Poll: Do you think specializing in a certain field is required to be successful?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 17:45
SITE STAFF
Apr 9, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think specializing in a certain field is required to be successful?".

This poll was originally submitted by tilakahuja. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Apr 9, 2014

Don't know if I'd say "required", but knowledge of the subject matter certainly helps when translating a text.
However, I have frequently (successfully) translated texts on subjects I knew absolutely nothing, or very little, about. And some whose basic concepts I can't even begin to grasp (e.g. fuzzy logic). Go figure.


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 03:45
Turkish to English
+ ...
Yes, definitely Apr 9, 2014

Yes, the longer I stay in this business, the more I want to specialise, in terms of one language pair only and a few subject-matter areas only. I work faster when I am in my comfort zone, which means I earn more, and that is my measure of success.

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Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:45
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
Yes, up to a point Apr 9, 2014

or you can specialize in general texts

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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:45
Member (2006)
German to English
Definitely Apr 9, 2014

Especially in my fields

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:45
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It will become increasingly necessary Apr 9, 2014

I am something of a 'generalist' myself, and on many occasions have managed to read up on the background for a translation and produce results that clients were satisfied with. So I assume, when they have come back later with helpful comments and asked me to translate more.

However, I feel most comfortable in areas I have chosen to specialise in, and I certainly turn down work in other areas, telling the client I do not have the necessary specialist knowledge.

Being able to take on some specialist work certainly increases the chances of interesting work and repeat clients, which are signs of success.

With more and more routine work coming up in TMs or being taken over by crowdsourcing and machine translation, I think it is going to be the best sales argument for professional translators.

There WILL be a need for us - there are no repeats in the book I am translating right now, though the CAT is very useful for registering terminology and indispensible for keeping track of all the references... And it is certainly not for complete amateurs!


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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:45
English
+ ...
Exactly. Apr 9, 2014

Yetta J Bogarde wrote:

or you can specialize in general texts


I specialize in being a generalist (somebody has to do it). And of course, in the correct use of English. If I have any speciality it is that: being a stickler for the best English possible.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 01:45
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Apr 9, 2014

I have no recipe about what's required to be successful!

[Edited at 2014-04-09 11:49 GMT]


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Sarah Elizabeth
Italy
Local time: 02:45
Italian to English
benefit of specialisation in art texts Apr 9, 2014

I came to translation as a specialist (PhD in History of Art, 12 years of professional experience, between post-graduate degrees and all they entail plus work in art museums, prior to becoming a translator) and definitely see the difference between my translations of art texts and those by otherwise excellent translators without specialist knowledge and training in the field.

I learn a lot, even every day, from translators who came to translation as translators. But deep knowledge, gained over time, not only of the subject matter but also of the way art texts are written as well as how to write them (having written them), is not to be underestimated for success in this field.


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macimovic
Netherlands
Local time: 02:45
English to Serbian
+ ...
This Apr 9, 2014

neilmac wrote:

Don't know if I'd say "required", but knowledge of the subject matter certainly helps when translating a text.
However, I have frequently (successfully) translated texts on subjects I knew absolutely nothing, or very little, about. And some whose basic concepts I can't even begin to grasp (e.g. fuzzy logic). Go figure.


This. I've been in a situation like this.


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:45
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
depends on the language pair Apr 9, 2014

Bulgarian to Czech? No way. English to French? Definitely!

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Elena Novski  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:45
Member
Russian to English
+ ...
Not always necessary Apr 9, 2014

For a professional translator, I believe what is really important is how soon you switch to the subject, how quick your mind is, how well you understand the client's expectations. I have been there so many times early in my career -)

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Jose Arnoldo Rodriguez-Carrington  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 19:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
To a point Apr 9, 2014

You will certainly get more offers for jobs in a certain field if you specialize in it.

However, it has its down side. For example, I would very much enjoy translating interesting books, but to date I have not got any opportunity to do it because I have been "encapsulated" as a technical translator.


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B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:45
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
How does one know? Apr 9, 2014

neilmac wrote:

Don't know if I'd say "required", but knowledge of the subject matter certainly helps when translating a text.
However, I have frequently (successfully) translated texts on subjects I knew absolutely nothing, or very little, about. And some whose basic concepts I can't even begin to grasp (e.g. fuzzy logic). Go figure.


How does one know that one's translations in subjects one knows absolutely nothing about are successful?


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:45
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It helps, up to a point Apr 10, 2014

For quite a while I specialized in medicine and public health and built up a nice clientele, but I started as a generalist and now I'm going back to that. My best clients have become international organizations, and their work is highly varied. I enjoy almost every subject I can get my teeth into. There are a few fields I stay away from: accounting, finance, manufacturing, engineering (except sanitary engineering), legal.

In addition to tons of highly technical medical texts, I've done screenplays, art criticism, historical documents from the 18th century, short stories, a book on the oil industry, and a multitude of odd-ball assignments. I enjoy all of it!


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