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Translation/Technical Writing Jobs...

Work Permits, Employment Qualifications, Employer Problems
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Translation/Technical Writing Jobs...

Postby lady_skywalker » 07 Oct 2005, 18:18

While I'm willing to give the 'teaching English' thing a shot, I'm more interested in pursuing some sort of job in translation or technical writing while in Taiwan.

I don't have any real experience, having only done translation on a more casual basis and as a part of various university assignments so I'm not sure this would be an advantage for me. I did several years of Mandarin Chinese study at university and while my spoken Chinese sometimes leaves a bit to be desired, my reading comprehension is not too shabby (especially with the aid of a good dictionary).

Anyway, I was wondering whether or not jobs in translating from Chinese to English are hard to come by in Xinzhu or Taiwan as a whole. I've considered contacting companies at the Science Park here for possible positions but I haven't really specialised in technical terminology... :(
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Postby Feiren » 07 Oct 2005, 20:18

Find the FANYI-L list. And look for posts by Ironlady on this forum. She has some good insight.
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Postby ironlady » 07 Oct 2005, 22:22

They are not available for the most part.

Taiwan makes it extremely difficult to work as a translator if you are a foreigner. There are a very few visa-granting positions available for translators -- mostly law offices, and in most cases "editing" more than translation, although I know of one office that has a genuine translation division and puts out excellent work and pays living wages to their translators.

Remember that in Taiwan, the criterion for getting work permit approval is, "Could a Taiwanese national do this job?" Now, obviously, for high-quality translation from Chinese into English, the answer is YES for this. :twisted: Even though bad English is a leading cause of ridicule for organizations and government agencies trying to raise their international image, still the Taiwanese cling to the "chabuduo" mentality in this regard. They can't sense the difference between good English and ludicrous English, therefore there is none. :eek: :noway: (Check out the "What T-shirt would you like to see" thread for related ranting.)

You might be able to find a position, but to be honest, I think you would have to "pay your dues" in Taiwan for a few years first before you had the kind of connections that would allow you to get in somewhere. The exception would be if you were already an experienced professional translator, but even then it would be tough. Connections count for an awful lot. Either that or being willing to work as an "editor", cleaning up the dross non-native-translators leave behind.

And take FANYI-L with a grain of salt...there is a guy on there calling himself a professional translator who asks questions about what individual characters taught in second-year Chinese mean. Just for example. :twisted:
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Postby Feiren » 08 Oct 2005, 11:01

I confess to not having read FANYI-L for, ahem, some years now. I would also add that now that there are more Adogas here who speak good Mandarin, the number of translators seems to be increasing, an unwelcome development that is holding down wages much as it does in teaching. Ironlady is absolutely right about most Taiwanese clients not being able to tell the difference. You need to be producing content for native speakers, and native speakers are likely to prefer that the work be done in English in the first place. This not only cuts out the need for a translator but also usually results in a better piece of work in the first place.

I would recommend that you learn some other professional skill like law or accounting and combine that with your Chinese. I think you will be happier in the long run.
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