Looking for advice about specializations, etc. when getting started
מפרסם התגובה: Kelsey A

Kelsey A

מצרפתית לאנגלית
Jul 16, 2014

I'm hoping to start out as a professional translator. I have a few questions and I guess I'm looking for any advice anyone has.

I'm curious how important speaking skills are in the source language. I'm working to improve mine, but currently, my reading level is far higher. I've never really heard anyone mention if speaking ability is important or not for translators (interpreters are a different story, of course.)

I'm also wondering when specializations are important fo
... See more
I'm hoping to start out as a professional translator. I have a few questions and I guess I'm looking for any advice anyone has.

I'm curious how important speaking skills are in the source language. I'm working to improve mine, but currently, my reading level is far higher. I've never really heard anyone mention if speaking ability is important or not for translators (interpreters are a different story, of course.)

I'm also wondering when specializations are important for accepting or not accepting a translation job. And how to go about gaining new specializations or areas you're confident in translating. I know college is one way, but I see lots of profiles here where people have done plenty of translation work in all sorts of fields. For someone who is just starting out, should I just stick to General/Business translations? How can I determine which fields are going to be over my head?

Lastly, how much contact info should I give? Definitely an email. A phone number (I only have a personal phone)? My address? And I've seen some people say only to offer your CV to those who ask instead of posting it on your profile so it doesn't get stolen - is this good or bad advice?

Thanks to anyone who answers! I know it's a lot of questions.
Collapse


 

ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
טורקיה
Local time: 10:59
חבר (2007)
מטורקית לאנגלית
+ ...
Specializations, etc. Jul 16, 2014

Any area of specialization for a translator can be one of a number of fields. An obvious one is expertise gained through college study, as you pointed out. But specializations really do not have to be gained in college through formal education. Any area where you have done a lot of READING, and that you have a genuine INTEREST in would also count.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, an area that you feel distant is an area you should perhaps avoid translating. For example, I av
... See more
Any area of specialization for a translator can be one of a number of fields. An obvious one is expertise gained through college study, as you pointed out. But specializations really do not have to be gained in college through formal education. Any area where you have done a lot of READING, and that you have a genuine INTEREST in would also count.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, an area that you feel distant is an area you should perhaps avoid translating. For example, I avoid medical and legal documents since I have no background in those fields. Actually, you can translate in such fields but it will be extremely hard work. Thus it is usually much better to avoid translation from the start.

The amount of contact information to give is really a personal choice. The standard ones are an e-mail address and a phone number. My phone is a personal phone, too. I still use it on my resume. Usually, an e-mail address should be sufficient but there may be times when a client wants to call you for whatever reason.

I believe in posting my resume without being asked for it. Not having a resume might discourage a potential client to the point that he/she quickly gives up on you. Most of us probably put our resumes on job boards like monster, etc. I do not think posting your resume on ProZ will hurt you at all. The web should be full of millions of resumes.
Collapse


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
סין
Local time: 15:59
מסינית לאנגלית
Have to self-assess Jul 16, 2014

Kelsey Shook wrote:

I'm curious how important speaking skills are in the source language.

In theory, not at all. But would you trust a translator who isn't fluent in her source language? I personally don't really believe reading/writing/speaking/listening can be totally disentangled from one another, so deficiencies in any one should be a warning sign. But of course, if you don't live in a source language country, your speaking skills are likely to get rusty.

I'm also wondering when specializations are important for accepting or not accepting a translation job. And how to go about gaining new specializations or areas you're confident in translating. I know college is one way, but I see lots of profiles here where people have done plenty of translation work in all sorts of fields. For someone who is just starting out, should I just stick to General/Business translations? How can I determine which fields are going to be over my head?

With documents in technical fields, I often give conditional offers: I'll translate this if I can understand it. There's nothing wrong with reading the document and responding, sorry, this is not within my area of competence. Good agencies won't penalise you for that. But you do have to be strict with yourself and assess accurately whether you can really, really understand a document or not.
Specialisations often evolve by chance, so you don't necessarily have to pick them now, and you don't necessarily need academic training or non-translation experience in your specialist areas.


 

Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
הממלכה המאוחדת
Local time: 07:59
חבר (2014)
מהולנדית לאנגלית
+ ...
Speaking skills Jul 16, 2014

Speaking skills don't necessarily affect your ability to translate a text well, especially if it's a technical text where your knowledge of the subject area will probably be more important to understanding than mastering the nuances of conversational language.

However, it is certainly useful to be able to converse fluently in your source language - for example if a customer phones you up to discuss a job, or you want to visit events where you will come into contact with potential c
... See more
Speaking skills don't necessarily affect your ability to translate a text well, especially if it's a technical text where your knowledge of the subject area will probably be more important to understanding than mastering the nuances of conversational language.

However, it is certainly useful to be able to converse fluently in your source language - for example if a customer phones you up to discuss a job, or you want to visit events where you will come into contact with potential customers who speak your source language. If you aren't fluent you may find yourself limited to working for agencies in your target language country and missing out on potential direct customers in your source language country. How will you sell yourself if you don't speak the language?

[Edited at 2014-07-16 11:05 GMT]
Collapse


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
ספרד
Local time: 07:59
חבר (2007)
אנגלית
+ ...
My 2c Jul 16, 2014

I don't think my clients have ever been put off by the fact that I not only have a "très British" accent, I also stumble when speaking French on the phone, particularly when tired or in a stressful situation, and on the spur of the moment I can't think of any nice synonyms, so everything is 'bon' etc. They know I'm not totally bilingual (like my son). But I do think it's important to be able to speak well enough to converse over the phone, though most of your client contact will be done by emai... See more
I don't think my clients have ever been put off by the fact that I not only have a "très British" accent, I also stumble when speaking French on the phone, particularly when tired or in a stressful situation, and on the spur of the moment I can't think of any nice synonyms, so everything is 'bon' etc. They know I'm not totally bilingual (like my son). But I do think it's important to be able to speak well enough to converse over the phone, though most of your client contact will be done by email so your writing skills are really more important.

I have my CV online as I think it's worth risking it. But it's better as a PDF (though I don't think my present one is a scanned PDF, and it should be), and best of all without too much identity information. Personally, I wouldn't put my house address, my phone number or even my email address on my online CV, though I suppose you could use your email address by substituting "AT" for the "@". I don't think clients need a phone number, and certainly not your address, until after the initial contact. Do prepare anyone else who may answer your phone to receive important calls in French, or the client might just say "sorry, wrong number!". Even if your family members don't speak French they should learn a couple of stock phrases for handing someone over to you.

Are you just starting out in your adult life, or are you coming to translation with experience in other areas? If it's the latter, then that experience often forms a specialisation. Even hobbies and interests can form specialisations. I think specialising to some degree is essential in our pair, as there are just too many people who "know" both languages. To be apart from them (i.e. to earn more than peanuts), a translator needs techniques that they won't know about, a feel for how a French text is written (e.g. is it in formal or informal language; is it aimed at techies or Jean Dupont, etc) and, highly important, superb target language writing skills with the ability to adapt to suit different contexts. So I think you should at least decide whether you want to go down the technical translation route, go for the very different areas of marketing and advertising, or somewhere in-between. Just bear in mind the competition: when there are thousands and thousands of translators (not all of them professionals) wanting work, it pays to only do what you know you can excel at.
Collapse


 

Kelsey A

מצרפתית לאנגלית
TOPIC STARTER
thanks for the replies Jul 18, 2014

Thanks for the advice everyone. My speaking skills are there, but I don't have the best accent and often have to ask the other person to speak more slowly. I should be able to improve if I just expose myself more to the spoken language as it's not really a problem with the vocabulary or grammar.

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Are you just starting out in your adult life, or are you coming to translation with experience in other areas? If it's the latter, then that experience often forms a specialisation. Even hobbies and interests can form specialisations. I think specialising to some degree is essential in our pair, as there are just too many people who "know" both languages. To be apart from them (i.e. to earn more than peanuts), a translator needs techniques that they won't know about, a feel for how a French text is written (e.g. is it in formal or informal language; is it aimed at techies or Jean Dupont, etc) and, highly important, superb target language writing skills with the ability to adapt to suit different contexts. So I think you should at least decide whether you want to go down the technical translation route, go for the very different areas of marketing and advertising, or somewhere in-between. Just bear in mind the competition: when there are thousands and thousands of translators (not all of them professionals) wanting work, it pays to only do what you know you can excel at.


I'm just starting out. I have spent at least a year now translating (not professionally), so I have plenty of experience translating, but it wasn't anything technical. If self-study is sufficient for picking up various specializations, then I'd have no problem with that at all.


 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Looking for advice about specializations, etc. when getting started

Advanced search







WordFinder Unlimited
For clarity and excellence

WordFinder is the leading dictionary service that gives you the words you want anywhere, anytime. Access 260+ dictionaries from the world's leading dictionary publishers in virtually any device. Find the right word anywhere, anytime - online or offline.

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • חיפוש מונח
  • עבודות
  • פורומים
  • Multiple search