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https://www.duolingo.com/olimo

[AMA] A professional translator

olimo
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Hi all!

I've been recently asked to do an AMA on my experience of working as a translator. Well, why not? :-) This may indeed be interesting to amateur translators involved in Immersion here on Duolingo.

I've been working as a translator of technical manuals, website content, marketing booklets and software from English to Russian for 8 years. I can't mention specific companies or other confidential information, but I'll be glad to answer your questions about professional translation workflow in general and share some personal experience. Ask me anything!

63
4 years ago
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78 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems
Hohenems
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Language related: How much do you try to stay true to the original? i.e. It is written in present tense in the original, but in the other language it is more common to express it in the past. Do you go with present tense, or past?

Not language related: What's the weirdest thing you have learned (actually learned and remember) from the documents you translated? (e.g. "I now know how to operate a forklift")

Random: What tree do you associate most with Russia? (e.g. Canada - Sugar maple - Acer saccharum)

8
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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1. It is important to keep the meaning, not the grammar or syntax. English present perfect tense may be translated with present or past tense in Russian depending on the meaning of the phrase. Also, we have to take care of some cultural differences. For example "please" is a much more polite and personal word in Russian than in English, so in most cases we drop it in technical translations: "Please wait" in software would usually be just "Подождите" (Wait) in Russian. Also, English, unlike Russian, tends to use quite a lot of "you" and "your" which we usually leave out or transform to impersonal phrases.

2. I know a little about troubleshooting printers after having translated a troubleshooting manual (and I have actually used this knowledge). I know why missing teeth are bad and it is better to take care about a denture earlier than to postpone it (in fact, I came to love translating booklets on dental implants, they are so beautiful ^_^). I have translated quite a lot of forklift manuals, but I don't remember much - I'm not that interested in forklifts. The weirdest thing that I recalled now is the benefits of having type II diabetes - yes, there were some listed in a patient information booklet to cheer up the patients a little.

3. The birch tree! It is also a popular symbol of longing for Russia when you are abroad.

17
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems
Hohenems
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:-) I'm fond of birches myself.

Thanks! I especially enjoy the fact that you are learning a myriad of things from translating (and find it hilarious that you actually translated forklift manuals).

Edit: By the way, in case you didn't realize, you're currently only 91 points away from 50,000!

4
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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I'll take care of those 50,000 points tomorrow, thanks for the reminder ^_^

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kai_E.
Kai_E.
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Hi Olimo

I just started translating DE->EN freelance at around the beginning of October, so I'm still a bit of a beginner and this month I began an internship with a guy who also does a lot of technical manuals. After a couple steady months of work I still find that I like translating all kinds of material. Is it that way for you, or is it more so just your job?

Do you use CAT software? What do you use/recommend?

For my internship I've used Star Transit, which I love, as well as Omega T and MemoQ.

I'd buy the latter if it weren't 600 euros...

Have you encountered any English terms over the years that have been especially difficult to translate into Russian?

Thanks for doing this!

4
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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1. It varies. There is stuff I actually enjoy reading and translating, but there are also things looking more like routine than pleasure. This is what I like about being a technical translator: you don't have to love what you translate - if you are not in the mood, you just do your job and it will be fine anyway if you comply with all the instructions and glossaries. To translate fiction, you need some inspiration which is not always present.

2. CAT software. Absolutely. We use translation memory software, the most common is SDL Trados. It is very expensive, though. Personally, my favourite is Translation Workspace XLIFF Editor, but it is only provided by Lionbridge for their projects (the TMs are hosted on Lionbridge servers, and you can't create your own ones). Some customers also provide their own tools for translating software. If the customer does not provide any TM or specify any tools, we create our own translation memory in Trados and use it.

We don't use any machine translation.

I've never tried any of the tools you mentioned.

3. English terms. The most difficult is to translate software that uses new and too-informal English words. Twitter is a nightmare to translate: we don't have formal Russian words for "tweet", "follower" and so on, and the string lengths are restricted, so we can't use descriptional phrases. Also, very informal language looks fine in apps in English but awfully clumzy in Russian.

7
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alsocass

Interesting. Do Russians use twitter etc? If so what terminology do they use. Is it applicable when translating?

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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Yes, we do. In informal language, we mostly just adopt the English words and internalize them into Russian by adding Russian endings and using cases. Like, "a tweet" is "твит", "to tweet" is "твитить" or "твитнуть", "to follow" is "зафолловить". These words, especially the last one, are too clumzy and informal to be used in the official translation, so when the time to translate finally comes, we have to use more general terms and use "подписаться" (subscribe) or "читать" (read) instead of "follow". Most people continue to use the unofficial terms, though, as they are less ambiguous.

Personally, I prefer to use services and apps in English. English is much better for that kind of stuff.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/856pm

English really has proven to be the de facto lingua franca on the Internet. I suspect that this is because the Internet/ARPAnet was invented by Americans, the Web was invented by an Anglophone Englishman (albeit in Switzerland), and many of the services first launched in English in Anglophone countries.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Wonderboy6
Wonderboy6
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How long did it take you to get to this level in your second language English/Russian

Is it possible for you to work from anywhere in the world?

Is it a good idea to start on 2 languages at the same time or until your are really competent at 1 first?

Does your work week vary (hours worked)?

WHAT IS cat SOFTWARE?

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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1. My first language is Russian. I've been learning English since I was 8 (I'm 30 now). I learned most of English I really need at school, so I believe I could have started my work at the age of 16-17. Translation is usually done from your second language into your first one, so what you need is to understand the source language and to have really good writing skills in the target language. You can use any dictionaries and reference you can find. With time and practice, you learn to find the necessary words very quickly. If the English text is written in good English and the meaning is not very industry-specific - for example, a cellphone manual - I can translate almost non-stop, reading the English sentence and typing the Russian one almost at the same time.

2. Normally, translators in our company come to the office every day, however, it can be arranged for a translator to work from home if they are sick or have little children to take care of. There is also one girl who married a foreigner and moved to another country. She chose to continue working with us and receives her tasks by email. Working at the office has its benefits, though. If there is not enough work for everyone, those who are at the office will get the tasks first, so if you work at home, you may experience some periods when you don't have any work and don't know when to expect it. Also, normally we stay at the office approximately from 10am till 6pm even if we don't have tasks: urgent tasks may arrive at 4 or 5pm and there have to be people who can do them immediately. Working at home is only good if you have a big task for a few days to schedule work as you like.

3. This depends on your learning style and goals. I prefer to add a new language after I gain at least intermediate level in the previous one; however, I'm not too serious in my language studies (I mean, after English) as I don't have much situations where to apply them. I'm just having fun.

4. Normally, not very much. If there is enough work for everyone, there is a minimum amount of work you are assigned to do daily (about 2500 words to translate). If you want, and if you can, and if there is enough extra work, you can work harder or longer or faster and do more.

5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer-assisted_translation

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mollyglot
mollyglot
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It's interesting what you said about translation is best if done from the second language to the first language. I had assumed that, and was wondering about the team working on the RUS->ENG course. Is there anyone whose first language is English and second language is Russian? It seems like a native English speaker would be the best resource for the final English sentences. Not that I doubt your abilities!!

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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The fact is that the final English sentences are already available from other Duolingo English courses, so the Russian incubator team had to translate them into Russian.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Alipaulam
Alipaulam
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Although - dare I say it - some of the 'final English sentences' could still benefit from more input from native English speakers. Some are downright wrong, others are very unnatural. But, I hasten to add, I don't want to knock Duo or the team, just to point out that it is still a work in progress.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mollyglot
mollyglot
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Ah! I hadn't thought of that! So when it comes time to make the ENG>RUS course, will most of the work already be done then?

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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Personally, I am skeptical about making new courses by translating existing ones. Languages that are currently available on Duolingo have much more in common than any of them has with Russian. I believe that to make a really good course too much has to be revised, otherwise this course will not be of much help to beginners.

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4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/un_programmeur

Thanks for doing this!

I'm learning French and I find the hardest part is wrapping my brain around a really foreign way of constructing sentences. I read stuff in French and think that I'll never construct a sentence that way. My brain can only think in the English context. Now I truly understand why some immigrants to my country can still have really choppy English even 20-30 years later.

Does it get better? if so, how?

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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It surely does go better with practice. Why, look at my English. By no means will I claim it is perfect but of course it is much better now than before. I feel that my English has improved a lot during the recent year and a half that I've been using Duolingo and participating in discussions in English.

If you manage to find a regular French practice like talking to native speakers or writing on some forum, your French will improve rapidly. If not, you will still improve by reading, but it will be slower and you'll still need practice to turn your passive knowledge and vocabulary into fluent speaking.

For a start, you can use services like lang-8.com or italki.com to practice your writing skills and get corrections from native speakers.

I read stuff in French and think that I'll never construct a sentence that way.

You know, when I started working as a translator, I often saw translations made by my more experienced colleagues and thought I'd never be able to write so beautifully (even though it was in my native language). Some time later, when a friend of mine came to work at our company, she told me exactly the same thing when she looked at my translations :-) Practice makes perfect anyway.

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Reply14 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Alipaulam
Alipaulam
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I think your English is remarkably good. If I could write half as well as you in either of my two 'source' languages, French and Italian, I'd be more than happy. I've read much worse English than yours from native English speakers in immersion.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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Thank you!

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dudly
dudly
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Hi, I am French, and I've been learning English for -- at least ten years. Immersion is the best answer you've got. In elementary school, we had an immersion program: one semester of English learning, the other condensing every other subject. What I remember more clearly is the diversity: at home, we had to watch every day 30 minutes of a TV show in English; we had to call someone from our class to speak at least five minutes in English; we had to read a book in English every week, and write down twenty vocabulary words from it; we had to keep a diary and give it to the teacher to look over and correct every other week. What is actually funny is that this diary made us feel like we could speak very good English: after all, we could express our lives in it! Of course, years later looking back, I came to realize how crappy my language skills were back then, and how many mistakes the teacher had let slide. But there was still this notion of progress, because when you look back on the work you did, you get a clear feeling of how much you've accomplished. ;')

Of course, I've kept using English constantly in my life -- reading books, watching TV shows and movies in their original versions, writing stories, chatting with friends on the Internet, etc. But I would say the writing helps tremendously. It's simple enough: you have something you want to say, then you NEED to find out how. It's not just that you learn it without context. And that is why Lang-8 is fun; it makes you write and you can keep track of it, but you'll be sure to always have someone checking up that you are not learning the wrong things. As you practice and practice and try and sweat and cry, the amount of corrections you get diminish and you will find out you have a wider range of thoughts in the language. It's a beautiful thing.

My mom was always better for writing than for talking English; but when she visited me and my boyfriend, who only talks German and English, she had no choice but to dive in. One time, she was saying something and my boyfriend answerred. She was sure he suddenly understood French. Actually, it was because she had said it, thought it, expressed it in English.

En tout cas, j'espère que tout cela t'a encouragé (au moins un peu!) et je te souhaite bien du plaisir à t'approprier notre belle langue. :)

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/spudboy
spudboy
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You wrote "...and how many mistakes the teacher had let slide." OMG your English is unbelievably good. Muy impressionante!

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/oskalingo
oskalingo
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Hi olimo, thanks for doing this, very interesting to read. I have five questions for you, hope that's not too many.

  1. I know that English is your professional language and that you study other languages on duolingo 'just for fun' but I'm wondering if you feel your study of German and French here has improved your English? German, because English is a Germanic language and French because English has adopted so much of its vocabulary and idiom.

  2. It seems that some professional translators are either scornful of duolingo or fearful of it. Do you feel they are right to feel fearful of it, in terms of it potentially putting them out of a job?

  3. What are the elements of your job you like the most? And the least?

  4. Are there any free tools or websites that you use in your professional job? Like linguee.com for example.

  5. And elsewhere in this thread you wrote: "Most of what I needed for translation I got in school that taught English really well compared with most Russian schools." Can you say what was good about the way that English was taught in your school and how it was different to other Russian schools.

2
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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1. My English has indeed improved, but not directly from learning French or German, but rather from participating in discussions that are held in English. It has been of great help, however, in learning French (less so with German).

2. I don't think professional translators will lose their work because of Duolingo's crowdsourced translation. It may be fine for translating some web stuff or Wikipedia but I doubt that major manufacturers would choose Duolingo instead of high-quality professional localization. A crowdsourced translation takes time to be done and edited, and no one can be held responsible if the quality is lower than expected. There is also a question of confidential information about new products being prepared for release on a specific market.

3. I like to learn new stuff and practice my writing skills in Russian. I hate poorly organized projects when we don't get enough information to produce a quality product. It is awful to know that what you do is making a huge mess of a translation that otherwise could be good. This can happen because of bad glossaries, major inconsistencies in the translation memory, lack of context, or inconsistent editing done by different reviewers.

4. Google, Wikipedia, multitran.ru (a great online dictionary, especially good for English-Russian translation).

5. In my school, English was taught consistently. We had units devoted to different topics. First, we got an exercise with new words and phrases. Words were grouped by sounds, so reading them aloud was useful for pronunciation. After that, we read a text that incorporated all these new words, translated it, answered the questions, learned this text to retell it in front of the class. Then there was some grammar introduced and trained in exercises - using the new words again and again. By the end of the unit it was just impossible not to remember these words and new grammar because everything was practiced a lot.

Another important thing is that we had a lot of English classes per week: 4 in the 2nd grade, 5 in the 3rd grade and 6 from later on.

In other schools (most average schools in fact), English is treated as an unimportant subject and taught very patchy. Students may drill vocabulary like the names of animals for a couple of weeks, translate them to and fro, draw pictures, write dictations, then drop the topic completely and turn to something else, to singing songs, for example. Then they try to introduce some grammar, but students don't remember any words to build the grammar on! So the teacher struggles with grammar for a while and then drops it, too. There is no consistency. After 10 years of such "learning" people leave school with a firm conviction that English is impossible to learn. They remember something about auxiliary verbs but have no idea when you have to use "do/does" and when "am/is/are", if it is "I don't go" or "I am not go" or "I don't going" or whatever. Vocabulary is very small and patchy, too. Then they only have to live through a couple of years of further English "learning" in university where there is too little time to learn everything from the beginning, so professors turn a blind eye on cheating and let the students pass with average marks. After that, for most students English may be safely forgotten and never used in real life. Many people regret not knowing English, though.

Of course, things are not that awful for all students, but in too many cases it is true.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mollyglot
mollyglot
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Ha! This is the exact problem with how foreign language is taught in America too! We teach kids how to count to ten, some animals and maybe a couple songs in Spanish (French in some east coast areas) and then force kids to take classes, where they basically do grammar drills, in high school and college. One of the things I love about Duolingo is you never drill grammar, it just gets folded in using sentences and maybe a quick explanation. We need to change our language learning system in schools to be more like this.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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I'm lately of the opinion that songs are nature's vocabulary drill. Songs, poetry, stories etc are all basically higher forms of the language they belong to, and when you have a song stuck in your head you want to work it out with the same level of compulsion as when you have some itch between your shoulder blades. So in that sense, I think learning the songs is probably the best part of that system, there just isn't enough appreciation for it.

Let's face it, nobody on the outside looking in can make sense of Spanish verb conjugation at first. Some genius thought splitting it apart on a table into pieces was the best way to study it, as if the best way to learn how to look after farm animals was to start by learning the cuts of meat. I see the words 'Imperfect Subjunctive', but my brain is saying "La LA LA LA LAHHH! You don't even know what that means in ENGLISH dummy!" instead. But if using the wrong form of a verb messes up a rhyme or the meaning of a song, nobody can miss that!

3
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/oskalingo
oskalingo
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Nicely said.

1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mollyglot
mollyglot
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Very true! It's so funny to me how foreign language is taught like Ph.D level English grammar course. I guess it was a bunch of highly educated linguistic professors who were fascinated with structure of language who thought that up. This is not how people become functional in a language. I'm reminded of this every time I go to the Russian tutor at my school. She's a native speaker who tested out of having to actually take the class. I'll forget and say, "How do you modify singular feminine adjectives in the accusative?" And she'll look at me like I'm crazy and say, "I have no idea what you're talking about. What are you trying to say?" So then I say, " sorry! How do you say, 'I read a big book'?" And then she tells me and I listen to the ending of the adjective. And that's how I learn!

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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You are luckier in one thing: your native language is the most widespread :-)

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mollyglot
mollyglot
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In one respect it makes it easier, that's is an English speaker is more likely to find other people who speak English when traveling or moving to another country. On the other end, I think English speakers have a disadvantage when it comes to learning other languages. We're very isolated linguistically and most people really don't think it's that important, whereas in other parts of the world, it's common for people to grow up exposed to multiple languages.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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Heh, I'd love to have a whole thread over peoples opinion on question 1. The more I learn of French and German, the more I understand the point of view someone once gave me that English is the 'Bad version'. You can pick almost any basic word in either language, and find the equivalent in the Oxford dictionary, battered, mangled and chewed up beyond recognition. In German you have 'zwischen'. In French you have 'entre' , but in English you have the archaic sounding 'twixt' or 'tween' or the overly formal sounding 'inter', and somehow they had a fight and came up with 'in-between'. I think it perfectly explains the love/hate relationship we have with those two languages.

1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/espi731
  1. How do you manage to overcome boredom given that your full-time job is translation?

  2. I was recently asked to translate dialogues of a computer game from Persian to English which were in a very VERY informal manner. Have you encountered such a situation? If yes how do you translate such things while you're always an outsider to the target language? (I mean not native enough or at all in my case)

  3. When is the right time (what level) to start going through Immersion given that I only use DL to learn language and attend some basic class elsewhere? (I know the answer maybe very uncertain but appreciate any advice.)

  4. About the CAT software, I didn't really get it. If they're not automated translators so what do you use them for? Like a customized word processor?

1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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1. I don't translate for 8 hours nonstop. With my translation and typing speed I can easily afford to switch from work to internet, Duolingo, news feeds, chats, etc. If the translation is simple, I can chat with a friend and translate while I wait for him to type the answer. If I feel particularly bored, I use my willpower to close all the distracting software like web browser, Skype, etc. and work really hard for 30 or 45 minutes. In this time, I do the same work I normally do in a couple of hours. Then I allow myself a rest of 15 minutes, then repeat. In a few sets like this, I finish my daily work and can have a rest.

2. Fortunately, very informal language is not very common in my work. And what do you mean, outsider to the target language? For me, the target language of translation is Russian which is my first language. If I absolutely have to translate something very informal, I have to try my best and find the right words in my native language. I'd avoid translating to foreign languages and I won't accept a task to translate something including a very vivid informal language if the target language is not Russian. I'm just not competent enough in other languages and it is better to be honest about it.

3. Open Immersion from time to time and check if you can understand the articles with the help of a dictionary or popup translations. If you can read them, try translating them. It's really up to you - including translating to English which is not your native language as far as I understood. It may well be that the main challenge will be writing the translation in English. If you want to practice writing in English, go for Immersion. If you are more interested in practicing French, I believe just reading will be better.

4. The main components of our CAT software are translation memories (TMs) and terminology databases. Every sentence or phrase (like a list item) is a so-called translation unit. Every unit you translate goes to the TM as a pair of the source and target sentences. In tech docs, there are many similar sentences or even sentences that are exactly the same - these are matched from the TM and you only have to check and edit them if necessary. You can do concordance search in the TM to look for a specific word or phrase and translate it consistently with the previous translations. Translation memory is very useful for updated manuals: a lot of text from the previous manual is translated automatically by applying the TM, and some units are only slightly changed, so you change the existing translations a little and voilà.

This system is different from automated translators: it does not translate anything for you but it makes your own translations (and those of your coworkers) easy to use again. A good translation memory is an invaluable source that helps you translate well even if you are very far from being an expert in the subject. For example, you can easily translate a manual for an medical ultrasound system without any background knowledge: you can find all the terms and phrases in the TM.

A terminology database can be linked to TM, and the relevant terms will pop up when you open a translation unit. This makes it easy to use client-approved translations for industry-specific terms and maintain consistency.

A CAT tool may be integrated with Microsoft Word or have its own text editor.

There are also some tools that check consistency, terminology and spelling in translated documents. They help to do some quick automated check and fix obvious errors before the translation goes to a reviewer for proofreading.

7
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/espi731

Very useful explanations, thanks.

-About "Target language", I mean from your native tongue to other languages like English. Since I'm not a native English speaker nor I've been living in such a country, translating informal slang from/to English would be very difficult and my only solution is to try and get the gist of it and replace it with one of my own language's slang.

Anyway, I agree on not accepting what I may not be able to do.

-Now I understand what a CAT tool does. So just to make sure regarding the terminology you should either use sort of a pre-approved database or a TM of an already done translation right?

BTW I would be particularly interested in a medical ultrasound device since I'm studying an NDT (= Non Destructive Testing) course this semester!

1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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  • A really good translation can only be made when the target language is native to the translator. If you need a high quality translation from Russian into English, you should hire a native English speaker who understands Russian well.

  • We always use TMs and in many situations there are also terminology databases (glossaries). In what concerns terms, the glossary takes priority over the TM. Glossaries are often made by translators some time after the first translations for the client are done and reviewed by industry experts. For example, if our client is totally new, they cannot provide us with TM or glossary, so we translate, say, an ultrasound device manual from scratch using all the reference we can find ourselves. Then our translation is reviewed by healthcare professionals and we get the corrected Russian version and have to fix the translations in the TM. Later we may be asked to create a glossary using this approved translation. It also gets approved by the client and has to be complied with as a law later on. As we (and other translation agencies) continue working with the client, the TM grows and the glossary may also get refined.

1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ontalor
Ontalor
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Thanks so much for doing this!! I was wondering how you got started in translation? Did you get a degree, do an internship, etc.? I got my bachelor's last year in Chinese, and I'm on my second year in China finishing a master's degree in teaching Chinese as a foreign language and still working on improving my Chinese, but working in Chinese to English technical translation is one of the paths I'm most interested in pursuing.

1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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This is a good question; and the funny thing is that, by education, I'm not a linguist at all. Most of what I needed for translation I got in school that taught English really well compared with most Russian schools. I've always liked subjects like maths, chemistry, physics more than literature, history, etc., so after school I entered the university of chemistry and technology and chose the specialty of standardization and certification engineer. A year and a half passed, and after having won an English competition held for non-linguist students I thought, like: Wait, so my English is pretty good and I don't even have any paper to confirm it except for my school certificate! So I enrolled into a 2-year translators' course which was kind of a second education but not totally independent (the diploma was not valid without your major diploma). Learning there was more of practicing English and having fun rather than of getting really useful professional skills.

My company is awesome in what concerns hiring translators. They don't ask you for certificates or diplomas but just give you a few articles to translate. If you are good, you're hired as a student (you may also call it internship). First, you get a few training translations to learn using CAT software and get acquainted with basic principles of translating tech docs, working with glossaries, maintaining consistency and other things they don't usually teach in college. The main thing required is the ability to learn on your mistakes. You are taught some general principles and get reports about your mistakes. If you don't repeat the same mistakes over and over again, you're good and they start to give you real tasks, easiest and shortest ones at first. If you continue to improve, you are hired as a full-time translator.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ontalor
Ontalor
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That sounds like a very practical method that they use, I'd love to find something similar to that. Thanks for the reply!

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Nitram.
Nitram.
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Dear Olimo!

I always admired you and what you are doing here at duolingo. First of all, congratulations! :) I have only a small question that you might be able to answer. I now learn Japanese, and as we all know, the best way of learning a new language is Duolingo. But there is no Japanese course yet! Which means that my language learning is a lot more difficult (oh, and i learn Japanese by myself, without any help/tutor). I use Busuu.com which helped a lot to learn the weird alphabet(s), but that is not much yet.

I'd like to ask you about your language-acquiring methods outside of duolingo. What can I do to improve my language skills? I tried a lots of things but none of them seems to be the perfect choice. And translating articles are extremely difficult and long tasks at my level (especially because of the unknown Kanji, the characters of chinese origin that you can't read at first glance, they require research).

Thank you in advance! :)

p.s.: i'm not asking for Japanese-specific help, i'm looking for generic help, that i can use with French and Italian too... and maybe with English as well...

1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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Thanks for your kind words, Nitram :-)

Apart from Duolingo, I highly recommend Michel Thomas's audio courses. I know there is one for Japanese, although not recorded by Michel in person. These courses are amazing for learning practically all the grammar you may need with most common verbs and very limited vocabulary which you remember without memorizing. The French, German and Spanish courses are awesome, and so is Italian, I believe, as it is recorded by the master himself.

For French (the first language I began to learn by myself) I also used Busuu, podcasts (learnfrenchbypodcast.com) and a good textbook of French for Russian speakers. With German I became somewhat lazier, so I soon dropped Busuu and didn't listen to as many podcasts as I really should. (In fact, I ended by completing the Duolingo tree as quickly as I could because I got pregnant and everyday learning became a burden). With Spanish, I'm just having fun and only use Michel Thomas's courses and Duolingo. This is surely better than nothing and I can always improve my skills later with other methods.

I think that people who manage to find one perfect course are really lucky. In most cases, it is possible to choose one course as the basic one and complement it with other methods. Choose the Japanese learning method you like most and work on it every day. Use other methods for additional learning and practice. Try to read adapted texts at first; I believe you can find some books or readers for beginners or intermediate students.

1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Nitram.
Nitram.
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Thank you olimo! I will thake a look at Mr. Michel Thomas, I promise! :) Do you still use your Busuu account? I tried searching for "olimo" but neither of the results seemed to be you. Please tell me if you are still up, thanks!

Actually, what you've said about Spanish, that you only have fun with it, now i feel the same with french. I don't take French learning seriously, like Italian or Japanese, i just learn it because French is a nice language and i find it great to pronounce. :) Though I could actually speak with real Frenchmen in the past and it was an amazing experience to know most of the things he said (and only using Duolingo!)

I don't know about you, but my favourite type of learning a language is the old-stylish writing into exercise books and sheets of papers. Practicing spelling by hand, and not by reading a screen. In Japanese actually, handwriting is inevitable... I'm already writing my third exercise book in Japanese in one month! :D

Anyways, thank you again for answering. I wish you all the best (also with your baby)!

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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My Busuu account is active but I don't use this site now. Maybe I will in the future, who knows :-)

I also like to use a textbook and write in an exercise book, but this is not as addictive as Duolingo. I fail to keep a long "streak" of doing written exercises :D

Thank you for your kind words and best wishes!

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Nitram.
Nitram.
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Oh, I see. Okay, then. I use busuu only because i love its extensive amount of vocabulary (often too extensive), the writing exercise and busuutalk. The last two ones are that Duolingo should implement in my opinion. The writing exercises are excellent for practicing grammar and longer sentences, while a chat system is always useful i think.

Anyways, thanks for the help and good luck with your job! It must be a fascinating thing to do...

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FelixKatze

Nitram, do you know the HTLAL forum? It's a fantastic resource, for information and advice on learning materials/plans. Here is the link: http://www.how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/default.asp

Oh, and here is a link for a reasonably well-regarded forum on Japanese study: http://forum.koohii.com/

1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Nitram.
Nitram.
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Never heard of HTLAL, but thanks for showing it to me. I used Wordreference.com to ask anything Italian-related, and I use it now for Japanese-related things. Their forums are extremely useful too.

Oh, and that Kanji site is great! ありがとう! Thank you!

1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/espi731

I personally have a 2 year plan for learning French by attending classes for 8 semesters in a row and hopefully I'll get to an upper intermediate level by the end. It was French pop music which got me interested in the language and for a year i struggled with the lyrics and learned a thing or two. I would not drop listening to music as a learning tool.

Also doing lessons on DL helps expand my vocabulary and gives me an advantage between classmates! Like Olimo said, I've heard that Michel Thomas's courses are very good complementary lessons which I plan to use soon.

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Nitram.
Nitram.
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I've done the same with Italian: listening to music of all genre. The only thing that I cared for to be Italian. The problem is, that Japanese music is not that good as Italian. Of course there are sure people out there who love Japanese music, but i find Italian one closer to me.

It is tough to learn a language with language teachers, courses, schools, etc. but without any of these it seems to be a mission impossible for most. Now even if there were Japanese courses, teachers or schools in my vicinity I wouldn't be able to afford it, so unfortunately I'll have to study alone, by myself. I hope the Duo course will be out soon, that would be a saviour for me! :)

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Detonator678

Is there a website that you know of where you can hire translators of any language? Thanks

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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Sorry, I don't know. I have a full-time job, so I've never had to worry about hiring or being hired.

1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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Interesting, I'd just like to ask about what you think about the guidelines : http://www.duolingo.com/comment/984423. Is there anything that is completely wrong or perhaps missing?

Also, do you translate documents alone, and someone else proofreads or do you do it in groups? If it is done in groups, then how do you deal with changes, inconsistencies and so on?

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
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1. The guidelines are quite reasonable and I upvoted them long ago :-) What seems questionable to me is the rule about using active or passive voice. I don't think it is really important, the main thing is to preserve the meaning.

What I would add: Try to be as accurate as possible. Don't add any meaning that is not in the original sentence and don't drop anything that is there. This does not mean being literal because it applies to the meaning and not to grammar, syntax or exact wording.

2. If a project is small, it is translated by one person; big projects are split into parts and assigned to several translators. The inconsistencies are minimized through:

  • Following the client's instructions. For example, there may be an instruction to translate software UI items in the format of "English" (Translation) or just "English" or just "Translation" (in the latter case, a UI glossary is provided). There may be some specific instructions about parts to be kept in English.

  • Following the style guide if one is provided. Style guides define things like capitalization (for example, Russian pronoun for formal "you" and "your" can be capitalized or not depending on the client's preferences), units of measure (whether to keep the imperial units and what order of imperial and metric units to use), quotation marks, dashes, some standard translations (names of other manuals or standard sections like "Introduction", "Read Me First", etc.).

  • Following the client approved glossaries if any are provided. In an ideal situation, the glossary is linked to the TM and the terms contained in the current translation unit are shown in a popup window or terminology area with their corresponding translations. A less convenient method is using separate glossaries in Excel; in this case translators have to "feel" which words may be terms and have to be checked in the glossaries.

  • Using a translation memory (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Translation_memory). Similar sentences get matched from the TM and you only have to edit them a little. Also, there is an concordance search option; and an experienced translator usually knows what words, terms or phrases to look up in order to be consistent with the peers.

  • Not hesitating to contact your peers or raise a query if there are inconsistent translations of the same terms. Some questions may be resolved through agreement with peers or by the manager's decision, others require contacting the client.

  • Using automated check tools after the translation. They are not perfect but help to find and fix some obvious mistakes.

  • Using one reviewer for the whole document after it is translated by several translators. It is recommended that the reviewer not be one of the original translators.

There is no crowdsourcing like on Duolingo. Every translator does their own part alone. Also, for the relatively small projects, the managers normally use the same translators, for example, dental implants will go to me rather than to my coworker (if it is possible) because I have more experience in working with this project.

3
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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Thanks. I was actually wondering whether this AMA expires, and if I should post this to your stream or here. Anyway, I decided not to trouble your stream, so here's another question.

How does one deal with multi-lingual documents, with some parts in the target language and some parts with the source language?

For example, I've seen some articles consisting of English and French. Some users translated the French into English, and the English into French, while others left the English part alone. Other documents consist of explanations of the source language itself which simply would not make sense if translated.

Kind of like translating:

  • "In English the word an is used before vowels" (English)
  • "Em Ingles a palavra a é usada antes de vogais". (Portuguese)

So in the above case the sentence lost its meaning because it was fully translated, especially since "a" is a letter and not a word, and the Portuguese translation refers to a word when it should in fact refer to a letter once translated.

Any thoughts?

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
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I'm not planning for this AMA to expire and I certainly prefer questions to be posted here for everybody to read.

We don't have any of these at work, but I think you just have to apply common sense. Your task is to convey the meaning in another language, remember? And the meaning is the explanation of a piece of English grammar, not Portuguese grammar. So it would be "Em Ingles a palavra an é usada antes de vogais". Also, if the article is about English grammar and contains examples, you shouldn't just replace them with Portuguese equivalents but leave them in English (and add a translation in parenthesis if it seems reasonable).

Just imagine you are explaining English grammar to a Portuguese-speaking learner :-)

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
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Oh, I entirely agree, hence my post. Although in my experience common sense is anything but common, just look at immersion, and the strange translations people come up with.

What about the other scenario (parts of the text in English)?

I once had piece of text that was something like "French( Francais)", in which I applied my common sense and left it alone. But I've seen cases were people change that, and they would put something like Francais( French), though in truth the meaning is the same, it seems like wasted effort to me. Someone else may write French(French).

But the second scenario would be, if we have a sentence like, "She said,'L'enfant boit du lait' ", do we translate it all to English, or as I would normally do, translate it as:

  • 'She said,'L'enfant boit du lait' (the child drinks the milk)' ?
0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
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Crowd translation sucks when it comes to common sense, I'm afraid. Uploading such articles without clear instructions should be avoided. I also believe that this should be the customer's concern.

I don't quite understand your question about the sentence. If it is given to explain some point of French grammar, it should be translated as you suggested. If it is some fiction, you can just translate everything. If it is relevant, add "She said in French..."

0
4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
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Oh, I see I didn't write it clearly. For the first example, this post(1) was actually what prompted it, which confused the heck out of me.

For the second example, I meant a work of fiction.

1- http://www.duolingo.com/comment/984423$comment_id=1271511

0
4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
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In fiction, some phrases may be kept in a foreign language, but there should be a footnote or a comment about their meanings. Sometimes it is enough to translate the sentence completely and just mention somewhere that this was said in French. Fiction does not need the same level of accuracy as technical documents do. It is not a routine work for which you can be trained: you have to be a writer to a degree. Personally, I don't feel talented enough to translate fiction, and I can't regard crowd fiction translation seriously. Let people do this for their own entertainment and learning, not for producing a translation for general public.

As for grammar, I'll answer in the relevant discussion.

P.S. Please don't upvote, this will help to preserve the original order of comments.

0
4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/revdolphin
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This is very useful. I encountered a similar situation recently in translating to Spanish an English article that discussed a student's misspelling of a word, and I wasn't sure whether to provide a misspelled translation that bore the same similarities to the discussed qualities in Spanish or whether to keep the originally misspelled version even though "boll" would not have the same phonetic similarity to "bola" in Spanish as it does to "ball" in English. Since the discussion was on the phonetics of English, your comment gives me confidence that I made the right decision to keep the child's original misspelling.

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NickM98
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I'd like to study to be a translator, English-Spanish, but I don't know, I think it may get bored soon. I mean, one thing is translating things in the Immersion section or to my blogs when I'm bored. Another thing is living of that, isn't it? I'd also like to be a teacher, but I think I'm too shy as to be teaching in front of 30 teenagers xD

Well, so, my questions are, doesn't it get bored? and, this one is kind of silly perhaps, but, who's kind of your boss? Like, are there like offices of translators, companies or what, I dunno?

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
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1. I believe you may get bored at any work and it is hard to predict that for another person. How do you cope with routine tasks? There is quite a lot of routine work if you translate tech docs, you know, they are not always exciting. Some people admit they would be bored to death if made to translate cellphone manuals or booklets advertising tractors; they say they would prefer to translate fiction. Personally, I prefer tech docs because they don't require me to always have inspiration and the mood to write beautifully.

2. I can describe two types of localization companies.

  • The first type gets things to be translated from the end users. Like, you bought some equipment from abroad and the manual in your language is not available. Or, you are preparing to move to another country and have to get your papers translated into another language. The clients are end users who cannot help you in translation at all. Such translations are often done by freelancers (who have no bosses, obviously) or small translation agencies that collect papers and give them to part-time translators (almost freelancers) to translate. There are no glossaries, no translation memories, no reference of any kind except for what the translators manage to find by themselves. This is not the type of work I like.

  • The second type gets orders from manufacturers and producers of stuff. For example, a large company created a new ultrasound system which it intends to sell on all major markets. For that, they have to get the manuals translated into a lot of languages. First, they prepare an English version of the manual (if the company is mostly working in another language, they have to translate their manual into English first). Then, this manual goes to a major localization service provider like Lionbridge or Merrill Brink. There are managers dealing with the projects there who gather the instructions from the client, maintain translation memories, manage queries and so on. There are managers working with specific languages who give the actual translation task to a small company like one where I work. I believe there are such agencies for translation into Russian, Spanish, Polish, French, whatever, situated in the corresponding countries and run by native speakers of these languages. In my company, there is a boss (who is also a project manager) and one more project manager. They give tasks to translators like me, do all the correspondence with the global localization company and also do some translation/edit work themselves. We have less than 10 translators including those who work from home, and I believe there are dozens of similar companies in Russia.

This type of localization company structure is more complex. The best thing is working with manufacturers rather than end users. We don't have to rely on our best judgment but can always raise a query if we don't understand some technical details, and our translations are usually reviewed by industry experts hired by the same manufacturer. This ensures that translations are of high quality and not some random stuff produced by one translator who obviously cannot be an expert in every field.

5
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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This is an excellent thread and has been a very interesting read, its quite nice to get a glimpse in to your world, so I hope you won't find my only question too disappointing:

Know any good Russian joke sites? ;)

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
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I don't really like to read jokes en masse. The first site that came into my mind is http://bash.org.ru which was originally a site of geeky quotes and became more general afterwards.

I also love http://lurkmore.to - a wiki-type site about everything - but mostly Internet mems - written with a lot of cynicism, black humor and dirty language. However, I'm afraid that you have to be Russian to really understand the humor there.

http://www.anekdot.ru/ is, I believe, the most popular site with general anecdotes, but I never use it.

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
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I might not understand Russian, but I've always loved the dark sense of humour, at least the jokes I have read translated :)

I actually want to test a theory I'm working into my head, that humour is a strong 'glue' for forming reliable memories, and that it's also a very good motivator. I have only the weakest grasp of German, but I've managed to lose hours reading German jokes, and it was a pleasure to find myself actually enjoying reading it rather than reading dry news stories, which just make you depressed whatever language they are in...

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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LOL, I don't like news, too.

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MegaTeck

How long does it take you to learn a language in general? Like what was the quickest to learn

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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I don't exactly understand the question. Language learning never ends, this is for sure. Learning the basic grammar and vocabulary enough for reading with a dictionary can be done in two or three months if the language is more or less close to those you already know.

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LiamRowe
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Thank you for this, one quick little question from me: Where can I get a job in translating/interpreting on a not such professional level? Not conferences and courtrooms, but more casual environments. :)

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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Sorry, but I have no idea. I got hired when I was finishing my last year in university, and I have never had to look for a job since then.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mptmpt
mptmpt
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Very interesting information. The question I have for you is why did you choose to be a translator, since if I remember correctly, you have and engineering degree so I guess you would have other options as well?

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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About the middle of my studies, I realized I don't like standardization and certification at all. In Russia, education is mostly free, so quite a lot of people enter universities without any solid plans for the future. Too many end up working in a completely different field.

Also, I've never wanted to leave my town, and I'm sure I couldn't have gotten a good job as an engineer here. As a translator, I earn more (and enjoy my work!).

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/856pm

(Just for informational contrast)

In America, there are a few different levels of education. Here's an explanation:

  • Preschool, also known as Pre-K, Pre-Kindergarten, and Nursery School. This is offered by private institutions, and there is not a mandate to study it by law.

  • Elementary School, also known as Primary School, Grammar School, or Grade School, is the second stage of education. It runs from Kindergarten (Age 5) to 5th or 6th Grade (10/11 or 11/12 years old). This is free, and children are required by law to attend it.

  • Secondary School is the third stage of education. It runs from 6th/7th Grade (11/12 or 12/13 years old) to 12th Grade (17/18 years old). It is split into two parts: Middle School, also known as Junior High School, from 6th or 7th grade until 8th or 9th grade, and High School, from there until the 12th grade. This is free also. Students are required to attend until they are 16 years old. Almost all people stay in school at 16 until graduation, but some drop out.

  • College, usually called University outside America, is the fourth stage of education. It includes Freshmen (18/19 years old), Sophomores (19/20 years old), Juniors (20/21 years old), and Seniors (21/22 years old). It is not mandated to be attended and most colleges are private institutions. Some exceptional High School students are offered scholarships to Colleges.

  • Graduate School is the fifth stage of education. Not everyone attends graduate school. Certain professions (such as lawyers and doctors) require Graduate School. Graduate School can last 2 to 6 years or longer, depending on the school, the student, and the desired profession.

End Note: Most Students in Secondary School onwards are required to study a second (and sometimes third) language. Popular languages are French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Latin.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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In Russia, we have kindergartens which are not schools but just places where you can leave your child and go to work (3-6 years old, sometimes 1,5-6 years old) - these are not educational and not mandatory.

Then, school: grades 1-9 (age 7-15) are mandatory. After that, one can go to a college where they will teach you some working specialty for 3 or 4 years, or continue school for another 2 years, finish grade 11 and then go to a university for 4-6 years to get higher education.

Too many young people now choose universities because it has become too easy and mostly free. The quality of education, as a result, is falling.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/856pm

Quality of education is based on area here. Some richer places have better education because more taxpayer money is put into it. Some richer people send their kids to private school where they can receive a (sometimes superior) education. These days there's a political dispute on whether or no the government should issue free tuition to whichever school one wants to go to.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MystyrNile
MystyrNile
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What you referred to as "kindergarten", I think we usually would call a nursery or daycare, since it's non-academic.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/treiscuarenta

Hi olimo, I have a few questions; I'm interested in your story and your thoughts :)

  1. In your opinion, what was your approximate CEFR level of English when you were hired?

  2. If you were C1 in Spanish, how long would you think it would take to become a B2 or C1 level in French, Portuguese or Italian so that you could translate professionally in a second language?

  3. If you translated technical documents in Spanish and then wanted to translate technical documents in French, Portuguese or Italian, how long would you think it would take to be able to do this?

I'm sure the technical translation specialty would assist you by cutting the learning curve?

Anyway, thanks for the info!

Fintan.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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  1. I've never taken any standardized international tests in English. I was quite fluent, could discuss any topic, read without a dictionary and understand everything that was important, write on various topics, etc. Well, whatever you can expect from a person who has been learning a language for 10+ years...

  2. First, I hope you understand that translation should always be done into your native language. Second, to translate from any of the language you mention into my native language, I would need about 2 or 3 months to learn the basic grammar and vocabulary and at least a few months to practice reading in this language. Then, I believe, I would be able to translate texts into my native language with the help of a dictionary (which is never prohibited to use). I don't need any CEFR levels to translate. Nobody would care how well I speak or write in French: I'll only have to understand the French text correctly and tell the same in my native language being natural and consistent.

Personally, I don't aim at any translation directions except for English → Russian. Technical documents are mostly initially written in English and then translated to all the other languages, that is why the professional market is mostly English → other languages.

  1. I don't exactly have a technical translation specialty. My main specialty is an engineer and my secondary one a translator. So I can apply my general technical knowledge when I translate. Translation is best learned by practice, and if your employer can afford to give you some easier practice at first, you'll be fine.
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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/treiscuarenta

Hi olimo, I understand now that you had a great level of English with 10 years+. Sometimes I mention CEFR just as a guideline and estimate for my understanding. I know that one should translate into their native language, I just meant if I was trying to learn a 2nd or 3rd language but you answered my question anyway, thanks.You made a great point about having the use of dictionaries and it not being prohibited! Final 2 questions :)

  1. What about patent translations? I think there are alot of translations into English.

  2. Would a B2/C1 (understanding written text only) be good enough to consider starting a professional translator career as a freelancer? (I realise you are writing into your native language but perhaps a B2/C1 is stil not good enough and the person might waste alot of time with their lower than sufficient level?)

I'm just speculating above and have no experience so I don't know the answers here! I appreciate all your comments so far!

Fintan.

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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  1. Our company does not translate patents, so I don't know about them.

  2. To translate, you need two skills: understanding the text in a foreign language and writing in your own language really well. If B2/C1 describes the first, it is enough. Understanding everything correctly, without misunderstandings because of poor grammar skills, is a minimum requirement. The higher your level is, the faster you can read and understand - and even build target sentences in your mind as you read the source text.

I think you can start translating as a freelancer if you manage to understand your source texts without doubts in structure and grammar. At first, you will spend a lot of time on small tasks, but then you will gradually improve with practice. I guess you don't have to take urgent tasks right from the start.

In fact, I'm speculating, too, because I did not start my work at B2/C1 level ;-)

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Reply4 years ago