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Advice for an aspiring Italian translator considering moving to London
Thread poster: wanderermi

wanderermi
Local time: 16:28
Feb 21, 2012

Hi everyone. My name is Andrea and I am a 29 year-old Italian boy living in Milan. I thought about moving to London and I was wondering about certain issues related to the worlds of translation and publishing.

I would really appreciate it if anyone from the UK could give me some advice.

I am considering venturing into the world of publishing but unfortunately I do not have a university degree. However I have attained a few qualifications and in high school I have attended what in Italy is called Liceo Classico. I am not sure if it corresponds to Grammar School in the UK. I got to study Ancient Greek, Latin, Philosophy, Italian Literature, English Literature, History as well as scientific subjects. In the past 10 years in spite of not having been able to attend university for work reasons, I have mantained an interest for those subjects and I have widened my knowledge of them.

In 2007 I have attained the Certificate in Advanced English from Cambridge University (English for Speakers of Other Languages - ESOL programmes) and in 2010 I have passed the exam for the Certificate of Proficiency in English from Cambridge University (Level C2 in the European framework)

In 2010 I have also attained the Diploma in Translation from London's Chartered Institute of Linguists in the English into Italian combination and in 2011 the Dip Trans Italian into English combination.

I have the ECDL and a qualification for the Spanish language (DELE B2).


1)Is there a chance for me to ever be able to work for a publishing house not having attained a university degree but considering those other qualifications?

2)And regarding the translation field would I be able to find work with the Dip Trans but no uni degree?


Thanks in advance to everyone who might shed some light on this and give me some good adviceicon_smile.gif

Andrea

[Modificato alle 2012-02-21 18:41 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:28
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Advice Feb 21, 2012

Ciao Andrea:

I have one piece of advice: most translators should only ever translate into their mother tongue. Your English is OK, but not good enough for you to translate into it.

I am often mistaken for a native Italian and I lived in Italy for 20 years, speaking and writing only in Italian - but I would never try to translate into Italian because after 20 years you learn that your use of the other language will always be slightly awkward, here and there. I only translate Italian-English.

Pieces of paper attesting to your qualifications are not important; what counts is your genuine, demonstrated expertise, particularly when translating specialist material - although you will find that many UK translating agencies nevertheless insist on you holding a degree in translation and membership of one of the professional translating bodies.

Working for a publishing house would of course require you to know someone in that publishing house who is prepared to put their trust in your skills (which would need to have been proven to them). The world of publishing is a cut-throat one (which you probably know without me telling you).

If you do establish yourself in the UK you will need to find an accountant to get you properly set up. This is most important. The good news is that once you've got the hang of it, you'll find that the UK fiscal and administrative machinery is much easier to deal with, and its functionaries more polite, than what you may be used to in Italy !


icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2012-02-21 19:33 GMT]


 

Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:28
Italian to English
Difficult Feb 21, 2012

Hi Andrea

It would not surprise me to learn that there are no salaried translators working for British publishers (though I stand to be corrected). If I am right, there may be no-one here to give you inside advice.
I would go so far as to say, albeit with no statistical evidence for support, that salaried translators are a rarity in the UK, full stop.

From 10 years of reading the Italian forum here on ProZ.com, it appears to me that much greater importance is attached to University and other qualifications in Italy than is the case here. They are still important here though in getting a first foot on the ladder of employment (and MBAs are certainly helpful to career progression in some other sectors).

If there are in fact positions available, your lack of (any) University qualfication could well be a deterrent to a potential employer, at least until you can demonstrate greater experience, although your IoL qualifications should certainly be enough to obtain translation work in some capacity.

The quantity of literary translation here in the UK is negligible; it is a closed shop and much of it carried out for love rather than financial reward.

I can only suggest that you test the water by writing to some UK publishers. If you write to ask for advice on likely opportunities and requirements, you might attract more helpful replies than if you appear to be applying for a job.

You don't say what work you have been doing over the past 10 years or so but, if it is not translation related, I would suggest you try to build up some translation experience in the meantime, if your heart is set on making it a career.

Good luck


 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: Content deleted by poster
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: Content deleted by poster

Elena Rodríguez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:28
English to Spanish
gain experience Feb 22, 2012

Dear Andrea

In my opinion, you ought to gain experience as a translator (always into your mother tongue) if you want to work in this field. The options here are voluntary translation or employment as a trainee (sometimes not even paid). You may find openings of this type now that one almost has to pay in order to work.
Another option: try websites that advertise jobs for people with languages (e.g., top language jobs). I wish you the best of luck. Living abroad is always a rewarding experience, so you are sure to get something out of it.
Suerte!!!
Elena


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:28
Member (2004)
English to Italian
You are correct... Feb 22, 2012

Russell Jones wrote:

Hi Andrea

It would not surprise me to learn that there are no salaried translators working for British publishers (though I stand to be corrected). If I am right, there may be no-one here to give you inside advice.
I would go so far as to say, albeit with no statistical evidence for support, that salaried translators are a rarity in the UK, full stop.


I worked for a British publisher for 9 years as editor/translator, but I had freelance status, i.e. I was not salaried. I invoiced by the hour and they gave me contracts for the books. I was on their pay roll because I worked in-house two days a week, on average. I don't know of any salaried translators working for British publishers either...


 

wanderermi
Local time: 16:28
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Feb 23, 2012

Russell Jones wrote:

Hi Andrea

It would not surprise me to learn that there are no salaried translators working for British publishers (though I stand to be corrected). If I am right, there may be no-one here to give you inside advice.
I would go so far as to say, albeit with no statistical evidence for support, that salaried translators are a rarity in the UK, full stop.

From 10 years of reading the Italian forum here on ProZ.com, it appears to me that much greater importance is attached to University and other qualifications in Italy than is the case here. They are still important here though in getting a first foot on the ladder of employment (and MBAs are certainly helpful to career progression in some other sectors).

If there are in fact positions available, your lack of (any) University qualfication could well be a deterrent to a potential employer, at least until you can demonstrate greater experience, although your IoL qualifications should certainly be enough to obtain translation work in some capacity.

The quantity of literary translation here in the UK is negligible; it is a closed shop and much of it carried out for love rather than financial reward.

I can only suggest that you test the water by writing to some UK publishers. If you write to ask for advice on likely opportunities and requirements, you might attract more helpful replies than if you appear to be applying for a job.

You don't say what work you have been doing over the past 10 years or so but, if it is not translation related, I would suggest you try to build up some translation experience in the meantime, if your heart is set on making it a career.

Good luck


Thanks alot for your precious advice. Do you think it is too late for me to get a university degree? I was considering enrolling at Milan's Statale to study Languages and Literatures (in the combination English and Spanish). I am 29 now, I would get to finish at 32. Would that be too late for a future potential employer? If I had the means and if I had had different opportunities in life I would have loved to study English Lit at UCL or Cambridge. But what's done is done I guess. Do you think at my age going to uni is useful? If I knew I'd arrive at 32 with more options I'd probably do it but I can't afford the luxury of doing it just for the sake of studying alone (as much as I love it).

You also say that the quantity of literary translation in the UK is negligible. Obviously because there are virtyually no Italian or other languages works being translated into English. But what about if I were translating for an Italian publishing house soem English novels into Italian (being based in London). Could that be an option?


For the past 10 years I've been doing something not related to translation at all. I've been working at a five-star hotel as a receptionist and occasionally I've been involved with English tuition for high school students. With this Dip Trans qualifications and with my Cpe I thought I'd apply at a few translation agencies to get a start and gain some experience in the translation field before I move to London.

The last question I'd love to ask you Russell is the following: other than specifically the publishing job, with the qualifications I already have (Cpe, Dip Trans, ECDL, Spanish DELE B2) would I be qualified for any other type of office job?

Thank you so much again for your useful advice : )

Andrea

[Modificato alle 2012-02-23 10:54 GMT]


 

wanderermi
Local time: 16:28
TOPIC STARTER
Grazie Feb 23, 2012

Tom in London wrote:

Ciao Andrea:

I have one piece of advice: most translators should only ever translate into their mother tongue. Your English is OK, but not good enough for you to translate into it.

I am often mistaken for a native Italian and I lived in Italy for 20 years, speaking and writing only in Italian - but I would never try to translate into Italian because after 20 years you learn that your use of the other language will always be slightly awkward, here and there. I only translate Italian-English.

Pieces of paper attesting to your qualifications are not important; what counts is your genuine, demonstrated expertise, particularly when translating specialist material - although you will find that many UK translating agencies nevertheless insist on you holding a degree in translation and membership of one of the professional translating bodies.

Working for a publishing house would of course require you to know someone in that publishing house who is prepared to put their trust in your skills (which would need to have been proven to them). The world of publishing is a cut-throat one (which you probably know without me telling you).

If you do establish yourself in the UK you will need to find an accountant to get you properly set up. This is most important. The good news is that once you've got the hang of it, you'll find that the UK fiscal and administrative machinery is much easier to deal with, and its functionaries more polite, than what you may be used to in Italy !


icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2012-02-21 19:33 GMT]



: ) Thank you so much Tom

I am grateful and I am amazed at the possibility of being able to get advice from people in the field before you actually dive into it. Grazie davvero.

[Modificato alle 2012-02-23 14:59 GMT]


 

wanderermi
Local time: 16:28
TOPIC STARTER
Gracias Feb 23, 2012

elere wrote:

Dear Andrea

In my opinion, you ought to gain experience as a translator (always into your mother tongue) if you want to work in this field. The options here are voluntary translation or employment as a trainee (sometimes not even paid). You may find openings of this type now that one almost has to pay in order to work.
Another option: try websites that advertise jobs for people with languages (e.g., top language jobs). I wish you the best of luck. Living abroad is always a rewarding experience, so you are sure to get something out of it.
Suerte!!!
Elena


Thank you. Much appreciated : )


 

Rita Szilagyi
United Kingdom
English to Hungarian
+ ...
studies Feb 23, 2012

Dear Andrea,

I think it is never too late to study - unless you need to support a family. A friend enrolled to the medical faculty at your age.
But be careful what to choose. I have three MAs (languages, arts and literature) and none of them helps me get a job in London. I work as a free lance translator and get jobs related to my husband's profession: medical field. Obviously, we work together.
If you really want to go on as a translator, check what translation topics come up regurally in your language pair and study for a degree in that field. Law may be an option. The Metropolitan Police also employs translators, you can check out that option as well - the test they require is an expensive investment.
I hope I was helpful.
Rita


 

Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:28
Italian to English
Other jobs Feb 23, 2012

wanderermi wrote:

The last question I'd love to ask you Russell is the following: other than specifically the publishing job, with the qualifications I already have (Cpe, Dip Trans, ECDL, Spanish DELE B2) would I be qualified for any other type of office job?



Most certainly. Companies that sell (or buy) products or services regularly in Italy and Spain, for example - or what about the hospitality / hotel booking industry where you have valuable experience? I can't tell you in detail how to locate these but I know there are websites that list practically every type of vacancy. A University friend did this for a company making automotive parts - and climbed up the ladder to a more senior position.

Incidentally, as Rita says, it's never too late to study. Although I had degrees relevant to my previous career, I only obtained my language degree in my 50s. It doesn't have to be full time either; there are part-time and distance learning courses available, plus the Open University. You might even be lucky enough to find a company that would sponsor your studies.

[Edited at 2012-02-23 15:35 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-02-23 15:35 GMT]


 


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