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Poll: Do you think translators' experience is better measured in years or in number of words translated?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 22:24
SITE STAFF
Dec 22, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think translators' experience is better measured in years or in number of words translated?".

This poll was originally submitted by Mikael Adolfsson. View the poll results »



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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:24
Member (2008)
English to Italian
words translated Dec 22, 2010

I was going to say years, but what if you have translated 300.000 in 10 years?

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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 07:24
English to French
+ ...
Dec 22, 2010



[Modifié le 2010-12-22 19:02 GMT]


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Adnan Özdemir  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 08:24
Member (2007)
German to Turkish
+ ...
In number of words and maybe both? Dec 22, 2010

I think translators experience is better measured in number of words and maybe both?

A Translator: 20 years in business -> 500.000 words?
B Translator: 6 years in business -> 2.000.000 words?
C Translator: 20 years in business -> 8.000.000 words?

imho


Saludos desde Anatolia
Anadolu'dan selamlar

[Edited at 2010-12-22 08:24 GMT]


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Sophie Dzhygir  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:24
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
I don't know Dec 22, 2010

But probably both. Interlangue has right to say that growing in life also has its part to play. And I'd also add : what you translated and with whom. Imagine you spent 20 years translating millions of words in a very narrow field: sure, you're a spacialist in this field, but would you still be able to translate anything slightly different? And second point, if you get a chance to work in a team, especially with someone more experienced supervising you, you will learn 10x as much as you would learn by working on your own.

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JaneD  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 07:24
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
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Neither Dec 22, 2010

Interlangue wrote:

Translation is not only a matter of words, neither is experience, which is also a matter of life.


I too believe that a translator's experience can be better measured in other terms, such as - if it were possible - their output quality. If a translator has worked for 10 years and translated hundreds of thousands of words but still produces relatively poor quality work, then what use is all that "experience"?


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:24
English to Japanese
+ ...
Words come before number of years Dec 22, 2010

You could be a translator for 10 years where you've only translated 300,000 words like Gianluca wrote above, but you could also be a translator with just 3 years experience and translate the same number of words. It's how much you actually do, and not the number of years including the years you take off for a vacation or sickness, where you lose the touch.

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David Zhu  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:24
English to Chinese
+ ...
It is every important to learn from other translations Dec 22, 2010

If you translated millions of words within 20 years, however you think your translations are best in most time, you can not improve your translation quality greatly. In such case, years' experience and words translated cannot make your translations better.

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Niraja Nanjundan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:54
German to English
Other Dec 22, 2010

I would prefer *established* translators, to *experienced.* Translators who have established themselves in the profession are earning a good income from a sufficient number of clients who regularly assign them work, no matter whether this happens after x number of years or x number of words. As others have said, the quality of a translator's work is also important.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 06:24
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
For me... Dec 22, 2010

... it is not how much you do, but the quality of what you do!

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Andris Dinaburgskis  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 08:24
English to Latvian
+ ...
Exactly! Dec 22, 2010

Janed wrote:

I too believe that a translator's experience can be better measured in other terms, such as - if it were possible - their output quality. If a translator has worked for 10 years and translated hundreds of thousands of words but still produces relatively poor quality work, then what use is all that "experience"?



In addition, I believe that the correlation between the quality and the number of words translated or working years is very low.

[Edited at 2010-12-22 11:25 GMT]


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Miroslav Jeftic  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:24
English to Serbian
+ ...
Well, Dec 22, 2010

Teresa Borges wrote:

... it is not how much you do, but the quality of what you do!


I think the quality is not the issue here. One could still produce poor quality after 15 yrs or after x words and vice versa

Regarding experience, I think words are still better than years to gauge, since years don't say anything about how much somebody actually worked


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:24
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Both, but I voted for years Dec 22, 2010

The reasoning behind that was that you need to LIVE, read, think, listen to the language, study your specialist subject and lots more besides translating.

Translation takes practise too, but if you have the background experience then you can translate well from the start.

If you do nothing but translate, then you can run up a million words in a short time, but will they be well translated?
Maybe, if you are brilliant and the client is lucky.
If you keep on without gathering real life experience, as others point out, you risk getting into habits, good or bad, and churning out the same clichés and gut reactions time after time.
That is what we have CATs for...

But there are things that older translators should be wary of.
Do you really speak the same language as the younger generation - I bet you don't. Much as I try to keep up, I have to admit my age shows now and then, and I hope I keep to areas where it doesn't matter!



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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:24
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Dec 22, 2010

This is a bit simplistic. Logically, number of words would also be a function of years. But that depends on the individual learning curve - millions of words with minimal input in these terms do not speak well of "experience", whereas a specialized focus with less numbers might be more productive.

Normally, words should speak more about translation experience, but I'm with Interlangue in assuming its more a matter of assimilating life's lessons.


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Elena Novski  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:24
Member
Russian to English
+ ...
That all is not so simple Dec 22, 2010

It depends... a blend of workload (expressed in the number of words) and years of experience; what is also important, what kind of projects you were involved, what kind of clients you were dealing with, your education and your background... all those things count!

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