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Is this combination undoable? Really hard? In cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, etc. What other languages besides Spanish and English are useful for this reason in your opinion? Thanks for any responses.

asked 25 Aug '13, 14:55

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edited 24 Jun '14, 03:27

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If your French is a B+ (i.e. a very strong French), there is work on the US West Coast, but you will be required to work mainly into French, with the odd question to be translated into English. The other languages that are used on the West Coast, besides Spanish, are Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean etc).

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answered 26 Aug '13, 14:36

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Thanks for the response. As for the Asian languages, would you say the outlook is better or worse than for French (with Mandarin specifically in mind)?

(27 Aug '13, 05:24) rowan

Let's say that if you're Chinese with an excellent English -and get proper training as a conference interpreter-, the outlook is better than for an English A, French B. If Chinese is not your mother tongue, it may take you up to 10 years, preferably in China, to reach the required level, so it is not really an option. An English booth with passive French AND Chinese, supposing you have a good command of both languages, is not particularly interesting for the UN as the Chinese booth works back into English anyway. So, you offer no added value and the UN will most likely turn to an English booth with French and Spanish (+ Russian, if at all possible) instead.

Hope I got your question. It is very hard to answer without having all the data, I'm just making assumptions in the hope that they may also interest other people in this Forum.

(27 Aug '13, 05:49) Danielle

@danielle: By ten years, what do you mean? Ten years studying for many hours a day isn't the same as ten years of less serious work. This is getting off topic, but if you have the time, how would you compare the difficulty of mastering an Asian language like Chinese to mastering an Indo-European one, from a westerner's perspective (mastering meaning B level)? I wouldn't want to really ask this question to someone other than a professional interpreter because in the minds of a lot of people speaking fluently is equivalent with merely taking an AP language class in highschool or something.

I know my question is vague, it's because I'm still a long time from the professional world and my goals are currently vague too.

(28 Aug '13, 01:58) rowan

I mean 10 years of almost FULL dedication, in order to be able to work back into Chinese. My personal experience: I did a Chinese at Langues'O in Paris, spent a full year in Taiwan with private lessons every day, then did a M.A. in Chinese at Stanford and continued studying for a few years. In the meantime, I moved to Barcelona and started taking Catalan lessons. After 6 months in Catalonia, I remember vividly telling my husband while watching the news on Catalan TV: I have now reached in 6 months of Catalan the level I have after 8 years of Chinese: I can understand the news.

(28 Aug '13, 02:26) Danielle

Impressive. I'm curious to know why Chinese is so much more difficult? Of course it's totally unrelated to our familiar European languages so there are no cognates. But I always found cognates to be more annoying than useful with French. It's easy to accidentally create a French word with the 'tion' ending based on an English one if you forget that the two words don't actually exist in the two languages. I would imagine this complication would almost make Chinese easier. The tonal system and the different sounds employed would make correct prononciation more difficult but for pure listening comprehension I would think it would not be significantly different.

If you have the time, it would be really interesting to hear from someone with your experience.

(28 Aug '13, 03:41) rowan

I am not talking about listening comprehension, which is achievable in a few years of hard work. I am talking about a full bilingual booth, i.e. working also INTO Chinese - which is much more ambitious and the only really useful combination with Mandarin, given the present market structure.

As to why it is so difficult, sign up for a course and you'll see by yourself ;-)

(02 Sep '13, 02:47) Danielle
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question asked: 25 Aug '13, 14:55

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