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Poll: Do you think age and life experience have an impact on the quality of your work?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Local time: 12:45
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Nov 9, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think age and life experience have an impact on the quality of your work?".

This poll was originally submitted by Alison Sparks. View the poll results »



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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 22:45
Turkish to English
+ ...
Definitely Nov 9, 2012

I lived in Turkey for over a decade, during which time I traded regularly on the local stock exchange, even earning my living from doing this for two years, and I ran my own company there for three years. Without this kind of experience, I would not have the insights that I do into the Turkish financial and business world, which give me a deeper understanding of texts in these fields. I think there is limit to what you can learn from textbooks and in classrooms.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, deffo Nov 9, 2012

In the university of life, we learn from our own mistakes as well as those of others. For example, how to avoid pitfalls such as false friends, or typical errors made by non-native speakers of different nationalities and language backgrounds, etc...

I think that in general the longer we do something, the better we usually get at it.
In my case anyway, the older I get, the fewer distractions I have. I no longer feel the need to go out all the time and have such an active social life as I did, say ten years ago. Weekends are no longer set aside for leisure pursuits... etc.

PS: My generation was taught how to write and spell correctly, both in English and foreign languages studied, which I also think helps enormously...

[Edited at 2012-11-09 12:31 GMT]


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:45
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes! Nov 9, 2012

I'm old, and I've had a lot of life experience, so of course I'm going to say "yes"! Just now I was reviewing a translation by a younger woman, and her lack of world knowledge led her to make dozens of incorrect assumptions. It took me much longer to review the work than it would have to translate it much better from scratch because the text sounded smooth, but when I looked at the original I saw that she had been led astray and drawn conclusions from her own knowledge of the world.

(I took this on as a favor--I normally don't do revision.)


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Filipa Plant dos Santos  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:45
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
I like to think so....... Nov 9, 2012

But I really don't know.

Experience in translating of course makes a difference - once you know how to deal with certain 'regular' problems, you free up so much time for making your translation better.

But that wasn't the poll question. Hmmph.

I think that having children has altered my world view in a way that mere extra years have not done. I've changed from being a normal-type responsible person to being a super-organized, ultra-responsible, forward-planning, very tired, worrying-into-the-next-millennium sort of person. Kind of the opposite of Winnie the Pooh, if you know what I mean!

I think maybe that all the above has enabled me to make faster decisions, but has also made me think much more carefully about the consequences of the work that I do.

So maybe the answer is "Yes!".

Hope so.


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Phoebe Indetzki  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:45
German to English
+ ...
Yes, definitely. To a point. Nov 9, 2012

I don't think the first two answers are mutually exclusive. Age and experience DEFINITELY do have some impact. But only to a point. I don't think age and experience benefit me with every single text I translate.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:45
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
No doubt about it Nov 9, 2012

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

I'm old, and I've had a lot of life experience, so of course I'm going to say "yes"!


I couldn't agree more.

neilmac wrote:
In the university of life, we learn from our own mistakes as well as those of others. For example, how to avoid pitfalls such as false friends, or typical errors made by non-native speakers of different nationalities and language backgrounds, etc...

I think that in general the longer we do something, the better we usually get at it.



Education is the foundation while the school of life is the backbone of everything we do.

Tim Draytonwrote:

I think there is limit to what you can learn from textbooks and in classrooms.


Yes, such a limit exists. Without practical exercise "book learning" is as helpful as an engineering degree obtained 40 years ago for someone who has worked in a different field. Language keeps growing and changing, which soon makes all formal education a... "lesson from the past".


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:45
Member (2006)
German to English
Most definately Nov 9, 2012

and I have had this confirmed a few times by outsourcing work to youg "Graduates" who did not (althought it was mentioned in theriprofile here) have a clue about what they were doing and no clue at all about the technical content

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:45
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, definitely! Nov 9, 2012

I believe that translation quality goes hand in hand with experience and knowledge and these grow with age. Typically, the more experience the translator has under his belt, the broader his skill set.

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Max Nuijens  Identity Verified
Belarus
Local time: 23:45
Member
English to Dutch
The question Nov 9, 2012

was not whether 'translation experience' or 'subject knowledge' has an impact on the quality of one's work. The answer to that is obvious.

The question was whether age and life experience in itself, apart from translation-related activity, impacts the quality of your work.

It would be interesting to see comments of those who answered "no" or "it depends".

While I answered "Yes, but to a point" for various reasons, I can imagine the possibility (purely theoretical, detached from my person) of age and life experience having no impact or even a negative impact on the quality of one's work.

Please note that I am simply exploring a theoretical possibility here and say nothing about specific individuals.

People with an advanced age might not always display the openness and flexibility needed for translation. Life experience can feed the idea that one has seen it all, that only younger, less experienced people overestimate themselves. The self confidence that comes with age and life experience might prove deceptive in an occupation like translation.

Again, I just wonder whether age and life experience positively impact the quality of work for a full 100%. Maybe we have overlooked something.

Who dares?


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 21:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
The older I get... Nov 9, 2012

.... and the more life experience I accumulate, the more aware I am of how likely I am to be wrong about things.

In other words, Muriel's comments struck a resouding chord!

And I imagine that when I look back at my work now ten years hence, I will once again be shaking my head at some things, however confident I am that I have got it right! But at least I am also confident that I have made every effort to get it right...


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
More than age, life experience and attitude Nov 9, 2012

Regardless of age, an attitude of intellectual curiosity and a desire to acept and adapt are much more important than experience...in my experience.

For example, I had no trouble accepting and adapting to using a computer instead of a typewriter at age 27 when I started my full-time career as a translator/interpreter. But, what if I am 50 and refuse to accept some use of machine translation postediting? Or refuse to learn different ways to do the same?

To avoid any kind of rut in life, an inquisitive nature and a desire to accept what is found are paramount in my book.


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xxxDavid_M
Local time: 21:45
Thai to German
+ ...
Definitely Nov 9, 2012

... but I don't like saying this, because I'm just 28. Anyway, life is what you make of it and I think it's up to each of us to fill every day with new experiences and chances to grow. Sometimes I meet people who are 10 or 20 years older than me and I wonder what they've done with their lives, because they seem like they have never really tried to do anything meaningful or interesting. In contrast, sometimes I meet others and feel like they must have been on this planet for centuries, because they have done incredibly many impressive things and experienced more than I considered to be possible within one's lifetime...

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Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:45
German to English
+ ...
Exciting, isn't it? Nov 9, 2012

I have loved being in my forties so far*.

What a turbo-charged ride it has been - and continues to be. At some point, a few years ago, I quite suddenly realised, "Hey, you *are* one of the experienced ones now!" Does it give you greater certainty in life and work? Yes. Are there more things to consider before you know you are certain? Yes. Have you got the patience to weigh all these things in the balance? Yes. Do you have the ability to draw on experience in one area of life and apply it to another aspect of your life? Yes. Are you more humble as a result? Of course.

In truth, to hear me muttering behind my screen sometimes, you would think I was a cantankerous 80-something year old, but that it another story.

When I read of minor linguistic blunders which do not get in the way of friendship
http://thoughtsontranslation.com/2012/11/08/lets-not-kill-all-the-translators/#comment-12654
I like wondering to myself what Giscard d'Estaing wrote to Jimmy Carter when the latter was elected back in 1976. I like wondering how long it took for the congratulatory message to travel from France to the USA (by telex, probably), and how long after the event (part of) its contents appeared in the newspapers then. I like having a daydream or two over how language has become less formal over the last three decades, even in diplomatic circles - and yet, not to the same degree in say, French, German, and English, if one were to compare.

Does this sort of thing have a positive impact on the quality of my work? Are "world leaders" from 1976 part of my life experience, or should I churn out a few nitty gritty, hard-to-deal-with-and-overcome issues which might scare away younger translators, and then tell you that these things have made me a better translator?

I suppose the point is this: If you are interested in and engaged in your immediate environment, and the diverse happenings in the world at large, while at the same time having fun in the pursuit of excellence, then the sum of all your experiences plus the age factor will probably have you produce a better translation now than when Pa fell off the bus.

*48 now, but who's counting?


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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
One benefit of youth Nov 9, 2012

I don't think I'm that old (25), so I still see a lot more growing and learning ahead of me. However, I do think that there is a place for young(ish and/or at heart) translators. In video game translations, for example, there is a distinct language that is spoken by younger players. Being part of that group gives linguistic insights and helps provide a better translation.

I think that there are several factors that go into improving the quality of translations ^_^


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