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Who was your first ever translation or interpreting client and how did you get them?
Thread poster: Andrew Morris

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
May 29

Who was your first ever translation or interpreting client and how did you get them? What lessons did you learn from the experience?

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:16
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Andrew May 29

Andrew Morris wrote:
Who was your first ever translation ... client and how did you get them? What lessons did you learn from the experience?


My first ever paid client was in roughly 1995, for a paralegal mini-thesis, around 5000 words, WordPerfect 5.1. I got the job though an agency offering odd jobs to students (e.g. bar tendering, cleaning, tree planting, etc, but my name was on their system as "translator", so they pinged me). I needed a specialist dictionary for the job, which I bought before I started. The amount of money I got from the job covered the cost of the dictionary. I remembered asking the client in which format I should deliver, and they said WordPerfect 6.0 (which I had), but after I delivered the floppy disk with the translation on it, they told me they could not open the file, and it turned out that they had WordPerfect 5.1, so I resaved the file for them in the appropriate format and delivered it on another floppy disk.

My first ever international job was in roughly 1999, for a UK agency that called me after they saw my web site (those were the days when your own web site actually got you jobs). The agency still contacts me now and then, but I've not done any jobs for them in years. When they called, I quoted my usual rate, which they said was too low, so they offered me a higher rate, which I then accepted. The translation was for the rules of a board game. This translation was delivered via e-mail.

What did I learn? Gosh, too long ago...


Andrew Morris
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Another era May 29

Always impressed by those tales of pre-Internet technology. Still, at least you weren't sending off bundles of typed paper.

So you'll be celebrating 25 years in the business next year!


 

Susanna Martoni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:16
Member (2009)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Doing business in Morocco May 29

That was the title of a paper document of about 20 pages.
From English into Italian.
I collected it personally from a translation agency 30 km far from where I lived in the Nineties (my home)

Translated with my Olivetti CWP1.
A typewriter with a video. And some very limite storing capacities! That was really fantastic.
I worked serveral days and all night long (the last night) to deliver in t
... See more
That was the title of a paper document of about 20 pages.
From English into Italian.
I collected it personally from a translation agency 30 km far from where I lived in the Nineties (my home)

Translated with my Olivetti CWP1.
A typewriter with a video. And some very limite storing capacities! That was really fantastic.
I worked serveral days and all night long (the last night) to deliver in time because the evening before delivery I ran out of toner in my typewriter, so my father went to buy it from a supplier living some kilometers far from us.
In the morning I drove to Bologna and delivered personally the translation.
An adventure.

What I learnt?
Inconveniences are always around the corner. You really never know.
Learn not to be overwhelmed by them (possibily).
And possibly think of some extra solution (not toners, not anymore, but some extra device to get the Intenet for example)




[Modificato alle 2019-05-29 14:09 GMT]
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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 13:16
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
@Andrew May 29

I had my very first paying client in 1980 when I was still translating part-time. The job came to me through a friend who worked at that company (I can’t remember the company name). I must say that he helped me a lot with terminology. By then I was the proud owner of an IBM Selectric typewriter: it was really another era!

[Edited at 2019-05-29 17:59 GMT]


 

Paweł Hamerski
Local time: 14:16
English to Polish
+ ...
My first certified/sworn translation was in 1975? (I still have all my books/repertories) May 29

so I have all details and it surely involved typing using a typewriter borrowed from my aunt and carbon copies (for my archives), having a general dictionary at that time only?.
As regards lessons maybe there were some but my memory is failing me - but if you mean experiences there were none at all. Maalish as the say in Arabic.

[Zmieniono 2019-05-29 15:17 GMT]


Hedwig Spitzer Cáceres
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Emoticons needed May 29

What a pity we can only respond here by agreeing. I am in dire need of emoticons to express being impressed, astonished and amused...

Susanna Martoni
 

Jan Truper  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:16
English to German
+ ...
Glad you asked, here's my story :) May 29

1) In 1997, the German bass player of my band in L.A. picked up a chick (I'm not using this expression for misogynist reasons, but because it was the going verbiage at the time) in a bar. For some reason that escapes me, her actual boyfriend then hooked my German friend up with an English to German translation task: subtitles for an action film for the purpose of inflight entertainment of a Canadian airline.
My German friend had never done anything alike before, but the pay was good and he
... See more
1) In 1997, the German bass player of my band in L.A. picked up a chick (I'm not using this expression for misogynist reasons, but because it was the going verbiage at the time) in a bar. For some reason that escapes me, her actual boyfriend then hooked my German friend up with an English to German translation task: subtitles for an action film for the purpose of inflight entertainment of a Canadian airline.
My German friend had never done anything alike before, but the pay was good and he was armed with a Macintosh Classic and a VCR, so he got to work. When he was done, he gave me a fair third of the proceeds to do a thorough proofreading, since I've always been blessed with near-perfect German spelling.

2) In 1999 (this time through a friend of the daughter of my employer at the time, an L.A. actor's casting agency), I was approached to do some English to German translations for some weird Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle project. Subsequently, I was also asked to provide voice-over for various characters of the project (I vaguely recall doing something like a Hitler impersonation for the lead villain).

3) In 2004, now back in Berlin, where I had moved for family reasons, I was wondering how to make some money and answered a job ad. The inexperienced German team PM of a large international subtitling agency had placed this ad in Craigslist Berlin, of all places. I have since concluded that I might be the only person in the world who ever landed an actual real job through Craigslist.
Having researched the firm (they were huge, legit and owned by one of the world's largest banks, so I assumed there would be no payment issues), I patched together a CV using the two experiences described above, which was deemed sufficient by the PM -- I guess they were pretty desperate for German translators at the time.
I did a subtitle translation test for them (unpaid), passed and was on-boarded.

This agency provided more or less steady work (must have been over a thousand projects) over the next ten years. During this time, I paid my dues, so to speak -- I learned a lot, honed my skills, gained tons of experience and became their sort of go-to-guy for tough assignments (short turnarounds, research-intensive content, difficult formats, etc.). I was good, and I was dependable. The pay was not that great, but it was sufficient. Also (through an e-mail addressing blunder by a subsequent PM), I found out that because in a negotiation I had stood my ground while most others caved, I was actually paid a higher rate than most other German translators in their roster, which made me feel somewhat special.
The steady income and my by now pretty notable CV were a secure base that allowed me to venture into other areas of translation without being taken for a fool. Actually, Proz was my main source for new jobs/clients during this time. I only took on jobs that I felt qualified for and dabbled in various fields. Eventually, game translation became my other mainstay. Because I always provided good and dependable work, my client base grew, which allowed me to shed my worst clients -- and at some point, even the large subtitling agency that had given me my initial break had to go, because their pay was just not competitive anymore.
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Axel Dittmer
Andrew Morris
 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 08:16
Romanian to English
+ ...
Hahaha May 29

My very first paid interpretation job was 60 years ago, when I was 7. My father worked in a beauty shop and they got a German tourist. Since I was the only one speaking German, they asked me to help them communicate with the customer. At the end, I earned my first Leu (Romanian currency).

Andrew Morris
Axel Dittmer
 

Cristina Heraud-van Tol  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 08:16
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
In 1994 May 30

I was 18, and in my 2nd year of studies. My cousin gave me a financial document of Lehman Brothers. A friend asked him if he knew somebody who could translate that 30 page document ENG>SPA, so I thought I would give a try, to practice and well, one day you have to plunge into the world of translation. The font was really small, there must have been 1,000 words per page. It was a lot of work within a short deadline, so I asked a friend if she could help me. We had no experience whatsoever and the... See more
I was 18, and in my 2nd year of studies. My cousin gave me a financial document of Lehman Brothers. A friend asked him if he knew somebody who could translate that 30 page document ENG>SPA, so I thought I would give a try, to practice and well, one day you have to plunge into the world of translation. The font was really small, there must have been 1,000 words per page. It was a lot of work within a short deadline, so I asked a friend if she could help me. We had no experience whatsoever and the dictionaries/resources were quite limited. We said we could do it for US$ 100, as we didn't feel too confident and we split up the payment. We finally finished and handed it to my cousin who handed it to his friend. By that time, the document had already been issued in Spanish language! But he kept his promise and paid us anyway. With today's market prices, I would be charging at least US$ 2,400!Collapse


Andrew Morris
 

Axel Dittmer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:16
English to German
+ ...
cocky May 30

A long, long, long time ago, one of my teammates at my table tennis club asked me if I spoke English well. Maybe because i used to curse in English (The f word was really cool) when I was losing? Not sure. He had also heard that I own an American passport (I was born in the USA, but grew up in Germany).
"Sure, I speak super English" (it wasn't more than good school English)
"Well, I'm sure you can interpret then. I have jobs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bonn."
Then I
... See more
A long, long, long time ago, one of my teammates at my table tennis club asked me if I spoke English well. Maybe because i used to curse in English (The f word was really cool) when I was losing? Not sure. He had also heard that I own an American passport (I was born in the USA, but grew up in Germany).
"Sure, I speak super English" (it wasn't more than good school English)
"Well, I'm sure you can interpret then. I have jobs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bonn."
Then I went to Bonn one day a week wearing a suit and a white shirt for 2 years and financed my first years of my studies. It was very, very well paid.
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Andrew Morris
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 14:16
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Slightly OT You just need a little patience May 30

[quote]
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Andrew Morris
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 14:16
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Archaeology for my brother-in-law May 30

I think my earliest serious translating job was for my late brother-in-law, who was an expert on dendrochronology. Like many Danes, he wrote quite good English himself, but his comment was that 'it sounded like German'.
He had a colleague who sometimes translated for him, but did not always have time, and so I was asked. Some of the terminology was highly specialised, but they could often help with that, as long as I wrote the rest in good academic English.

Another job was the
... See more
I think my earliest serious translating job was for my late brother-in-law, who was an expert on dendrochronology. Like many Danes, he wrote quite good English himself, but his comment was that 'it sounded like German'.
He had a colleague who sometimes translated for him, but did not always have time, and so I was asked. Some of the terminology was highly specialised, but they could often help with that, as long as I wrote the rest in good academic English.

Another job was the autobiography of a Danish missionary in India. She had given it to a colleague, who was intrigued, but could not read it. The colleague had known my parents back then, but I was just a toddler at the time. More than forty years later, at a reunion, my parents mentioned that I lived in Denmark, and I was asked if I could translate the book, or knew anyone else who could.

They paid a very good rate. My brother-in-law tended to pay in kind, but it was tax-free, and I have a wonderful collection of books on archaeology and Danish history and culture, which I still look through now and then.

Then when I went for an interview as an in-house translator with an agency, I could actually talk about these two jobs, and I had done some training for translation Danish to French... The business school would not accept my English, as I had no exam certificates beyond the Sixth form, and had just 'picked up' English by living in the UK! (It's only my native language, but that didn't count. )
I had studied both French and German 'properly', so the boss at the agency, a Hungarian, and the head of the English department, were willing to let me try, and the company sponsored my translation diploma at another business college... I was nearly 50 by then, and it really set me up.

Unfortunately I never got as far as the MA, which would have qualified me as a State Authorized Translator, but my diploma plus some extra modules covered a lot of the same ground, apart from interpreting and the big MA thesis. The British CIoL accepted me as a member, and I believe I was the first Chartered Linguist in Denmark.
I celebrated 20 years of professional translating last autumn…
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Baran Keki  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 16:16
Member
English to Turkish
+ ...
Did I read it correctly? May 30

Jan Truper wrote:


1) In 1997, the German bass player of my band in L.A. picked up a chick (I'm not using this expression for misogynist reasons, but because it was the going verbiage at the time) in a bar. For some reason that escapes me, her actual boyfriend then hooked my German friend up with an English to German translation task: subtitles for an action film for the purpose of inflight entertainment of a Canadian airline.


The boyfriend of the 'chick' gave your bassist a job, not a beating?


 

Jan Truper  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:16
English to German
+ ...
... May 30

Baran Keki wrote:

Jan Truper wrote:


1) In 1997, the German bass player of my band in L.A. picked up a chick (I'm not using this expression for misogynist reasons, but because it was the going verbiage at the time) in a bar. For some reason that escapes me, her actual boyfriend then hooked my German friend up with an English to German translation task: subtitles for an action film for the purpose of inflight entertainment of a Canadian airline.


The boyfriend of the 'chick' gave your bassist a job, not a beating?


Indeed

I do not remember the specific circumstances, but that's pretty much what happened.

[Edited at 2019-05-30 09:51 GMT]


 
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