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You want to be a what?

Post 1

Whisky

Hi there,

I was just being nosy and noticed that you said that you wanted to become a translator - as that's what I do for a living I just wanted to say hello(and add: DON'T DO IT!!) smiley - winkeye

What sort of translation interests you anyway?

smiley - cheers
whisky


You want to be a what?

Post 2

Nireena

H'lo! Poked around your page a bit, including your entry in progress on translation as a profession. I'll be interested in reading it when it's ready for Peer Review; shaping up to be a thorough entry..

Eventually I'd like to do literary translation, but I've been told repeatedly that getting into the field is more often a matter of who you know than your ability, so I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime, I'd like to do business translation or software localization, since they would combine my knowledge of French and computers quite nicely.

If you don't mind my being a bit nosy in turn, what specifically is it about translation that you don't like? I've been pestering pros for a while now getting the good, the bad, and the ugly yet I still haven't been turned off it. Guess that means either it's truly my calling or I'm just stubborn. smiley - winkeye

smiley - cheers
Nireena


You want to be a what?

Post 3

Whisky

Hello again,

Firstly, don't hold your breath waiting for that entry on translating - it's been sat gathering dust for the last two months. I promise I will finish it one day, but I'm not guaranteeing it'll be today.

As to not liking my job, well, in truth I actually love this job, but there again, I'm one of the very lucky ones. 95% of all translators here in France are freelance, ok, that means they can work from home whenever they want. The downside of that is they have absolutely no guarantee that they are going to make any money next month. I've got all the advantages of being employed by a translating firm, with all the fringe benefits, and I make more, on average, than a freelance.

I also work on technical translations, which means that I'm working on shorter documents most of the time (above 10,000 words is relatively rare for me) so I never have the time to get bored on a particular subject. That's one of the reasons I love this job, it's a constant learning curve. - I must admit, doing full time literary translation doesn't really appeal to me, it's too long on one particular subject (I've a very short attention span smiley - erm what was I talking aboutsmiley - doh )

I'm honestly not that knowledgeable about the world of literary translation, but if you were wanting to enter into the world of commercial/technical translation (the two are just about interchangeable over here) I'd suggest trying to find a job in a real translating firm first - That way someone else pays for all the computer hardware and software, as well as all the dictionaries and texts you'll need. And as well as that, it's nice to have other people around to bounce ideas off when you've spent 20 minutes staring at a phrase and you just haven't a clue what on earth the author is talking about. (As well as that, it's much more fun working with other people around than sat at home on your own).

Getting back to the entry I was writing on translating, if you've the time, would you be interested in writing the section on qualifications and courses available (as well as anything else that comes to mind on the subject)- I got into this profession through the backdoor - being a technical nerd who speaks french, rather than through being a qualified translator so I'm not necessarily the best person to write on that particular subject. (And seeing how long the entry has been sitting there, you can see I'm not exactly rushing to get it finished, so there'd be absolutely no pressure for deadlines).

Anyway, don't hesitate to ask if you're feeling nosy about anything else.

smiley - cheers
whisky


You want to be a what?

Post 4

Nireena

Hi Whiskey! Thought I'd drop by to chat and have a spot of smiley - tea with you. Here, have some:

smiley - tea

or some smiley - stiffdrink if you prefer.

So are you still translating? I recently started a graduate program in translation and remembered talking with you about the field. I looked at the start of your entry on it and had some ideas on topics to cover:

- What is a translator (or what is translation) ?
- Various types of translator jobs
- What sort of skills and training do translators need?
- What tools do translators use (can include computer assisted translation in this part) ?
- Career prospects (what do they earn, the field is growing, etc)

Hope all is going well with you.
smiley - star


You want to be a what?

Post 5

Whisky

Hi there,

Hmm, at this time in the morning I need smiley - coffee by the bucket loads, but a cup of tea will do nicely as well smiley - ta

Yup, I'm still sat in an office translating... well, it beats working for a living anyway - and it gives me unlimited access to H2G2 smiley - winkeye

That translating entry has been gathering dust since I last spoke to you, but I really should do something about it... so if you've any ideas I'd be pleased to either hand it over to you or incorporate them into what I've already written and do a joint entry...

I'd love to find out what 'trained' translators actually learn though. I fell into this job virtually by mistake... I just happen to be able to speak three languages and have a highly technical background, so it was the obvious choice when I was looking for something to pay the bills.




You want to be a what?

Post 6

Nireena

Well, these are the classes I'm taking now for an example:

1) Documents in Multi-lingual Contexts

Not a very good name for what we do: it's how to deal with various types of electronic documents. Often translators now have to deal with web pages, Powerpoint presentations, and even translating emails. This class gets everyone up to speed on computers in general and managing different file formats, even how to make a simple webpage.

2) Graduate research and writing

This is more how to learn to write well-formed research papers. Not as directly related to translation as the first class but still useful for organizing your thoughts, conducting research, and writing according to an accepted standard (in this case, the MLA).

3) Theory of translation

Here we look at what various linguists have suggested for ways to approach translation more methodically instead of it being very subjective. How to deal with issues like when to borrow a unique term wholeheartedly or when to try to come up with an equivalent, taking into account the text type (literary, informative, advertising, etc), and the foreignization/naturalization debate (let it sound a little foreign or erase all traces of the source culture) are some of the subjects covered.

4) Practice translation session

This is some of the fun stuff! Each week we're handed a different passage to translate and we discuss everyone's approaches to it. So far we've had instructions for laying down carpet, a recipe, a diploma, a travel guide for bed & breakfasts, and a scholarship announcement.

The other classes that I take aren't directly related to translation. I teach in exchange for free tuition, so I have to observe a model class and take one on teaching besides the beginning French class that I myself teach.

In later semesters of the program, I'll be taking courses on software localization, terminology, project management, then some electives in either French culture or maybe linguistics.

Hope that gives you some idea of what translators study.. I'll try to come up with a chunk for the entry and toss it to you at some point. In fact, I think there's a way you can designate me co-author so I can edit the entry directly from my personal space, or I can just post the stuff I come up with here if you like.

smiley - smiley
smiley - star


You want to be a what?

Post 7

Whisky

Interesting, I guess it would have made my job a lot easier if I actually knew the theory behind what I'm doing smiley - winkeye


Actually, the first class you mentionned is probably the most important if you ever get into technical translations...
In the last six months I've worked on documents in
Word
Excel
Powerpoint
Photoshop
Visio
Interleaf
Acrobat - just try editing a PDF file sometime smiley - yikes
Adobe Page Maker
and I've probably forgotten a few of the more horrendous ones!

We're also about to spend an absolute fortune on Quark Express, Flash, Adobe Illustrator and AutoCAD

I've also had to translate various web pages, but that's fairly easy... have you had the chance to play with a software package called Trados yet? - That's got to be the most useful toy we've invested in in the last year.

On a different note, I'd be pleased to share the entry with you...
I don't think there's yet a way for us to jointly edit a single entry, I'll add you to the list of authors, but the system only lets one person edit an entry, so you can either just post plain text into a conversation and I'll pretty it up with GML or you can post it into a separate entry, let me know the Axxxxxx number here and I'll use the 'test' function to copy the GML into the main entry.


You want to be a what?

Post 8

Nireena

The only program out of the list you mentioned that I've never heard of is Interleaf. What does that one do? I've seen Visio in action but thankfully never had to do much with it. I've either worked quite a bit in or at least dabbled with the rest, save AutoCAD. And I know what you mean about editing PDF docs- definitely a pain. smiley - erm

Yes, I've sat in on a couple introductory workshops on Trados, and next year I'll be using it in one of the required classes. Neat little toy.

Too bad there isn't a way for us to share the entry, but I'll be happy to dump some contributions in here from time to time. For now, though, I'm trying to dump translation theory into my brain for the midterm on Tuesday... smiley - online2long

smiley - star


You want to be a what?

Post 9

Whisky

There's no hurry, after all, the entry's been sitting around for nearly six months so another few weeks (or months) won't make a differencesmiley - winkeye.

Interleaf is a wierd tool, it's basically for creating documents. The text is all contained in hidden XML tags and you can have various levels of 'hidden' text - so, you can have one single document with, depending on the options you set, the text visible in different languages... You look at the document in French, change an option and the French text is hidden and the English appears in its place...

It does hundreds of other things too, but thankfully, all I've had to do is edit documents, not actually create them!


You want to be a what?

Post 10

Nireena

Interleaf sounds interesting. The "mulitlingual docs" class is actually going to delve into XML by the end of the course. That's really the part I'm looking forward to; right now I'm kinda coasting in the class.

Took the theory midterm tonight: I think it went well! Thankfully she asked for the general concepts rather than the specific names of each linguist that came up with them. I remembered the concepts just fine and came up with enough name-dropping to back up my answers (I hope!). smiley - smiley

smiley - star


You want to be a what?

Post 11

Nireena

H'lo again. In an idle moment, I decided to start working on this entry a bit. How does this work for an intro:

* * * * *

What is translation?

Translation is both a process and a result. It is the term for the act of taking a text written in one language (the “source language”) and writing it in another (the “target language”). The word “translation” also refers to the resulting new text in the target language.

Translation is more than just substituting one word for another. Differences in grammar, vocabulary, writing style, and culture require good judgment and creativity on the translator’s part to convey the meaning of the source text accurately and eloquently.

This entry will give the reader a brief overview of the variety of specialties within translation, the tools at a translator’s disposal, and the role of translation in society today.

* * * * *

Let me know what you think.

smiley - star


You want to be a what?

Post 12

Nireena

Found my grade on the translation theory midterm exam- did quite well. Was pleased.

smiley - smiley
smiley - star


You want to be a what?

Post 13

Whisky

There are two parts to this post...

Part 1) Congratulations and smiley - bubbly

Part 2) smiley - yikes and I missed your last post completely - great intro... consider it used smiley - winkeye


You want to be a what?

Post 14

Nireena

1) Thanks! smiley - smiley

2) No problem. Glad you like the intro.

Haven't had the time to come up with another part yet, but did notice a little quibble in the "types of translators" section: technically, the first one would be a simultaneous *interpreter*, not a translator. Translators deal with the written word, interpreters with the spoken.

However, there is such a thing as "sight translation" and "gisting"- a client gives you a text and just wants to know what it's about, so you translate it roughly for them on the spot just to give them the gist of it.

You've covered the types of translation jobs very well. The only other type of translating job that I could think of was medical: that could be a sub-category of "technical" or stand alone. The translation of web pages could be mentioned under "technical".

(By the way: sorry to hear about all the server probs at work. Did you get it all sorted out/restored?)

smiley - cheers
smiley - star


You want to be a what?

Post 15

Nireena

H'lo! I saw your latest post to your journal so I realize you've defintely got more important things to think about than this entry. smiley - winkeye

However, since I happened to have a spare moment, I drew up a little more to add to the entry at some point. This bit would fall under the heading "What skills and training would a translator need to have?"

------- start of entry stuff ------------

[Can't vouch for the educational system in the UK: all I know is that they tend to have more courses on translation offered at an earlier level. I'm jealous smiley - winkeye ]

In the US, there are very few undergraduate programs in translation. One does exist at Kent State University. Most people interested in translation get a bachelor's degree in their language(s) of choice, then continue to a master's either in comparative literature with a translation certificate, or a master's degree specifically in translation. Some schools in the US with a translation program include:


American University in Washington, DC Department of Language and Foreign Studies
Kent State University’s Institute of Applied Linguistics
Monterey Institute of International Studies
SUNY Binghamton Translation Research and Instruction Program


Those who are interested in translation will often try to find an internship with a translation agency, publishing house, or similar company.

As far as other skills and personality traits, a translator should:


be detail-oriented
be able to work under deadlines
be comfortable with technology: word processors, Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools, basic web page authoring, email, etc.
have good research skills
have a working knowledge of a specialized field and its vocabulary (engineering, medical, legal, software, etc.)
[any others im missing?]


---------- end of entry stuff ------------------

I put the entry into GuideML deliberately so that you can just copy n' paste it in when you're ready.

smiley - cheers
smiley - star


You want to be a what?

Post 16

Whisky

I've finally got round to doing a little more work on this one...
For the time being all I've done is add in some info on CAT and inserted your work, I'll be looking into UK university courses next week.

Thanks for everything so far - and keep the information coming smiley - winkeye

smiley - cheers
whisky


You want to be a what?

Post 17

Nireena


You're welcome. smiley - smiley

What did you finally decide about the job offer/moving situation?

smiley - star


You want to be a what?

Post 18

Nireena


D'oh: nevermind on that last bit. Just read your journal. Sorry that you got your hopes up to have the option taken away.

smiley - star


You want to be a what?

Post 19

Nireena

H'lo again! Took a brief walk around the Guide building...

Just an update: you had wondered what a "trained" translator takes. This semester I've only got three classes:

1) Terminology management

Learning about Multiterm and the general principles of terminology management.

2) Literary and cultural translation

Where last semester was anything from adverts to tourist brochures to recipes to diplomas, this is all literary excerpts. Very interesting, but lots of background reading.

3) French film

Frankly I only took this one because it was the sole course that satisfied the degree requirements apart from semiotics (*shudder*). Alright, I suppose, but I'm not much of a film fan.

Hope all is going well you. smiley - ta
smiley - star


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