(This may be the wrong forum for this, but I imagine the folks who’ll be able to give advice on translation work are also the ones who think mucking about with Mandarin is fun.)
I’m interested in finding part-time work, Chinese-English. I’m fairly competent in philosophy, literature, linguistics, tech, and law, but have minimal translation experience (a few legal papers while a student in China and some short stories). Ideally I’d like to freelance, mostly to gain experience, and preferably with material having to do with law or literature (or really anything other than marketting and computer junk).
Would Ironlady or someone else who’s found work in Taipei be willing to offer some suggestions to a newbie? What is the going rate? I’ve heard NT$2-4 per character; is this about right? And what about finding work? Should I harass people on 104.com? Hand out packs of tissue?
I am NOT trying to be mean to you (but please believe that I’ve had one of my top-10 worst weeks this week…) but if you search the site with “translation” or maybe “getting started” along with it, you’ll see some voluminous threads on this very topic. Or just go to the “Learning Chinese” forum and browse through the threads…not that many, I think it’s just 3 or 4 pages’ worth.
Having done that, if you still have any questions not answered, or feel moved to comment, fire away!
Have searched ‘translation’ etc. and browsed ‘Learning Chinese’. (In fact, did it before I posted.) I still feel, however, that my original questions are unanswered.
To this let me add, what is the going (freelance) rate for an utter newbie as compared to an experienced translator? I assume this ranges widely on the type of work, timeframe, and the like; I’m looking for top and bottom end estimates and some idea as to what criteria might go in to determining them.
Previously posts seem to suggest guanxi as the best source of work. I’m sure this will be true for me eventually, just as I’m sure I can find work by mass mailing every semi-suitable job on 104.com; barring these options, though, what else might you suggest? (I gather translation firms are not the best way to go, but perhaps there is a Chinese-English transl. assocciation that matches specialities to available work – or is this rather optimistic?)
I also recall from my digging that there are a number of mailing lists for folks translating Chinese but believe these were described not as sources of work so much as places to discuss points of grammar and the like. Are there any mailing lists in Taiwan that you or others know of that serve primarily to put translators in contact with potential clients?
[quote=“00Scott”]Have searched ‘translation’ etc. and browsed ‘Learning Chinese’. (In fact, did it before I posted.) I still feel, however, that my original questions are unanswered.
Depends on whom you work for. It can go from NT$0.5 to NT$5.
I believe there should not be any great difference in RATES because unless you can deliver a professional product, you should not be translating on the market. The difference usually lies in how long it takes you to earn the money you get for 1000 characters of work, for instance. I might do it in an hour or less because I’ve been doing my 60,000 to 90,000 per month for 15 years, but it might take you 2 or even 3 hours depending on what kind of work it was. So if we both charge the same rate (let’s say we get a nice, cushy government job at NT$3 per character), I’m making NT$3000 an hour while you’re making NT$1000 or $1500.
Previously posts seem to suggest guanxi as the best source of work. I’m sure this will be true for me eventually, just as I’m sure I can find work by mass mailing every semi-suitable job on 104.com; barring these options, though, what else might you suggest? (I gather translation firms are not the best way to go, but perhaps there is a Chinese-English transl. assocciation that matches specialities to available work – or is this rather optimistic?)[/quote]
Most people in the Chinese>English game don’t specialize all that much, because unless you have a couple of really big clients, you don’t tend to get work in the same area consistently. Also, clients rarely know what their Chinese document is talking about – I mean they don’t even know what it’s vaguely about most times – so often it’s a surprise (make sure you SEE it before you commit to translating it – copy quality, handwriting, content, density, terminology, level of language, etc.)
FANYI-L is the big Chinese translation mailing list. It doesn’t often give out jobs, but occasionally lists leads to jobs. I don’t believe Taiwan would be a good market for an Internet “translation-matching service” because it would end up being a price-cutting thing, and prices here are already so low that it’s hard to make a living translating unless you’re really fast and/or really good. Well, it’s not impossible but if you believe in a quality product, you have to really think about how much they’re paying you. I let about 60% of job offers slide these days as they don’t pay enough to be worthwhile. Just set your price, quote it and stick to it. In the long run you won’t gain by charging less, you’re just earn less and work yourself to death. Unless you need experience, in which case you should probably try to find another way to get it – in-house translator or something like that.