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Poll: If you could change your working language pair(s), which of these would you choose?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 12:39
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May 15, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "If you could change your working language pair(s), which of these would you choose?".

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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:39
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
I did change my language pair May 15, 2016

or rather I added more, as I didn't expect the demand for the first ones I was working in to remain high enough to sustain me - and I was right. There was a time when I worked mainly in CZEN, which I dislike, but things are getting better and I am back to my favourite pairs and some more I acquired on the way. I still do CZEN, mind you, but mainly for direct clients and in my specialty fields.

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Katrin Bosse  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:39
Member (2009)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Other May 15, 2016

Since the target language in any possible language pair I could imagine working in would always be my mother tongue, the choice would be restricted to the source language. I have a colleague who, for years, has whispered in my ear to learn one or more Skandinavian languages, exactly for those reasons: more lucrative, less competition, rarity.

I see her point, but a) being a single working mother, I don't have the time to learn a new language and b) learning a new language only as an investment into my business seems totally unattractive to me.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other May 15, 2016

I'm perfectly happy with my current working pair.
However, as my main degree subject was Russian, I've always slightly regretted never having been able to reach the same level of bilingual fluency to be able to work translating from Russian to English. This is mainly due to personal reasons, as I would be unable to live there happily for the length of time required to achieve what I consider to be sufficient levels of fluency and knowledge of the language and culture, due to certain political, legal and cultural aspects I find deeply distasteful.


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Doan Quang  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 02:39
Member
English to Vietnamese
I'm perfectly happy with my current working pair May 15, 2016

neilmac wrote:

I'm perfectly happy with my current working pair.


Oh, yes! I'm perfectly happy with my current working pair (English into Vietnamese).


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:39
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
A combination May 15, 2016

Since I've seen a few requests/posts for Native American languages, I'd choose 2 or 3 of them because there's hardly any competion, the rates are usually high (compared to other language pairs), even though there are, of course, fewer jobs. One of the benefits of working in rare language pairs would be to keep endangered languages alive.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:39
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other May 15, 2016

I wouldn't change, but I would add one: DE-PT. Besides that I do regret having lived in Belgium for 30 years and not knowing more than a dozen words in Flemish...

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Stephanie Mitchel  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:39
French to English
Yoda says: There is no change. Only add. May 15, 2016

I have basic German, and always thought I might be able to bring it up to working level, but with the demands on my time now, that particular goal feels out of reach. Meanwhile, I'm still working on learning Italian, which requires daily practice (and is more fun). I'd love to be one of those autodidacts who speaks seven self-taught languages fluently, but I think I'd have to be obsessive.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:39
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other: add more pairs May 15, 2016

When I began translating professionally in 1973 there was no Internet, of course, so the information I had on the translation market was strictly local. When I moved from full-time employment (where translation was just ONE of my duties) to freelancing in 1978 there was still not enough info about translation as a business worldwide.

Bottom line is that I started out with a few tenets that came from my intuition rather than facts.

The first was that IMO any translator should be equally competent to work in either direction. Of course, PT is my L1, but I always strove to be equally proficient in EN, my L2. Of course, the early - all local - demand was overwhelmingly EN > PT, which did not prevent me from honing my PT > EN skills all the time.

On another front, I completely gave up on translating IT and FR, which I had studied and still speak fairly well, because I'd really have a hard time translating into them. This led to the corollary that "if I should charge more for translating in reverse gear, I shouldn't be doing it." As a consequence, I've always charged exactly the same rates for either EN > PT or PT > EN.

My preparation paid off in the BR gov't exam for sworn translators in 1999. Some folks took crash courses, burned the midnight oil studying, whatever, and less than 25% of the candidates passed. I merely went there on the set dates, and did a veni, vidi, vici act. For sworn translations, the law requires me to charge more for PT > EN than for EN > PT, so I do it, but only in these cases.

To my disappointment, I see many people eking their lives as EN > PT translators with a lesser knowledge of EN than I have of IT (my written FR is really lame). Should I have studied the 3-4 additional years of each that would enable me to start translating IT/FR? I don't know, but anyway, it's too late for that now.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
Which are...? May 15, 2016

Thayenga wrote:

Since I've seen a few requests/posts for Native American languages, I'd choose 2 or 3 of them because there's hardly any competion, the rates are usually high (compared to other language pairs), even though there are, of course, fewer jobs. One of the benefits of working in rare language pairs would be to keep endangered languages alive.


Do tell us, Thay, which Native American languages you currently work with.



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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
A combination of reasons, I think May 15, 2016

Translating and writing are very similar to composing for piano, orchestra or violin. I've been reading about composers who were young precocious children and who were touring Europe before the age of 18. Others applied themselves for the love of music and/or composed mainly for one particular instrument. Some excelled at playing an instrument or at composing a certain type of piece, but suffered economically in the end. One such example is Luigi Boccherini.

I'm okay with learning an additional foreign language for lucrative reasons. Actually, I thought hard and long about which ones to add: Russian? Chinese? Portuguese? Italian? French? Arabic? German?

No matter what language, it had to be one I could find talking and writing opportunities rather easy. As practice makes perfect, a few years worth of taking courses in a given language could have given me the advantage. However, Writing practice makes perfect writing in my book. It's not enough for me to speak a foreign language but to write it well like an educated native. In my experience, it takes at least 5 years to learn a language well enough to write somewhat fluently in it.


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:39
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Less competition = more lucrative May 15, 2016

Aren't less competition and more lucrative options the same?

The options do not consider the balance between supply and demand. Increasing the supply without the corresponding demand is pure waste. So what really matters is the demand for the pair, not how rare or pleasant it is. You would certainly be sort of exclusive if you translated from Arabic to Swahilli. But how much work would you be able to get as compared to German-English or Japanese-English?

Competition is proportional to the demand. What you have to do is to become more competent, offer better quality, overcome the competition, whatever your pair is. The best professionals are always busy and well remunerated. The incompetent ones are always watching TV and fooling around in social networks.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
Fooling around in social networks May 15, 2016

Mario Freitas wrote:

Aren't less competition and more lucrative options the same?

The options do not consider the balance between supply and demand. Increasing the supply without the corresponding demand is pure waste. So what really matters is the demand for the pair, not how rare or pleasant it is. You would certainly be sort of exclusive if you translated from Arabic to Swahilli. But how much work would you be able to get as compared to German-English or Japanese-English?

Competition is proportional to the demand. What you have to do is to become more competent, offer better quality, overcome the competition, whatever your pair is. The best professionals are always busy and well remunerated. The incompetent ones are always watching TV and fooling around in social networks.


Well, aren't we happy to know we translators who also watch TV and use social networks are the incompetent ones? Dogs can't distinguish colors but they surely don't see life as so black and white.

I agree that increasing the supply regardless of demand is a fool's errand, but that's exactly what is happening in language and translation schools here and there. For example, I calculated that about 700-750 English-to-Spanish translators were graduating in 2005-2007, based on figures from that school of translation (Córdoba, Argentina). One should ask: Where are those 700 translators going to find work?

I also agree that what matters is the market demand for a given pair. Back in the Cold War years, studying Russian was “fashionable” only to fall out of favor in the 1990s as the relations between the West and the Soviet Union warmed up. Japanese was once a fashionable language for translators, commanding around US 0.18 dollars per word. These days, Japanese translators can only hope to charge 25% less than that.

I disagree that one should not take into account the rarity or pleasantness of a language pair. Translation is not that mechanical!


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:39
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Interpreting is a must in translation! May 15, 2016

Mario Chavez wrote:

Mario Freitas wrote:

The best professionals are always busy and well remunerated. The incompetent ones are always watching TV and fooling around in social networks.


Well, aren't we happy to know we translators who also watch TV and use social networks are the incompetent ones? Dogs can't distinguish colors but they surely don't see life as so black and white.


A translator must be able to correctly interpret what they read.

Message: "the incompetent ones are always watching TV and fooling around in social networks".
Undue interpretation: "those who watch TV and use social networks are incompetent".

Please do not distort my words to make a point.

[Edited at 2016-05-17 06:16 GMT]


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