Poll: What do you think is the strongest factor to highlight your competence as a translator/interpreter?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 04:45
Dec 31, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What do you think is the strongest factor to highlight your competence as a translator/interpreter?".

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:45
Turkish to English
+ ...
Knowledge in areas of expertise Dec 31, 2014

It is really a combination of all of these factors and others, but when it comes to my core specialisation of translating legal/official texts from Turkish into English, I think that my in-depth knowledge of the legal and administrative systems of the Republic of Turkey gives me a significant edge.

[Edited at 2014-12-31 15:02 GMT]


Teresa Borges
Local time: 12:45
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Years of experience Dec 31, 2014

But I would say it’s a combination as knowledge and years of experience are inextricably intertwined… In my case, the fact that I have been living in Belgium since 1985 made me develop good language skills, though I must say that nowadays most of my work is from English…


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:45
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I misread the question Dec 31, 2014

I think my language skills are what make me a competent translator, but experience and specialized knowledge are what people look for.

[Edited at 2014-12-31 09:17 GMT]


Reed James
Local time: 08:45
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Immersion Dec 31, 2014

Being immersed in the source language country coupled with growing up in the target language country does wonders for a translator. I have "gone through the motions" in both countries-stood in line for the same events/errands, had the same conversations about the same topics, and, over time, my new language and culture have become as instinctive as they can be for a newcomer.

As a result, I live, breathe and feel my translations. Beats a dictionary any day.


Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:45
Member (2008)
English to Italian
a mix of Dec 31, 2014

Years of experience, Knowledge in areas of expertise, Training in the field, keeping informed about changes in the field.


Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:15
English to Hindi
+ ...
High level of proficiency in both source and target languages Dec 31, 2014

Two factors that underpin my translation competency are my equal high level of proficiency in source and target languages, and my creative writing skills in both my working languages.

Since I understand the source language as well as my target language, I am able to pick up the nuances in the source text and accurately translate them into my target language.

My creative writing skills enable me to word my translations in such a way that they they sound natural and elegant, as if they have been written originally in the target language and are not a translation at all.


Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:45
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other (missing obvious answer) Dec 31, 2014

The best answer to this question, IMO, was not included among the choices.

The Quality and Accuracy of the Translation (target text) is doubtlessly the most important factor, not only because it is what the client is looking for, above all others, but also because it is the compilation of all other factors into a RESULT.

Years of experience, konowledge of the language and of the areas of expertise are all very important, of course, but meaningless if the translation is not accurate. Some terms and expressions allow 5 different translations. And some are very uncommon and the translator has never heard of them.

So the "compilation" also includes another important factor missing among the answers: The ability to do a good research and determine the best translation, even if you don't know the term or expression.

Nevertheless, all important factors will be reflected in the "Quality and Accuracy of the Translation", IMO, the correct answer to this question.


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:45
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Depends on the job Dec 31, 2014

Knowledge in areas of expertise is most relevant for technical translation. My very first translations were machinery installation & maintenance manuals, back in 1973 when I was a Mechanical Engineering sophomore. I recall having seen them some 20 years later, and was delighted to notice that I wouldn't change anything there.

Years of experience count more when a translator is expected to deliver a very natural writing style, with the look and feel that it's not a translation, but something originally written in the target language.

Qualified language skills may be questionable. Some language courses are primarily intended to enable students to eventually teach that language, translation being more like a consequence of language mastery. I have a typical example at home: while I am an EN-PT translator, my wife is an ESL teacher; house policy is that I don't teach and she doesn't translate.

Education/training in the field immediately leads me to ask, "What field?". If the field is "translation", this would tend to shorten the number of years of experience in translation necessary to reach the same level within the corresponding previous option. If the field is the "specific area of expertise", we are back to the corresponding previous item.

Again, depending on the job, other factors may become more relevant. Just one more personal example to illustrate one of these possibilities. My long experience in EN-PT video translation now and then makes me the best option to occasionally translate languages that I speak but don't translate professionally (IT-ES-FR) for subtitles into either of my working languages.

In the end, each client may have their own strongest factor to choose a translator. For some of them, having one specific CAT tool is the #1 factor, often regardless of any other, no matter how strong it may be.


Teddy Okuyama (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:45
Japanese to English
Command of technology Dec 31, 2014

Specialization and experience are obviously important. But those are no longer enough.

I think agencies are looking for translators with a good command of CAT tools, as well as the ability to produce more in less time, while keeping the same quality.

For example, translators need to know how to properly use translation memory and handle project packages. They also need to be able to keep consistent with existing term bases (and sometimes updating them) as well as style guides.

Translators and technology need to come hand-in-hand. A good book to reference for translation technology can be accessed here: http://www.internationalwriters.com/toolbox/index.html


Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
All of the above + reliability Dec 31, 2014

I think everyone's made some really good points. The only thing that I would add would be my reliability. We like to complain about bad agencies, but there are bad translators out there, too. I try to show that I am reliable and trustworthy enough to do the job right and on time. For me, everything else builds up that confidence that I am trying to earn.


Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
I replied Other because... Jan 1, 2015

...one of my strongest skills was not included. I have excellent writing skills (yes, I'm tooting my own horn).

There is so much emphasis on technology tools, software, dictation equipment, fluency in languages, specializations, etc. that we often omit what's most important: writing skills. Without them, you are nothing, I don't care how specialized you are or how competent you are with software tools.


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Poll: What do you think is the strongest factor to highlight your competence as a translator/interpreter?

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