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Translation Specialties with Turkish?

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I'm hoping some of you will have unplumbed depths here so sorry if this question is too specific for this forum!

I'm currently studying Turkish and Translation. I am at the point in my College career though where I need to write down exactly which subjects will comprise my major. I'm interested in translating from English to Turkish and vice versa, but all the Translation advice that I read says that you need a specialty. It is not enough to just have the language and translation knowledge.

The problem is... I have no idea what kind of specialty there is any sort of demand for with Turkish! It's not a huge language in the United States so that rules out a lot of options, and similarly in Turkey English isn't a humongous language either with strong translation needs.

So have any of you ever come across or can you think of subjects that there seems to be a real need for translators?

(I'm not looking to teach as my main profession. I would love to teach during the interim, after I graduate maybe and especially if I need an excuse to live in Turkey for a while to get better at my Turkish, but not as the main thing. So please exclude advice about teaching opportunities with English/Turkish, thanks!)

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Dear Paks, if you wanna be translator you have to know turkish and english grammar very well. and yes you must be specialised in some fields. such as law, medical science or business, if you dont know all terms about these feilds you won't be able to translate official papers or anything, doesnt matter simultaneously or on paper..

when you start working as translator you will come across many kind of official papers, presentations, business meetings, health reports, court rulings and many more something like these.. so, it's not that easy to work as a professional translator..

good luck Posted Image

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Hi Paks, Let me tell you how I started translation , my expectations, the reality and how I finally given up everything and left my career when I was at the best point..

This real story will give you all the clues you need..

I studied economics at a university where courses were held in English. I was not interested in the curriculum, which had nothing to do with the real situation in Turkey. But being deeply interested in languages, I decided to improve my English thinking that one day I would study linguistics. I gave up using English-Turkish dictionaries, to begin with, and started using only English-English dicitonaries. To make a long stroy short, I tried other ways to improve my English. Finaly I left the school and decided to try translation. But I was aware that the textbook English was texbook English afterall, I would read Keynes or Karl Marx in English but that was all, this was not real life. Ok, where to start? I started buying and reading some weekly business journals, which, to my great surprise, I was hardly able to understand. A-ha, I said, I can read and understand a discussion between Oscar Lange and Vassily Leontief on political economy, I can even write down my opinion on this dicussion in English, but I CAN'T understand a thing in an article written with real-life English! I didn't give up and gave a new direction to my study. I started to work for an import company, to learn commercial English, commercial communication and similar things. This proved to be the right choice, because, owing to that experience, I started working as a translator for the Ministry of Agriculture. I had no word in my mind in the name of agricultural terminology, but this was not what they needed: The office I worked was carrying out a project with a World Bank credit, so exactly the 'bussiness English' I had made me qualified for the job.

Years later I was in İstanbul, this time I made some translations for publishers, the topics I translated were varying from architecture to anarchy, Middle Age artists to 'otitis media'. How did they decide that I was qualified to do all that work , a bunch of topics with no common point among themselves? With that question, now we put the first step into the 'what's-wrong-with-translation-business-inTurkey' issue. Actually they were NOT qualified to test my qualification. And this was not an exception: if you intend to work somewhere they will give you a paper to translate, so they will decide if you are qualified or not, for the job. None of the persons to do this will have an objective idea about the quailifications a translator should have. And this will later turn to you as the greatest frustration in your career: As they cannot 'measure' you, there is no limit to what they can ask from you. Actually I worked at the best translation office of Ankara, -some said the best of Turkey- and roundly one third of all the translations I made were too hard for me to handle. Somehow I managed, at the expense of too much time and my nerves. Did anybody estimate what I did? never, except for a few customers who were aware of the difficulty invovled and congratulated me. And a second frustration: the other translator working at the next room to yours, readly and happily does all the work, in as short time as possible, and your boss looks at you with a stupid or empty look in his eyes. How come? which one of us is right now? Is it me who says: nope, this is too much for me, take this text to a translator experienced in that subject, it is not me; or, is it the next room guy who makes everybopdy happy: the customers are happy because their work is finished quickly, the boss is happy obviously and the guy, himself, who never thinks of complaining about how the things going on here. But the difference: One day a customers comes complaining about his work, but he doesn't care because 'the things go on like this'. A third frustration, ok, are the customers complaining about his work right? Really, are the customers right? Let me tell you a true story.

Years ago the company who built the Atatürk Aiport in İstanbul happened to be the customer of the office I worked (not the 'best one' I mentioned above). I took me more than one year to translate all the agreements and revisions of agreements: sometimes the company was asking the translation of a revision, which sometimes included replacement of a word in English with another one with a slight change in meaning, which was not necessarily available in Turkish.. And I was supposed to reflect all the minor changes on the Turkish verison. If I were not extremely careful on my work I could not reflect those changes in translation. I will not be humble here, it was not something to be managed by anybody who happens to be a translator. But guess what? One day I translated a letter sent by the company to the relevant governemnet office. The terms in the letter should be consistent with the terms which I used in all those official papers. Otherwise the semantic connection would fail. On the other hand, if I were to use the very same terms, the Turkish version would look like a bad translation. Let me give an example for what I mean. The word 'management' is normally translated as 'işletme'. This is an established standard. When 'operation and management' are used together, the right choice for 'operation' is 'işletim', but sometimes the author may prefer to use 'operation' alone,when 'işletim' alone is not clear enough in the Turkish texts, whereas 'işletme' sounds better. This was just an example. Considering many technical points like this, I decided to use exactly the same terms which I used in all the previous texts. Gues what: Mr. somebody stupid from the relevant office called the manager of the company and complained, and didnt forget to add a very brilliant idiom, comparing translation works with beautiful women, who probably always treated him bad. And the manager whom I knew personally and sometimes overworked to make him happy called me telling that he was embarrassed.

(I will continue)

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Well the person who told me on the phone that he was embarrassed was a veteran American general who hardly could say 'hello' in Turkish. How could I explain the semantic and technical concerns that the work included to him? I was so very annoyed that practically left the job, I didn't translate anymore line for that customer which therefore had to change the office he worked with, and soon I changed my office too. That stupid ignorance that put me so helpless, was and is not an exception in the translation business. language is not like mathematics, where you can prove it, if you are right. But how can I prove that I make the right choice depending only on my accumulated knowledge or experinece? No way. For any reason whatsoever the boss, the customer or even any other translator involved may choose the party who can say the right word or the final word on the issue. In the American general case, the customer-government office was supposed to be right, probably because the office was the customer of the American company and a government office . What the hell I was doing at my office calling myself a translator, then? The poor guy who was frustrated by women as a rule, had no idea about the difference between a semantic translation and fluent translation, otherwise he would only keep quiet.

Another example: before accepting the job, I told the boss of a translation office that I wouldn't make any translation simply because I was asked to do so. I was badly needed there, so the boss had to accept my prerequest. One day a text to be translated was sent by the Ministry of Culture about the life of an Anatolian saint. Considering the importance of the customer, I was asked to do it. No, I said, give it to somebody who have some experience in that. As we agreed before, she accepted. Indeed, a few days later a very good, professionaly translated text was in my hand. I read it carefully, and told the boss that she can send it to the customer, confidently. Alas! Miss Secretary of Mr. somebody at the ministry hapenned to know this business better than me: One day the boss told me that the 'customer' was on the phone. 'Ok, what's wrong?' I asked. ' Miss secretary had noticed that somewhere in the text the letter 'n' somewhow was typed as 'r', which I missed. Miss Secretary told me very self confidently that 'Although I DON'T KNOW English, I noticed this this mistake, God knows how many other major mistakes must be in the text!' Reasoning? did you say reasoning? Forget it. In translation business reasoning is luxury.

I can make this list long. The final is not a happy end. I struggled for my rights for years, I attempted to discuss with other translators, tried to convince them that we shouldn't be left so unreasonably alone. We should insist on our right for specialization, etc..

To my great surprise, only one or two nodded , and only nodded .

I said I worked at the best office. Why was it best? First, the boss was a rich man and thought that if he had paid a good wage, the best translators would come to him. Secondly, he was an exception in that, somehow he had learnt that translators needed good dictionaries, not an occassional one or two dictionaries in the office. If , today, he knows that it is not the dictionaries which solve the problem but the background of the translator who is supposed to pick up the right word, he owes this knowledge to me, but my patient to train him was finally over and left that office , too.

I don't know what is going on in the business now, but if everything has remained the same, forget about that 'specialization' thing. Only very roughly, like medical or engineering type of translations, but don't look for an opportunity where you can translate the laws, regulations, but not balance sheets ( no dictionary in Turkish is available covering all the accounting terms, so this again should be solved by the translator by specialization) or letters of credit terms (don't forget that a very special jargon the banks use for foreign trade, abbreviations have special and important meanings, I was able to translate them right only owing to my bankground in banking business)or land management or insurance policies ( and don't forget: a wrong choice for a word in an insurance policy which is written down on purpose with a sophisticated legal jargon, may put you in serious trouble). If you are not lucky enough, you will do all of them, while at the same time translating a shampoo brochure, this time thinking 'should I use 'vivid' now?and thinking, too ,how you can translate an advertisment with all the serious faced style you have gained in your struggle to become a 'legal text translator'.

In Turkish there is a saying I love 'he either doesn't know how to count or he has never been beaten up'.

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I don't know what to say to that except... wow.

I guess this is a question I will have to ask myself. If I want to translate in the U.

S. I need a specialty. If I want to translate in Turkey... I'm not so sure anymore. I don't know right now that I want to live in Turkey when I have graduated. Certainly for a while, and certainly for my Masters, but do I want to spend the rest of my life here? I don't know. Similarly if I was in the U.

S. the only people who have use of Turkish translation there are the government, which would mean living in D.

C. most likely...

I guess I'll ask another question...

What do you do with a degree in another language? I feel so very limited with my interests in foreign languages. All of the things I can think of as possibilities are so short: teaching, translating, linguistics. Of those three only translating appeals to me. Have any of you managed to find some way of making a living with Turkish skills?

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Paks, you are right that openings with a language degree are extremely limited. Languages are seldom considered employable skills per se and some employers like to consider them the type of skills that you put on the bottom of your CV like Grade 6 piano and brown belt in jujitsu.

You may find yourself in a job or a career where you never apply directly your particular language skills but where your ability to communicate, apprehend new ways of functionning, think "out of the box" are appreciated. For example, more and more companies are looking to hire IT Project Managers who do not have an IT background (computer experts are not best known for their social or communication skills!).

Other areas that come to mind are computer programming (if you can learn Turkish, then php or html should come easily), journalism, the tourist industry, the Diplomatic Corps or any relevant organisations; I don't know what the US equivalent of the British Council is but I presume there is something similar.

Basically, as a language graduate myself, I would say get some vocational qualification that is in an area that interests you and which may or may not give the opportunity of applying your language skills directly. Try and work out what you like about learning languages - communicating with others, the challenge of something new, travelling, the logical semantics of it etc. and see which business-applied areas you feel you could get the same thrill from.

Life is weird, you may end up in a job where you weren't hired for your Turkish proficiency and yet suddenly you find yourself in a situation where you are the only one who speaks Turkish and you save the company! Funnier things have happened...

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If I understand you correctly, Paks, you want to give a chance to the idea of living in Turkey. So what would be the benefits and risks involved ? Let me try to be more spesific.

If you are lucky enough, or you would have enough time to search, you can work for a good translation office as an editor. I cannot tell how many of them are there in the sector, but at least I know some number of good translation offices which prefer to work with a native speaker as editor. Some translators , including me , insistingly demanded native speakes as editors, and the idea didn't sound strange to at least a few office bosses. This trend must be stronger than before, I guess, but just a guess.

But, needless to say, a native speaker-editor must have some qualifications as well. One side of it is translation background and the other side , obviously , knowledge in Turkish. An example: we had an editor, who had these features, but he didn't have enough 'native speaker sense', so his existence sometimes gave me headache, though I had expected just the reverse to occur. So the boss MUST be qualified as well, to know what is needed and why, and ensure a collaboration between the translator and editor. Where can you find him? Humm. Try İstanbul first. Ankara second, and for the other cities , the chances are weak.

I said benefits and risks. I'm almost sure you can find a translation office where , after some experience, you will be appreciated and probably enjoy the career you have chosen. But the risk is spending too much time and effort until you find the right place. Or even giving up the idea on the way.

You can use the advantage of being a native speaker of English, as Vic said, in many ways in Turkey, but ,oh, I don't want to discourage you but since I left Ankara,I have met virtually nobody who knows what I am or what I am supposed to do, when I say ' I am a translator-interpreter'. The best estimate was that I was a tourist guide. Sometimes I lost my patience and said 'do you know that the dam over there was built by a joint venture, as the government doesn't let the Turkish companies build a dam without cooperating with a foreign company, and I made the the translation needed by the joint venture, now water comes to you from that dam but you even don't know who is a translator!'

Shortly, you may try İstanbul, and 'one day' you can find what you are looking for..

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Thank you for the advice!

My Dad keeps telling me to just do what I love. That it'll all work out and worst case scenario I'll just be a teacher.

But I don't want to spend the rest of my life teaching...

Turkey has taught me to be a lot more flexible, but I'm not yet ready for the kind of life where you just go forward not knowing what will happen at all!

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I'm happy if I have shown the risks in Turkey. I had chosen this profession among some good alternatives, in terms of both material reward and social status. But I had just wanted to spend my time for something that would really have some meaning . This choice I made helped me a great deal understand the attitude of my society towards 'knowledge'.

By the way Paks, you didn't write anything about your interest in Turkish. Or did I miss? Turkish is really an interesting language, it keeps some mysteries about the past civilizations, it has a very well defined grammar, almost a well defined set of rules, (which is a proof that it is a very old language), though too detailed. But regardless of how complex they are, rules are better than 'chaos'. It looks hard to learn it at a first glance, but , in the end, you can use it confidently, without stopping and thinking at every step 'ok, is this right or wrong now?'. In other words, if you invest in Turkish one day you can pick up the fruits..

I love Turkish..

You may say,' why, it is your mother language'. No, I really find it very interesting and just for that, I started studying Turkish language and literaure, at a university, if everything goes as I hope, I'm planning a further study on the 7th century Turkish dialects, and earlier ones, if possible. A life long hope!

So, Paks, I wish you the best in your career plans, and please just let me know when you need any help in your journey on the ocean of Turkish.:)

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Ah, do you mean why am I interested in Turkish?

I can't really explain it. The love I have for learning a language, and Turkish is such a beautiful, amazing, logical and wonderful language! This is the first time I've felt that I have a passion, when I'm working in another language. I don't mind the "work" side of things because I just love the puzzle, and not only is Turkish a puzzle but it makes so much sense! And the sound... I just love it.

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I somehow felt that a passion you had...

Otherwise you wouldn't bother yourself with translation..

I'm glad that I warned you before translation offices kill your passion !(just like they killed all my interest in English) Yes, Turkish is a 'logical' language, when you read the right material or write down something with a proper care given to Turkish, it gives a feeling that you are making a relaxing mental exercise..

The influence of Arabic and Persian languages distorted the natural character of the language , a process not limited to words but covers sentence structure as well. This artificially created sentence structure still prevails in Turkish spoken by the educated people , who are not even aware of it. When you go to rural sites, Turkish sounds diffrerent: very fluent, to mention first. People have no difficulty to explain what they mean to each other, unlike the urban speakers of Turkish..

When I talk , my own words sound so boring , among rural people, (not because of the vocabulary I use) so I keep quiet and only listen!

I hope you improve your Turkish as you like and enjoy..Posted Image

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