Pursuing a Master's in Translation/2nd Lang. or in another field... which is more advantageous?
Thread poster: Christopher Lewis

Christopher Lewis  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:20
German to English
Aug 27, 2009

I graduated last year with a BA in German and have been working as a volunteer translator for the past year at a local agency as there is not a lot of opportunities for my language pair where I live here in Canada. I am starting a translation internship for a translation company in England in about a month. My hope is that I will be able to find a paying position as a translator after interning for a few months, or maybe get my foot in the door freelancing. Either way, I have decided to pursue a Master's for 2010 intake. My question is do I take a degree in Translation Studies or German, or do I pursue a Master's in an unrelated but useful subject, in this case I was thinking of doing a Master's in Internation Law or something similar?

[Edited at 2009-08-28 15:34 GMT]


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:20
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Welcome, Chris Aug 27, 2009

I'm sure the people here will tell you about the pros and cons, but while you're mulling it over, did you consider taking the "unrelated but useful" course/subject IN GERMANY? Best way of entering a specialization with a view to a future career in translation...

[Edited at 2009-08-28 21:42 GMT]


 

Christopher Lewis  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:20
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
This had occured to me... Aug 28, 2009

...especially given that I am a dual citizen. However, everytime I have looked into going attending University in Germany (at both under- and post-grad levels) I am intimidated by how rigid the system is. I could be wrong, but I have spent many an hour trying to find a program as flexible and unique as many of those offered in the UK, not to mention program duration (UK, one year; Germany, two).

 

Christopher Lewis  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:20
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Anyone? Aug 28, 2009

Are there no professionals willing to give a greenhorn some sage advice?

 

Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:20
Dutch to English
+ ...
Since you mentioned law Aug 28, 2009

Look at this as an option:

http://www.city.ac.uk/study/courses/arts/legal-translation-ma-diploma.html

German to English is offered.

Since this is mostly distance-learning (there is some compulsory attendance), you could work and/or look at short courses to attend in Germany as well.

Good luck with your internship
Debs


 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:20
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Forget the 'flexibility' of the UK Aug 28, 2009

Do the course in Germany and you'll be far better positioned to work with the source language after you are finished. German universities are indeed 'another world', but there are unique aspects of the system here which would benefit you even more because of their difference from what you have known up to now. Depending on the type of translation you will be engaged in later, understanding the culture could make a critical difference, and that is best achieved by living in Germany. The longer course will benefit you in that sense.

The UK is a nice place but not particularly worthwhile if you will be focusing on DE>EN translation.


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:20
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Poor Chris... Aug 28, 2009

Have patience with us, your field of enquiry is what we might call "developmental". Many of the people here were in the business before translation courses became as widespread as they are now. In effect, you may have noted that translation studies (or better said, studies in translation) vary greatly across institutions, depending on the thrust of the specific program offered. Maybe you are better off deciding which emphases you prefer, if ever you decide for the field of translation.

On another hand, your mentioning dual citizenship opens the option of entering a European Masters program, if you can validate a third language. The advantages -- there are certain mobility options between consortium members. AFAIK, there are two consortia: Conference Interpreting (see http://www.proz.com/topic/24439 , albeit the thread is old) and Specialised Translation.

On the "unrelated but useful" subject, you'd be surprised that many things relate in the end. Whatever you choose, make sure it is of more than just a superficial interest, particularly if you intend to live with it the rest of your professional life. International Law is certainly a good candidate, but I may be saying this out of bias (I now work in iticon_biggrin.gif. My internship was in medicine, but assignments in training were one thing I hardly had a choice in. I gave up the medical field as a specialty long ago).

PS: Note that I'm stressing (again) mobility. Kevin is basically right. It can be foul medicine, but the effects last a lifetimeicon_biggrin.gif.

[Edited at 2009-08-28 17:04 GMT]


 

Christopher Lewis  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:20
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Aug 28, 2009

Thanks for the responses (and keep them coming--the more input the better)!

I will have to reconsider a move to Germany, although I do feel pretty confident in my abilities (I have been raised with the language, did a degree in it, and a three month internship with Bavaria Film) there is always room for improvement!


[Edited at 2009-08-28 16:31 GMT]


 

Christopher Lewis  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:20
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Translation degree Aug 28, 2009

Parrot, you made a good point that I'd like to revisit (and sorry if I came off impatient, I just did not want this thread to slip by unnoticed--I appreciate the input). That is, that translation studies is a relatively new academic field.

I wonder if there is anyone on here who HAS completed a degree in translation (or even in a second language) and how they feel it has influenced their professional career? *Or is this a new post?*

[Edited at 2009-08-28 19:08 GMT]


 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:20
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Go deeper Aug 28, 2009

Chris Lewis wrote:
... I do feel pretty confident in my abilities (I have been raised with the language, did a degree in it, and a three month internship with Bavaria Film) there is always room for improvement!


As I see it, that is fairly minimal contact with the language and culture for professional work. Although I didn't grow up with German as a language in my parents' home (the previous generation had abandoned it after speaking it at home in the US for three generations), I started it at a fairly young age with one of the finest teachers of the language in US high schools, spent an exchange year abroad, traveled frequently in the 80's in the FRG and GDR for reasons I wish I could forget, used German as the language in my home with my wife and children in the 90's and have lived in the country for about 10 years now, and I learn new things every day about the language and culture. My partner, who has lived here for most of the past 30 years, is surprised less often, but even she has gaps: today's lesson was "Eichkater" (no, it's not "calibration cat").

You might make a splendid translator today with the skills you have now. I wasn't half bad as a teenager translating syntheses for explosives and nerve gases from Liebigs Annalen der Chemie and other sources. But there is so much more to be had from the language and culture by immersing yourself in it in the country. Most people - even educated people - can't write worth a damn, and you might be surprised how many German authors are unable to keep the influence of their dialects out of the manuals and other materials they write. You will never learn to deal with that stuff in Canada, the US or the UK. You have to hear it on the street, in conversations with clients and other in-country sources.

If you're interested in European Law, the Universität des Saarlandes in Saarbrücken used to have a rather decent program for Europarecht, which my partner did ages ago. A lot of it involved French I think, but since you're from Canada, I assume you have that covered. And you would be very close to the action at Strasbourg.

The UK is a wonderful place, and there are some very nice masters' programs at Birmingham and elsewhere. But if you want to become top-notch as a translator of German, those will get you nowhere compared to what you could accomplish in Germany or even one of those quaint backwaters like Switzerland or Austriaicon_wink.gif


 

Christopher Lewis  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:20
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Very humbling Aug 28, 2009

Kevin Lossner wrote:
...I have lived in the country for about 10 years now, and I learn new things every day"

I believe you are right, Kevin, and that is very humbling. And the point you make about the abundance of dialect is also a good one (my own family has a very strong Badisch dialect). I mostly keep up with my skills by reading and translating when I am not in contact with the culture.

I will definitely take a more serious look into going to school in Germany. But isn't the conundrum of a translator living anywhere the sacrifice of one language to an extent for the other?

As an after note, I should point out that not all Canadians (quite a few, I'd say) know French. Something I regret and hope to change someday.


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:20
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Cripes... Aug 28, 2009

... that's a long story.

Chris Lewis wrote:

I wonder if there is anyone on here who HAS completed a degree in translation (or even in a second language) and how they feel it has influenced their professional career? *Or is this a new post?*


No, you don't need to post a new thread. You might, however, also use the forum "advanced search" function (left-hand side of this page), as many people have discussed the benefits and flaws of their respective or prospective degrees (whether BA or MA). You can search under keywords ("degree/s", "MA", or enter the name of an institution).

There have always been language BAs, so you might be able to tap into more information from that side. In fact, many people still refer to us as "linguists", and a few colleagues around have up to PhDs in linguistics. But as far as I know, translation just used to be a subject or component of such language courses. When I started college, for instance, the only institutions giving full-blown T&I degrees were ETI (BA), ESIT (BA and MA) and MIIS (MA). To get specific training of any sort, including non-degree, you really had to travel (and I'm told this was also the case in the former East Block, which has a parallel but different history -- I particularly recall the story of a Pole acquiring a rare taste for kimchee that was rather hard to account for or satisfy). Still and all, there was a translation industry and it was business as usual, and the products (or people) weren't bad.

What this goes to show is, you can look at it as a paper chase. What it really amounts to, is life experience. That's what gives you the confidence to go in and do it, not the paper. Undeniably, theory helps -- but it's easier to anchor theory to practical experience (even the coursebooks say so). You could memorize any number of academic strategies, but it's confronting the problem that will enable the strategy to stick and be assimilated.

One thing you can be sure of is, you're not going to stop learning after you graduate.icon_wink.gif

[Edited at 2009-08-29 10:56 GMT]


 

Christopher Lewis  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:20
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Vielen Dank! Aug 29, 2009

Many Thanks, again! Kevin and Parrot (Lawyer Linguist, too), your advice has been invaluable! I really can't thank you enough. I believe I have a better idea of where I am headed! Vielen Dank.

 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:20
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Before I forget... Aug 29, 2009

I'm a Goethe-Institut regular. This is because Goethe in Madrid runs a special class outside KDS and GDS for professionals working with German who no longer fit into their regular programs (we sort of obllged themicon_biggrin.gif, so that's one argument against German inflexibility... I suppose they do it because we've been serving as guinea-pigs for their course development plans -- the Munich office tests new exams on us before implementing them). Every once in awhile they release news about professional and post-graduate courses in Germany. I recall quite recently reading about one in international law and foreign affairs which was bilingual in English and German, particularly since it excited the interest of one of my classmates, a judge who serves as liaison between the Spanish and German judiciaries. Apparently, this course was designed as a post-grad for mixed classes of German and foreign students, as an environment in which both sides could contribute and compare. I can't recall the institution, but you might inquire at your local Goethe-Institut.

[Edited at 2009-08-29 10:39 GMT]


 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Pursuing a Master's in Translation/2nd Lang. or in another field... which is more advantageous?

Advanced search






TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »
memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search