Evolution is in all fields, including translation

Being a teacher, translator or creative writer in a language that you enjoy using on a daily basis has a wide range of advantages of all kinds. Some of them are related to the equipment or aids you are likely to need along the way and others envisage your own life style.

Being a teacher, translator or creative writer in a language that you enjoy using on a daily basis has a wide range of advantages of all kinds. Some of them are related to the equipment or aids you are likely to need along the way and others envisage your own life style.

The old days when translators had a heavy typewriter to use and consequently had to group the pieces of their work and personally hand them in or post to the client are long gone. Nowadays we can work for clients based thousands of miles away and no one will ever complain about the distance (either as a tutor – online lessons are becoming more and more popular –, or translator). The Internet provides instant communication and the quickest way to send files and receive payment as well. Once you have learnt to use a computer proficiently, which is one of the most important 21st century skills, and have got a qualification in the field, you will be spared a series of unnecessary ‘moves’ and a great deal of time which you can spend for yourself in any way you find agreeable.

Employee or freelancer?

It is true that there are many professional translators who work in the offices of companies worldwide and are quite happy to do that. Most teachers are probably happy working in a school. They are surrounded by a team of like-minded co-workers and enjoy leaving their home every morning in order to be part of such a nice work environment. Yet, there are freelancers who would rather keep within the warmth of their home and, instead of being at someone else’s beck and call, prefer to ‘manage’ their working time by themselves.

Astrologers claim that the moment or the time of day when you were born can influence the kind of person you will become (not something I believe in, although I am pretty efficient in the evening, which coincides with when I was born). Some people are more energetic in the morning, while others work far more efficiently in the afternoon or even at night when the noise of the city has died out. Unlike translators working for a company or teachers working in schools, freelancers can devise their own schedule according to their energetic levels and thus increase their efficiency while decreasing the amount of time wasted on a project for lack of concentration or tiredness.

Have a break, have a cup of tea (or whatever you fancy)

Sitting at a desk for hours every day is a perfect example of sedentary life. There are, of course, several breaks you can take during the day at your office but some employees often skip one or two only to prove to the management how diligent they can be, or to meet a tight deadline for a last-minute assignment. When you freelance from home, you are unlikely to be bothered with extra work so you can meet the deadlines at your own pace, drink as many cups of tea as you wish and leave your computer chair as often as you find it appropriate.

Consequently, the only thing you need to prove is the expected quality of the ‘final product’ of your language expertise and your ability to send in your file by the previously agreed-upon deadline. How many breaks you will take to unwind or whatever physical exercise you need to do to maintain your physical health is nobody’s business, as long as you complete what is needed in due time.


Offline and online resources

You may say that working independently does not always ensure access to the best resources available for translators; such software is known to be rather expensive such as the expensive Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, but the investment can pay off, as they help increase productivity.

Similarly, there are plenty of resources available for teachers and tutors, and even if they are not free, they do save a lot of time. On top of that there are a multitude of other free tools that can really help translators (and freelancers in general) do their job. Besides, who hasn’t got a nice reliable collection of books and dictionaries at home which they can browse whenever necessary? There are translators who would not give theirs away for all the tea in China and are also in the habit of purchasing new stuff as it comes out on the market. Moreover, these resources come in handy even when the Internet connection fails (it can happen).

A desktop or laptop that you feel comfortable to work on, reliable translation software, a good Internet connection, handy glossaries, backed up by a heap of familiar books and dictionaries that you trust and a nice cuppa close at hand should be everything a third-millennium freelance linguist needs.

Photos via unsplash (1) (2) and patrickhashley via flickr

You’ve been reading a guest post by Alina Cincan

Kerstin Hammes

Alina Cincan is a former English and French teacher, translator and interpreter with over 10 years’ experience, now Managing Director at Inbox Translation. She is a language geek who likes to keep up to date with what’s happening in the industry. When she is not writing on the company’s blog, Closer Wor(l)ds, she is writing on other people’s.  You can get in touch on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.