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Poll: Do you think your main/only language combination gives you an advantage over some other translators?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 22:17
SITE STAFF
Oct 21, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think your main/only language combination gives you an advantage over some other translators?".

This poll was originally submitted by Dave Bindon. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Oct 21, 2013

I'm not sure I understand the question.

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Enrico Zoffoli  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:17
Member (2013)
German to Italian
+ ...
Other Oct 21, 2013

It's an advantage if the client requires my language combination for a particular job, otherwise it's a disadvantage. That seems pretty obvious to me. Am I missing something here?

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 08:17
Turkish to English
+ ...
Same here Oct 21, 2013

neilmac wrote:

I'm not sure I understand the question.


Same here. Obviously my language combination of Turkish to English gives me an advantage over you if the client is looking for a translator from Turkish, because you do not do that pair, and your combination of Spanish to English gives you an advantage over me if the client needs a translator from Spanish, because I do not know any Spanish. So, yes. But if that is what is being asked, it is somewhat self evident.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:17
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Which part? Oct 21, 2013

neilmac wrote:

I'm not sure I understand the question.


"main/only" or "advantage over"?

Since I have 2 main combinations I put NA (while wondering if "only language combination" wouldn't refer to rare combinations, which are an advantage in terms of usefulness, but I got blocked over "other translators" because I never considered that competition; at any rate it still didn't apply to me).

Admittedly, I could've missed something.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 06:17
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Oct 21, 2013

I'm not sure I understand the question either. Anyway, if I have an advantage over other translators, it suppose this has little to do with my language combinations but with the fact that I may be experienced, organized, detail-oriented, motivated, punctual, reliable, flexible or whatever...

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:17
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Other Oct 21, 2013

neilmac wrote:

I'm not sure I understand the question.


The only way the language combination could turn into an advantage was if very exotic language combinations were offered, such as Tigrinya, Inupiat, Tsêhésenêstsestôtse, or Zulu & Co.


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Heather McCrae  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:17
Member (2012)
German to English
basically Oct 21, 2013

I think the question means that being a single language translator, you can really be extremely proficient in that language. so it is an advantage to translate from a single language - or is it?

Do people who translate from more than one language really get all the nuances, especially if they are not living in that country, etc.

I found I had to give up doing Italian to English translations as I just did not have enough exposure to Italian living in Germany. I did not have the time to keep up my linguistic expertise and so eventually I decided to stop offering that service - problem was I never got enough I-EN work here in Germany, a vicious cycle.


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Gallagy
Ireland
Local time: 06:17
Member (2010)
French to English
+ ...
translating into English probably a disadvantage Oct 21, 2013

especially from my languages French and Spanish since there is so much competition not just from (English) native speakers but also from NON NATIVES who (mistakenly) think they have wonderful skills and who work for peanuts. I'd love to do literary translation but there is only a small percentage of books that get translated into English so very little work and lots of competition.


I'd like to have Japanese/Chinese or some other more exotic language. I started learning Thai when I lived in Thailand but, while it's easy enough to learn to speak it, reading it is far more difficult as the "alphabet" or system is quite complicated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thai_alphabet


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polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
not language but speciality Oct 21, 2013

I specialise in a particular field, in which my skills are well-known. The fact that my main language combination is one of the most common is irrelevant because of that factor.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No, but it's NOT a disadvantage! Oct 21, 2013

I translate EN-PT in both directions, however it was my choice, a long time ago.

I could add IT/FR/ES to my pairs, however I chose otherwise.

I am conscious that I would have to study respectively 3/4/5 years more of each to do begin doing it in the latter three languages to my quality standards, yet I see a large number of translators working between EN-PT with a lesser knowledge than I have in these three.


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Leon Ivanihin  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:17
Member (2011)
English to Russian
Fom my main language pair - disadvantage, sure Oct 21, 2013

Interesting question, thank you, Dave!
I thought about this problem...
My main language pair (English to Russian) is very common. As I can see, more common is only English-Spanish pair. The result is high competitive market. The problem is even sharper because of coming of tons of Ukrainian translators, who also can translate in my language pair.

There was a time I think about learning new, more rare exotic language for further professional working with it. It is possible to learn for me, as a linguist.
But, at the same time, rare language pair means much less orders...


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:17
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Oct 21, 2013

I have two language combinations:

Spanish-English: Yes, there's a lot of competition, but I've never had trouble getting work. I do a lot of repeat business in Spanish and a lot of long jobs (10 K - 50 K words). The main problem with Spanish-English is that some translators are willing to work for low rates just to get the work, which pulls down the rates that agencies are willing to pay ("If I can get a translator to do it for 7 cents a word, why should I pay 12 cents?"). So S>E *could* be a disadvantage because of both the many translators available and the competitive rate structure.

Portuguese-English: There's less demand and a smaller supply of translators. I get more requests for Portuguese from new clients than I do for Spanish, but over all, there's less work and I couldn't support myself doing Portuguese-English alone. I don't recall that my rate has ever been an issue, which suggests that clients may be willing to pay more. If I lived in Brazil, my services might be more in demand, but I couldn't charge international rates. Both this year and last year, 40% of my assignments were from Portuguese, but the jobs tended to be shorter. Bottom line: P>E is a smaller market; it pays better, but it's not a livelihood.

In conclusion, I think there's a tradeoff: there's more competition for the popular language pairs, but there's also a lot more work. With the less popular pairs there's less competition, there there's also less work.


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Sharon Toh, MITI MCIL
Singapore
Local time: 14:17
Member (2009)
Chinese to English
+ ...
Same here Oct 21, 2013

gallagy2 wrote:

especially from my languages French and Spanish since there is so much competition not just from (English) native speakers but also from NON NATIVES who (mistakenly) think they have wonderful skills and who work for peanuts.


This is unfortunately the same for Chinese to English, which is my main language pair. However, one advantage of this over English to Chinese is that most clients can tell the quality of writing easily. If you do it well, you get recurring clients. I imagine that it is the same for Spanish and French into English.


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:17
French to German
+ ...
Other Oct 21, 2013

English > German seems to be a disadvantage since there is so much competition.
Italian > German jobs are few and far between these days. In fact I did not get a single Italian > German job for nearly a year.
French > German has turned out to be my main pair with a fairly good amount of work and very enjoyable jobs.

I hope I'll be able to add Swedish > German to my working languages, but that's still a long way off.


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