Poll: Has specializing in certain fields increased your success as a translator?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 09:09
SITE STAFF
Apr 26

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Has specializing in certain fields increased your success as a translator?".

This poll was originally submitted by two2tango. View the poll results »



 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 17:09
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other (I don't know) Apr 26

I have no way of comparing… I started out some 40 years ago as a generalist but pretty quickly realized that there are certain types of text I’m not qualified to handle or that I simply don’t enjoy. I still consider myself a generalist and enjoy projects where I can use my skills. My main area of work is EU affairs (I was an EU translator working in-house for 20 years), but over the years I have gained experience in several other fields: law (I was a sworn translator), medicine (mostly gyn... See more
I have no way of comparing… I started out some 40 years ago as a generalist but pretty quickly realized that there are certain types of text I’m not qualified to handle or that I simply don’t enjoy. I still consider myself a generalist and enjoy projects where I can use my skills. My main area of work is EU affairs (I was an EU translator working in-house for 20 years), but over the years I have gained experience in several other fields: law (I was a sworn translator), medicine (mostly gynecology, obstetrics, medical devices, clinical trials), education and vocational training… Am I specialized? Only in never biting off more than I can chew! By the way, what is success?Collapse


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
100% Apr 26

Specialising in fields I find interesting has made me a better and faster translator, meaning more work and more money, but above all it's made me happier.

I wish everyone would specialise. It's depressing on ProZ seeing a financial translator battling with a tech text and a tech translator battling with a financial text. If we all stuck to what we're good at, everyone would benefit.


Yetta J Bogarde
Natalia Pedrosa
Liena Vijupe
Gibril Koroma
Michael Wetzel
Bruno Veilleux
TB CommuniCAT
 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Apr 26

I never set out to specialise. My approach to translation is to have a look at the source text and if I think I can have a bash at it, then I'll have a go. Nowadays I prefer to refuse work that I don't think I capable of handling, whereas ten or twenty years ago I was willing to consider almost anything.

Over the years, I have acquired knowledge of certain areas and I'm told I am now considered a bit of a specialist in some of them, so I suppose that working in these areas has "incr
... See more
I never set out to specialise. My approach to translation is to have a look at the source text and if I think I can have a bash at it, then I'll have a go. Nowadays I prefer to refuse work that I don't think I capable of handling, whereas ten or twenty years ago I was willing to consider almost anything.

Over the years, I have acquired knowledge of certain areas and I'm told I am now considered a bit of a specialist in some of them, so I suppose that working in these areas has "increased my success", although that's not the way I would put it.

On second thoughts, I suppose that translating lists of software chunks over the years has made me a bit of a specialist in deciphering them - thanks to the assiduous collaboration of our colleagues on kudoz, who frequently help me resolve the thorniest quandaries.

[Edited at 2019-04-26 09:32 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-04-26 09:33 GMT]

PS: @Chris. Horses for courses. I finally stopped accepting financial translations a few years ago after one client complained about my use of synonymy; I never enjoyed doing them anyway. An agency wanted me to do some company accounts the other day, but I passed on the offer. It's a shame I don't know anyone available, because it was quite a big job.

[Edited at 2019-04-26 09:39 GMT]
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Bruno Veilleux
Canada
Local time: 12:09
English to French
Can't compare Apr 26

Other than a few months of taking almost anything when I started freelancing because I badly needed the jobs, I've always had a strict quality policy that includes checking the source files before committing to anything and turning down any job where I'm not familiar with the content nor confident in my ability to figure out the terminology I don't already know. I don't think anyone has complained outright, but I've often had the feeling that some project managers found it surprising that I woul... See more
Other than a few months of taking almost anything when I started freelancing because I badly needed the jobs, I've always had a strict quality policy that includes checking the source files before committing to anything and turning down any job where I'm not familiar with the content nor confident in my ability to figure out the terminology I don't already know. I don't think anyone has complained outright, but I've often had the feeling that some project managers found it surprising that I wouldn't just grab everything thrown my way as long as time permitted. In a review, one actually noted it as a quality that set me apart.

Considering that you can't have a good translation without an intimate understanding of both the meaning and context, it just baffles me that either translators or project managers would work any other way. But then I also feel the same about most agencies seemingly assuming that every translator is also a reliable editor/reviewer/proofreader by default.
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Teresa Borges
Michele Fauble
 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:09
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes Apr 26

The 20 years I worked in house for several types of businesses have helped A LOT, above all in the engineering areas. There is no way on earth you can possible acquire all that jargon and knownedge in any courses or reading by yourself. Not even in college or other courses can the practice be so usefull.
So, I did work for companies for 20 years, and it was a pain, but I honestly don't see the slightest possibility of someone who hasn't competing with me in translation in the areas of tec
... See more
The 20 years I worked in house for several types of businesses have helped A LOT, above all in the engineering areas. There is no way on earth you can possible acquire all that jargon and knownedge in any courses or reading by yourself. Not even in college or other courses can the practice be so usefull.
So, I did work for companies for 20 years, and it was a pain, but I honestly don't see the slightest possibility of someone who hasn't competing with me in translation in the areas of technical/engineering, law/contracts and business/finance documents. The other methods simply do not give you that knowledge, experience and vocabulary.
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Bruno Veilleux
Jorge Payan
Muriel Vasconcellos
 

Wilsonn Perez Reyes  Identity Verified
El Salvador
Local time: 10:09
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes! Apr 26

I had to obtain my B.A. in Law in order to start getting a decent income as a translator (I graduated in 2014 from a Salvadoran university). A B.A. in Translation was not enough (I graduated in 2005 from an Argentinian university). Some people in this forum are against obtaining any kind of university degree. I really don't understand that way of thinking.

The minimum wage in El Salvador (Central America, if you do not know) is USD 300 a month in the service sector; in other sector
... See more
I had to obtain my B.A. in Law in order to start getting a decent income as a translator (I graduated in 2014 from a Salvadoran university). A B.A. in Translation was not enough (I graduated in 2005 from an Argentinian university). Some people in this forum are against obtaining any kind of university degree. I really don't understand that way of thinking.

The minimum wage in El Salvador (Central America, if you do not know) is USD 300 a month in the service sector; in other sectors it is just a mere USD 200. If I had to depend on my country, I would be literally starving (thank goodness my whole income comes from translation agencies based in the U.S. — God Bless You America!). That is the reason why so many people from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador ("The Northern Triangle") opt to form caravans to enter ilegally into the U.S.A. Many of you people live in a bubble, in your so-called "1st world countries." That is "another world" for me, so you will not understand what I am saying, unless you have lived some time in a "3rd world country." I do not blame you.

By the way, I will study a Master's Degree in Translation in Colombia in 2020. Again, some people in this forum are anti-academia and very much against studying a Masters in Translation. What is wrong with that? Maybe you do not need it. Good for you! But if you have the opportunity and the money, go for it.

I will have the oportunity to live in the U.S. starting in 2023 because my sister is an American citizen, but I do not plan to live permanently in the U.S. I really like to live in Latin America, my only and very own people, without suffering discrimination, be it racial, linguistic, or otherwise.

[Edited at 2019-04-26 19:20 GMT]
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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:09
Member (2018)
French to English
Yes Apr 27

Just the other day I got a nice juicy translation from an agency who liked the list of specialist subjects on my LinkedIn profile, all subjects they have large volumes in.
Mind you, I have lots of specialist subjects, I could be accused of being a Jane of all trades and master of none. This is offset by the fact that I only have one source language, which I do have a very good grasp of.


 


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