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Hey there, I am so glad to have found this active and helpful online community and after reading many posts I am both better informed and less sure about what to do.

I am in the last year of my Bachelor (Liberal Arts and Sciences. Major in philosophy, linguistics & Minor in anthropology) and started looking more seriously at my options. I have always enjoyed learning and speaking languages, and have worked as an interpreter for three weekends when I was younger and loved it more than any other job I've ever had. So, as much as I love academics, I started leaning more and more towards the idea of doing a vocational Master's degree. However, upon doing my online research, I am left wondering if I am really ready for it. For example: my native language is russian, but we moved to Germany when I was seven years old, and although I am still fluent in Russian, my German is far better. I've also always had a pretty good command of English and although my university is situated in the Netherlands, studies and social life are purely english-based, so by now I feel more comfortable speaking English than I am speaking German. Especially when it comes to academic topics.

I am left wondering, what my combination could be? Do I even have an A-language in the first place? My research has led me to doubt the adequacy of my proficiency in basically all of my languages, and I find it hard to determine my level.

Moreover, I am both interested in translating (I love to write, and the kind of thinking that it requires) and interpreting. I have done a little of both (my mother has outsourced a few little jobs to me here and there, as she works with international clients) and I feel like they are two utterly distinct skills, both of which I enjoy and find gratifying. So I find it impossible to choose which Master's to do! I know that there are quite a few schools that offer CI&Translating Master's, however, I have read many remarks stating that the CI component in these programs is and cannot be sufficiently practiced for lack of time and I wouldn't want to end up doing a wishy-washy type of thing where I end up not being properly trained in either.

The more I think and read about it, the more infatuated I become, and the less sure of myself. Some people say it is impossible, others say it's not that hard. The anonymity of the internet makes it very hard for me to judge whom to listen to. Equally, not knowing me, I can't expect you to give me personalized advice. But as I am failing at arriving at any conclusion by myself, I thought it time to ask somebody else. My search for a breathing rather than typing human being who is in the field and could advise me has so far been fruitless. My linguistics professor told me that most translators she knows got into the field through the academic path (applied linguistics) so now, instead of narrowing my options, I am left with yet another option to consider. Also, as you might have noticed, I am bad at being brief - I hope one or the other has still made it this far and has any food for my thoughts! merci)

asked 01 Dec '12, 00:38

Alina's gravatar image

Alina
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edited 01 Dec '12, 04:06

Nacho's gravatar image

Nacho ♦
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Dear Alina, You are right - not knowing you it would be presumptuous to give you any direct advice. Perhaps, however, just a few general observations:

  • It is always easier for an interpreter to (also) work as a translator than the other way around. Installing yourself in the interpreter community with a translator's degree - whilst not being impossible - might become a bit of an issue for various reasons.
  • Vice versa, what about working as a translator if you "only" have CI training under your belt? My theory is that this is far easier: Some interpreters pursue both careers at the same time (although some claim that hardly anyone is equally good at both, since - as you quite rightly observed - interpreters require a different set of skills than translators). Then again, I have one colleague who says she likes the "discipline" effect of translations because she claims to be rather chaotic (she is an excellent interpreter but I am in no position to judge her translations - then again, her long-standing client relationships are an indication of "successful translations", too, so both careers don't necessarily have to be mutually exclusive).
  • Also, translating in a special field (e.g. finance or medicine) might help you build up expert knowledge which then benefits your interpretation career.
  • However, one thing you need to watch with this kind of approach is to build up a good network of colleagues to whom you can farm out work if a translation deadline clashes with preparation time for an SI conference. I think, if you bear this in mind, there are no reasons why you should not be able to work as both: Interpreter and translator - provided you like what you are doing.

Unfortunately, this is not an answer to your question. Perhaps, you can only answer this one yourself by going to a few universities and checking out their interpretation programs. Germersheim University, for instance, used to have the so-called "Friday Conferences" - students in their final year interpreted invited speakers. These conferences were open to the general public, giving everyone an idea of a "real-life" conference setting with simultaneous interpretation.

Good luck with your decision which, hopefully, is going to influence the rest of your life (I'm good at taking the pressure out, ain't I;)!

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answered 01 Dec '12, 04:35

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Tanja
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question asked: 01 Dec '12, 00:38

question was seen: 4,977 times

last updated: 01 Dec '12, 04:35

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