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Poll: When did you acquire specialist knowledge in your working field(s)?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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SITE STAFF
Jun 9, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "When did you acquire specialist knowledge in your working field(s)?".

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Alexandranow  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 04:10
Romanian to English
+ ...
both Jun 9, 2013

Studying and working....

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:10
English to German
+ ...
Interesting question. Jun 9, 2013

Has the thought ever occurred that translators might have prior university degrees besides "translation" or "linguistics"?

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Karin.  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:10
Member (2008)
Spanish to German
+ ...
A combination of the above Jun 9, 2013

Before, while studying and while working.

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Madeleine Chevassus  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:10
Member (2010)
English to French
I have a previous life! Jun 9, 2013

I was a software engineer and product manager (marketing) before becoming a translator. English was the working language in the company and I spent two years in the US for this company.

I trained for translation by reading, studying, by following Proz trainings and by volunteering for newspapers articles translations, without CAT tool.

The most difficult was to start as a professional translator without enough translation references.

Now I translate in my natural domains (IT, marketing, telecom)

I am now Proz certified in EN>FR, nobody asks me anymore for a linguistic degree. (40% of translators don't have one).

I know my background is not typical!

[Edited at 2013-06-09 08:49 GMT]


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Sebastian Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:10
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
Before working as a translator Jun 9, 2013

In the course of my studies in specialist (and general) translation at the University of Applied Sciences (Fall 1997 to Spring 2002)

There were various classes, both specialist translation ones into and from German and background knowledge ones in German, as well as some in English (most of which included exams): the fields concerned were business (including a year-long introduction to accounting in English) plus a one year-long class in monetary policy and central banking, alongside engineering (between English and German), and also law and engineering (between Spanish and German).


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Enrico Zoffoli  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:10
Member (2013)
German to Italian
+ ...
Ill-formed pool Jun 9, 2013

This poll is ill-formed for two related reasons:

1) It rests on the (entirely misguided) assumption that translators must have some sort of degree in translation or linguistics.

2) While the pool focuses on specializations, it appears to overlook the fact that many translators specialize in certain fields precisely because they have degrees in those fields (and not in translation or linguistics).


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 04:10
Turkish to English
+ ...
While working as a translator Jun 9, 2013

I started getting lots of requests for legal translation when I returned to freelance translating about eight years ago, so I set myself the goal of becoming a competent legal translator in my language pair, which I have achieved, to a fair extent, by a combination of systematic study and researching terminology as it has cropped up in texts that I have worked on.

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Texte Style
Local time: 03:10
French to English
University of life Jun 9, 2013

I started acquiring my knowledge of fashion and textiles when my mother taught me dressmaking at age ten. Never had any formal training whatsoever, but I have had opportunities to visit textile showrooms and discuss technical issues with people in the trade.

I also learnt a lot from my students when teaching English to adults working in all sorts of lines of business. For example, one was the sales director of a renowned champagne producer, and I relied a lot on things he had explained to me and the glossary we came up with together when I translated the website of a competitor.

Madeleine I don't think your profile is that atypical, and your previous experience must be invaluable! I personally think that it's the best possible sort of profile.


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 03:10
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Before and during Jun 9, 2013

I read constantly in various areas, and, in the case of vehicle bodywork repair, I observe processes.

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Chun Un  Identity Verified
Macau
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Before... Jun 9, 2013

I have an undergraduate degree in molecular biology and worked several years as a researcher.

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:10
French to English
Before + during Jun 9, 2013

In chronological order:
First degree in law and French; post-grad study and experience in Law and insurance.
Experience of sailing, construction, racing and sponsorship.
Research masters in Biology and Neuroscience.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 02:10
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Jun 9, 2013

Before and during: one of the things I love about translation is that one learns something every day…

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jun 9, 2013

I never really believed in specialisation for myself per se, preferring to cast my nets wide, and have more or less had my "specialities" thrust upon me and acquired most of my specialist knowledge hands-on, working in several different fields.

My degree is in modern languages (mainly French and Russian). In my time I've worked as a gardener, barman/manager, roadie, TEFL teacher ... and am now a translator mainly "specialising" in bio, marketing and EDI. Go figure.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 10:10
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Always had it in me... Jun 9, 2013

I was always reasonably good at sciences in my 2nd and 3rd years at grammar school (always in the top 5 in the year). For some reason, they (the teachers) put me in the "dead languages" department (i.e. Latin and Greek) for 'O' levels because no other mug marked this down as a 2nd or 3rd choice.

However, my scientific exploits go back even further ...

As a budding rocket scientist at the tender age of 10 years old, I had already designed my own Apollo a la Blue Peter and got the welding iron for the tin cans. I figured I could siphen some petrol out of my brother's car without the clod noticing. All I needed was the "magic ingredient."
I broke open the piggy bank and put all the pennies and ha'pennies and a couple of thrupenny bits and sixpences into a handkerchied, and took them to the local ironmonger. I plonked them down on the counter and asked for "all the liquid nitrogen you've got." Just my luck, they didn't have any in stock. So much for local ironmongers. I have to go to the high street and it would melt before I got home, I thought.

This is how I made a name for myself in the neighbourhood.

Well, all this has come full circle, and here I am having specialized in industrial automation for the past 20+ years.

I don't know as much as someone who has a Mech Eng. degree, but I can talk and have in-depth conversations and discussions with engineers and researchers over here in their language.

Trips to the factory are an absolutely joy!

And as Teresa quite rightly says, you DO learn something new every day -- which is one the joys of our profession.


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