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Duties,aditional skills and equipment of translators
Thread poster: Ruxi

Ruxi
German to Romanian
+ ...
Nov 4, 2006

First of all I don't know where this subject should be posted. If a moderator decides to move it in a more appropriate section, please do so.
Also I want to state from the begining that I do not want to offend in any way outsourcers, or anybody, but to understand things on this subject, just to learn.
My problem, at which I am thiking for a long time is:
Is there a law (in any country) which stipulates the rights and the duties of translators versus clients, meaning:
1. aditional skills (hardware/software using)
2. formats of a translation, editing (conversions in a certain format, pictures, ornaments, fonts, type of document aso)
3. certain equipments and software a translator must have (CAT, scaner, etc.)
4. where exactly are the limits for a translator?

I have the feeling that translators are asked and they accept to do to much out of their duty.
A translator's duty is to translate a document. The rest is the business of the client.
Now many clients come and first of all discriminate them by asking CAT. You don't have it, don't know to use it, you don't get the job.
Then a translator has to have so many aditional skills and equipment and I don't know if it is correct.
Time ago, when PC's, CAT aso did not exist, translation were made on paper with the pen , or on machine. No pictures, no frames, no tens of software, and translations were good and people used them.
The real work of a translator was worth anything and recognised.
Today only 1/3 of the translation work is really translation. The rest is technical editing, conversion, financial matters, mails, phones, aso.
What if a translator is very good at his work, but has difficulty with using certain software, or hardware or so. Is he/she not a good translator anymore?
Then everybody starts form the idea a translator has to do anything for a job, for a client. Why? Where are the limits?
Where should a beginner have the money for everything?
I wish a translator to be again what it always used to be, a translator and only concentrate on his job.
Do they teach in translation courses/universities things like CAT, computer matters, proof-reading, technical editing, financial/business matters?
For me translation is an art, a product of the brain and feelings, a natural talent, a passion.
I experience today the fear of not getting jobs, or lose a a good client because of things like CAT, certain technical matters I do not have cause I don't even know they exist or I don't afford yet, because of not being able to make certain technical editing or so.
My language skills are so less worth than years ago.
Is a translator who has no technical talent for computer or money not good and not worth? It's a pitty.
Every day people come with anything new and the translator has to offer it, to concentrate on those aditional technical matters and skills, leaving aside his actual skills and profesion and talent.
It isn't like that in any other profesion, their duties are very well limitated.
E.g a dentist only does some treatments. Many of them are being done by new profesions, a driver only drives (oh and only on his conditions) and does not carry goods, or do any other thing aso.
Even a computer specialist has hisown limited area: only internet matters, or only hardware matters, or only nets, or databases aso.
I hope you get my point and help me understand things and forget my fears.


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:23
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Translation in the real world Nov 4, 2006

Ruxi wrote:
My problem, at which I am thiking for a long time is:
Is there a law (in any country) which stipulates the rights and the duties of translators versus clients, meaning:
1. aditional skills (hardware/software using)
2. formats of a translation, editing (conversions in a certain format, pictures, ornaments, fonts, type of document aso)
3. certain equipments and software a translator must have (CAT, scaner, etc.)
4. where exactly are the limits for a translator?


Hi Ruxi,

there is no specific law but the market laws dictate what is required and successful.
Technology moves on, and now we have not only the Internet and mobile phones, but also software and hardware that were unthinkable just 5-6 years ago. Some choose to follow the trend, and some don't, which determines, in part, who is able to undertake some jobs and who in not equipped, not only in terms of material equipment but in termis of knowledge and skills too.

Ruxi wrote:
I have the feeling that translators are asked and they accept to do to much out of their duty.
A translator's duty is to translate a document. The rest is the business of the client.

Some skills can be an excellent selling point, we only need to make sure to charge appropriately, taking into account any investment in money and time, including the time invested in learning how to use a particular tool.

Ruxi wrote:
Now many clients come and first of all discriminate them by asking CAT. You don't have it, don't know to use it, you don't get the job.

Some projects are impossible to carry out without using a specific software. If a client is asking for it, chances are they know the reason.

Ruxi wrote:
Time ago, when PC's, CAT aso did not exist, translation were made on paper with the pen , or on machine. No pictures, no frames, no tens of software, and translations were good and people used them.

Paper and pen can still be used today, but, in general, working with pen and paper only reduces the number of possible customers we can serve. Similarly, not using a PC, or a modem or not having an Internet connection reduces the ability to receive or deliver a job, or the ability to find information or terminology resources useful to carry out a translation, even if the translation itself is done on paper, with the pen in hand, some technology is essential. You may agree with that? but then, where to stop?

Setting up a PC, an Internet connection, a modem, etc. takes time. Unpaid time. It is one of the overheads of a modern translator, but note that in any profession there are hidden tasks and overheads.
We are not the only profession having to work on something which is not immediately billed.
The same applies to CAT tools, DTP applications, terminology databases, everything.

Ruxi wrote:
What if a translator is very good at his work, but has difficulty with using certain software, or hardware or so. Is he/she not a good translator anymore?

No, but it may find him/herself cut off from some large market segments.

Ruxi wrote:
Then everybody starts form the idea a translator has to do anything for a job, for a client. Why? Where are the limits?
Where should a beginner have the money for everything?

A freelance translator can start with a minimal investment, far lower than many other activities. I would not complain about large investments, considering that 1500 USD/EUR can be more than sufficient to start, and 3000 USD/EUR are sufficient to have a equipped office, including a good number of essential dictionaries and reference books.
Compare it to other businesses, where 20,000, or 50,000, or even 100,000 EUR is the sum necessary to start-up, which means having that money already or paying a loan to a bank for 5-10 years.

Ruxi wrote:
For me translation is an art, a product of the brain and feelings, a natural talent, a passion.

It is not only an art, but a service, a service business like many others.

Ruxi wrote:
Is a translator who has no technical talent for computer or money not good and not worth? It's a pitty.

A freelance translator is also a person running an independent business, a self-employed who must know about the tools of its trade. Like any other trade, where they use special equipment and computers, and the operators must know them to practice their choosen profession and provide a good services.

Ruxi wrote:
E.g a dentist only does some treatments. Many of them are being done by new profesions, a driver only drives (oh and only on his conditions) and does not carry goods, or do any other thing aso.

I'm sure when you go to a dentis you prefer to see modern equipment, and when you hire a taxi you don't want to climb into an old rusty banger...
They have purchased the tools for their trade.

Ruxi wrote:
Even a computer specialist has hisown limited area: only internet matters, or only hardware matters, or only nets, or databases aso.

And translators specialize in techincal, or literary, or medical, or legal subjects.

Ruxi wrote:
I hope you get my point and help me understand things and forget my fears.

Nothing to fear. Study, refine your skills, and widen the number of potential customers that you can serve. It is impossible to own and purchase everything, but if you choose carefully what you really need, you will have plenty of work. Specialize in a few subjects and follow the market, to see what your customers want. Technology is part of this job and it helps to keep our work coming with some continuity.

* * * *

Practical case:

I'm a technical translator, and I'm working right now on the update of a large project, previously done (not by me) with Trados TagEditor.
A new section came out, about 25,000 words. I have to deliver only this part, but the whole manual is much larger.

There is no way to do it without TagEditor, because it is already in that format, and it is part of a much larger lot. My work is to leverage and maintain the existing terminology, and deliver the additional parts only.
If I were not equipped, I would not have had the chance to accept this job.

By the way, the software is not that expensive and it tends to pay for itself many times over. This job alone is paying the whole software more than twice, and that in only about a week. In essence, it takes 3-5 full days of work to pay back the investment, but I'm using the tool for many years.


bye
Gianfranco



[Edited at 2006-11-05 11:49]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 02:23
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Do only what you can Nov 4, 2006

The equipment you mention is very cheap today, my scanner/printer costed only 89 €. And CAT-technology you learn in a few hours for a start. But you can only offer what you have, and if others have more, who's to blame?

Would you like to go to a dentist who uses a hand-drill and who's injection needles are from 1950?

Cheers
Heinrich

[Bearbeitet am 2006-11-05 06:10]


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
CAT is not difficult Nov 4, 2006

as Heinrich properly says.

You can download for example Wordfast and use it for free unless you need a very big translation memory (more than 500 segments = sentences), and even if you decide to buy a license, it is rather affordable, the more if you buy it through some special /bulk offer. And it is quite useful for yourself, too!

For editing tasks, I for my part refrain from - I am only a translator - and so far I didn't experience any problems.

Good luck, Ruxi!


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 18:23
English to Russian
+ ...
Ruxi, I'd like to simplify the matter Nov 4, 2006

There is no law on restaurant menues. Say on one corner you have a place that only serves 1 kind of bread, salt, boiled potatoes and water. This place would have been worshiped in times of Great Depression but how many clients can the owner expect today... times are changing and clients will be going to another corner for croussants and espresso.

Catching up is one of the laws we must follow.
Good luck
Irene


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:23
English to French
+ ...
It's OK that additional competences are required over some time, but only if the rates follow Nov 5, 2006

'Nuff said...

[Edited at 2006-11-05 07:13]


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:23
German to English
+ ...
Duties,aditional skills and equipment of translators Nov 5, 2006

IreneN wrote:

Catching up is one of the laws we must follow.


Yup. The days when you could do an apprenticeship then get a job for life without needing to learn anything new are over. Lifelong learning and continual professional development are the keywords now.

Marc


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Ruxi
German to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you and I give up my question Nov 5, 2006

First of all thank you for your input. Some advice and ideas are right, but I can see you did not get my point.
I was asking about limits.
Of course it is mainly about equipment and knowledge wich is usefull, but there must be limits in my opinion.
I mean e.g if a client wants a certain software or outlook for his document he should also provide that software or so..
If ten clients come with ten different needs, do you have to buy all ten and much more softwares and devices aso.?
After all if you go to a taylor and want a certain kind of cloth you also have to bring the textile and the accesoirs you want. He/she is not a textile store and we can not expect that.
The same for a translator, nobody can expect him to be an IT store and expert too.
I also understand that given the competition in this field today, many translators use a lot of aditional things to attract clients/jobs and maybe less of their real translation skills.
This is my fear: by offering to much other things to the client, we diminish the respect for our real job.
The human side of the translation is being more and more replaced by technics and machines and we allow it.
The more we offer, the more will be asked and the real skills are neglected. The importance of them become secundary.
E.g it is not important to translate good, but to have super software and equipment. No matter how bad you are, if you have that and that thing, became more important for the client and this matters to get the job.
And another thing which hurts me is that translation is too much business.
When I see writers, artists, musicians, singers, with talent and passion and who are adored by the audience for their actual talent and what they produce, I miss the same respect and feelings for a translator and his work.
Perhaps only literar translators (which are so few) can enjoy the respect for their work.

Finally about the comparison with the dentist, somebody mentioned here: no, I am not interested in a dentist with a lot of technics in his room (which also means high prices after all), but one who has very good skills in the field and who is human and polite, who has a fine hand and does not hurt you with any act and word.
Dentists still use the same methods and tools like hundreds years ago: drills and tongs and so. Nothing new except the materials.


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:23
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
I don't follow your logic Nov 5, 2006

Dear Ruxi,

I see that despite of six different persons telling you the same things, using different words but essentially with unanymous opinions, you are not getting any of it.


Ruxi wrote:
Of course it is mainly about equipment and knowledge wich is usefull, but there must be limits in my opinion.

Incorrect. At the base of everything it is still translation. Just it is not done with a wordprocessor only, at least not in many cases.
What is left, if we refuse to work with some modern tools, is a much smaller market. It's our choice, bite the bullet or leave it to others.

Ruxi wrote:
I mean e.g if a client wants a certain software or outlook for his document he should also provide that software or so..

Normally a practicioner, in any profession, comes fully equipped with his/her tools of the trade. Not only because it is the right way, but also because the skills in using a tool are more important (and more expensive) than the material tool itself.
A client providing a software would not provide the skills, and the software is normally used many times, unless it is something very unusual. But that is the exception, not the rule.

Ruxi wrote:
If ten clients come with ten different needs, do you have to buy all ten and much more softwares and devices aso.?

No, you make a choice. Look around, decide what is worth acquiring, and leave the rest.

Ruxi wrote:
I also understand that given the competition in this field today, many translators use a lot of aditional things to attract clients/jobs and maybe less of their real translation skills.

Yes, the more we offer, the more attractive our services are to a wider pool of customers. That's life. But translation is always at the base of everything.
For example: translation+DTP, or translation+handling of many file formats, etc... but for a translator the core service is still the translation. It is not disappearing, whatever additional skill we may offer.

Ruxi wrote:
This is my fear: by offering to much other things to the client, we diminish the respect for our real job.
The human side of the translation is being more and more replaced by technics and machines and we allow it.
The more we offer, the more will be asked and the real skills are neglected. The importance of them become secundary.

Actually, I think we can be respected a lot more for having multiple skills, as long as they are relevant to our job.

Ruxi wrote:
E.g it is not important to translate good, but to have super software and equipment. No matter how bad you are, if you have that and that thing, became more important for the client and this matters to get the job.

See above. If the translation is bad, or the translator is incompetent, no matter how many tools he/she owns, that is still a bad translator. I don't quite follow your logic.
Being well equipped and being able to handle a variety of tasks doesn't imply that the translation produced is necessarily bad.

Ruxi wrote:
And another thing which hurts me is that translation is too much business.

Yes, freelance translation is a business (sorry to break you the news, but you would have discovered it anyway, sooner or later...)

Ruxi wrote:
Finally about the comparison with the dentist, somebody mentioned here: no, I am not interested in a dentist with a lot of technics in his room (which also means high prices after all), but one who has very good skills in the field and who is human and polite, who has a fine hand and does not hurt you with any act and word.
Dentists still use the same methods and tools like hundreds years ago: drills and tongs and so. Nothing new except the materials.

That is not quite right. Hundreds of years ago bad teeth were taken out with a hammer or a plier, more or less, and no anestetics, apart from a bottle of spirit.
The dentist was not a doctor or an "artist", but usually the barber, doubling up as a teeth remover. It was a gruesome and painful business and people died of infection and went nearly mad with pain.
As you can see, the tools and the skills required have improved in dentistry too...


bye
Gianfranco



[Edited at 2006-11-05 20:48]


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Ruxi
German to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
See the thread of Victoria about DTP... Nov 6, 2006

...and the opinions there.
Can it be that you talk about different things here?
The thread about DTP two lines above is about exactly the same subject, only differently expressed.
There, everybody is against DTP.
I am very confused now. Where is the truth?


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:23
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
It is a personal choice Nov 6, 2006

Ruxi wrote:
...and the opinions there.
Can it be that you talk about different things here?
The thread about DTP two lines above is about exactly the same subject, only differently expressed.


You are referring to http://www.proz.com/topic/59072

Ruxi wrote:
There, everybody is against DTP.

No, not everybody is "against DTP". They are contrary to providing DTP or other time consuming services without charging for them. Some are not prepared to work on DTP, but some others are equipped and skilled for it, and happy to provide the service for a fee.

Ruxi wrote:
I am very confused now. Where is the truth?

There is no absolute "truth". Each person makes a business choice.

I know translators that work in DTP project as much as they do in translation, others work as web designer or webmasters, in addition to the translation, and sometimes combine the two services for the same client, but I also know colleagues who don't even know what DTP or HTML means.

In any case, there is no "right" choice. Some translator prefer to focus on translation only, others prefer to work in a variety of tasks, as it may help to reduce some degree of boredom that is very familiar to many of us...

For your information. I don't provide DTP services (no time to study it and not inclined to that kind of work) but I know a few things about websites and can handle a variety of file formats, which comes handy very often.


bye
Gianfranco



[Edited at 2006-11-06 11:18]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:23
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Law? I doubt it... Nov 6, 2006

Ruxi wrote:
Is there a law (in any country) which stipulates the rights and the duties of translators versus clients, meaning:
1. aditional skills (hardware/software using)
2. formats of a translation, editing (conversions in a certain format, pictures, ornaments, fonts, type of document aso)
3. certain equipments and software a translator must have (CAT, scaner, etc.)
4. where exactly are the limits for a translator?


I know of no such law, but what you're suggesting is like suggesting that it should be legislated what clothes medical doctors should wear, what the layout of his rooms should be, word-for-word what a he should say to a patient, what communication equipment he should have in his office, etc.

As for translators, it is largely a matter of expectation created by an overall impression and experience with previous clients/translators.

The important thing is that the translator produce something with which the client is satisfied, or, something that is useful to the client. How he does it, is usually none of the client's business, unless the client specifically demands that a certain procedure be followed.

Now many clients come and first of all discriminate them by asking CAT. You don't have it, don't know to use it, you don't get the job.


Some clients demand that a translator use a certain dictionary, or that he use a certain set of spelling rules, etc. Really, the client can demand whatever he wants to, and no translator should complain if he does not meet the client's criteria.

What if a translator is very good at his work, but has difficulty with using certain software, or hardware or so. Is he/she not a good translator anymore?


If he is unable to move with the times, he'll find that his client pool is limited to those who do not demand such things of him.

A few decades ago, truck drivers only needed to know how to drive, but these days they also need to know how a TACO system work, how to fill in various jobs sheets, how to use advanced communications devices, etc. Is the truck driver who can't do these "additional" things, a bad truck driver?

Where should a beginner have the money for everything?


All businesses have start-up costs, regardless of how talented or skilled its owners or employees are.

Do they teach in translation courses/universities things like CAT, computer matters, proof-reading, technical editing, financial/business matters?


They should. I studied for a 3 year translation diploma almost 10 years ago, and although our two main subjects were language related, the other subjects included computer usage, typing skills, word processing, spreadsheet work, database administration, office administration, business administration, video work (I still think that was an odd subject), and research skills. We also learnt about CAT and MT. What did they teach you in your translators' course?

For me translation is an art, a product of the brain and feelings, a natural talent, a passion.


You remind me of a chemical engineering graduate who is disillusioned by the fact that he doesn't spend his entire day in a laboratory, or a newly graduated civil engineer who is angry that he doesn't spend all day designing bridges. Yes, translation is an art, but art isn't all glamour -- much of it is boring chores and hard work.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:23
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
More comments Nov 6, 2006

Ruxi wrote:
I mean e.g if a client wants a certain software or outlook for his document he should also provide that software or so..


Client X wants a road built from A to B. Company A has highly skilled workers, but no equipment except a broom and a shovel. Company B has construction vehicles etc. Company A (you, in other words) complain that the client should supply the construction vehicles since after all, he is the one who wants to have the road built. A century ago the road could have been build by company A with a broom and a shovel. And you know, if Company A just searches hard enough, I'm sure he'll find a client who has need of a road that can be built with a shovel and a broom, and I'm sure he'll do an excellent job of it.

After all if you go to a taylor and want a certain kind of cloth you also have to bring the textile and the accesoirs you want.


Look, analogies are getting us nowhere. A builder building your house will expect you to provide the raw materials (bricks, etc), but he can't expect you to provide the tools (nor expect you to pay for the tools).

Even if in your country you don't expect the tailor to supply the materials for your suit, you can expect him to have needlework tools, right? If you're willing to wait 10 weeks for your suit to be made, that's fine, but if you want the suit to be ready within two days, then surely the tailor can't expect you to supply him with a sewing machine and overlocker, right?


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Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:23
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
Be careful not to overrate equipment Nov 6, 2006

IreneN wrote:
... times are changing and clients will be going to another corner for croussants and espresso.
Croissants: Yummie, a tasty snack and looks good too. Not that difficult to make with baking mixtures and machines. But that brings another danger, because after a while there are a lot of competing candidates. And times are changing too: people do not want products with saturated fatty acids anymore. Now the they want traditionally baked leavened bread. Your fully automatic baking machine is of no use anymore.


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:23
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Times and choices Nov 9, 2006

This day and age life is speedier than it used to be. You have to be more flexible and versatile.

I can safely say that I am older than you, and I experienced one profession, where the parafenalia of new materials, equipment, working methods, technology, administration are absolutely overwhelming, even the very basis of what I learned as an architect: drawings, are produced totally differently now from what I was taught. Read: CAD.

Your analogies are all faulty, even the driver has to learn new skills all the time, as Samuel already pointed out, and I could reel off a dozen more things he has to learn to be employable, to be competitive. It is not possible for him to say: OK, I can drive, what more do they want?
If he has a job today, he may not have one tomorrow, and he will have to learn those things he neglected in his easy job, to be able to get another one. The chances are, he would have lost his job, because the company he was working for empolyed drivers like him, and wasn't able to keep up with other companies who moved on with the times.

But now there is choice. More choice than ever before. Literary, Mozart had to be employed to be able to survive.
A medieval scribe didn't work for himself.
You can do so, if you do it with open eyes, always wanting to learn, and make the right choices.


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