Poll: Do you include self-taught subjects among your fields of expertise?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 22:08
SITE STAFF
Jul 20, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you include self-taught subjects among your fields of expertise?".

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:08
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Of course. Jul 20, 2013

And these "self-taught" subjects/fields generate most of my income.

Anybody, who educates her-/himself to be as good in any field as possible, is a self-teacher. icon_smile.gif


 

Theo Bernards (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:08
English to Dutch
+ ...
Mais bien sûr! Jul 20, 2013

You cannot be a translator and not learn about what you translate (unless you are an MT post-editor and even then you are bound to pick up new knowledge). Apart from marketing and debt collection, all my other specialisations are self-taught.

[Edited at 2013-07-20 09:36 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:08
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jul 20, 2013

Am not sure if I understand the question.

I do translate in fields where most, if not all my knowledge, has been acquired through translating texts in said fields; for example BIO, EDI, marketing etc.

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that most of my "expertise" was acquired this way. Any knowledge I initially brought to the table was about the English language and how to apply it - since I had little, if any, in-depth knowledge of the subject areas and content per se.


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 08:08
Turkish to English
+ ...
Yes Jul 20, 2013

My main field of expertise nowadays - law - is entirely self-taught.

 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:08
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not really Jul 20, 2013

I shove art in sometimes but art belongs to the category of "general translation" so in theory it could be done by any general translator. I do have plenty of art catalogues and arty interpretations behind me anyway.

But besides this exception, my specialities are based on uni studies.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 06:08
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes Jul 20, 2013

I started out freelancing as a generalist translator, not at all focused within a specific area of specialization, but eager to learn as much as I could. Apart from tourism, economics and marketing, I acquired all my other skills and specializations along the way. This is what builds up to form what is generically called “experience”.

 

njweatherdon
Canada
French to English
+ ...
. Jul 20, 2013

Tatty wrote:

... but art belongs to the category of "general translation" so in theory it could be done by any general translator. I do have plenty of art catalogues and arty interpretations behind me anyway.



Are you serious, art belongs to general translation? I would have thought it to be at least as much in need of someone with specialized knowledge and language skills as many other areas of specialization?

For example, I would not even consider taking on an art translation because I don't feel I know enough about how language is used to discuss art.


 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:08
Spanish to English
+ ...
How strange! Jul 20, 2013

Well, if you study general translation you usually cover art or texts with artistic content to some extent. Art texts can be very challenging, you just need to know both the source and target languages very well.

 

Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:08
German to English
+ ...
Strange question Jul 20, 2013

This question assumes humans are incapable of learning without "being taught"!

I was privileged to have received a good education which taught me how to think, and how to learn. The rest has been up to me.

My two cents on "art": This is absolutely a specialist field within which there are many specialist fields for which familiarity and expertise is essential in order to do justice to the source text.

My nose does get shoved a little out of joint by the pervasive idea that only "technical" texts are difficult. When most people inform me that a text is "not too technical", all my warning bells go off. Why, just the other day I edited a translation on a bilateral tax agreement which was "not too technical", yet many of the "not too technical" terms seemed to have been beyond the ken of the original translator. Clearly a case where self-teaching was somewhat lacking.

(Note: I am possibly grumpy today because, for the first time in a long time, I have to deal with the technicalities of cleaning the stove and the fridge instead of the technicalities involved in one of those so-called not-too-technical translations!)


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:08
French to English
Easy peasy Jul 20, 2013

Just replying to the idea that technical = difficult and non-technical = easy.
Someone who is a nuclear physicist may not find a particular text difficult; someone who is not will probably not know where to start! Someone who has no marketing experience may think a text is easy but get caught out as so many apparently ordinary words actually have a very specific meaning.

I do neither nuclear physics nor marketing texts. I have no professional experience, training, qualifications or personal interest in either. In my view, I cannot and should not translate in either of those fields. I bet that if you ask a layman whether nuclear physics and/or marketing are technical fields, many more would consider nuclear physics technical than marketing. How wrong they would be!

However, if through personal experience, personal interest, passion and devotion, you learn about a wholly new field, and if you remain humble enough to know your limits, but curious enough to continue developing your knowledge, then yes, you can exploit self-taught specializations in translation.

Apart from natural language ability, I think curiosity is top of my list in pre-requisites to being a good translator.

[Edited at 2013-07-20 13:58 GMT]


 

njweatherdon
Canada
French to English
+ ...
everything's a bit self taught, no? Jul 20, 2013

re: art translating.

What you say makes sense. I suppose you probably know a bit more about art than me too:)

_____________

I have formal training (i.e. took at least some classes) in most of my specializations, including a master's degree in one of them. However, I think most of the knowledge which allows me to apply those book smarts effectively for the purpose of translation came from self study and real world experience. I suspect the same would be true for most people who have a formal educational background in their areas of translating specialization.


 

njweatherdon
Canada
French to English
+ ...
curiosity may kill the cat, but save the translator Jul 20, 2013

Agree with Nikki on curiosity being a huge factor leading to being/becoming a good translator.

 

Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:08
Spanish to English
+ ...
Of course Jul 20, 2013

Though I was formally trained in many of the areas that I work in, the ones where I personally feel like I excel the most are areas that I was passionate and curious about (as mentioned previously).

I also enjoy taking part in semi-formal training and education in all my areas. I'm especially excited for my upcoming course in video game literature. The local university has a course on Sci-Fi/Fantasy literature that I really enjoyed, as well as the courses on business law, accounting, marketing, etc, etc, etc...

I don't think I'm ever going to leave school, there's just too much to learn.


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:08
English to Spanish
+ ...
Art is a whole different world Jul 20, 2013

Tatty wrote:

Well, if you study general translation you usually cover art or texts with artistic content to some extent. Art texts can be very challenging, you just need to know both the source and target languages very well.


First, there is no such thing as art as a general discipline. There are too many genres in art, art periods, art schools (cubism, impressionism, shock art, etc.). Second, writing about a particular kind of art requires an exquisite command of language, expressivity, a bit of poetry and a knack for elegant style in writing.

So, no, it's not a general topic.


 


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