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Discrimination against people who do several languages
Thread poster: philgoddard

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Jul 9, 2009

I'm lucky enough to translate five European languages into English, all to an equal standard.

I've just been sending out marketing emails to agencies, and one (I think it's a one-man company) replied that he did not work with translators offering more than one language. I asked why, and he said: "No one can translate by our standards [sic] in more than one language". I told him that I found this insulting, and that as far as I knew, he was the only translation company on the planet operating such a policy.

I had a similar experience several years ago when the ITI set up their membership database. They would not allow us to advertise more than three languages, and the chairwoman told me that it was not possible to translate to an adequate standard from five. So I banded together with all the other members in my situation (there were quite a lot of us), and eventually she changed her mind.

Even Proz in a sense discriminates against people like me - my profile shows only three languages, and you have to click on "More" to see the rest.

Has anyone else had this experience? What do you think?


 

xxxPeter Manda
Local time: 17:06
German to English
+ ...
other places Jul 10, 2009

It's worse with the American Translators Association.

Even in some articles in their monthly publications they scoff at translators with "different" or "unique" skills.


 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 00:06
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
A concern Jul 10, 2009

philgoddard wrote:
I'm lucky enough to translate five European languages into English, all to an equal standard.


Dear Phil;

I believe the obvious question or concern in this kind of situation is, would your standard not be higher had you focused on fewer source languages?

I know that that in itself is no indication of the absolute quality of your work, either as compared with the quality of other translation professionals or as judged against customer requirements. However, I believe the above is a valid concern in most cases.

[Edited at 2009-07-10 06:29 GMT]


 

Kroz Wado
Japan
Local time: 06:06
Japanese to English
Justified concern? Jul 10, 2009

Could you really hold your own quality wise against a one-language specialist, I very much doubt it...

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:06
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Certification in five languages Jul 10, 2009

philgoddard wrote:
I'm lucky enough to translate five European languages into English, all to an equal standard.

I am one of the people who defend the idea that translating any kind of text (except highly technical or specific materials, of course) from more than two or three languages and with a same high level of quality in all respects is a rare quality indeed.

So as you are an ATA and ITI member, may I encourage you to do the certification exams from all five languages (either ATA certification or MITI)? That will certainly dissipate any doubts among agencies and everywhere else. Please email me via Proz mail when you have the five certifications as I would love to congratulate you for your ability and achievements.

(If you already have such certifications, please do publish them in your profile!)


 

Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Similar situation here but it is possible Jul 10, 2009

philgoddard wrote:
They would not allow us to advertise more than three languages, and the chairwoman told me that it was not possible to translate to an adequate standard from five. So I banded together with all the other members in my situation (there were quite a lot of us), and eventually she changed her mind.

Even Proz in a sense discriminates against people like me - my profile shows only three languages, and you have to click on "More" to see the rest.

Has anyone else had this experience? What do you think?



In fact I translate from 6 languages ( I have certifications in 5 pairs) and I am not the only one (there are many colleagues here at proz who translate from 4-5-6 even 7 languages).

In my 25 years in the translation business nobody told me it is not possible to translate to an adequate standard from more than 3 languages.

I advertise all my pairs and will continue unless prohibited. Don't worry, you are not aloneicon_smile.gif

PS. on the contrary I do not translate any kind of text.

Bye bye all, have a nice day!


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:06
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Translation certifications? Jul 10, 2009

Angio wrote:
In fact I translate from 6 languages ( I have certifications in 5 pairs) and I am not the only one (there are many colleagues here at proz who translate from 4-5-6 even 7 languages).

I wonder though: are they all translation certifications, or monolingual language certifications? I mean, being an ATA-member, have you considered gaining ATA certification (or DipTrans, for that matter) in your pairs?


 

Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Yes Translation Certifications Jul 10, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I wonder though: are they all translation certifications, or monolingual language certifications?


They are indicated and verified in my profile. But like I said I am not alone here at proz.icon_smile.gif


 

Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 02:36
German to English
+ ...
Target language of paramount importance Jul 10, 2009

IMHO, the skills most important for high-quality translation are the writing skills in the target language. Source language comprehension skills are important too, but far easier to acquire than excellent writing skills in the target language.

I can understand if an outsourcer has a problem with someone translating into multiple target languages, since it truly is difficult having native language fluency and excellent writing skills in more than two or three target languages, I would venture to say.

But consistent high-quality translations from multiple source languages into one target language - entirely within the realm of possibility.


 

xxxr_cantillo  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:06
English to Italian
+ ...
unprofessional criticism Jul 10, 2009

Hello,

this is something I've had to face in the past and it's perhaps the one downside to being a translator: attacking someone who speaks and works in more than one language means attacking their personality and publicly damaging their professional image; it depends on the level of insult this accrues to but I believe that past a certain point these people are actually liable of being sent to court. Thankfully I've never had to take action in this sense, also because I tend not to retaliate, which is the best thing to do if you don't want to ruin serious professional relationships. In any case, my best advise is, if someone says you're less than professional if you translate in more than one language you want to go and check out their translation output and ask them how many languages they know to a good standard and to show you samples of their work. And if they're still saying they only translate into one language because they think that if you're a polyglot you shouldn't work in translations then ask them what their standards are, where they studied and, generally how can they say for sure that a good translator won't accept work in more than one language. Believe me, as a secondary teacher in middle schools you do need additional income which you can earn by carrying out good translation projects in your languages when the occasion arises. Frankly, I believe people who try to convince you that speaking more languages are only really jealous of their limited language skills and effectively make up rules to make people who really know their English, Spanish, French etc feel somehow diminished. Most of the time they don't know their own language! For years now I've translated en>it; it>en and I never had a problem; occasionally I've translated fr>it, fr>en, sp>it or sp> en; and I don't mind saying that I know what I can't take on i.e. German or Chinese which are languages I never studied. If you work honestly, other people are going to recognise your professionalism and those who attempt to challenge it should reflect on their own unprofessionalism. Does this help?


 

Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Exactly my thought Jul 10, 2009

Anil Gidwani wrote:

IMHO, the skills most important for high-quality translation are the writing skills in the target language. Source language comprehension skills are important too, but far easier to acquire than excellent writing skills in the target language.

I can understand if an outsourcer has a problem with someone translating into multiple target languages, since it truly is difficult having native language fluency and excellent writing skills in more than two or three target languages, I would venture to say.

But consistent high-quality translations from multiple source languages into one target language - entirely within the realm of possibility


Couldn't explain it better Anil, I fully agree with you!

Have a nice week end

Angio


 

FarkasAndras
Local time: 23:06
English to Hungarian
+ ...
numbers Jul 10, 2009

After hearing how some of my interpreter colleagues work from their 6th or 7th languages (not always very convincingly), I am starting to have my doubts.

I'd draw the (admittedly fuzzy) line somewhere between 3 and 7 foreign languages... you can certainly do 3 very well, and I can't really imagine anyone pulling off 7 convincigly.

For translation, I just don't see the point apart from bragging rights. Whatever you think or say, there is no way you can work as well from 5 languages as you could from 3. Maybe you're good or very good as it is, but you could be excellent and/or more productive with a more limited language selection.
Then of course, if the five is French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Catalan... well, that is obviously a lot easier than French, Greek, Polish, Hungarian and Russian.


Interpreting is a whole different ball game... in multilingual situations it is vital to have people who can work from as many languages as possible, just to keep the number of interpreters down at a reasonable level while covering all the language combinations with as little relay as possible. Sometimes a 3-member English booth covers 10+ languages at EU meetings... They are doubtless pushing the limits, but at least there is a good reason why they are doing it.


 

Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Interpreting is different Jul 10, 2009

FarkasAndras wrote:
Interpreting is a whole different ball game... in multilingual situations it is vital to have people who can work from as many languages as possible, just to keep the number of interpreters down at a reasonable level while covering all the language combinations with as little relay as possible. Sometimes a 3-member English booth covers 10+ languages at EU meetings... They are doubtless pushing the limits, but at least there is a good reason why they are doing it.


Very different...


 

FarkasAndras
Local time: 23:06
English to Hungarian
+ ...
reporting broken sarcasm detector Jul 10, 2009

Angio wrote:

FarkasAndras wrote:
Interpreting is a whole different ball game... in multilingual situations it is vital to have people who can work from as many languages as possible, just to keep the number of interpreters down at a reasonable level while covering all the language combinations with as little relay as possible. Sometimes a 3-member English booth covers 10+ languages at EU meetings... They are doubtless pushing the limits, but at least there is a good reason why they are doing it.


Very different...


If you are agreeing with me, I'm nodding in acknowledgement - and don't read the rest of this post.

In case you meant that sarcastically, let me enlighten you about the differences between interpreting and translation.
In an interpreting situation, you have to get all the "language combinations" in the same room. With expenses, taxes and all that, a conference interpreter may cost 500-800 euros per day for the client - say, the EU - so you can see why they prefer to use fewer people to cover those combinations if they can. Quite apart from that, having interpreters with many languages cuts down on relaying which is always desirable. (I.e. if you have a Maltese-English interpreter in the English booth, they can work direct from Maltese instead of working from, say, the German interpretation by a colleague who produced that German from a French interpretation of the original Maltese... not hard to see why a daisy chain like this is not much fun for anyone concerned. Actually, a decent but not stellar Maltese-English interpretation ability is arguably useful in some meetings as it is probably better than the alternative - a relay - would be. Not so with translation.)

In translation, there is no extra cost associated with sending the different language jobs to different people, and quality considerations actually tend point in the other direction.


 

Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Did my post sound sarcastic? Jul 10, 2009

FarkasAndras wrote:
If you are agreeing with me, I'm nodding in acknowledgement - and don't read the rest of this post.


My apologies, I had no intention to be sarcastic, I mainly traslate and teach, and have little knowledge about interpretation, and I really admire people able to interpret many languages because I can't, (in this sense interpreting is different for me).

In my case, while I translate from many languages, I can provide interpretation in 2 pairs only and I fully understand what you mean in term of costs.

Very sorry again I wish you a wonderful week end:)

[Edited at 2009-07-10 17:21 GMT]


 
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