Today, thanks to numerous agreements between countries and between universities, many of us have gone to spend a few months—or even a few years—in another country. But how do you highlight and make the most of this foreign experience when presenting yourself? Here are a few points you can emphasize.
1. You’re familiar with another culture
A translator is not merely a craftsman of words. Obviously finding the right word, phrase or expression is essential, but it must be done within the context of the cultural subtleties of the target language and audience. For this, experience abroad provides a considerable advantage. Living in a country other than your home country means discovering a new culture, new traditions, new lifestyles, and a new way of seeing the world. Translation agencies often prefer to work with experts in both language and culture. Spending time in the country of the language you are interested in is sometimes the only way to understand its subtleties. Besides the cultural aspect, it’s extremely useful for a translator to be aware and well informed of the country’s current political, economic and social situation.
2. You master language variants
Often a single language will have a number of variants. For example, Spanish is the official language of 20 countries. It goes without saying that pronunciation and expressions vary from one country to another, and even between regions, and Hispanics do not always understand each other. Say “chido” and the Argentines won’t understand. On the other hand, use “ché” with Mexicans and they won’t know how to reply. There are so many differences that translating into the Castilian Spanish of Spain or into the Spanish spoken in a South American country, are two quite different tasks.
3. You’re an idiomatic expression ninja
Idiomatic expressions are unique to each country. Your wealth of experience allows you to adapt your translations to your target audiences and truly hit the mark. For example, to get something “for a song” has nothing to do with music but instead means a cheap or good bargain. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to learn all of these idiomatic expressions in school. Nothing can replace spending time on the field.
4. You’re curious
Your experience abroad shows that you are a curious and dynamic person. You’re interested in the traditions and customs of foreign countries. For a professional translator, curiosity is a non-negligeable quality. He or she will never know everything of course, but that thirst for knowledge and continuous improvement is a tremendous asset.
What have your times abroad done for you?
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