Translation: Frequently Asked Questions for translators (interview en français sur la traduction)

Uploaded by irishpolyglot on 26.10.2012

Today we are in Brussels and I'm with Cristine Schmit
who translated my book to French
We will talk about the translation because
I myself used to be a translator
Two years ago, I would get asked questions that
Showed me that people don't always understand what translators really do.
I am going to ask you these questions
And I hope that we will help my readers to understand
For example, is being bilingual all you need to be able to translate?
Absolutely not, because it's knowing a language is not enough to be
able to translate it
There are a lot of people who speak two, three,
Even ten languages perfectly but are not necessarily good translators
Because translation is like any other profession, it must be learned
Also, someone who is bilingual is not necessarily a good language teacher
For example I know many languages but I know that I would be a bad language teacher.
It is not my profession, I didn't learn it
Of course knowing two languages very well is absolutely necessary to be a translator
But it is not enough. You must also be able to translate, which involves knowing techniques.
Knowing how to translate a text well so that it would be readable,
It is very important to know the right terminology of the field we translate,
We can't translate something that we don't know
For example, you were doing only technical translations,
I never accept technical translations because, for me, it's a field that I absolutely don't know
So because I don't know the field, I don't understand the text 100%,
This means that I can't make a good translation
Once I talked with a translator who translates absolutely everything; all topics, and I saw a problem with that
For example from Italian to English he translated the Word "programma",
into " programme" in English, in a French way with two 'm's
But we were talking about "program", i.e. software, so even in British English
we must write it with only one "m"
I know this very well because I used to write computer programs
You know the field. Of course it is absolutely necessary
I think someone who pretends to be an expert in financial, legal translation,
As well as technical and medical translations -- this is just not possible. We can't be an expert in all these fields.
Because it is very complicated. I specialize in legal translation,
but even within legal translation, I don't know all the areas of law
Such as the admiralty law
You must really know the field to be able to translate it
And how did you start your training in translation?
I have a degree in translation and studied translation at the University of Geneva in Switzerland,
A 4 years program. After I did a specialization in terminology.
Then I did an internship, after that, because I wanted to specialize in legal translation,
I did another degree in law, from a distance.
This example is a bit extreme.
It is not necessarily to have training in translation and training in another field.
But for sure it is an advantage.
Having a degree in translation and a degree in law, helps me to get more clients.
For example a lawyer who needs a translation
will prioritize someone who has a law degree.
They will say she is well informed about the field and will not write anything inaccurate.
I didn't have any problems finding clients, although I never got trained in translation.
But I did really work as an electronic engineer
I worked in Italy in an internship as a translator and they taught me how it works
I kept improving over five months, and learned many things
For example I don't know if you use CAT software
Yes, Trados also
There are maybe three or four programs that help us to translate.
And they are not automatic translation software
A free version is OmegaT that is open-source software
There is also Wordfast, and the most expensive one is Trados
And it is very useful, because when there is a recurring words in the text,
The software helps us to see them and find the associated words
Sometimes I spend an hour to find a translation elsewhere, but the software helps me after that
It depends. In more technical subjects, it is more important.
But if we translate novels, it is useless.
I find it very useful for searching legal translations
for example to find matches.
For example, I can look for a word or a sentence and see how I already translated this word before
for example what verb goes with which noun or how I translated this word
Sometimes I have to translate something and I know that I've already done it before.
I know that I already translated it but I don't know how I translated it
So we can easily find what we have done
An espresso and a cappuccino
Changing the subject a little bit, people always asked me do we really need translators?
Because Google translate, can translate almost all languages
And it gets better everyday so maybe in few years
Maybe there will be no need for professional translators. What do you think?
I think that we will always need a professional translator
And especially in specialized fields. For example in my field of legal translation,
I don't think that a lot of people would sign an agreement that has been translated by Google translate
And for the medical translation and all the important fields, also for publication, and literary translations, Google is not able to do it.
It also depends on the languages. Because Chinese or Japanese is more complicated than
Europeans languages, which are much closer.
We already see it in German with the verb at the end which makes for strange sentence structure compared to French or English
If we see a bad translation, for example instructions manuals that come from China, sometimes, well at least in English, it can be
strange and we think that translators are generally not good
In fact, when we read a good translation, we don't know that it's translation!
That's what we always say. How do we recognize a good translation?
It's when we don't know that is a translation. Google will never be able to do this.
Google allows us to understand a text. For example if a company received a letter
They only need to know the content, not with a perfect translation.
So for this kind of thing, it's passable.
Usually for this kind of thing, no one will use a professional translator anyway.
So the work that professional translators do is where it's needed to be translated well without mistakes,
Very clear and most of the time, these are texts for publication, websites,
books, brochures where mistakes are not allowed
Or using Google translate that gives sometimes funny results
that makes a bad advertisement for the company.
I already wrote on this topic of iPhone and Android software
and the problem is if we don't understand other languages, we don't understand how translation works
It can be useful
I also use Google translate,
When I start to learn a language, but my goal is to understand more or less
It may help, by having an idea of the content, a sentence in a language that I don't understand at all.
On the other hand, if you need to translate a document that you will publish, the quality is different.
Let's say someone learned a new language, and he speaks it fluently
What advice can you give him if he or she wants to be translator?
Getting an internship in a translation company like you did is a very good idea.
Because the most important is practice, you must translate. We learn while translating
The more we translate, the more we learn. Because in the translation school,
there are theoretical courses but the most important are the practical courses
Obviously it's not enough to know a little of the language, you must know the language very well
It will not do if I say I more or less know a little bit Spanish
and I took a summer course ten years ago, no!
I will say a high level
After the internship, I found my clients on
and I started with a very low price and after a year, I increased it by 20%
We can also translate for free or for a very low price
Not very low, of course at the beginning it is quite rare to find clients
that are ready to pay the same price as a translator who has 20 years of experience.
But it has to be a professional rate.
No need to break the market because all the others translator will get affected
because the rates tend to decrease
The rates also change between topics.
For example, a translator of novels I know had a per-word rate 3 or 4 times higher than mine.
But I earned more per hour. It also depends on the speed at which you work.
And also there's the specialization that plays a role, because when you work in fields that you know very well,
you can translate way faster than
if you translate in a field that you don't know very well and that you need to spend time researching terminology
So you waste a lot of time.
Therefore specialization is also a better financial decision.
This has been very interesting, thank you very much. We can find you on your website...
Yes I have a website. A new one that I put online recently
Very good, thank you Christine. And if we have other questions, we can put them in the comments.