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choosing between arabic and russian
Thread poster: carolalt

Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 20:04
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Arabic Sep 13

I know non-native Russian translators and interpreters who have mastered Russian but I absolutely agree with my colleagues - the market is getting smaller, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Arabic has better prospects - every day thousands of refugees come to the Italian shores, and I think most of them speak Arabic. As for the discrimination, well, first of all, there are plenty educated women in the Middle Eastern countries, so a female interpreter is not something exotic. On the contrary, a female interpreter would be the first choice if, let's say a religious Muslim woman needs to see a doctor.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Choosing a language Sep 13

Nikki and Otha make two very good points: don't follow the crowd and choose the language(s) you already enjoy.

Now, how can you enjoy a language you've never experienced? One thing is to go to a university and study a language in an academic setting for years. To experience the language by traveling and living it is quite another.

I don't think choosing a language (whether for interpreting or translation) based on social or economic reasons, or market conditions, is a wise move. After all, you don't go to the museum that charges less or see only movies that are Oscar nominations.

To me, learning a language is like meeting a person to see if we can be friends. Some friendships are brief, some are for the rest of your life. The way I approach languages is also like choosing what to eat. If I go to a foreign country, I don't plan on eating American pizza or a MacDonald burger, but what's on the menu. You really want to enjoy and love the languages you choose because you'll be spending a lot of time with them, not just speaking them, but reading them.

And if you choose, say, Arabic, and you decide you no longer enjoy it, you can always pick another one.


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MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:04
Member (Jun 2017)
French to English
+ ...
Government work Sep 13

Arabic might be a good language for getting into government work. You could check the websites of various government agencies in your country and see which languages are in high demand.

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:04
French to English
The choice is simple Sep 13

I think the choice is simple. Which of the languages on offer do you feel most affinity with? That is the language you should choose. All other considerations are secondary; they are not unimportant, but it is absolutely essential that you like feel something for the language you are to study. If you base a choice on other criteria, you may not enjoy the study so much, you may not be so successful with the language and you may not wish to work with the language later.

Learning a new language from scratch to a professional level in 3 years is already difficult. Do not complicate the situation by basing your choice on anything other than a desire to study a particular language.

Edit to correct a typo.

[Edited at 2017-09-13 23:25 GMT]


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Desire not the same as liking Sep 13

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

I think the choice is simple. Which of the languages on offer do you feel most affinity with? That is the language you should choose. All other considerations are secondary; they are not unimportant, but it is absolutely essential that you like feel something for the language you are to study. If you base a choice on other criteria, you may not enjoy the study so much, you may not be so successful with the language and you may not wish to work with the language later.

Learning a new language from scratch to a professional level in 3 years is already difficult. Do not complicate the situation by basing your choice on anything other that a desire to study a particular language.


I agree. I like to see Arabic and Burmese numerals and writing, but I wouldn't want to learn them or study them as I feel no connection to these languages or cultures.

That's why I said that a language has to be experienced, not just studied. Behind every language there is one community or a collection of complex communities with their own writing and speaking traditions. And 3 years of studying a language is just scratching the surface. In my opinion, to be able to interpret or translate from or into a foreign language, one has to go through at least 5 to 10 years of assiduous practice and learning, not just answering test questions, chit chatting in class teams and getting good language grades.

The only way to find out that affinity you speak of, however, is to try a language for some time, in my view.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:04
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
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At an age MT is developing so fast, Sep 16

I doubt the usefulness of learning a foreign language at all in college. A lot of translators in the existing pool would be at risk of losing their business in a couple of years, and the current translation students might get close to $0 return on the investment of their education if they choose to study translation.

It would be better to choose something else as your major.


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