Wanting to be a translator

June 05, 2011, 08:31 PM posted in General Discussion

I am currently an elementary chinesepod listener; I want to go all the way though and even become a translator one day - from Mandarin to English

My wife is chinese so I hope to practice a lot with her

How long do people think it would take me to get good enough to be a translator?  I currently practice for up to 3 hours a day to try and improve

Thanks Matthew

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June 05, 2011, 11:05 PM

I think it will take a few years.  So, don't quit your day job to be a translator, just yet.

A few years back Cpod had a lesson (UI?) on translators.  There are different kinds of translation.  The people who do simultanious translation are pretty special, my guess is that if you didn't grow up bilingual, you probably won't get there in this life.  Conversely, a couple weeks ago one of the BST shows focused on mis-translated public signage in China.  So, maybe, after three or four years study you can beat the guys who do that translation out of a job.

My impression is that native English speakers who know enough Chinese do some translation are a rarer than the other way around.  So, you may have some advantages on that basis, but I also think a lot of Chinese companies aren't able to pay for good quality translation.

I've never worked as a translator.  So, I'm speculating, but I didn't see any other responses.

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June 06, 2011, 03:07 AM

This is an exciting goal - go for it! You should look up the various courses and certifications that are available where you live. You can train and qualify at various levels.  

Last year I was with an interpreter for a couple of days when he 'guided' some visiting performers on a tour of China; it was so interesting. When going from English to Chinese he took a lot of short-cuts (and he is Chinese.) It's very, very hard work. Sometimes he barely understood anything of what the English-speakers said (I could hardly understand them myself) - but he always came up with something at the Chinese end. :)  

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"go for it!"

...those were my thoughts exactly. If you have a passion and a goal then why not?