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Poll: Would you consider getting a doctorate in Translation to enhance your credibility as a translator?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Local time: 12:04
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Mar 22

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Would you consider getting a doctorate in Translation to enhance your credibility as a translator?".

This poll was originally submitted by farainhanafi. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Mar 22

Not nowadays, as I don't think my credibility as a translator is under threat to any great extent. However, it is an option I might have considered had I got into translation earlier in life, as people are definitely impressed by letters after someone's name. My own degree is a mere bog-standard BA in "modern languages", but I still use the BA postscript occasionally, hoping to make my name and surname look/sound slightly grander

However, whether a doctorate really makes for a better translator or not is debatable. The ability to churn out disquisitions on translation theory may have little bearing on actual performance in real-life working conditions.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
I'd rather eat my cat Mar 22

Studying translation theory at postgraduate level was one of the most pointless and soul-destroying things I have ever undertaken, up there with studying linguistics and literature as an undergraduate.

I love languages, I love translation and I love books, but the combination of endless speculative overanalysis and pedantically explaining the bleeding obvious just sucked all the joy out of them.

So, er, no.

The best way of enhancing your credibility as a translator is to be a good translator, not to have more letters after your name.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:04
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Er ... I already have one Mar 22

Unlike Chris, translation kept piquing my curiosity about how language works, so I went back to school in mid-career to study linguistic theory. I was also teaching translation, and I wanted to know how to explain it to my students. I didn't do it to "enhance my credibility as a translator." I did it simply because I wanted to.

Well, it's not quite that simple. I am named for my aunt, who earned a doctorate in psychology at a time when it was rare for women to go to graduate school. I never quite knew if I was inspired by her, or competing with her, or what.

[Edited at 2017-03-22 09:10 GMT]


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 04:04
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
No Mar 22

I have never been asked by any of my customers to submit a translation-related qualification, such as a BA in translation studies - not even my degree - which, incidentally, was a B.A. Hons. in Japanese from SOAS (School of Oriental & African Studies, The University of London).
I think that anything higher than an undergraduate degree such as a Master's or a Doctorate in translation or linguistics would have absolutely little value in the real world of translation, as Neilmac says.

And, as Chris suggests, clients only want a decent translation. They are not concerned with all the theorizing and agonizing that might have gone on during the course of a translation.

Mind you, I have toyed with the idea of going back to college to do a Master's for the sheer fun of it while teaching a J>E technical translation course to earn some beer money along the way.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:04
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Mar 22

Over the years I've toyed with the idea of going back to school but it would not be a doctorate in translation, more something in the fields I work most (law and medicine), unfortunately I have no power of ubiquity…

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Khanda
Poland
Local time: 21:04
Polish to English
+ ...
"Mr. Khanda?" Mar 22

"Hello Mr. Client, how are things?"
"Mr. Khanda, I regret to inform you that we have found a translator with a Ph.D. in translation, so quite understandably, despite many years of successful cooperation, we are forced to cross you out from our database"
"But... but... I almost finished my Ph.D.! Please, give me just a bit more time, that's all I'm asking!"
"I'm sorry, but we cannot wait any longer. Also, your competitor has a Ph.D. from a university which is much higher in the global ranks. There's nothing we can do, company policy. Goodbye, Mr. Khanda."
"No... No... NOOOOO!"


*blink*

phew... just a bad dream... I should quit eating meat in the evenings... can go back to sleep now...


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:04
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
That's why I never considered it Mar 22

Chris S wrote:

Studying translation theory at postgraduate level was one of the most pointless and soul-destroying things I have ever undertaken, up there with studying linguistics and literature as an undergraduate.


Studying translation as such is nonsense. Either you have the right kind of mind and don't need it, or you don't, and then you will never learn anyway.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:04
French to English
No Mar 22

A doctorate, like any higher degree, needs a lot of motivation. You need to want it for yourself. It is possible to want it for yourself to enhance one's credibility as a translator. I suspect that alone would not be sufficient motivation to keep going through the three years required to achieve it.

Would I consider for the purpose of enhancing my credibility as a translator? No, I would not. That does not mean I would not have considered it at some earlier stage, but not now, no.

Credibility is about the perception others have of oneself. I am not certain it would make any difference at all. Some people think that people with a doctorate are "too" academic and it could actually put some people off, often erroneously too. It is quite possible to be academic and practically-minded. Others are not often than aware of all the other skills and competencies acquired through study. All those transferable skills just waiting to be exploited!

Credibility is about having confidence in your ability without having to shout it from the rooftops. Shouting louder than the next guy in the queue might get you heard, but might not help with credibility. However, if having a doctorate motivates you for personal interest, then like any qualification, it should make you feel confident in the knowledge gained and all the ancilliary skills acquired along the way. To the extent that the knowledge and skills acquired enhance one's confidence, then yes, certainly, one's credibility may be enhanced. My answer to the question as phrased is still no.

[Edited at 2017-03-22 10:47 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:04
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
all the right reasons! Mar 22

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

Unlike Chris, translation kept piquing my curiosity about how language works, so I went back to school in mid-career to study linguistic theory. I was also teaching translation, and I wanted to know how to explain it to my students. I didn't do it to "enhance my credibility as a translator." I did it simply because I wanted to.

Well, it's not quite that simple. I am named for my aunt, who earned a doctorate in psychology at a time when it was rare for women to go to graduate school. I never quite knew if I was inspired by her, or competing with her, or what.


Those sound like compelling reasons.

A little theory is a good thing, and I consider that my basic post-graduate diploma was a major element in turning me from a bilingual amateur with a good ear for languages into a professional. However, it was short, and definitely not a research degree. It was a systematic collection of hands-on experience and advice on practice, with guidelines to send students out to gather their own experience without having to make ALL the mistakes themselves!

I can't think off-hand of any teachers who had a doctorate, but some might well have qualified if they had written up their results as theses and jumped through the right hoops. The theory and the wide perspective made them good teachers. There were a couple of lexicographers who were right at the cutting edge, and greatly respected for what they do.

They were not working translators. Clients respect a translator who knows their jargon in both languages, understands the specialist subject matter and the target readers, and delivers on time. In some circles a doctorate might impress them, but others see an 'academic from an ivory tower' if they don't know precisely what it involves.

Otherwise, I'm with Chris S. I have loads of exam certificates if anyone wants to see them, and books on theory on my bookshelves, but they are for bedtime reading to fall asleep on. Not for endless dissection and exam papers!

I have to admit I am quite proud of my title as a Chartered Linguist... and I do think it is necessary to mark in some way that translators are working in their own specialist field, not just doing a task anyone could do if they had the time. Or these days, any computer! A title of any kind that really enhances credibility in the client's eyes has to be a good thing.


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Texte Style
Local time: 21:04
French to English
no Mar 22

I did consider it just after doing my master and even had a working title for a thesis but in the end, I'm not an ivory tower person. I have also thought of doing a master in a specialist field simply to improve on my knowledge and to get a better handle on how these specialists express themselves, but there are always plenty of other things to do and I don't get the impression that my clients need me to do that.

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Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 21:04
Member (2005)
English to German
Unsure even about what I have Mar 22

I have a doctorate in "Cultural Studies" (which is a fancy way of saying I studied at the English Department and they didn't offer a degree that was suited to a person using their courses as an add-on to Computing of all things, so they just called it that in the end), and I don't even list that with my name, as I think it would make me look "too academic" or "overqualified" or "too expensive" or "not what the commercial world needs".

I would study some more if I found worthwhile classes and the time to take them, but just for my personal enjoyment - to enhance my credibility as a translator, something else such as an ATA membership (or national equivalent) would probably be far more suitable.

[Edited at 2017-03-22 20:20 GMT]


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:04
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes Mar 22

I really enjoyed the Master's course I did, and at some point would love to take it further. If I do, it would be more for personal interest, though, rather than for the purpose of attracting clients. I would like to study something which had some kind of practical connection to my work, and have a couple of ideas already, but I currently lack both time and money. Perhaps it might be a more realistic possibility when the children leave home, or maybe a retirement project...

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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:04
French to German
+ ...
You made my day, Chris Mar 22

Chris S wrote:

Studying translation theory at postgraduate level was one of the most pointless and soul-destroying things I have ever undertaken, up there with studying linguistics and literature as an undergraduate.

I love languages, I love translation and I love books, but the combination of endless speculative overanalysis and pedantically explaining the bleeding obvious just sucked all the joy out of them.



Thanks, Chris, you made my day. My thoughts exactly.


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polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
Depends if you want to freelance or work as a high-level staffer Mar 22

My students are following my own path, namely obtaining their MA in translation/interpreting or communications so that they can apply for jobs at the EU or UN, etc. As part of their studies, the good ones get to go on placements in such organisations which puts them on the fast track for a more permanent post.

Horses for courses


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