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Poll: After how many translated words can you consider yourself a "professional" translator?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 09:23
SITE STAFF
Sep 7

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "After how many translated words can you consider yourself a "professional" translator?".

This poll was originally submitted by Bruno Depascale. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:23
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Sep 7

In my worldview, once you start getting paid for translations is when you become a professional translator. Then, after you've been doing it for a while, when other people (clients, colleagues... punters in general) start referring to you as such, or telling you that you are an expert in this field or the other... I'd say that's when you are truly a professional.
However, although I've been translating more or less full-time for 15 to 20 years, I've just had a look at a proz discussion about alignment tools, and the half a dozen or so prozers involved all seem to know what they're talking about, whereas I have no idea what they are actually for, or how to use them. I know the basic meaning of the word "align", but that's as far as it goes. Does that make me a non-professional?


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Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:23
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
depends on the result and the attitude/behaviour Sep 7

I would say it depends primarily on the result. If that is high quality, you are a good translator. If you behave in a professional manner besides, I reckon it makes you a professional translator.

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Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:23
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
align Sep 7

@Neil: they are talking about aligning a source text and an existing translation, to build a TM out of previously translated texts.

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Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 19:23
English to Russian
+ ...
There is no limit to bad translation! Sep 7

A person may translate millions of words badly and be even unaware of that and excercise no self-improvement

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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:23
Member (2008)
English to Italian
it depends on... Sep 7

QUALITY
you start getting paid for a translation, you are translator
the quality of your translations is very good, you can start saying that you are a professional translator

next step: never consider yourself "perfect"


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Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 18:23
Member (2005)
English to German
Other Sep 7

A professional is just someone who claims to be so good at something that they feel okay with doing it for money. It doesn't mean they ARE.

Says the person whose house was this |-| close to blowing up because some professional (and certified and registered) furnace maintenance guy forgot to close a gas valve. (Some non-denominational guardian angel sent the utilities guys to work on the water mains shortly after that, and they're trained to detect a gas smell, so it didn't blow up in the end.)


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:23
French to English
"mens rea", "actus reus" and more Sep 7

Like many technical areas, English criminal law is full of Latin terminology. The "mens rea" of a crime describes the mental element, the intention, if you like. "Actus reus" describes the act itself, what the person actually did. Translation is not a crime, neither is being professional. However, to my mind, a "professional" translator will have at least two elements: the mens rea is the fact of holding oneself out to be a professional, describing oneself as a professional and behaving as such. The actus reus is the fact of doing translations in exchange for payment. Do note that I am not saying that translators are criminals! There is a third element. The term "professional" is also commonly used to infer ethical business behaviour. Based on these three elements, the meaning of the term "professional" has strictly nothing to do with the number of words you translate. Then there is the fourth element, skill or quality. Some people earn money doing translations and produce a vast quantity of work but that work is of poor quality. When "professional" means quality, I do not want to be associated with people who churn out millions of words of poor quality work.

In my opinion, although one certainly does improve with time and experience, I would never judge a translator's skill by the number of words he has been able produce. It is not an indication of "professional" ability or quality.


[Edited at 2017-09-07 10:52 GMT]


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Nicolas Roussel  Identity Verified
Philippines
Local time: 00:23
Member (2011)
English to French
Professional or not professional Sep 7

Professional means it is your profession. Of course by the time you start your career you may have translated quite a number of documents during your training or schooling. Not every professional does a professional job though.

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:23
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It has nothing to do with number of words Sep 7

I should think a better measure would be a combination of certifications, years of experience, number of return customers, and possibly how much money people are willing to pay for their work.

I know a woman who has been working for not even peanuts for a couple of decades, but I wouldn't consider her professional because she has only one client and her work is sort of stream-of-consciousness. She was tested by an agency that pays very little and they turned her down.


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Shada Salameh
Jordan
Local time: 19:23
English to Arabic
+ ...
Subjeft field matters Sep 7

I suppose that the subject field also matters.
A translator shall not consider himself a specialist unless he works on several texts that cover different aspects of the field.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 17:23
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Ditto! Sep 7

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

I should think a better measure would be a combination of certifications, years of experience, number of return customers, and possibly how much money people are willing to pay for their work.

I know a woman who has been working for not even peanuts for a couple of decades, but I wouldn't consider her professional because she has only one client and her work is sort of stream-of-consciousness. She was tested by an agency that pays very little and they turned her down.


I know people who claim to have translated millions of words and I wouldn’t assign them as much as a single paragraph…


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other: After how many miles driven do you become a safe driver? Sep 7

Some people get it right on their first try, others never learn, no matter how many years they have been doing it. Enough said on this part.

On another front, "considering yourself" doesn't help at all.
If you think it does, please read about Florence Foster Jenkins.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Not sure Sep 7

Somewhere between 71 and 78 (source wordcount, obvs)

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 18:23
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
How many potatoes do you have to sell before you can consider yourself a greengrocer? Sep 7

Well, there is substituting words in one language for words in another (and capturing some of the meaning if you're lucky). And then there is translation. Two examples.

A young lady mailed me yesterday, I'm not sure why, apart from the fact that she has just left my old School, is doing a gap year in Sweden, and found me on the list of former pupils. Possibly she was feeling a long way from home and looking for a kindred spirit.
I'm not sure an elderly person like me quite fits the bill, but I sent a couple of lines wishing her luck, and she latched on to the line at the bottom of my mail that says I am a translator. She mailed back with a lot of very sensible questions about learning languages and what she could do with them.

I did a quick google and found she had won a prize for translating from Swedish in a competition. Her explanation about how she started and her approach to translation was most impressive, as was her teacher's comment. She is not selling anything yet, but she already sounds highly professional.

Today a client sent me a text to review - written by someone in their marketing department who can use a dictionary. A person who gets paid to do copywriting or whatever they call it, who would probably claim to be professional.
Well, maybe whoever it was can write Danish, I don't know, but a professional translator into English they ain't!!!


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Poll: After how many translated words can you consider yourself a "professional" translator?

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