializes in improving and perfecting English... Sep 13, 2010

Christine Andersen wrote:

Like Mary, I like to regard myself as a generalist.

I translate a very wide range of texts... I really spend time fine-tuning and polishing the result.

There are a great many areas that require real specialists, and I keep a respectful distance or recommend a colleague who knows more about the area than I do when offered jobs of that kind.



As a translator and an editor, I specialize in working with clients who are not native English speakers...which means I, like Christine, do a lot of fine-tuning and polishing, so the English, whether the text is a translation I've done, another (non-native) translator's work, or in English by another (non-native) writer, end ups being that of an intelligent, educated, native English speaker.

And like Alexander, " there are some fields where I avoid taking translation jobs." I know my own limits...

[Edited at 2010-09-13 13:09 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:43
Member (2006)
German to English
Yes, definately! Sep 13, 2010

I have definately specialised in my fields of education / professionalism and I will definately not be wandering around in any other fields where I am not familiary with. There are many translators out there that think they can do specialised translations and the results .... need I say more.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Douglas Bissell  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 21:43
Member (2010)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Specialised in NOT Sep 13, 2010

I, probably like most translators, get a lot of general stuff to do such as letters, presentations and so on. These normally require no specialiset knowledge, just a good command of L1. Technical translations are quite another ball game, where either you know what you are talking about and hammer out the text at a good rate of knots or get stuck for hours on every second word meaning that you are wasting your time, the client's time and often a better translator's time. I specialise in finance, economics and law because these are areas I am most at home in. When asked to work in another specialist field I tend to reject the work as I could be doing something more productive.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, but Sep 13, 2010

more by luck than judgement.

Basically, I am usually willing to tackle any text on any subject that I feel capable of dealing with and have never really considered myself a specialist on any. In fact, I used to see specialisation as a sort of "cop-out", sticking to the safety blanket of familiar subject areas. However, over the years, I have gradually come to realise that after translating and revising several texts in a given sector, one does become, if not an expert, at least well-versed in the language typical of that area.

About 10 years ago I was teaching English in a company engaged in EDI, then in its infancy. They started sending me their texts for translation/revision and I have since gained a lot of knowledge in the area, or so they keep telling me.

A similar thing happened with biological sciences, phytosanitary issues, animal husbandry and veterinary medicine, and I now have contacts with several universities whom I help out with their academic papers.

However, I still find it hard to pin down my "specialist areas", especially when applying for jobs. Sometimes a change of subject area can be refreshing...


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Theo Bernards  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:43
English to Dutch
+ ...
Depends on what you call specialization Sep 13, 2010

I am with Alexander on this one, I specialize by admitting to clients that for certain fields I am not the best possible translator. There are also fields where I have other reasons for not accepting an assignment: legal, specific medical (i.e. thorax or brain surgery) or very technical (i.e. power plants), and sometimes I politely decline because there are topics I don't want to know about, let alone translate: a website promoting the supremacy of the Arian race, for example, wouldn't sit well with me and I would not only decline but probably report to the proper authorities as well (and advise the client of that step as well).

But truth be told and as Douglas puts it, there are a lot of things coming my way as a translator and my prime concern is feeding my family. If that means taking on semi-specialized work occasionally I won't step back from it. After all, my vegetable garden only yields so much and it would be nice to have the things on the dinner table I can't grow in my garden.

And what Neil says is true for me as well: change of flavor does improve the appetite, so occasionally I struggle into the deep hours on a text that is way out of my usual fields. It is very rewarding to be complimented about the quality of such translations . It is for me one of the nicer perks of being an independent translator.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:43
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Another perspective Sep 14, 2010

Alexander Kondorsky wrote:

I answered "yes" but it would be more correct to say that there are some fields where I avoid taking translation jobs.


I like your refreshing answer! In my case, I could say there are *many* fields that I avoid.

That said, after 30 years of working in certain fields I have come to feel pretty competent in them, and my clients seem to like my work. I think that's a good business model. I'm wasting everyone's time if I take a job in a field I'm not familiar with.

[Edited at 2010-09-14 05:38 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Jared Tabor[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Poll: Do you specialize in certain field(s)?

Advanced search






LSP.expert
You’re a freelance translator? LSP.expert helps you manage your daily translation jobs. It’s easy, fast and secure.

How about you start tracking translation jobs and sending invoices in minutes? You can also manage your clients and generate reports about your business activities. So you always keep a clear view on your planning, AND you get a free 30 day trial period!

More info »
Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search