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Poll: At what age did you decide to become a freelance translator/interpreter?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 22:40
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Oct 30, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "At what age did you decide to become a freelance translator/interpreter?".

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:40
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
13 Oct 30, 2014

I was learning Spanish in school and couldn't resist trying to translate the books we were reading.

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 08:40
Turkish to English
+ ...
I first aspired to become a freelance translator at about the age of 25 ... Oct 30, 2014

but I was over 40 when I received my first ever paid translation job.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
> 40 Oct 30, 2014

Pleasantly surprised to find myself in the majority so far. Although I'd always enjoyed translation and language/s in general, and my degree was in languages, I did other jobs before moving into TEFL, which eventually led to my becoming a full-time translator.

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Cecilia Civetta  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:40
Member (2003)
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
< 21 Oct 30, 2014

So young!
I didn't know what I was getting into!! (just kidding)
I'm 45 now and still a translator.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 14:40
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Around the 1st year of grammar school Oct 30, 2014

Because that's all you do when you study Latin and Greek - parse, read and translate. That's about all you can do with dead languages in secondary school. And that's all I did when I studied modern and classical Japanese in college - read and translate.
While I was doing all of this, I thought to myself "There just had to be a way of making some money out of 'reading and translating.'"

However, I cannot imagine making a 'freelance' living out of translating Tacitus or the Tale of Genji.

PS
At the age of 11, I was more concerned about earning some 'pocket money' using my language skills rather than earning a living.


Added PS

[Edited at 2014-10-30 10:00 GMT]


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 06:40
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
> 41 Oct 30, 2014

While in school, I enjoyed languages as well as philosophy, mathematics, history, physics and it was hard for me to choose which one would be right for me! In "desperation", I chose economics but life has pushed me personally and professionally in different directions and translation came my way in my early 40s...

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:40
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
>41 in the lead (after 212 votes, anyway) Oct 30, 2014

neilmac wrote:
Pleasantly surprised to find myself in the majority so far.

It is quite surprising to hear that we're in the majority, particularly as everyone else who's commented here so far has decided at an early age. But then you do hear a lot of people here saying that they came to translating as a second or even third career.

I couldn't accept my offered place at SOAS back in the '70s for family/financial reasons so I did a one-year bilingual senior secretarial course locally instead. But that was back at the start of an earlier economic crisis and the executive secretary was the first to be chopped as typing pools took over (no way was I about to be a typist!). It wasn't until the late '90s that I achieved my 20-year dream of moving to France. Even then, I waited about 7 years before feeling fluent enough to translate for money, though my EFL business students were getting plenty of translations and revisions for a bottle of the local Languedoc produce.

Of course, I did eventually end up typing all day, though not in a mindless draft/audio in and typed sheet out mode.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:40
Hebrew to English
14 > 31 Oct 30, 2014

14 when I first knew I wanted to be a translator (and when the school's careers advisor did everything humanly possible to deter me) and 31 when I finally decided to become one.

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oxygen4u
Portugal
Local time: 06:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
5 Oct 30, 2014

I always say I was born a translator.

As a child I was always fascinated by music. I wanted to understand what singers were saying and my parents told me that first I had to learn how to read and write Portuguese and then I had to learn a foreign language. I was also very curious about those "white lines" (subtitles) on TV whenever I watched a movie. But I think no one ever took me seriously until much later, especially because no one in my family could speak a foreign language.

I think I am very lucky that I found my passion at such an early age. My oldest son in 16 and he has no clue about what he wants to do in the future. He's all about Roman history and unfortunately that will not get him far...


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 14:40
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
I recommend Latin and Greek Oct 30, 2014

oxygen4u wrote:

...

My oldest son in 16 and he has no clue about what he wants to do in the future. He's all about Roman history and unfortunately that will not get him far...


Why not get him to try classical languages like I did. This might prompt him to learn Japanese or some other 'quaint' minority language?


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Texte Style
Local time: 07:40
French to English
same as Ty Oct 30, 2014

Ty Kendall wrote:

14 when I first knew I wanted to be a translator (and when the school's careers advisor did everything humanly possible to deter me) and 31 when I finally decided to become one.


(I think we had this conversation before)


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Gudrun Maydorn  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:40
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
12 / >41 Oct 30, 2014

I was 12 when I started checking terminology in my spare time, I passed my translator's exams at 25, but I was >41 before I changed from in-house translator to freelancer.

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Andrea Jarmuschewski  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:40
Member (2007)
French to German
+ ...
12/41 Oct 30, 2014

Gudrun Maydorn wrote:

I was 12 when I started checking terminology in my spare time, I passed my translator's exams at 25, but I was >41 before I changed from in-house translator to freelancer.


That's funny, I could have written nearly the same thing, with the difference that I changed from teaching to freelance translating.


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oxygen4u
Portugal
Local time: 06:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
@ Julian Oct 30, 2014

My son actually wanted to take up Greek, but that option was not available.

I'm all for "different" languages, however in Portugal that is nearly impossible. It's basically just English, some Spanish, some French and almost no German. Oh, and no Latin! Portuguese comes from Latin and yet no one learns Latin anymore.


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