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Translation as a Profession ...

Il Mestiere del Traduttore

Domenica Grangiotti
Freelance technical translator

Who is a translator?

A translator transfers written text from a source language into the target language while maintaining the authors intent. An interpreter transfers oral speech from a source language into a target language while maintaining the speakers intent.

Who is a translator? Job profiles

A professional translator can work:  In-house vs. as a freelancer  On technical vs. literary texts  Other specializations are: localization, terminology
management, project management, software development


is both a necessity (cultural differences) and a marketing strategy: Brand Names & Software need to be localised.

e.g. Crayola: Flesh=> Peach; Indian red => Chestnut Italia 90 => Ciao McDonalds menu (Mozzarillo) Shell (currency)

Follow the advice of an expert Alessandra Muzzi:


Project management

Means more than just translating: If you work as a PM in an agency, you walk through all the steps of the translation process: contact with a customer quotation outsourcing the job to a translator proofreading/ editing delivering the final text invoicing follow-up Is very helpful to get a first-hand insight of the translation industry

Who is a translator?

Gianni Davico Lindustria della traduzione Realt e prospettive del mercato italiano


10-15.000 traduttori in Italia e 600-800 agenzie La professione misconosciuta, un secondo lavoro per chi sa le lingue vedi la Canalis che interpreta DeNiro al Festival! Salvo eccezioni, non si diventa ricchi! (in denaro) Il settore relativamente nuovo (1927 Conferenza internazionale del lavoro- Ginevra)

Why become a translator?

A job that becomes a way of life:

Watching TV: the new Giulietta commercial  Going to the cinema: The Kings Speech  Meeting new friends: Clinical statistics is a fascinating subject!

How to become a translator?

1) Proficiency in source language(s):

Get a certification (e.g. CPE etc) Translate into your MOTHER TONGUE only! Use reliable sources specific for the subject!

2) In-depth knowledge of target language:


3) Excellent writing skills Whos your audience? 4) Specialize choose something you like! 5) Become computer-savvy

Exploit technology to your advantage! e.g. Skype


A technical translator ?
di aiuto: brochure pubblicitaria di una ditta americana che produce feeders, print stations, die cut accuracy systems, harmonic registers, ecc. e parti di ricambio per unit alimentatrici (feeders). Titolo: Get behind the wheel Testo: *Wheel treads* by any other name (and color) are just not the same. It's hard to ignore the super performance... Make your feeder purr.... non stiamo parlando di cerchioni o battistrada, ma di ingranaggi/componenti di macchinari. Chiave per la comprensione: Gioco di parole automobilistico tra get behind the wheel, "wheel treads" e "purr".... Cambia il tuo stile di guida Questi ingranaggi dalla sagoma e dal colore speciali fanno andare in estasi il feeder, che si mette a rombare (pardom, fare le fusa) come una Ferrari sulla pista....

A technical translator ?


On the seal of a US Notary Public: My comm. exp. 11/1/2015 Australia: Community nurse; UPS: Uninterrupted Power Supply PPE => DPI ?! What are these? Avoid translatorese: Refer to: Fare
riferimento a vs. Vedi in Italian. See also:

A literary translator ?

is not easier than translating technical subjects, whatever you might think! involves a deep knowledge of the cultural background

C' questo poliziotto americano che fa un brindisi in onore di un collega di origini irlandesi che va in pensione. Dice: "He was as stubborn a mic as ever stumbled out of the Northeast parishes to take a patrolman's shield" Fermo restando che "mic" lo slang per "irlandese"... a cosa fa riferimento di preciso la frase del personaggio? Soluzione possibile: caparbio come pu esserlo un irlandese sbucato dalle contee del nordest per portare il distintivo di poliziotto di ronda. (parish in Louisiana al posto di county) Poi continua e ad un certo punto dice if I may quote Shakespeare, "No traveler has ever returned La citazione di Shakespeare e' tratta dall'Amleto e la terra da cui nessun viaggiatore ritorna e' l'Aldil: That undiscovered country from whose bourn 11 no traveler returns. (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1)

A technical translator ?

Choose a genre: noir, fantasy, childrens stories, romance ... and also essays. Learn the rules: how to deal with publishing companies, copyright, contracts You need all the help you can get : Last but not least rates are lower than for technical translations.
12 & Sindacato Nazionale Scrittori

Language combinations
AITI Survey - 2007


A translators SKILLS Specialization AITI Survey 2007


A translators SKILLS Specialization AITI Survey 2007


How to become a translator?


Formal training (University education is not enough!) Computer literacy Experience in a specific sector A thirst for knowledge continuing education Enthusiasm

AITI Survey - 2007

University Education

No University degree

Degree in Languages

Degree in Translation & Interpretation

Other degree


How does a translator work?

The Process of Translation




Terminology research Subject matter research


Sentence structure Readability

Check spelling, grammar, tables, charts, graphs Completeness


How does a translator work?

The final translation will be:  Accurate in meaning See: Maria Antonietta Ferros Vademecum del  Grammatically correct Traduttore Giurato  Stylistically effective index.shtm If requested:  Formatted (DTP - desktop publishing)  Certified (asseverata) Be professional. Add value to your translation!

How does a translator work? RESOURCES


Dictionaries (printed & on CD) Specialized glossaries



IATE <> Internet (search engines Google) Specific reference material supplied by customers Remember: Resources COST!

How does a translator work? TOOLS


Office suite Adobe Acrobat Professional OCR Software (& a good scanner) CAT Tools Dictation software: Dragon Naturally Speaking Automatic reading software: Readme


Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) - Machine Translation

MT (Babelfish and the like) will never replace human translators... BUT... Google Translate:

EN: TWO YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY. For a period of 24 Months from the date of purchase, if this product is determined to be defective, XXX will repair or replace the product, at its option, at no charge.  IT: DUE ANNI DI GARANZIA LIMITATA. Per un periodo di 24 mesi dalla data di acquisto, se questo prodotto determinata a essere difettoso, XXX provveder a riparare o sostituire il prodotto, a sua discrezione, senza alcun costo. In spite of the mistakes, this is definitely good enough for gist translation.

What about Google Conversation Mode?


Computer-Aided Translation (CAT)


Transit, Trados, dj vu, SDLX, Wordfast ... For an overview see:; OmegaT is Open

< omegat.html>


consistently and well written electronic files repetitive content and/or developed glossary OR job that will be updated

agencies ask for CAT discounts The EU is moving in this direction: See Una mini-guida su come scaricare e utilizzare la TM del corpus legislativo dell'Unione Europea.


Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) AITI Survey -2007

% of translators using CAT tools


Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) AITI Survey - 2007

Most widely used CAT tools


From theory to practice Where?





Working In-House PROs & CONs


Steady income Work for private companies, Government institutions, the EU Exposure to all aspects of translation industry Gain subject area knowledge and translation experience

Fixed timetable no flexibility Office duties


Working as a Freelancer PROs & CONs


Motivation Flexibility & opportunity for income growth Variety of customers and working fields (marketing strategy & customer retention are key issues) Offer additional services (traduzioni asseverate) Home office & equipment professional tools


No steady income, no guaranteed salary Highly competitive, globalized market 24/7 availability Management costs

Be 100% Professional & Reliable!


How to find work as a freelancer


Prepare a professionally-looking CV Create your own website Choose your customers


Translation agencies Direct customers

Exploit the Internet: and many others . (free and for a fee)

Pro bono work


Why become a translator?

Translating in a time of crisis is it workable? Forget the romantic notion of a translator working from home, with her pyjamas on and a cup of coffee or tea in front of her monitor!! Be prepared to fight in a global market

Why become a translator? The translation market today


Technical translation:

The Report on Publishing Industry in Italy 2010 (Rapporto sullo stato delleditoria in Italia 2010) prepared by AIE (Associazione Italiana Editori) states that the amount of translated works compared to the total is progressively reducing: in 2008 translated titles were 10,046 (20,1% of the total), in 2007 they were 24,9%.


This market is in constant growth thanks to global connections in very different fields. Some fields are worth mentioning: IT & software marketing & advertising economy & finance industry & manufacturing medical & pharmaceutical documents.


Why become a translator?


What about machine translation? Will it affect the market? YES BUT: Quality will always be a key issue in some fields

Patents & Scientific papers (huge budgets!) Localization is a necessity in the global market Revision/ editing of machine-translated documents
=> a new opportunity!

From theory to practice: A translators RATES

A translators work is billed:


What about editing?


By the word (source or target?) By the line By the page (cartella) By the job By the hour

Simon Turner

Very interesting article: Come stabilire le proprie tariffe (How to establish ones own rates)
See also:

Cartella letteraria: 2000 caratteri  Cartella tecnica: 1500 caratteri Spazi inclusi ifyoudonotwanttopayforspacesbecausetheyar euseless Well, I wont use them!  Based on source word count (to make your quotation realistic)

How many cartelle in one hour?


From theory to practice: A translators RATES

How much can I earn?
Rates depend on:  Language combination  Specialization  Type of customer/ text  Deadline/ urgency  Volume (productivity)  Marketing skills  NB: CAT tools!
Set a MINIMUM rate and never go below!! Think about all your expenses: -Taxes & pension contribution -Office costs -Training courses -Holidays You dont work 365 days a year!

Rates in vs. Language combinations vs. Customer

AITI Survey - 2007


From theory to practice: How do I get paid?

Learn how to write an invoice properly! Seek the help of a reliable consultant


Open a bank account (on-line, for easier checking) Open a Paypal account (or similar) Check agency reputation on:

The checklist Payment practices



Italian Translators Associations:


AITI (Associazione Italiana Traduttori Interpreti): ANITI (Associazione Nazionale Italiana Traduttori Interpreti): ATA (American Translators Association): IoL (Chartered Institute of Linguistics): SFT (Socit Franaise des Traducteurs):

International Translators Associations :


Choose one in a country relevant to your language combinations.

Many of these require that you pass an exam.



Mailing Lists:

Langit (technical translators from/into Italian): Biblit (literary translators from/into Italian): Facebook ...

Professional organizations in your specialty(ies)


A translators life: What I cannot do without


Langit & colleagues Internet for terminology & networking Paper dictionaries browsing a books pages feels different! Passion for the job, for languages, for words and the awareness that tomorrow Ill discover something new to learn & translate!


Thanks to:

ATA American Translators Association


- whose

material Ive used extensively to prepare this document;

AITI Associazione Italiana Traduttori e Interpreti

survey (2007) I reported in this document;

Colleagues:  Simon Turner  Alessandra Muzzi  Roberto Crivello  Maria Antonietta Ferro -  Gianni Davico -
whose websites are gold mines of invaluable information.