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Poll: How confident are you in your translation skills?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 01:58
SITE STAFF
Nov 3, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How confident are you in your translation skills?".

This poll was originally submitted by Natalia Pedrosa. View the poll results »



 

Odile Stuart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:58
Member (2006)
English to French
+ ...
Believe in yourself Nov 3, 2015

I am surprised, a bit alarmed, that so few people rate themselves as extremely confident. Why call oneself a translator if there is so much doubt about one's ability?

 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 17:58
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Very confident Nov 3, 2015

But not overly confident - we are all human and, by definition, prone to mistakes. And, for customers/clients, how few mistakes you make is an indicator of how good you are as a translator. IMHO

 

Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:58
German to English
I'd be alarmed ... Nov 3, 2015

... if more people rated themselves as "extremely confident", because it might suggest that those people are arrogant and see no scope for improvement. That may be partly a cultural thing (a bit like answering Kudoz questions with the maximum confidence level). Translation is such a wide field that no one could be "extremely confident" in all areas - I have no doubts about my ability to do a good job in my particular specialisms, but offer me a technical specification for a nuclear power station to translate and my confidence level drops to zero (OK, I wouldn't accept the assignment, but that's not the point.) Perhaps the one thing I am confident of is my ability to distinguish what I can do well from what I can't.

 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 09:58
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Very confident Nov 3, 2015

After 30 years working full-time, plus a few more part-time, I have to be very confident in myself, though from time to time when I’m in the middle of a long project I may have a self-doubt moment or two… But then I dust myself off, take as espresso coffee and get right back into it!

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Fairly Nov 3, 2015

(Pax Odile)... Maybe it's a cultural thing - modesty, British reserve, etc . Maybe I should have chosen "very"... although "extremely" would be pushing my luck... Pride comes before a fall...

[Edited at 2015-11-03 08:41 GMT]


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:58
French to English
Fairly II Nov 3, 2015

neilmac wrote:

(Pax Odile)... Maybe it's a cultural thing - modesty, British reserve, etc .


That and a dash of understatement.

I've only come across the work of a couple of people who described themselves as excellent. In both cases the work was anything but. I never trust anyone who would rate themselves as excellent, in any field or circumstance.

The website could usefully generate revenue from this poll, selling the list of people who select "excellent" with the filename "Translators to avoid". I'd give 'em five bucks for it.


 

Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:58
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Very confident Nov 3, 2015

Surely you have to be confident that you can do a good job if you want to sell your services? However, there are also plenty of people out there willing to criticize - a few in a constructive way, but many more who are happy to pull a translator's work apart without good reason, and often out of sheer ignorance. That can shake the translator's confidence, especially in a very solitary profession where there may be no other colleagues in the office to pat you on the back and make you feel better. Also, despite having a degree of confidence in my skills, backed up by qualifications, experience and an ever-growing list of satisfied customers, I am aware there are other translators out there who are even better than me. My respect for their work gives me something to aspire to and reminds me that there is always room for improvement, even at the highest level.

 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:58
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Very confident Nov 3, 2015

I've been translating more than 40 years, and during that time I've had enough feedback from supervisors and enough comparators to know pretty much where I stand. Feedback comes easily in an in-house environment.

I do worry, though. I catch mistakes when I proofread my work, and I wonder if I made more that I didn't catch. And sometimes I see that I settled for a rendition that's less than brilliant. It's impossible to be evenly good all the time.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Extremely Nov 3, 2015

I'm supremely confident in my translation skills. And I don't think that's arrogant or un-British.

I'm not saying I'm perfect or that I'm better than anyone else or that I cannot improve. Just that I know what I can do and what I can't, and I only do what I can do, and I do it well.

If you're not confident you're going to do a good job, you shouldn't be doing it.


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:58
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
@ Charlie Nov 3, 2015

There's a difference between having confidence in one's skills and considering oneself 'excellent'. The question was about confidence. It's asking: Do I feel confident about offering my skills?

 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 10:58
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Confident enough Nov 3, 2015

I agree absolutely with Chris S

I'm supremely confident in my translation skills. And I don't think that's arrogant or un-British.

I'm not saying I'm perfect or that I'm better than anyone else or that I cannot improve. Just that I know what I can do and what I can't, and I only do what I can do, and I do it well.

If you're not confident you're going to do a good job, you shouldn't be doing it.

...but I live in Denmark, land of the Jante Law. (Don't imagine you are anything special, don't imagine you can teach us anything... and a list of other don'ts to keep everyone on the level).
Of course, there are ways of getting round it, but if you are over-confident, you risk being slapped down.

The art is to say modest and self-deprecating things about never giving up until the client is satisfied, while subtly exuding reliability and reasons for others to have confidence in you.

I am confident enough to stay in business...


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:58
French to English
Conceded Nov 3, 2015

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

There's a difference between having confidence in one's skills and considering oneself 'excellent'. The question was about confidence. It's asking: Do I feel confident about offering my skills?


True, I have conflated them. I am, for instance, extremely confident that my drawing skills are rubbish, so I do see what you mean. I do think it's a fair conflation to make in the circumstances of a poll on this particular website, but you are strictly speaking correct.

That said, if we were on artz.com and answered a poll question "how confident are you in your art skills" and I said "extremely", how good an artist do you think I would be claiming to be?icon_smile.gif
Most people would, I venture, not think I was saying I was supremely confident that I'm utterly hopeless.

And if we're being picky, it's also not asking about "offering" skills either.icon_smile.gif


 

Victoria Britten  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:58
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
A non-linguistic translation skill Nov 3, 2015

Armorel Young wrote:

Perhaps the one thing I am confident of is my ability to distinguish what I can do well from what I can't.



For me this is a sorter of sheep from goats. There is no one more annoying, time-wasting and downright unprofessional, in any field, than the person who doesn't know how to say, "Sorry, that particular project is not one I'll make a good job of." Although I did recently find myself in the situation of not being believed when I said that: the potential client in question was a friend (and no linguist) and just couldn't see how, with the company providing the vocabulary, I could be so sure I was unlikely to do a good enough job on a highly technical text. I settled it by putting him onto someone who would, and the job was no doubt extremely well done, but it left my friend shaking his head in bewilderment.


 

Chie. I  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 17:58
Member (2013)
English to Japanese
+ ...
comfortable with my skill Nov 3, 2015

The best thing about myself is that I can tell what I am good about and what is not for me.

It is no way adequate to boast around but in the earlier stage at some point in time, I found out some people as good as I or less good are earning more rate than I did. Comparing things made me feel more secure that I am rather honest in my business.


 
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