How to become a translator into L2?

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How to become a translator into L2?

Postby Heriotza » Sun Mar 25, 2018 8:02 pm

Hello everyone.

A friend of mine suggested to me that an easy way to make money in my country would be by providing translation services into English to some cultural institutions. These institutions usually publish manuals and other written materials that they want to have translated into English and other languages, so tourists and investigators from abroad can consult them. My mother tongue is Spanish and even though my English is presumably very good (I once passed a C1 test), I have not experience whatsoever doing translations into a L2. Do you have guys have any ideas how I can go about developing the skills to translate from Spanish (L1) to English (L2)? Any ideas regarding courses, materials or approaches I should use or follow would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
Last edited by Heriotza on Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How to become an translator to L2?

Postby tarvos » Mon Mar 26, 2018 3:09 pm

Translators rarely ever translate into a foreign language (I do, because I'm a bilingual).
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Re: How to become an translator to L2?

Postby Axon » Mon Mar 26, 2018 3:21 pm

Although it may not be common for translators to make a career out of translating into their L2s, it does happen all around the world. China is one huge example. Although people like to laugh at bad Chinese-English translations, there are some truly excellent guides and courses out there specifically for Chinese natives to learn how to produce native-like written English.

It very much depends on what you want to translate. I don't know the specifics of the cultural institution material you're talking about, but translating simple expository text is vastly simpler than translating prose. Online product descriptions are even easier and there's almost always work available somewhere, but the pay is miserable.

You will want to search for some textbooks for English native speakers translating Spanish to English. Here's one I picked at random.In addition, if you have the resources, a certificate program for translation in either direction would be a major help - and it would give you professional contacts in the field.
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Re: How to become an translator to L2?

Postby 白田龍 » Mon Mar 26, 2018 4:19 pm

You should start by accumulating a huge reading experience in a wide diversity of genres, wich probably should take a few years of intensive work to acomplish. You will probably want to live for at lest a few months in a country where you L2 is spoken, for there is a level of acquaintance with the spoken language that one cannot really get otherwise. You should also practice writing original texts.

If you do all this you could possibly be better than natives that havent really put that much work into improving their skills in their own language.
Last edited by 白田龍 on Mon Mar 26, 2018 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to become an translator to L2?

Postby mcthulhu » Mon Mar 26, 2018 4:23 pm

There was also a discussion on translating into native or non-native languages at ... ml#2712941, and it looked like most of those who responded did not translate into their non-native languages. Some even considered it unethical. On the other hand, there are definitely a number of translators who advertise themselves as bidirectional within their language pairs (presumably because they have native or near-native fluency in both).

When I was working as a professional translator, I once reluctantly agreed to translate a few documents into one of my non-native languages, only because it had to be done soon, and the agency had no one else available. It was one of the most painful jobs I ever did, and it took me a long time, because I was constantly checking, double-checking, and researching usage and technical terminology at every step. I did my best, and it should have been comprehensible, but I felt very uncomfortable with my work, and I'm pretty sure that the final product would have caused howls of laughter from a native audience. Generally that's not the response a translator hopes for...

If I'd had some prior systematic preparation and practice for translating in that direction, and if I felt I had anything like native fluency, I would have felt better about it, but I probably would still have hesitated, if only because I could translate much faster into my native language. Going in the other direction was not financially rewarding, to say the least. Maybe you would fare better, but I would also recommend a translator training program of some kind.
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Re: How to become a translator into L2?

Postby Jiwon » Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:08 pm

I do both English-Korean translations as well as Korean-English translations, and I believe it has more to do with your experience and knowledge of the written language, rather than the language being your L1 or L2.

My formative years were spent learning to write and debate in English instead of Korean. As a result, I am more comfortable reading in Korean than English, but English would be my preferred language when it comes to academic or formal writing and speaking. I have my own distinctive English writing style, which I can only try to imitate -to varying of success - when I write in Korean.

Because of this, my Korean-English translations are often of much better quality than English-Korean translations. In English, I can rock out expressions like this:
"Lyrics to this children’s song is based on the poem <Spring in my Hometown> written by Jung- Hwan Bang in 1962. The song tells the story of a person, possibly an adult, who longs to go back to his hometown of his childhood memories. The song has a special meaning to Korean diaspora worldwide, as they had to leave their motherland during 1900's, and could not return after North and South Koreas were divided. In the first verse, this arrangement brings out the plaintive melody of the original song, but soon moves onto jazz and rock-inspired rhythms to inspire modern audience."

Or this:
"This song was composed to praise William J. Schmidt, the composer’s mentor, teacher and also a friend. The lyrics are in Latin and similar to that of many Requiems, calling and praying for dead ones to rest in eternal peace. It starts with a solemn male section inspired by Gregorian chants. As the piano and female parts enter, the song blooms into a full harmony, culminating in a musical and spiritual ecstasy."

On the other hand, when I translate English to Korean, I often find myself writing in what we call "translation style". It does not sound expressive, natural or "Korean" even as I write out translations. I am slightly embarrassed to admit this, because I am supposed to be a native speaker of Korean. I still make some mistakes in English, and I learn a new expression every now an then, yet the quality of my written work in English is a lot more advanced than my work in Korean.
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Re: How to become a translator into L2?

Postby Gatsby » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:16 am

Jiwon - I commend you for your exceptional level of English. However, there are certain errors/awkward constructions in your translations that belie the fact that you are a non-native speaker.

"Lyrics to this children's song is..." should be "Lyrics to this children's song ARE ..."

"...who longs to go back to his hometown of his childhood memories..." is awkward with the repetition of "his." A native speaker would more likely say "...who longs to go back to THE hometown of his childhood memories..."

"...they had to leave their motherland during 1900's" would likely be translated by a native speaker as "...they had to leave their motherland during THE 1900's."

I'm not trying to be picky as I think you have a wonderful command of English. However, these inconsistencies highlight the reasons why most translators stick to translating into their native language.
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Re: How to become a translator into L2?

Postby Uncle Roger » Thu May 03, 2018 8:07 am

It' also a matter of supply and demand, like most business things and jobs, I guess.
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Re: How to become a translator into L2?

Postby reineke » Thu May 03, 2018 12:45 pm

"In Crime and Punishment, there is a sentence that goes like this: ‘It was a very simple matter and there was nothing complicated about it.’” Richard Pevear lets the words hang in the air, along with a note of faint bafflement. From his Paris apartment, one half of the world’s only celebrity translation team is recollecting some of the knotty, cross-lingual jumbles that he has spent his working life trying to untangle.

“I came running to Larissa”—Larissa Volokhonsky, Pevear’s wife of thirty years and collaborator on twenty-one works of Russian-to-English translation—“and said, ‘Can that be? Is that what he said?’ And she checked and said yes. ‘It was a very simple matter and there was nothing complicated about it.’” Reassured, if still skeptical, he jotted it down and moved on to Dostoyevsky’s next syntax-warping creation.

The inconspicuous passage would resurface before long, though. The translation was published and, Richard recalls, “one very eminent reviewer . . said, ‘They occasionally lapse into banalities, for instance.’ And he quotes this same sentence.” First lodged years ago, the complaint is a rare blemish on a generally worshipful public reception, perhaps tempting the duo to tidy up such repetitive, infelicitous wording. Instead, two decades and many printings later, Richard shrugs off the critic’s jibe and sticks to his guns. “But it’s unmistakable in Russian!”

“It’s very simple,” adds Larissa in her heavy Slavic accent, “so simple, I later found the same sentence in Chekhov.” ... ne-tolstoy
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Re: How to become a translator into L2?

Postby reineke » Thu May 03, 2018 1:03 pm

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"This document presents a summary of the results of a survey on translation into a non-native language, conducted in February and March 2014. The data were collected through SurveyMonkey over a ten-day period, from February 28 to March 10. More than 780 respondents completed the survey. The sample was sufficiently large to split into various subsamples according to experience, certification status, and native language in order to identify major factors and tendencies beyond overall averages." ... FkxpIXE9fr
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