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Poll: When did you stop seeing yourself as a beginner translator after starting your career?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 13:36
SITE STAFF
Oct 12, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "When did you stop seeing yourself as a beginner translator after starting your career?".

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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:36
French to English
+ ...
Can't remember! Oct 12, 2012

So I said other. It was nearly 30 years ago after all.....

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 21:36
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
After the first 5 years of practice! Oct 12, 2012

I started very slowly (part-time anyway) more than 30 years ago...

[Edited at 2012-10-12 10:46 GMT]

@Barbara

Me too, I'm still learning: that's exactly one of the things I love about translation


[Edited at 2012-10-12 10:48 GMT]


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Anna Spanoudaki-Thurm  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:36
Member (2009)
German to Greek
+ ...
I should have answered "other". Oct 12, 2012

Like Teresa, I started slowly and it was less than 5 years ago. In general, I feel there is a lot to learn, given also that I am a "Quereinsteiger" (PONS: sb entering a field of work different from their educational background).
On a second thought, there are a couple of special fields in which I can confidently claim to be an experienced pro... As there are also other fields, in which I will never be one (Legal, Gaming).


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Theo Bernards  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:36
English to Dutch
+ ...
I dropped that "stigma" as soon as I could Oct 12, 2012

and that was within 3 months. The way I see it: on a subconscious level you project what you perceive and if you think of yourself as a beginner, you will unknowingly give the impression of a beginner to prospects. The sooner one starts thinking of him/herself as an experienced professional, the better and besides, the fact that a translator knows his/her languages is only part of the skill set he/she brings to the table. Many of us had careers prior to becoming translators, and the expertise derived from those careers is often enough leverage to counterbalance the beginner translator aspect.

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Wendy Streitparth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:36
Member (2010)
German to English
+ ...
Instant confidence gradually diminished Oct 12, 2012

When I began translating, I was full of confidence, which seemed to be confirmed by success. As the years have passed, I have come to realize just how complex the shades of language are and that you will never be good enough!

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Barbara Carrara  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:36
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
What?!? Oct 12, 2012

I am appalled by these results (12:34pm of 12 Oct. 2012):

6 months - year 11.6%
3 - 6 months 3.9%
< 3 months 2.7%

No wonder the quality of some translations leaves so much to be desired...

I have voted > 2 years, but should have selected 'other' instead.

After 25+ years, I am still learning, and it is as exciting as ever (if I manage to steer away from nonsense translations and translation offers, that is)...

Happy translating and happy learning, everyone!


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Andrea Munhoz  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:36
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Six months to one year Oct 12, 2012

You see, when I started translating, I was already a language professional - taught English and Portuguese for years. It was just a matter of getting adapted to a new way of dealing with both languages.

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Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 21:36
German to English
+ ...
Plumbed for "other" Oct 12, 2012

Barbara Carrara wrote:

I am appalled by these results (12:34pm of 12 Oct. 2012):

6 months - year 11.6%
3 - 6 months 3.9%
< 3 months 2.7%

No wonder the quality of some translations leaves so much to be desired...

I have voted > 2 years, but should have selected 'other' instead.

After 25+ years, I am still learning, and it is as exciting as ever (if I manage to steer away from nonsense translations and translation offers, that is)...

Happy translating and happy learning, everyone!


This is a truly humbling profession which involves a lot more than experience solely in translation. I think I started to think of myself as less of a beginner when

1) I was able to state my rates with equanimity - and without justification, either - and have them accepted without question. (That was after about 10 years).

2) I received positive feedback from translators much more *experienced* than I on answers/suggestions given to terminological questions via early translator mailing lists and so on. (That was also about 10 years after being let loose on the world.)

Like you, Barbara, the daily lessons keep coming even after 25 years of translating - and I certainly do not want them to stop.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:36
French to English
. Oct 12, 2012

.

[Edited at 2012-10-12 12:25 GMT]


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:36
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Not yet Oct 12, 2012

Of course I tell my customers that I am highly experienced. Indeed, according to my CV, I have lots of qualifications and experience in all sorts of relevant areas. However, I think I will always feel as though I am just starting out. Every day I learn something new and realise how much more there is still to learn.

In spite of my not-so-young age I still don't feel like a grown-up yet, either. Perhaps when I'm 80 I might feel differently...


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
A couple of years probably Oct 12, 2012

I can't really remember either, even though it was just a few years ago really. I don't think that it takes all that long to build up experience, with the right training behind you. When I started out I was offering competitive rates so after just under a year I was receiving far more work than I could handle. During my first year I went to work in 2 agencies so I could see how others translated and have my work assessed.

I think that the big difference between having experience and not is that at the beginning you are looking for terms for the first time, whereas later on you've seen them many more times in a range of different contexts. With experience, you have a much easier time of it. Naturally my translating skills have improved over the years but some of my earlier translations are brilliant, in my unbiased opinion, naturally.


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Louise Péron  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
English to French
Wow. Excellent business advice! Oct 12, 2012

Theo Bernards wrote:

The way I see it: on a subconscious level you project what you perceive and if you think of yourself as a beginner, you will unknowingly give the impression of a beginner to prospects.


Other than the year spent working in retail (and gaining some business insight) as a break between my BA and MA, I was very much a beginner when I set up business in February last year.

I still consider myself a young translator because I am relatively new in the industry and have still a lot to learn in business, but I wouldn't call myself a beginner - after all, I do my job just like any other professionnal.


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xxxStrastran
France
Local time: 22:36
French to English
+ ...
On my first day Oct 12, 2012

I am still learning and am sure I will still be learning after another 25 years, but the question is 'when did you stop seeing yourself as a beginner translator'. For me, it was the day I made it my full-timer career. To my mind, there is no point in starting a career in something as a professional and still considering yourself a 'beginner'. So, personally, I consciously decided to consider myself a professional translator.

If you visited a doctor, a mechanic, an accountant etc. on his or her first day after qualifying, and he described himself as a 'beginner', would you be happy? I wouldn't. I want to deal with someone who thinks of him or herself as a professional and has the attitude to match.

That is not the same as assuming you have nothing left to learn.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
Define "beginner" Oct 12, 2012

Not everyone starts translating full time. Some switch occupation on a part-time basis or discover it while doing something else.

Perceiving oneself as a beginner is not so much a matter of years but a matter of expertise. I would argue that it's not time-quantifiable either because it's such a personal perception.

Now, clients do not usually bother to refer to beginning translators as beginners. A translation is well done, sufficiently well done or poorly done, or done by an amateur who can't distinguish a dictionary from a phone book.

About the poll, I'd say the author sees himself/herself as a philosophy beginner...


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