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Poll: I consider myself to be a/an______translator/interpreter.
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 00:17
Sep 25, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "I consider myself to be a/an______translator/interpreter.".

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Bit of both Sep 25, 2013

Very ambitious in terms of delivering quality but not so ambitious career-wise as I am already more or less where I want to be

And frankly there isn't very far you can go as a translator anyway, we're never going to be rich

[Edited at 2013-09-25 08:43 GMT]


Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:17
Turkish to English
+ ...
Highly ambitious Sep 25, 2013

I think I can make that claim. I started to receive frequent demands for legal translations about 7-8 years ago, and set myself the goal of becoming a top-notch legal translator in my language pair. I decided that best way of doing this would be to start studying Turkish university law text books in great detail and then conducing related terminological research. So this is exactly what I did, and the project continues. I will soon finish an introductory text book on civil law and then have a 750-page tome on civil procedural law lined up. Given that I am now aged 57, I think this points to a fair degree of ambition.

[Edited at 2013-09-25 08:52 GMT]


peter jackson  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:17
Spanish to English
Building ambition! Sep 25, 2013

I am currently trying to make the difficult transition from part-time to full-time translator. My ambition is to step up the flow of work but am constantly thwarted in the quest!


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Sep 25, 2013

I'm not sure if I consider "ambition" to be a good thing... my initial reaction is negative. I seem to remember being taught that the demise of Julius Caesar in Shakespeare's eponymous play was due to the ambition of the friend who finally stabbed him. Then there's Madonna and her "Blonde Ambition". Nope, it's not looking too good from here...

PS: Perhaps I should take a leaf out of the Google book and ask Did you mean"motivated"...?

[Edited at 2013-09-25 08:57 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-09-25 08:58 GMT]


Teresa Borges
Local time: 08:17
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Somewhat ambitious Sep 25, 2013

To improve the quality of my work has been my main goal and ambition since I started translating some 30 years ago and I’m still working on it every day. Like Chris I’m not so ambitious career-wise as I’m (almost) where I wanted to be…


Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:17
German to English
Not particularly Sep 25, 2013

As long as I can pay my bills, run my car and motorbike and afford a decent holiday every year I'm a happy bunny! Which has been the case for the last twenty-odd years. That'll do me...

Steve K.


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Same here Sep 25, 2013

neilmac wrote:

I'm not sure if I consider "ambition" to be a good thing... my initial reaction is negative. I seem to remember being taught that the demise of Julius Caesar in Shakespeare's eponymous play was due to the ambition of the friend who finally stabbed him. Then there's Madonna and her "Blonde Ambition". Nope, it's not looking too good from here...

PS: Perhaps I should take a leaf out of the Google book and ask Did you mean "motivated"...?

I tried to envision an ambitious translator/interpreter...

Would that be the one that will bid on and take ANY job, regardless of whether they are skilled to do it properly, in an attempt to stretch their coverage?

Would it be like some I see on forums now and then saying, "I've never translated video in my life, no idea on how to go about it, but I have now such an assignment. How much do people charge to do it?"

Would it be one that will accept jobs at ANY rate, no matter how low, in order to be so busy to believe that they are in very high demand? (later they'll be found moaning about low rates on countless forums)

There are many other stereotypes, none of which seems to be a sustainably good role model.


Ashish Kumar Jaiswal  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:47
Member (2013)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Ambitious...hmm! Sep 25, 2013

First thing is whether as an individual or as a group of translators?

As an Individual - there are some limits:

1. You can do a certain no. of word (obviously which will vary person to person)

2. Rate has a certain upper limit (mind you, no lower limit, before it touches to zeroicon_razz.gif)

3. So you can be ambitious about what ? Increasing word count per day ? But up-to what extent? after a threshold you can't increase work hours and the word count too! Of-course for some people this threshold could be 1500 word per day OR for few people it could be 15000 words per dayicon_razz.gif, but mind you NOT beyond a threshold.

4. Rate...hmm! So you gonna fight with a agencies to hike rate ? (From my perspective this industry has more supply than demand, although some language pairs could be exception). And for that fight what you gonna get ? "Sir/Ma'am presently we don't have projects in your language pair, as soon we will get any project, we will certainly contact you".

5. Of-course you will have freedom to run from post to pillar to search new and so called BETTER agency for once moreicon_razz.gif

Of-course you can keep striving for improvement, scope for that is infinite, AT LEAST IN PRINCIPALicon_razz.gif

Whereas for a group of translator (i.e. as a agency) - above rules simply doesn't apply.

With thanks


Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:17
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Used to be Sep 25, 2013

When I employed DTP staff and provided a broad range of LSP and design services to customers, I did think I would be building pyramids with my name on them some time in the future.
But when a few customers reneged on various promises of work to the total tune of 38,000,000 yen in one year (you do the math, about 100 yen to US$1), the wind was quickly kicked out of my sails. icon_rolleyes.gif

As far as motivation is concerned, well, I'm always striving to push myself and do better work, like the rest of you all. Otherwise, I might as well throw the towel in and work at Tescos.

Any openings for bi-lingual shelf-stackers?

Added last line

[Edited at 2013-09-25 12:41 GMT]


Berna Bleeker
Local time: 09:17
Member (2011)
English to Dutch
It depends Sep 25, 2013

Like Chris S, I am
Very ambitious in terms of delivering quality but not so ambitious career-wise


Carmen Grabs
Local time: 09:17
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
Very ambitious Sep 25, 2013

I feel that my career as freelance translator has only started and I want to become better and better. I know where I can/must/want to improve and when I find time I invest in webinars, training courses, reading, education.

Being a translator makes me proud and happy. I have been working as employee-translator/sales person all my life and never imagined being able to do so from the comfort of my own home.


Theo Bernards (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:17
English to Dutch
+ ...
Other Sep 25, 2013

Frankly, I don't understand this blind concern with ambition and it seems to have become a buzz word that can be explained in many directions. You are either good at what you do, or you aren't and if you aren't you either try to improve, or change career. I consider myself to be a good translator in some industries (hence my specialisations), but who one should avoid in other subject matters (which is why I don't actively pursue legal, medical or pharmaceutical assignments - a disaster in the making).

I prefer to think of myself as a subject matter expert on a number of topics I have specialised in and a translating all-rounder in many other topics. My ambition reaches no further than a strong desire to deliver flawless work to every client who pays me to do so.

[Edited at 2013-09-25 11:22 GMT]


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:17
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Other Sep 25, 2013

My first thought was no, I'm too old and cynical!
Ambition sounds too pushy for me.
I stopped dreaming about getting the Nobel Prize for medicine decades ago icon_wink.gif

It does depend what you mean by ambition, though.
I hope I have not gone completely to seed!

Really deserving those nice thank-you mails that come in now and then... is as good an ambition as any, I think.


Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:17
English to Polish
+ ...
Don't care really Sep 25, 2013

There are days I think I'm really awesome, and there are days I think weak against the forces of nature, but I wouldn't stop for a moment to think if I'm ambitious or not. I might have time for ambition itself but not for wondering if I have it or not.

This said, I have an ambitious view of the dignity of our profession, and a cavalier attitude towards many of the weak-kneed commercialised ideas of modern linguistics, such as:

– disguising translation; in my view to lessen the equivalence of one's translation or make one's style worse just simply in order to avoid an impression of being literal is malpractice – yes, malpractice;
– incorporating 'feedback' from clients to the point of taking correction on matters of grammar from people who are only somewhat proficient, which is also malpractice because it's still a lie to admit a fault that is not one's own;
– bending over backwards to carry out the dumbest, most convoluted and self-contradicting of wishes as if that's where our professional development lies (it doesn't);
– gladly taking over menial tasks and junior admin duties that an entry-level teenage gopher could do.

More controversially, I'm ill at ease with the notion of translators becoming de facto software technicians with regard to CAT programs (yes, it's spelt 'program' in EN-UK too, if it's a piece of code). I say 'controversially' because it's hard to criticise someone for aiming to achieve technical mastery of the tools of his trade. But, IMHO, that shouldn't take place at the expense of real translation skills.

And it's ******* annoying that software-related skills, of a kind that would mark only a very junior IT technician, forget a real engineer, are prized more than real translation skills these days.

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