Thursday, October 12, 2006

Foundations of Translation - Lesson 2

(These are the notes for a course on Foundations of Translation I am teaching at the University College of the University of Denver. I'll be publishing the notes for the various lessons during the next few weeks. A short description of the course can be found here).

Jobs for translators


Good place to start

  • Acquires skills while mentored by more experienced colleagues
  • May accrue considerable experience in one (or more) specialistic
  • At the beginning of one's career, better pay, and better benefits

Needs to be a team player

  • Work well with other people
  • Able to compromise
  • Realize the end product is the team's translation, not an
    individual one

Danger of growing stale

(Not several years of experience, but one year of experience several times over - which is true of other professions, of course)

Free-lance translator

More experience needed

(although many translators start here, with no experience), and needs to be a self-starter

Translation agencies
  • Wide range of different companies, from concerns where only a very few people work (or even just the principal), through large international companies like SDL or Lionbridge
  • Some companies try to be everything for every customer, other specialize in many different ways
  • Example: our company specializes in providing higher quality services to other translation companies

    See pages 28-30 of "How To Succeed as A Freelance translator"
Direct customers
  • Private individuals (certificates, other documents, usually for consular or similar purposes)
  • Businesses
    • Software companies
    • Law offices
    • Manufacturing companies
    • Etc.

  • Public administration
    • Court system
    • Federal authorities (e.g., Department of State)

    See page 31 of "How To Succeed as A Freelance translator"
Translation rates
How to set one's rates
Various ways of setting one's rates
  • Know what one's overhead is
  • Determine what income one desires
  • See what the market will bear
  • Higher rates for more specialized work
  • Higher rates for higher-quality work (but not everybody really wants that)
See pages 33 and also Chapter 4 of "How To Succeed as A Freelance translator"
Useful links and material about translation rates

Translation editor

  • Task often given to inexperienced translators, should instead be reserved for experienced ones
  • Not every good translator has the skills or mindset for translation editing

Translation project manager

  • Organization
  • Contacts with customers
  • Contacts with vendors
  • Work may be very different in different organizations

Looking for a job as translator

Translation associations, communities and resources

Translation associations

  • Local organizations
    • ATA
      Translation certifications (Usefulness of)
    • CTA

  • Other national and international organizations
    • FIT
      Organization of translation association
    • Organizations in the various foreign countries
      • AITI (Italy)
      • etc.

Translation communities

Payment practice lists

(sites and lists where translators can check on the reputation and payment practices of translation companies)

Translation work

Work management

  • Marketing
  • Time management
  • Project management
    • Recording projects
    • Doing the work
    • Delivery
    • Software for project management
      • Translation Office 3000
      • Ad-hoc software
  • Accounting
    • Receiving orders
      • Purchase orders
      • Contracts
      • Other systems (both more informal or formal)
    • Invoicing
    • Payment reminders
    • Payment collection

Translation workflow

  • SL writing
  • Translation
  • Editing
  • Proofing
  • QA

Assignments for next class

  • Assignment: find a text that you'll translate as part of your Test for
    Class 3 (max 250 words).
    • Select business or technical article to translate (will be translated after 3rd class)
    • Indicate list of reference materials you intend to use to translate the text
    • Write down what difficulties you expect to encounter in translating this materials
    • Have this material ready before 3rd class, but do NOT yet translate the text
  • Assignment: read chapter in "Becoming a Translator" about Learning

Notes from the previous lessons in this course:
Foundations of Translation - Course Description
Foundations of Translation - Lesson 1: Difference between translation and interpreting


  1. Hello Riccardo,

    I've been following your blog for some time now and couldn't help but laugh out loud at

    (Not several years of experience, but one year of experience several times over ...)

    because it's SO TRUE, speaking from personal experience.

    You may have guessed already that I am also a translator, and found your blog via (I'm not revealing my identity though) :)

    Interesting blog with really useful tips.

  2. Hi Moria:

    I can't claim any particular insight for the "one year of experience several times over": books about programming and software project management have been talking about this and similar problems for many years.

    I find that translation management and software development management have many things in common.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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