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Poll: What quality do you think is most important when choosing a translator?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 03:32
SITE STAFF
Nov 5, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What quality do you think is most important when choosing a translator?".

This poll was originally submitted by Henrik Pipoyan

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:32
Flemish to English
+ ...
3 factors Nov 5, 2006

Education+specialisation+experience.

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:32
Dutch to English
+ ...
Make that a 3-in-1 Nov 5, 2006

Mother tongue + specialisation + education all of which (among other things) amount to your collective and lifelong (i.e. childhood and adult) EXPERIENCE

Anything else fits under a wide interpretation of the word.

[Edited at 2006-11-06 08:48]


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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 04:32
French to English
+ ...
Williamson's got it Nov 5, 2006

one qualification is insufficient...because most highly-educated legal translators CANNOT do an electronics translation.

This field is sophisticated. Why try to simplify it?


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Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:32
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Can't answer this one Nov 5, 2006

Rita Heller wrote:
This field is sophisticated. Why try to simplify it?


Exactly!

It would certainly be a combination of various qualities from the ones listed in this survey (plus possibly a few more - such as reliability, speed, confidentiality, age, sex, country of residence, knowledge of a third language, you name it).

Also, I would say that the weighting of all those important qualities is different for each job. Sometimes the specialisation of the translator in one particular field might be the single most important factor, another time this might not play a role at all and the emphasize is on the translator's mother tongue.

So, as with almost everything: It depends.

[Edited at 2006-11-05 22:03]


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Timothy Barton
Local time: 13:32
French to English
+ ...
How about... Nov 5, 2006

Knows how to translate....

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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 07:32
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Timothy, my thoughts exactly! Nov 6, 2006

Timothy Barton wrote:

How about... Knows how to translate....


Thank you for saying it for me, Timothy. Of course, you're absolutely right! Trouble is, you can't tell that from a profile or a CV. However, an outsourcer familiar with the language pair can find out in a hurry if s/he reads a sampling of the translator's KudoZ answers.

Jane


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:32
English to French
+ ...
Experience Nov 6, 2006

I think that this one CAN be answered with just one choice. I agree that if I was an outsourcer, I would take a look at all factors and not just one, but the question was which one is the MOST important.

I think experience is most important. Native or not is relevant in some instances, not at all in others. Ditto for education. Specialization is almost always relevant, but there are exceptions (as in the case of general, easy texts). A few were added by fellow members (errr... users?) that I find completely out of place here, like sex and age - I don't see how these would have an influence on the competency of a translator. Coutry of residence - ditto. Reliability and confidentiality cannot possibly be aveluated the first time around - you have to give them a chance, wait and see.

So, while a combination of all factors proposed should be considered as a whole - just like in the case of a new computer, we consider similar factors as a whole - I think experience is what ultimately makes a translator. Although some completely inexperienced translators have enough talent to be able to do an excellent job, but only on texts that are not highly technical. Hey, you gotta get that experience from somewhere!



[Edited at 2006-11-06 01:47]


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:32
Member
English to Turkish
Experience Nov 6, 2006

Because everything else is replaceable.

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Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:32
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Just to clarify Nov 6, 2006

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
A few were added by fellow members (errr... users?) that I find completely out of place here, like sex and age - I don't see how these would have an influence on the competency of a translator. Coutry of residence - ditto. Reliability and confidentiality cannot possibly be aveluated the first time around - you have to give them a chance, wait and see.


Ok, that was probably not quite politically correct of me - I apologise. The point I was trying to make, though, is that I believe the factors which may make a translator suitable for a particular job are as plentiful as they are diverse - and they might be different for each job to be assigned.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:32
English to French
+ ...
No problem, Thomas Nov 6, 2006

Thomas Pfann wrote:

Ok, that was probably not quite politically correct of me - I apologise. The point I was trying to make, though, is that I believe the factors which may make a translator suitable for a particular job are as plentiful as they are diverse - and they might be different for each job to be assigned.



Hi Thomas,

Don't you worry, I noticed your point was not to be disrespectful. I always say my lips move faster than my brain

You are right in saying that the factors are higely diverse - but then again, there are only 8 answers possible in a poll. Let's add one of those factors: knowledge of computer programs / ability to use computers at a relatively high level. This one wasn't mentioned either - and how many times are we asked to be willing and able to use Trados? It only goes to show that factors abound.

I still think experience is more important than anything else...



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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:32
Flemish to English
+ ...
Mother-tongue: relevant? Nov 6, 2006

Mother-tongue/native language is only relevant if your mother was a highly educated/skilled woman using an elaborated code in daily life and not somebody, who can barely read and write the standard-language and speaks a restricted code dialect.
If this is the case, you will have to assimilate the target-language yourself on a daily basis.

[Edited at 2006-11-06 14:50]


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David Brown  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:32
Spanish to English
Qualities not just one quality Nov 6, 2006

[quote]ProZ.com Staff wrote:

"What quality do you think is most important when choosing a translator"

A translator, particulary a freelancer, has to have many qualities. Good grasp of the mother tongue, good education in mother language and source language, experience in at least one specialist area (not including general translations, such as tourism, recipes etc.), patience, the mind of Sherlock Holmes (typos, non-standard abbreviations, poor grammar in the source document, etc.), and be courteous whilst biting their tongues when asked to translate 5,000 words urgently (for tomorrow) at the lowest rates possible.
But I wouldn't change my job for anything else.


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Dan Marasescu  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 12:32
Member (2003)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Mother tongue Nov 6, 2006

Williamson wrote:
Mother-tongue/native language is only relevant if your mother was a highly educated/skilled woman using an elaborated code in daily live


"Mother tongue" or "native speaker" are nice metaphors, but rather inaccurate phrases really. A native speaker as I understand it is in most cases someone born in a family in which that language is spoken, raised and educated in a country where that language is spoken. Now, in my opinion, this is the only thing you cannot replace.


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Ruxi
German to Romanian
+ ...
Amazing and thank you Timothy Nov 6, 2006

According to most answerers no new translator/beginner has to be chosen by an outsourcer for a job.
I find this so frustrating.
May I ask where one should getz that "Experience", if not by getting jobs and working?

My actual answer:
1. Language skills
2. Specialisation (eventually samples)
3. Seriosity and punctuality (are these included in "others"?)

Nr.1 and 2 include education. And education includes also a certain general culture too.
Timothy said it so well.
Experience and native language are not so relevant.
Remark: experience can be here either in a specialisation field, or in translation filed.
The first one is more important than the second.


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