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angeia

To be or not to be a Chinese Translator

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brucehuang

To be honest, I don't know how good NTNU's program is. But I do know this for sure though, if you want to have "hands-on" experiences in this business dealing with Chinese. You'ed want to be in mainland China.

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brucehuang

And I'm still kind of defensive towards SISU though. So far I've only been benifitng from this program. Althought one could argue that I'm simply too locallized and that is kinda true too. I am Chinese after all doesn't matter how much I don't sound like one on paper or over the mic. Maybe I'm just taking sides.

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simplet

I've also heard good things about NTNU, unfortunately (for me) their program seems to be strictly english/chinese.

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Lu

 

But I do know this for sure though, if you want to have "hands-on" experiences in this business dealing with Chinese. You'ed want to be in mainland China.

If you're aiming to build a career in China, I agree that studying in China makes more sense. But if you want to work back in your home country, it doesn't matter much where you learn it as long as you can do it well. It really depends on what you want to get out of a program.

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OneEye
But I do know this for sure though, if you want to have "hands-on" experiences in this business dealing with Chinese. You'ed want to be in mainland China.

 

Huh? They don't speak Chinese in Taiwan? What have I been doing here this whole time?

 

NTNU's program is supposed to be excellent. I don't know much about interpretation or how the program stacks up against those in China, but I have a friend (a professional translator and interpreter for 15 years whose Chinese is jaw-dropping) who teaches in that department. I'm taking his consec class this semester because he asked me to, even though I'm in a different department, and it has been fantastic for my Chinese. He told me that NTNU is supposed to be the top program in Taiwan, and I know a few foreigners who have come out of that program and now work as conference interpreters, and even more who work as professional translators.

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angeia

Hi Simplet!  Yeah I'll ask my friend about BLCU and French.  Since you specialize in French-Chinese, maybe you could find an interpreting school in France and do it through there?  Education in France is very cheap as well, it probably won't differ that much from China (although living costs definitely have a disparity, haha).

 

I agree with Mr. 陈 about being passionate about what you want.  Don't let "there's no way you can get in" stop you from getting what you want!  But to me, it sounds like you're kind of sick of 北方, so I really think Taiwan might be a good idea (darn, why didn't I think of that?!). 

 

You might want to e-mail the French consulate in Shanghai or Beijing and ask them about potential programs?  They'd be more than happy to help and I'm sure they're very up to date on that stuff.  Also, there's Alliance Francais in Shanghai, which is a government run program to help Chinese people learn French.  I was actually thinking about taking French there (but decided not to--learning beginning French in Chinese!?  I found a tutor instead!).  Anyway, you might want to get in touch with them as well.  They might have the resources for helping you find a good program.

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simplet

Taiwan would have been awesome, but they don't do french over there. The interpretation schools in France are great, maybe the best in the world, but they're really competitive. If you're not good enough, they'll drop you even if they don't have a better candidate : 宁缺毋滥 like those shanghai people. From what I gather if you want to work with chinese, you need to be able to interpret both ways, and I won't have that kind of level unless I study in China for a while first. Plus a MTI is perfect, I can work as a translator with a degree like that until I can start as an interpreter.

 

I've been looking around some chinese forums and so far it looks like BeiWai might be the best if at all possible, after that I'm not sure between 广外 and 北语. 北语 is apparently pretty renowned for it's french program, the Alliance Française in beijing has one of their campuses there for example. Is there a particular reason why you think guangwai is no good bruce? 

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gato

Maybe you can study English-Chinese in Taiwan, and French-Chinese back in France?

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bluetortilla

I passed the 日本語能力試験一級 some years back, consider myself fluent in Japanese, can do business in Japanese, and can even give presentations and short speeches, but I've never been able to interpret. In fact, I could hardly interpret for my mother when she came to Japan- I kept repeating the wrong language to the wrong parties, lol. Therefore I tend to think of interpretation as a very special and difficult skill that not everyone possesses. It's also extremely high profile and competitive, even dare I say somewhat glamorous. I would imagine it pays well.

 

On the other hand I could always translate, even parts of medical journals, but translation for me only paid well when I got jobs piecemeal through connections. Otherwise, translation companies (in Japan not China and at least in my experience) didn't pay a premium for native speakers of English fluent in Japanese so it was always much easier and more lucrative to 'just' teach English. I would think the situation even tougher here, but I've never experienced this as my Chinese is far from that level yet!

 

I can appreciate the OP's passion for translation/interpretation and I'm sure any of us here who are serious about Chinese studies share that passion as we are interpreting Chinese vis-a-vis our native language all the time. Professional interpreters are able to process the idiomatic and semantic strings of language at lightening speed and simultaneously physically produce the appropriate speech while their brain is already forming the next enunciation. That's pretty awesome stuff, not just an intermediary calculative role. I would think that in this huge country she could find a position that was challenging and an organization that would regard her as a very valuable asset. I was wondering too if one's native country wouldn't give an interpreter a 'home advantage.' I know of a man who got his Ph.D. from Kyushu University in Japan and is now an official translator of public and court documents for the state of California. Sounds like pretty dry stuff to me (I always thought that translating novels or ancient texts would be exciting), but he loves it and it is a secure, professional possession unlike the 'throw the dog a bone' editing work a lot of us encounter.

 

I always thought I'd do something really interesting with Japanese, my second language, but my richest experiences were actually dealing with people individually, not professionally. I'm sure that my third language, Chinese, will be similar (though I will be using it in an academic environment; something I did not do with Japanese). I gave up on translation long ago as I felt it too boring and too unstable, and as I said I think I'm quite a hopeless candidate for interpretation (boy you should have seen my interpretation fiasco at Tony & Guy, Fukuoka (!), one of the longest and most embarrassing hours of my life). But I think as long as you stick to what you love, and from where I sit for many here on the forum that would be language, you can always find a feeling of satisfaction and success in what you are doing. No need for panic attacks! The future is at hand, and I'm sure you'll be just fine.

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angeia

Hey!  Another native English speaker with Japanese and Chinese!  Nice to meet you :)

 

I do agree with you that interpreting is not for everyone.  Even complete bilinguals cannot master the art of interpreting, it really depends on innate skill sets that you have.  The ability to think at a moment’s hesitation is imperative.  If you don’t know a word, what are you going to do?  Or if you can’t find the right word to use to express said sentence, how are you going to handle it?  And you only have .5 seconds to think of how to approach this.

 

I also have a Chinese friend that speaks perfect English, but even when I ask her how to say one word or phrase from English to Chinese, it will take 5 minutes maximum.  But when she converses in English, it’s super fluent and there’s no hesitation whatsoever.  I think there must be some interpreter cog in our brains that determine whether we can process languages quickly or not. 

 

Otherwise, translation companies (in Japan not China and at least in my experience) didn't pay a premium for native speakers of English fluent in Japanese so it was always much easier and more lucrative to 'just' teach English. I would think the situation even tougher here, but I've never experienced this as my Chinese is far from that level yet!

 

 

Really depends on your specialty.  I had a friend making 200k doing patent translation from J to E.  I really think that the demand for J to E is much higher, mostly because there are not as many people who can do this language combo.  While CH-EN has more work, due to the number of Chinese that can speak near perfect English it’s hard to get a good rate (in general).  Money making translations are very dry though, like your acquaintance that does the law interpreting, I'm usually translating programming code or automobile handbooks (instead of the novels and movies I was hoping to translate in the past)—but still, that’s where the money is.

 

 

May I ask what you plan on doing in the future with Japanese (and Chinese)?  Since you said you enjoy working with people individually and not professionally.  I also used Japanese for analysis and interpreting/translation work, and while I enjoy it I think that it doesn’t involve enough human interaction or stimulation for me.  Interested in what your plans are! (Might give me a few ideas ;)

 

But I think as long as you stick to what you love, and from where I sit for many here on the forum that would be language, you can always find a feeling of satisfaction and success in what you are doing. No need for panic attacks! The future is at hand, and I'm sure you'll be just fine.

 

 

Amen!

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Lu

 

I passed the 日本語能力試験一級 some years back, consider myself fluent in Japanese, can do business in Japanese, and can even give presentations and short speeches, but I've never been able to interpret. In fact, I could hardly interpret for my mother when she came to Japan- I kept repeating the wrong language to the wrong parties, lol. Therefore I tend to think of interpretation as a very special and difficult skill that not everyone possesses. It's also extremely high profile and competitive, even dare I say somewhat glamorous. I would imagine it pays well.

 

(...)

 

I can appreciate the OP's passion for translation/interpretation and I'm sure any of us here who are serious about Chinese studies share that passion as we are interpreting Chinese vis-a-vis our native language all the time. Professional interpreters are able to process the idiomatic and semantic strings of language at lightening speed and simultaneously physically produce the appropriate speech while their brain is already forming the next enunciation. That's pretty awesome stuff, not just an intermediary calculative role.

 

As someone who has never taken classes in interpreting and feels like it's mainly a skill, two parts preparation, two parts paying attention and one part knowing the language, I love how glamorous and challenging you make it sound :-) Apparently simultaneous interpretation at conferences pays very well but is exhausting; other types of translation pay alright, you won't starve, but you won't get rich by a long way.

 

 

I always thought I'd do something really interesting with Japanese, my second language, but my richest experiences were actually dealing with people individually, not professionally.

 

I've had great experiences with people individually, but the reason I'm still regularly congratulating myself on learning Chinese is the professionaly experiences. Spending time backstage of an opera, sitting behind the flower pot at official meetings, visiting a water treatment plant... If I were an opera singer or a minister or a water treatment scientist, I'd only get one of those, but as an interpreter, there's no limit to the places you can see and the people you might meet.

 

Simplet: I wonder whether you really need interpreting classes in all your languages in order to learn how to interpret in all your languages. Assuming you can speak about various subjects without trouble in all your languages, I think if you would get trained as, say, English-Chinese interpreter, with some practice that skill could easily translate (hah) to French-Chinese or English-Russian. I can do Chinese-Dutch and Chinese-English about equally well, as long as I know the terminology, and knowing the terminology is just a matter of 背生詞.

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bluetortilla

Nice to meet you too. Yes, I had been interested in Chinese for many years due to my fascination with 漢字, but tones always seemed daunting to me (getting better but I was sure right on that one). I also thought Chinese might be not so bad as I knew so many characters and 熟語, and the 'similarity' of the grammar to English but boy ha ha ha was I ever wrong. Still, I think it will only take two years in all to pass HSK 5 (and get working on 6) instead of the 5 years it took with Japanese. There are so many absorbed semantic similarities in Japanese from the Chinese, ways of thinking and speaking if you will, but if you're used to Japanese grammar Chinese sure throws you off.

 

I have no idea what I will do with Japanese in the future, though I did give thought to surveying Tang Dynasty literature with 漢文 Japanese and seeing it that could shed some light on modern Japanese pronunciation of Chinese characters. What I finally ended up doing though is starting the enrollment process at 云南民族大学 to work on a Linguistics MA in Tibeto-Burmese languages. I'm very interested in comparing the tonal phenomenon of these languages along with Mandarin, Thai, et al, and try to find a common root. Since in all human language tonal languages are only spoken here in East and Southeast Asia and in one part of Africa something must be up with that. I wonder too if (at all) or how tonal languages affect culture, thinking, etc. I don't expect to get paid much or anything for any of this but I'd like to do research in this area just because it's fascinating to me. To put bread on the table I'll probably teach English as usual, which after is not so bad- just limited. However, there is indeed a lot of excitement in Yunnan over ethnic culture and language, it's preservation and promotion, and I'd really love to be part of that. So I gotta bust out the IPA as well. Finally, I've heard of rumor btw that the Burmese have linguistic and genetic ties to the Japanese (as well as possibly the Bhutanese), but I seriously doubt it. An extinct Turkic could conceivably have influenced Burmese, but that language would have much more in common with non-tonal Mongolian and those branches than Burmese or Tibetan.

 

The only exciting ideas I have about translation (for me) are in the babel-fish area of digital translation and even interpretation. I go with Chomsky theory that all grammar is the same, there is only one human language. The biggest obstacles in translation are the idiomatic/analogical features of languages (all that 'quaint' stuff). But I also think there is critical mass for data input (language might be like a jungle, but every jungle does have a finite number of leaves) and we will reach it someday to the point where translation software will pass the equivalent of a Turing test (I can see no reason why it won't). The fuzzy parameters in speech recognition software are also an interesting area and is already quite good, which tells that physically at least speech is perhaps not as complicated as we like to think (I am typing this btw, not dictating). Other than that sort of exciting stuff, I haven't really looked into the business opportunities, though I'm sure there are plenty out there. Just meet lots and lots of people. Companies are always looking for good minds.  

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simplet

Sweet mother of god, I think I have found the motherload. People that are interested in french-english-chinese translation and interpretation, I present to you the BLCU-ISIT double diploma :

 

http://sti.blcu.edu.cn/category/88/2011-11-04/165553456.html

http://www.isit-paris.fr/documents/communiques-de-presse/29-CP_ISIT-BLCU-oct2011.pdf

 

Basically you do two years of MTI in chinese-french-english at BLCU (the one I said earlier had the renowned french program), and then you can do a third year at ISIT, which is in the top three best francophone schools for interpretation, maybe the best.

 

I'm getting giddy just thinking about it. I just hope I can do the program from the chinese end, it looks like the french students at ISIT only do a year in France then a year in China, I really want to do the opposite : get into BLCU for two years then back to France for a year. I have no idea why it took me so long to find this, it looks perfect.

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simplet

Thanks a lot! I'll be sure to keep you guys posted if it works out!

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brucehuang

@ simplet

中国学生(英汉、法汉、汉-英-法或汉-法-英方向)的学习期限为“2+1”,即中国2 年、法国1年。在北京语言大学MTI翻译硕士专业注册的学生在完成两年学习,考试成绩合格后获得翻译硕士(MTI)文凭,并同时获得参加巴黎高等翻译学院 研究生二年级升学考试资格,考试成绩合格者直接进入巴黎高等翻译学院研究生二年级学习,学习期满后参加毕业考试,成绩合格者将获得该校颁发的口译或笔译硕 士文凭或国际会议口译硕士文凭。

 

I was looking at thie descripton, you might wanna ask for detailed information driectly to BLCU.

Read this part carefully,"并同时获得参加巴黎高等翻译学院 研究生二年级升学考试资格"

 

That's kinda where the catch is. From how I am unpacking this part, and my experiences with Chinese schools. I'm thinking that might just be something like the CI selection at SISU. You almost ALWAYS have to be careful when reading Chinese posted stuff because it is so easy to word something and confuse people in a totally different driection. And always remember, what you read is one thing, what you get might be something else, that's kinda the general rule in China.

the good old American slang, "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, therefore it is a duck" dosen't really apply to how things work around in China.


I'm not dissing or anyting about BLCU and Guangwai, but I've spoked with a graduate from BLCU in person once, and from the general prespective. Most, if not all, Chinese schools generally think that SISU and BFSU is considered the top two in the country, especially in translation and interpreation. If you look at the AIIC member distrubution map in China area, C-E or E-C interpreters are mainly in Beijing or Shanghai, only one of them are based in Guangzhou, which is where Guangwai is at. That tells you something. Of crouse I'm not saying that BLCU and Guangwai is bad school, I am just saying as far as general Chinese ranking, they aren't as competitive as SISU and BFSU.

 

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roddy
I'm not dissing or anyting about BLCU and Guangwai

 

trust me, you don't wanna go to Guangwai...

 

That looks like dissing to me...

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brucehuang

And as what your saying about the Interpretation school in France, ISIT in Pairs I think. Yes they are competitive and selective, but that is also the general rule of thumb in any high profile interpreation schools. Maybe you could come to China on a scholarship and get yourself prepared on Chinese government's dime and then try it out in France? That wouldn't be a bad idea, at least you'll be more prepared. That's of course, if you have the time.

@ OneEye

I'm not saying that they don't speak Chinese in Taiwan. But the demands for C-E or E-C as far as confrence interpreting in Taiwan are nowhere near what you have in mainland China. Just look at the distrubution map for AIIC members, I think they tend to sick around areas where demands are high. It's like this market refliction, the more AIIC member there are in one place, the more demand in terms of market there will be. If you look at NYC, there's like at least 50-80 AIIC interpreters actively living and working there. For the obvious reason of course, NYC is where all the big dogs and NGOs and UN's headquarter's at. Now flip to the page where it says Taiwan and see what you'll find. :D

 

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brucehuang

@ roddy,

fine...I hate the weather there...and I guess I find the city very unattractive. I admit it...
Don't hate on me for that though.

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simplet

No of course I realize there's going to be an exam to go from BLCU to ISIT, I wasn't really expecting to get in like that. It was always my plan to take the exam in France after two years in China, the difference here is that I'll have two years experience when I take the test, the program is designed to work in the three languages from the start and I know the schools in France are going to respect my chinese degree because those schools don't get into these kind of partnerships blindly. Even if I want to go to ESIT instead of ISIT for example after the two years, I know they're going to acknowledge this diploma. And I know the chinese program must be quality.

 

In fact if I do get into ISIT, I have the assurance that my chinese degree is going to be recognized in France through ISIT and that my french degree is going to be recognized in China, win-win all around. From my research around the web, it really seems that 北语 is at least roughly on par with 北外 when it comes to their french program, maybe even better.

 

edit : 

 

And as what your saying about the Interpretation school in France, ISIT in Pairs I think. Yes they are competitive and selective, but that is also the general rule of thumb in any high profile interpreation schools. Maybe you could come to China on a scholarship and get yourself prepared on Chinese government's dime and then try it out in France? That wouldn't be a bad idea, at least you'll be more prepared. That's of course, if you have the time.

 

Well yeah, that's pretty much exactly what I'm trying to do here.

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