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Poll: Would you recommend your university to study translation?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

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Jan 6, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Would you recommend your university to study translation?".

This poll was originally submitted by Mario Chavez. View the poll results »



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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 07:45
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No, I don't have a degree in translation... Jan 6, 2016

I hold a degree in Economics and a certificate in Executive Marketing.

P.S. My university is still going strong almost five decades after my graduation and I would recommend it for those students interested in economics and management, although life has taken me on a different path career-wise…

[Edited at 2016-01-06 21:56 GMT]


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 16:45
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Other N/A Jan 6, 2016

Sorry, Mario. I just don't know.

They might have added translation degrees at my old college SOAS since I was there 36 years ago. How time flies!

I would, however, recommend it for studying Japanese and also the majority of languages in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
When I was there the post-graduate intake was twice that of undergraduates and it was always full of all types from London's East End to Far East Asia. It had, and probably still has, a fantastic library and served Shepherd Neame in the student bar. Hic!

https://www.soas.ac.uk/

http://www.shepherdneame.co.uk/ (Britain's Oldest Brewer since 1698)


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
Still a very good recommendation Jan 6, 2016

Julian Holmes wrote:

Sorry, Mario. I just don't know.

They might have added translation degrees at my old college SOAS since I was there 36 years ago. How time flies!

I would, however, recommend it for studying Japanese and also the majority of languages in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
When I was there the post-graduate intake was twice that of undergraduates and it was always full of all types from London's East End to Far East Asia. It had, and probably still has, a fantastic library and served Shepherd Neame in the student bar. Hic!

https://www.soas.ac.uk/

http://www.shepherdneame.co.uk/ (Britain's Oldest Brewer since 1698)


Some institutions offer very solid courses in languages. I don't like the American educational validation system. Can you believe these dumb people qualified my 4-year BA in English and translation as TOEFL courses? I'm incensed! Grrrr. I'll have a glass of that Shepherd Neame, thanks!



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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:45
English to Spanish
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Caveats for Universidad Nacional de Córdoba Jan 6, 2016

I graduated from UNC (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba), Facultad de Lenguas (School of Languages) in 1989 with a BA in English and Translation Studies. A very good foundation in grammar, language and law, both in English and Spanish (except the Law part).

The syllabus was modernized in 1996 and, I think, again in the last few years. The 1996 updated syllabus had no courses on translation software tools, project management or business 101 for translators. I specifically pointed this out, as well as the disadvantages, during a paper I presented at the 1st Translation Studies Conference hosted by my alma mater in 2006. Their Center for Translation Research refused to publish my paper, however. I can't imagine why, since they approved the abstract and my presentation.

A side note: I'm thinking of taking a MA, postgrad research course and/or PhD in Europe. University education is less expensive than in America (I'm proud to say that I never took student loans. Ever.). Plus, the American system for teaching translation is student-centered, as they call it.


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 08:45
Danish to English
+ ...
Yes, with caveats Jan 6, 2016

I graduated from the Aarhus School of Business, which is now a part of Aarhus University, in 1999.

I would recommend it for two specific reasons:

1. There is no higher education in translation studies in Denmark than this, so it is THE education to get if you want to qualify officially as a translator/interpreter (cand.ling.merc. in Danish).
2. Aarhus is a great city to live and study in. 'The City of Smiles' is small enough for students to feel at home there, and big enough to offer everything that a city needs to offer students with an international outlook. And it is located by the sea and surrounded by nice countryside.

I would hesitate to claim that this is also an excellent translation course, but that is mainly because I don't know how the curriculum has been developed since my student years. As a student, I thought (naïvely) that I was being taught and given the tools I would need to become a professional translator and interpreter, but once I got my first job as a translator, I realised that this was where the real learning would start. In other words, having learnt about translation theory and a lot of cultural and technical background stuff is no doubt partly the basis for my work as a translator today. I would, however, dare to say that the eight years I lived in England prior to commencing formal language studies gave me the real foundation for my current work. That is where I learnt English at a level I could never have learnt at university. But what my university education added was a more formalised way of approaching translation. To me, the combination of the two aspects of learning seems ideal.

I can only hope that the curriculum at Aarhus University today is more practice-orientated. I've said this before, but I think that the combined amount of translations that I did during my 6 years at Aarhus Business School probably doesn't amount to more than two months of full-time translation work in 'real life'.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:45
English to Spanish
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Reverse caveat Jan 6, 2016

Gitte Hovedskov, MCIL wrote:

I can only hope that the curriculum at Aarhus University today is more practice-orientated. I've said this before, but I think that the combined amount of translations that I did during my 6 years at Aarhus Business School probably doesn't amount to more than two months of full-time translation work in 'real life'.


Thanks for that illuminating comment, Gitte. I'm just thinking of the papers and translations I wrote while in college. When I moved to the United States in 1990 and took the CT exam to be certified as an English-to-Spanish translator by the American Translators Association (which I did in 1992), the entire exam was like writing a 350-word essay in college. In other words, a ridiculous way to certify a translator for a full-time professional life.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 08:45
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Yes or Other Jan 6, 2016

The jewel in my crown is a diploma from the University of Southern Denmark, which, when I arrived, was just taking shape after a merger between the University of Odense and the Business School at what is now the Kolding campus.

Back then, the diploma counted as a postgraduate qualification, but its successor is officially at bachelor level. It was/is a part-time course for students working at least part time, so many could contribute with practical experience from the real world, and it was very useful to link this up with theory. I don't know how the current version has developed, but there are not many possibilities for studying translation in Denmark, and for anyone unable to sign up for a full-time Master's degree in Aarhus, I would still recommend it.

Like Gitte, I have also studied at the Aarhus School of Business. However, I ended up in Kolding, because Aarhus would not recognise my BSc from England as a basis for reading English, while they recognised it in Kolding.

Which brings me to said BSc in Information Science with technical German as a subsidiary subject, from what was then Leeds Polytechnic. I explain it as technical librarianship, but it is still, after 40 years, an excellent foundation for translation too!

I believe Leeds Poly, later Leeds Metropolitan University and now Leeds Becket University, is still a great place to study, but for translation studies you have to go to the 'old' University of Leeds.

Not my university, but I have heard it well spoken of.

What I would tell beginners is that the University of Life is where you really learn to translate, but a good degree training of some sort is also necessary.


[Edited at 2016-01-06 15:28 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jan 6, 2016

I don't have a specific degree in translation, just a bog standard BA in modern languages. However, although I don't know if it offers specific translation courses and it's a long time since I went there, I would recommend my university (Strathclyde) in general, especially for more employment-oriented degree courses, rather than the more academically-focused Glasgow University. Then again, it is decades since I attended uni and things may have changed quite a bit since then...

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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:45
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No... Jan 6, 2016

... as I would not recommend that anyone become a translator.

And what does that poll question even mean? Why would my university wish to study translation?


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
Short answer Jan 6, 2016

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

... as I would not recommend that anyone become a translator.

And what does that poll question even mean? Why would my university wish to study translation?


Hahah, good point. I could have rephrased it as To study translation, would you recommend your university?

But I guess it's a matter of perspective.


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Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 01:45
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
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No Jan 6, 2016

I didn't study translation in the university, but engineering. Anyway, a better question is "Is it necessary to study translation to be a translator?". My answer is NO again.

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The Misha
Local time: 02:45
Russian to English
+ ...
The question makes an implicit assumption Jan 6, 2016

that one needs or even wants to study translation. And, as a great American man of letters put it, assume makes you know what of you and me. Ahem... study what? You mean, in the classroom? For four years? Gimme a break. This is like saying you need four years of college to study pot making (no, not THAT kind of pot:) but the analogy works even better in that other sense).

I will never tire of saying that ours is first and foremost a craft (occasionally rising to the level of art, but that's immaterial for the purpose of this discussion), and you learn a craft by DOING. To be sure, you need to be comfortable enough with the tools - which are the languages, in our case, and that's what you do need to study. The rest is but a skill gradually developed in the process of practicing the craft, preferably, under adult supervision. To be sure, there are a few tricks here and there, but all of those can be easily grasped in passing by anyone who is comfortable with the tools and is not a complete moron.

Eons ago, back in my university days in a provincial town in the country of my birth, we were taught the language, not translation - which in itself was almost a four-letter word. Translation was only taught (or so we heard) at a very limited number of elite diplomatic or military institutions reserved almost entirely for the children and proteges of the then government nomenclatura. So there's no wonder that most translators currently operating in my primary pair (of whom the predominant majority are native Russian speakers, regardless of what the book says), except, possibly, for the youngest generation that has already caught this European "translation studies" bug, never studied translation. Heck, some of the best translators I know (especially former engineers and such) never even studied their languages formally. Yet, this doesn't seem to have stopped them or put them at any disadvantage whatsoever.


Jeff Whittaker wrote:

... as I would not recommend that anyone become a translator.



As a "language professional" with a quarter century of experience under my belt, I concur. As a first career, especially as a freelancer, translation is a non-starter, at least in the US it isn't. It is not much of a career even the second time around, although it does provide a reasonably proficient immigrant with a nifty way of beating the 9 to 5 rat race while at the same time making a decent living without having to work full time. If you are also good at interpreting (which, incidentally, quite a few of those I know in my pair are), you could even have some occasional fun and an opportunity to travel at someone else's dime.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
Polls Jan 6, 2016

Yaotl Altan wrote:

I didn't study translation in the university, but engineering. Anyway, a better question is "Is it necessary to study translation to be a translator?". My answer is NO again.


No, it's not a better question because it's based on a false argument. Would you prefer to be asked Is it necessary to study engineering to be an engineer? See how absurd that is?

Just because you didn't study translation at a university level doesn't mean there aren't useful and essential translation preparation courses, or that those courses are unnecessary (which is what you seem to imply).

Then again, if someone is a very good writer in her native language and in her chosen foreign language, that person is already capable of writing very good translations, no translation degree required.

[Edited at 2016-01-06 16:24 GMT]


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:45
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Ditto... Jan 6, 2016

Teresa Borges wrote:

I hold a degree in Economics and a certificate in Executive Marketing.


In my case, in Business Admin and Accounting.

It has been exhaustively proven that a degree in translation is just one of the means to become a good translator, perhaps not even the best one. We had several quick polls discussing this issue, and several experienced translators have a degree in their area of specialization, not in translation. The best translators I know fit into this category, and many translators I never want to work with again are translation program graduates.

But this question will appear again in a few weeks, as usual, with a new format.


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