Do You Need To Be A Specialised Translator To Succeed?
I see a lot of people on translators’ forums like Proz.com asking if it is really necessary to be a specialised translator to be a good translator, and how to choose the right areas of expertise.
In this article I will try to answer the first question presented – while in this article we analyse how to choose your specialisation.
To answer the question “Is it necessary to specialise?” we must first consider another question: what are the most important skills a translator should have?
I would definitely say linguistic skills are of the utmost importance.
Nevertheless, I believe that other skills a good translator should have are knowledge and comprehension of the subject he translates into.
A translator in the medical field is not expected to have a masters nor a degree in medicine. But for sure he has to know how the human body works and what’s the name of each disease in his language. I can’t imagine the possible errors that could occur here!
There are hundreds of possible translation fields, and each one has its own specific terminology and references that we might not know. So how can we be sure we understand every text we want to translate, from legal to medical, from automotive to philosophy?
Well, we have two choices:
- 1 > we could do preliminary research every time we don’t have enough knowledge of the subject, to fill in our knowledge gaps
- 2 > we could specialise in two, three or four subjects and increase our specific knowledge over the years, then focus solely on these ones.
Since I believe in balance, I suggest a mix of the two:
- – you build your identity as a professional. It’s much easier to market yourself as freelancer if you have something specific to show
- – if you work with translation memories and CAT tools, you can build your own translation memory – specific to your areas of expertise, and month after month your work will become faster.
In this article you will find some tips on how to choose your areas of expertise. This will allow you to follow your interests while pursuing and finding work.