How do I get started in Chinese to English Translation?

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How do I get started in Chinese to English Translation?

Postby Milkybar_Kid » 18 Jun 2012, 22:39

Hi,

I want to make a start on doing Chinese to English translation. However I am not looking for a full time job doing this.

What I want to find is some sort of case-by-case basis where I can pick and choose my jobs. Is there a website for this sort of thing?

Are there any web-based forums for professional translators? I have not taken any courses and have no formal translation experience so this is just a case of dipping my toe in the water.

Thanks
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Re: How do I get started in Chinese to English Translation?

Postby ironlady » 18 Jun 2012, 23:21

And you believe you're ready to be a professional translator because....??

Please don't misunderstand -- this is nothing against you personally. I don't know you and I know nothing about your level of Chinese other than a few posts here, which I don't necessarily recall specifically. But the wording of your post doesn't really exude reasons to use your services as a translator.

If you'd like to "dip your toe" by working for US$0.02 per word or less (in which case I suggest you move to India at the same time), you could establish a profile on Pro$.com (oh, that $ should be a "Z", I guess...force of habit). It's a famous reverse-auction site where those wishing to hire translators pit them against each other for lower rates. They'll also try to suck US$120 or so out of you for the privilege of getting job posts when they are posted, rather than 12 hours later, at which time they're mostly already closed.

I'm sure there are plenty of buxibans and companies in Taiwan who would be happy to have a free translator, or one who'll work for peanuts. As for the decently paid jobs -- they generally don't come off web sites. As an English-A in Taiwan, if you're good, you could build up a fairly good network within a couple of years. But be advised -- my friends in Taiwan who are in that position, and have been for 20 years, are complaining about there being less and less work, even from established, long-time clients. The translation industry is changing radically, and not for the better from the perspective of the freelance English A, Chinese B practitioner.

As for fora -- the two main ones are the ones on the $ite mentioned above and on translators cafe.com I no longer frequent either of them -- sounds arrogant of me, but there were just so many newbies asking the same things over and over and over that it got old. In particular, the quality issues on Pro$.com are astounding in their "terminology help" section, with the unqualified and inexperienced answering questions out of their native languages and then voting for each others' answers to be "correct". Use with caution.
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Re: How do I get started in Chinese to English Translation?

Postby archylgp » 18 Jun 2012, 23:40

Milkybar_Kid wrote:Hi,

I want to make a start on doing Chinese to English translation. However I am not looking for a full time job doing this.

What I want to find is some sort of case-by-case basis where I can pick and choose my jobs. Is there a website for this sort of thing?

Are there any web-based forums for professional translators? I have not taken any courses and have no formal translation experience so this is just a case of dipping my toe in the water.

Thanks


Yeah. Don't use internet forums for actual translation help. There are a lot of "know it all-s" who will tell you things like 比較好 should be translated as 'comparatively better' and other foolish things. They will even go as far as writing lengthy paragraphs of quasi-linguistic theory to back up their claims, even if it's not really relative, without directly addressing the issue at hand...anyways,... Find some native speakers you can call upon when in a crunch. You will need to be able to understand their explanation in Chinese (and phrase the question properly in Chinese), but if you can't do that, I would keep studying a bit more before taking on translation work - it'll just be a headache. Try google translate first when you have a problem sentence: the translation will be awful (and maybe wrong) but it might give just enough for you to "break" the sentence so to speak... The internet has definitely made the field highly accessible -- that is, taken most of the skill out of the work. (Old timers (pre-internet) must of been pretty good.) and thus it's hard to make decent money, but people do, including members of this site. I would just sign up at a translation agency here.
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Re: How do I get started in Chinese to English Translation?

Postby tsukinodeynatsu » 18 Jun 2012, 23:58

:2cents: Grammar is more important than a large vocabulary. Some extensive google-fu will help you find equivalents to even the trickiest word, but if you don't know what it means in the sentence, you're screwed.

I think I have a skype link for a translation agency, though I didn't end up working with them (didn't have the time, and now I don't do Taiwan). What I've heard about the domestic agency correlates with was ironlady says, though: it's not a very good market.
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Re: How do I get started in Chinese to English Translation?

Postby Milkybar_Kid » 19 Jun 2012, 06:59

Thanks for all of the posts.

I think that it is in my best interest to retreat from the idea, study more and then approach this at a later date.
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Re: How do I get started in Chinese to English Translation?

Postby ironlady » 19 Jun 2012, 09:55

archylgp wrote:Old timers (pre-internet) must of been pretty good.


Nope, but I did cultivate the acquaintance of a good many waiters in Chinese restaurants, most of whom were conveniently graduate students in theoretical physics or chemistry or whatever moonlighting to make tuition money. :D
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Re: How do I get started in Chinese to English Translation?

Postby aphasiac » 19 Jun 2012, 13:40

The best way to "dip your toe in the water" for translation is to do some fan-subbing. Find some Taiwanese media you like (comics, dramas, variety shows), translate and share your work for the online community to enjoy, either on the dedicated Asian TV sites or youtube (it has a subtitle option now).

You won't get paid, but it'll give you pressure-free first experience, something to put on your CV and as long as you like what you're translating, it shouldn't even feel like work. In the Japanese language community, this is how many of the freelance translators start out.
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Re: How do I get started in Chinese to English Translation?

Postby photi » 22 Jun 2012, 14:14

All of the other posters have great suggestions, but if you have any interest in translation and feel "ready", I would suggest that you start translating things now (not for money) to see if you like it, to see if you have the patience for it, and, as a result, you can build up a portfolio. Fansubs are a great suggestion. Another suggestion I have is to translate Chinese articles, short stories, etc. that you like and share them with your family and friends. That way you can decide if it really is the career path that you want to follow. I thought I would enjoy it, and I worked in translation part-time for about a year, but later I decided I wanted something else. That's the only way I was going to be certain.
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