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Poll: There is no such thing as an easy translation job.
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 14:22
SITE STAFF
Apr 12, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "There is no such thing as an easy translation job.".

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 00:22
Turkish to English
+ ...
Of course there is Apr 12, 2015

For example, a bank statement with things like:

Name: xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Address: xxxxxxxxxxxx
Account Number: xxxxxxxxxxxx

at the top then a number of columns under such headings as:

Date, Debit, Credit, Details, Balance

where you mainly just have to fill in figures.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 22:22
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Who says it’s easy? What is easy? Apr 12, 2015

Let me be the judge of that! What’s easy for me might be really hard for someone else. At times plain language can be much more difficult to translate than technical language, legal jargon or academic terminology…

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:22
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
"Easy for me" Apr 12, 2015

Teresa makes a good point. For me, a job is easy if the source text is in a field I'm familiar with, grammatical, written understandably, and free of fancy formatting. I don't mind looking up technical terms in my areas of concentration.

About writing understandably: I was once asked to translate a journal article in the same area as my graduate specialization (functional linguistics), in which my own teachers were quoted, and yet the author's style was so opaque that it was impossible to understand what he was trying to say. I ended up returning it to him.


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Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 00:22
English to Russian
+ ...
Definitely is! Apr 12, 2015

For me, easy are newspaper articles, TV and radio transcripts, any journalism...

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Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 23:22
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
widely known terms Apr 12, 2015

Bank statement, certificate of birth, marriage, non-specific CV, not complicated lease contract or website header and, of course, anything is easy if you are familiar with

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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 16:22
German to English
+ ...
There is no such thing as ... Apr 12, 2015

... a translation you should be careless about, or doesn't deserve a professional attitude.

Maybe that's what's meant.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:22
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Many things are easy when you know how... Apr 12, 2015

I was watching two little boys at a family party yesterday, one aged five and agile, one barely a year old, promising, but not quite walking yet... The younger one is clearly puzzled that he can walk fine while clutching a parent or an item of furniture, but he simply can't keep his balance without. Everyone else can!

There are definitely translations that are routine and uncontroversial once you know how to do them, so they feel easy.

Just change the language pair, and you might need to readjust in several ways.

Only this week I have turned down a technical translation, knowing I would have to check every word and would still not be sure. A couple of colleagues will probably breeze through it - it is just the area they specialise in. Unfortunately there are lots of files and the deadline is tight, which is why the agency was trying to recruit me and others to help, maintaining that at least some of them are straightforward and easy...

Just not for me.

[Edited at 2015-04-12 12:33 GMT]


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 02:52
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
The more pertinent question to ask is - is it enjoyable? Apr 12, 2015

Any professional translator who is well grounded in his source and target languages would be technically able to translate practically anything that comes his way, excepting may be poetry.

This is because, all that a translator does is transfer the meaning inherent in one language to equivalent meaning in another language, and if the translator can understand what he reads, he can translate it.

So the question of ease or difficulty does not arise at all. What does arise, is, would he enjoy translating what he is translating? Most translators would have their comfort zones in terms of subjects, document types, specialities, and so on, in which they most enjoy translating, and if they move out of their comfort zones, they will find the going tough. For example, a person who feels most comfortable translating IT, will be all at sea if asked to translate legal stuff, not that he won't be able to do it, but he won't enjoy it.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:22
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
It depends on the translator Apr 12, 2015

This sentence might be true in some cases when a translator fresh from university is just starting in the industry - but only due to "practice". As time goes by and experience grows, in particular in one or more fields of expertise, easy translation jobs are possible.

[Edited at 2015-04-12 16:04 GMT]


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Easy peasy Apr 12, 2015

That's what my French teacher used to say.

Now, whether a translation is easy or not is pretty subjective and, as such, a moot point. Naturally, any translator has the right to brag and say “it was an easy translation!” And, naturally, what worries us translators is the customer, project manager or clueless boss who says that a text is easy, not too technical or simple.

I guess we can confidently answer to the latter with a firm I'll be the judge of that, ok?

Because we are the ultimate judges of whether a text is easy to translate or not.


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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sure, and there are things that we can do to make them easier Apr 12, 2015

I used to translate a lot of birth and marriage certificates from Mexico. Since they were all mostly from the same place and from about the same time period, I just made blank certificates from each area and would simply fill in the blanks for each project. I could do 15 or 20 of them in a day.

Ah, and I love Spanish from Puerto Rico! It's English in Spanish ^_^


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Huasha
China
Local time: 05:22
English to Chinese
+ ...
It depends Apr 13, 2015

As some of you say, for some fields it is easy, but for some other fields, really not that easy.

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
What I think about this poll Apr 13, 2015

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

... a translation you should be careless about, or doesn't deserve a professional attitude.

Maybe that's what's meant.


On the surface, the poll question seems to invite thoughtful responses, each one of us reaching into our own experience to share some reply that the pollster may find useful.

It doesn't matter what we think the pollster meant, it's immaterial. If the pollster doesn't care to make his/her intent clear, I surely don't care what the pollster thinks. At all.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:22
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It depends on a lot of things Apr 13, 2015

I don't entirely agree that if you can understand it, you can translate it.

Some things may be easy enough to understand in the source language, but if the target culture rarely concerns itself with the concepts, then translation can be quite difficult.

Or if the translator is not familiar with the terminology in the target language.

Another example is the kind of text that is really well written - but a challenge to reproduce the style and elegance or impact in the target language. I regularly meet those, from one writer in particular.

Maybe there really is no such thing as an 'easy' translation. Some are just demanding, and some seem close to impossible!
However, I find some are definitely less demanding than others.


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