I just finished and submitted my first “real”, “paid” professional translation job. It consisted of approximately 200 words and paid a whopping six dollars, but, hey, we all have to start somewhere.
I have always wanted to break into German-to-English translation work on a part-time basis. A few years ago, I began to translate for friends — blogposts, the occasional opera review for inclusion on professional homepages — as well as for my own postings here. I felt I had a natural ability with the English language, and was interested in seeing if that ability could be developed into a way to earn some pocket money. A freelancer’s career in music means that there are some insanely busy times, and some dead times. Doing something else during those dead times would be a great way to keep me in groceries, and off social media.
I began to browse the online translation platforms to see what they are all about. As with nearly every profession these days, companies looking to save money can outsource to an army of young, broke freelancers, and it seems that some of these sites cater to that kind of translator. One of these places has basic translation tests that you must take before you can click on any offered jobs, and so, lacking any resume to speak of, I started there. Luckily I passed everything. Armed with nothing but confidence, I began to build a profile at a respected translation jobs platform.
Well. Translation work online is not what I’d expected. While I was thinking of content and sensitivity to meaning, from news articles to books, a great amount of the part-time jobs offered today involve advertizing, corporate releases, and texts involving legal, technical, or medical expertise. Where my learning-by-doing involved a couple of word processing windows, side by side, with my browser open to the Leo and Linguee online lexicons and – on rare occasion – Google Translate, professional translators are using computer assisted translation (CAT) tools. These software applications line up the corresponding text passages, supply and save glossaries (sometimes provided by the company, so that multiple translators working from different parts of the globe will all use the same terminology), check your spelling, keep any formatting found in the original, and simplify the submission and review processes.
Am I beginning to sound like a corporate manual? I have been learning a lot in the past two weeks.