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Poll: How often do you encourage friends or family members to become freelance translators?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 14:14
SITE STAFF
Nov 21, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How often do you encourage friends or family members to become freelance translators?".

This poll was originally submitted by Anne-Sophie Cardinal. View the poll results »



 

Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:14
Member
German to English
+ ...
Never Nov 21, 2013

Because those who approach me normally 'have done an A-level in French so thought they might give translation a go' or something similar. Pointing them at the postgraduate degree qualifications I had before embarking on the profession normally puts them off!

 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 22:14
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Nov 21, 2013

Generally, I don’t give advice unless I’m asked for it. Maybe I would if I thought the person had what is required to become a freelance translator, namely not only a suitable professional qualification and language skills but also stamina, determination, a thick skin, flexibility, patience, diplomacy, networking skills, research skills, an insatiable thirst for knowledge…

 

Heather McCrae  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:14
German to English
I try Nov 21, 2013

when I think someone has the capability, but I always make it clear they need to study hard and get the appropriate qualifications/experience
my worst failure is my hubby, he says he does not have the discipline required to work at home. Well, maybe he is right icon_wink.gif but when I think about him spending over 10 hours away from home in some rubbishy temping job, earning a third of what I earn, I feel like going out and getting a whip. Discipline WILL be learnt
icon_wink.gif


 

Noura Tawil  Identity Verified
Syria
Local time: 00:14
Member (2013)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Rarely Nov 21, 2013

My answer should be closer to "Never", but I did encourage a friend once, he has an undergraduate degree in English literature, but it was other factors that held him back. People tend to greatly under-estimate the skills, time, commitment, and determination that taking this path requires.

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
Rarely Nov 21, 2013

In fact, yesterday one friend, who has just walked out of a horrible job, asked me about becoming a translator, but I didn't encourage him. He see me working from home and getting up when I feel like it in the mornings and thinks it'll be easy going.

 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:14
Member (2012)
French to English
Never Nov 21, 2013

When my son was choosing his A level subjects, I discussed various career options with him. In fact, it was through researching on his behalf that I came across the Distance Learning MA Translation course, which I ended up doing myself. My son has many of the qualities that would make a great translator, and he has helped me many times when I've been struggling to find the right phrase. Unfortunately, he has abandoned modern languages in favour of Classics for his degree, and amuses himself by translating the Aeneid into English verse.

 

Theo Bernards  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:14
English to Dutch
+ ...
Never, because freelance is a different kettle of fish for most people. Nov 21, 2013

I have a good few friends and family members whom I suspect would be more than decent translators, but it is the freelance aspect that would put them off: it is not for many, the life of a freelance entrepreneur, regardless of the underlying skill set (on this website, it is mainly translation). Most people I know value the cozy worry-free being employed situation too much, where a more or less guaranteed pay check rolls in every month and where they don't have to worry about where the revenue is gonna come from next month. I myself did not become freelance translator by choice and while I like the freedom, there are drawbacks to being self-employed, drawbacks that I would not wish on anybody, certainly not friends or family.

 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:14
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Never Nov 21, 2013

First of all, I don't think there is any long-term future in it -I am too happy to be approaching my retirement... And most people asking me such advice say "my son/daughter is no good at numbers, so we thought he/she should study languages". This is a business, they must know how to count!

 

Carmen Grabs
Germany
Local time: 23:14
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
I think you really have to want to do it Nov 21, 2013

When people who speak several languages talk to me, they always mention that they could probably do "it" as well. I tell them a little about what to expect and I mention the upsides and downsides. But so far, it has remained an option for all of them, as far as I know.

Most people don't want to do this job, they only want the freedom, but not the responsibility.


 

Elizabeth Joy Pitt de Morales  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:14
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
In one case, yes Nov 21, 2013

My son, who was raised speaking both Spanish and English, has an enormous talent for language and has decided to study Translation and Interpretation when he enters university next year. Not only has he been raised to be as perfectly bilingual as possible, he has the other qualities that Teresa mentioned and I think he will be a fine translator someday.

When his last English teacher found he could speak English better than the teacher himself, he first assigned him some books to read in English, but my son read them so quickly that the teacher decided to give him some newspaper articles to translate...when he asked me to look over his first assignment, I found that (apart from a couple of references that he didn't understand, probably due his age) it was as good as some "professional" translations I have proofread.

He's the first, and quite possibly the last, person I have encouraged to enter this field.


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 06:14
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Never give up Nov 21, 2013

Elizabeth T wrote:

...

Unfortunately, he has abandoned modern languages in favour of Classics for his degree, and amuses himself by translating the Aeneid into English verse.


@Elizabeth
Do not abandon hope.

I have a Classics background -- 7 years of Latin and 4 years of Greek at grammar school. In spite of 'all odds', I opted for Japanese -- which is as 'modern' as it gets -- at London University, ended up coming over here and am currently in my 31st year of translating.

You never know what the roll of the dice will bring you. Tell him that there's always the option of studying other weird and wonderful languages somewhere along the line. icon_smile.gif

I'd like to add that I recently decided to teach myself Welsh for the same reason that I studied Japanese -- to do something completely different just for the sheer hell of it! icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif

Added last line

[Edited at 2013-11-21 14:38 GMT]


 

DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:14
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not often ... Nov 21, 2013

Freelancing is not for everyone, neither is translation. I would encourage someone I thought it would suit, discourage others. But only people who have asked me for career advice lately are my sons, who are at least bi and probably tri-lingual, they might consider it one day I suppose, but right now one wants to be a private detective and the other wants to be a lego designer, I suggested he might need to learn Danish, he shrugged and said, "just like learning any other language that ends in 'ish' I suppose". We'll see ....

[Edited at 2013-11-21 11:55 GMT]


 

Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:14
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Not often Nov 21, 2013

As most people who ask me for their opinion about it have either language skills plus a degree, or other qualifications 'but I speak English, too'. I have met two people last year who are looking for more flexibility, could cope with an insecure income source, are disciplined and have useful qualifications and experience (an experienced solicitor with a degree in French and some years' work experience in France, and a biomedical professional who has lived and worked abroad with excellent language and researching skills).

I have actively discouraged others ("well, you know, it will take a while before you start earning enough to live off, you should really look into getting a language or translation qualification first, and to be honest, I don't think there is a lot of work in your particular area of interest/qualification").


 

Simon Chiassai  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:14
English to French
+ ...
Very rarely Nov 21, 2013

As it has been said, it's not for everybody. But I have friends who are unhappy working in-house as PMs or translators, and they are the ones I try to lure to the dark side, and that's because I think they have the ability and the discipline.

 
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