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Translator career path

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Well Translated
United States
Local time: 14:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
Schooling vs. Entrepreneurial Spirit Jan 20, 2011

In regards to education, I believe far more emphasis should be placed on two separate and distinct areas: linguistic competency and business savviness. Success will come to those that employ strategic thinking and unwavering focus...more so than any type of language degrees...and these two can be acquired outside of a classroom setting.

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Lucia Leszinsky
SITE STAFF
Thanks for your contribution, Well! Jan 20, 2011

Now, feel free to add your comments to the article by clicking on "[edit]" to the right of the "Translation education" section. I am sure colleagues will be more than interested in developing your idea further.

And, please, do not hesitate to let me know if you need any help.

Kind regards,

Lucía


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Elisabeth Moser  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:17
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
too simplistic -- it requires a lot more substance Jan 26, 2011

I am missing the issue of responsibility and ethics. Have you ever thought of the consequences a wrong translation or using wrong terminology may have in a legal or medical setting - to name just a couple? Alone the knowledge of two or more languages is by far not enough. First of all, one should ask at what level do I understand and am I able to reproduce the "other" language. Is it the type of text that can be translated strictly by meaning or does it require me to adhere to some higher standards and requirements. Can I define the term in the source language and the target language? Do I understand the concept and text before me? Do I know for what audience I am writing, the language variant asked of me? And yes, a higher education becomes very relevant and important, if you wish to communicate on any level beyond a high school education.

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larserik  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 22:17
Member (2006)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Computer skills, too Jan 26, 2011

The translator will need quite a lot of computer skills, too. CAT tools can be tricky, both when installing and when working with them. And there's a bunch of other programs that the translator needs. If every little problem means a production stop, and waiting for an expert to arrive, the client won't have a translation before deadline.

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William Tierney  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:17
Member (2002)
Arabic to English
Define Client Jan 26, 2011

This piece doesn't specify the nature of the client, but should if you want to talk of a career progression. I am at the point where it is time to leave (most) translation agencies behind and go to direct clients, especially given the recent trend in oppressive contract terms pushed down vendors' throats. I believe it would be very healthy for the translation industry if agencies realized that if they treat their freelancers like serfs, the freelancers will cut them out of the deal.

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Jared Tabor
Local time: 17:17
SITE STAFF
Thanks for the feedback, can you add to the article? Jan 26, 2011

Hello all,

Thanks for the posts on this article! Feel free to add any relevant information to the article itself, by clicking on the "Edit" link above the article or above the section to which you wish to add. Adding to the article will make this a stronger resource for everyone.

Best regards,

Jared


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Irene Schlotter, Dipl.-Übers.
Spain
Local time: 22:17
English to German
+ ...
Incomplete, generic information Jan 26, 2011

Hello all,
I do not feel that this article provides even a half-decent image of our profession. In 'Overview' and 'Deciding upon translation as a profession' there is no mention whatsoever of talent, of joy in playing with language, of good mastership of the mothertongue - all of which are fundamental requirements to becoming a translator. Furthermore there is no hint as to professional training. A good part of all translators and interpreters have a university degree in applied linguistics, translation studies, etc. - and have acquired additional qualifications that most self-taught translators and interpreters tend not to have. I do not feel that this article represents my profession adequately. Instead, it sounds as if someone with a moderate knowledge of another language (i. e. after a year abroad) could decide to become a translator tomorrow without problem - and maybe even be good at it. That, however, is a common misconception in the 'outside world' and this wiki article does absolutely nothing to correct it. I personally do not feel that the information on my profession are well elaborated. It is yet another example for how not to do things - even less if full membership is not free.


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Jared Tabor
Local time: 17:17
SITE STAFF
Thanks Irene, can you add to the article? Jan 26, 2011

Hello Irene,

Thanks for the post. Can you add some of the considerations you mention to the article? That's the way the wiki format works, and the ProZ.com Wiki is a collaborative effort, so it is up to everyone to help build a professional, helpful resource for translators.

Best regards,

Jared


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JOHN PENNEY  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:17
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Know your own language first Jan 26, 2011

A thorough knowledge of one´s own language is a top priority for translators.Pick up any "in-flight" magazine which purports to "translate" articles from e.g Portuguese/Spanish to English, and you will see what I mean. The words are all there, the information is generally correct ....but most of these translations are artificial and contaminated by the original language, conveying none of the tone, subtlety or feeling of real English. The translators of these boring texts need to stand back and think "How would so and so be expressed in a similar English-only publication"? The same surely applies to other target languages, whatever the source material.

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Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 15:17
Member (2005)
English to Swedish
+ ...
just a few comments Jan 27, 2011

"Most translators begin their journey by taking a translation course."
>> Sounds false to me. I think only a (possibly large) minority does this. I never did at least.

"CAT tools and translation software... It is a fact that... most clients require the use of specific tools for their projects."
>> Is this really a "fact"? I am not sure. Usually, I think clients are fine with getting the translation in a Word file, and usually they do not require any _specific_ CAT tools (and often, perhaps mostly, no CAT tools at all).

"Even before doing business, translators must be aware of the different aspects of the translation industry."
>> I don't agree. You can learn as you go along; you don't "have to" know "before" doing business (or, say, engaging in your first paid translation job).

Overall, I am confused by the article's purpose. It sounds like a (probably very useful) set of advice for persons considering taking up translation as a profession. Proz.com's newsletter, however, describes it thus: "outlines the different steps and stages in a professional translator's career, beginning from the decision to get involved in translation" - from which I got the impression it would be more _descriptive_ in nature and expected to see a list of different "stages".

[Edited at 2011-01-27 00:35 GMT]


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Ivan Kinsman  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 22:17
English to Polish
+ ...
CAT Tools Jan 27, 2011

Yes, I agree with Thomas Johansson on the use of CAT tools. I don't think it is necessary to use these to do a good translation. My wife normally translates and I type which makes our translation speed just as quick as using SDL Trados, for example. We are also able to use our intelligence to use standardarized phrases in a translation text if these are repreated throughout the text.
I was also wanting to see more from this article on the progressive states in a translator's career path e.g. what courses are available to translators, what professional qualifications are recognised/available etc.


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:17
French to English
+ ...
Oh YAWN! Jan 27, 2011

Sorry folks, perhaps the flu is making me cranky, but this blurb is uniquely skilled at discouraging most from wishing to become a professional translator and at giving clients a rather soporific and un-strategic view of our role in their businesses' success.

After reading the Overview, my eyes glazed over (and not from fever) and just scanned the rest of the article (whose title seems inappropriate - this is not about a translator's career path, this barely makes it as Translation 101).

Gee, are these really the two main reasons one would decide to become a translator?

" 1. the knowledge of more than one language that some people acquire by spending time in more than one country with different speaking languages --or in one with two or more speaking languages--, or else by having been raised by parents with different native languages; and
2. the knowledge of more than one language combined with an economic need. "

Scary. Depressing. Off the mark. Insufficient. Passionless.

However, describing rather well the reasons why individuals become "wannabee translators" > hey, I speak more than one language and can make some pocket money, neat! And that sums up nicely the number One problem in the profession today.

To be fair, the section does conclude with "It is of utmost importance to master the blend of skills and craft required to be a professional translator", but about those, I see preciously little in the rest of the article.

And so on and so forth. This wiki page contributes nothing, and may even be damaging.

And, no, Jared, I do not wish to contribute my time and experience to write a thoughtful, compelling, and info-packed piece pro bono for what we should not forget is first and foremost a for-profit corporation.


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Herbert Eppel  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:17
Member (2006)
German to English
+ ...
Unconventional route into translation Jan 27, 2011

See http://hetranslations.blogspot.com/2007/10/unconventional-route-into-translation.html

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Inge Luus  Identity Verified
South Africa
Local time: 22:17
German to English
+ ...
Boring - but there is light at the end of the tunnel Jan 27, 2011

I have to agree with Thomas and Patricia. I don't see where the article lives up to to its title at all. After reading it I felt quite depressed about the translation profession for the reasons Patricia mentions. I was therefore truly pleased to read Herbert's article, which has pulled me out of the momentary depression and is spurring me on to continue with my studies. Thank you Herbert for an article written to keep my interest for the entire length of the article and beyond!

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Roland Nienerza  Identity Verified

Local time: 22:17
English to German
+ ...
@ Irene Jan 27, 2011

Irene Schlotter, Dipl.-Übers. wrote:
I do not feel that this article provides even a half-decent image of our profession. In 'Overview' and 'Deciding upon translation as a profession' there is no mention whatsoever of talent, of joy in playing with language, of good mastership of the mothertongue - all of which are fundamental requirements to becoming a translator.


I agree that the importance of native language competence - ultimately the crucial qualification for a translator - has not been stressed sufficiently. But "talent" and "joy in playing with words" do not have to be mentioned in an article like this. They will be present in most translators. But they are not a prerequisite. Yes, even talent is not a prerequisite. Because no one can detect an measure it. Competence is the word. And that can be measured.

Furthermore there is no hint as to professional training. A good part of all translators and interpreters have a university degree in applied linguistics, translation studies, etc. - and have acquired additional qualifications that most self-taught translators and interpreters tend not to have.


Of course there is a "hint to professional training". The Section 3 of the article is dedicated to it. And that Section says in two paragraphs almost everything that has to be said to this subject, i.e. that some translators have - now, for the last 60 years, after millenia of translation without - an academic translation training, while others - still - have not.

What Section 3 and even you, though possibly for different reasons, do not mention is that there are people nowadays with a Translation Diploma that fail - sometimes lamentably - in native language competence. Limited vocabulary, stiff and awkward wording, primitive syntactical structures, splitting up of sentence into tiny SPO [subject-predicate-object] mini-chips, at best construed as capsule relative clauses, etc. I have come across a colleague that had just got the German Translation Diploma and had either forgotten or never known, that the Genitive of an absolute core vocabulary word like Herz (heart) is Herzens, and not, as she believed, Herzes.

It is certainly a bit too satirical - or more - but one might also say that a person with a Translation Diploma is a person that had to take a university course in order to learn to translate. - While others had learned to translate with their first foreign language lessons in grade 5, or even before, and had been good in it from the first moment on, because of, wait for it, talent.
I do not feel that this article represents my profession adequately. Instead, it sounds as if someone with a moderate knowledge of another language (i. e. after a year abroad) could decide to become a translator tomorrow without problem - and maybe even be good at it.


It says that he or she could decide to become a translator. It does not say "without problem". On the contrary, Section 2 gives a nice description of what translation is, beyond "a moderate knowledge of another language".
Quote of this entire Section 2 of the article -
Though having knowledge of two or more languages may be enough reason to decide upon translation as a profession, this decision must be made carefully. There is more to translation than just knowing more than one language and being able to communicate the meaning of a source-language text through an equivalent target-language text. In other words, there is more to translation than meets the eye.

Fidelity, transparency, faithfulness, equivalence are concepts that have been associated with the art of translation since long ago and a full understanding of translation will imply a knowledge of these concepts.


I could not have said it better!
That, however, is a common misconception in the 'outside world' and this wiki article does absolutely nothing to correct it. I personally do not feel that the information on my profession are well elaborated. It is yet another example for how not to do things - even less if full membership is not free.

Tja!- As they say in German. [For those who do not know the lingo. - Tja is an ironic modulation of ja/yes, meaning occasionally "well said or done", but mostly "this is so weird that no comment can or need be given".

[Edited at 2011-01-29 22:48 GMT]


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