Hello translators, it’s me again …. I’ve been a busy bee the last few weeks and no mistake. Like a real translator!
I’ve been getting up very early to get more hours in too, taking a leaf out of my uncle’s book. He worked on the railway at Battersea, this uncle of mine. “Now then, Little Translator”, he would say to me, smiling benignly at his favourite nephew – well, that’s what he called me, but as far as I know he had no others - and patting me on the head, “Never forget, now - Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”. It used to get on my nerves something rotten at the time. You can count on your parents to drone on about that sort of thing and tell you how hard it was when THEY were young, what with everyone living in shoe boxes and worrying about TB, smallpox, rabies and Nazis, but you might expect to get a break from your uncle. It didn’t do him any good, though, the early-to-rise lark – he was run over by the 04.30 London to Brighton express out of Victoria one morning, which knocked the health and wisdom out of him for good. And my dad told me he found only £3.47 in the bank when he was winding up the estate, so there wasn’t much wealth there either.
I had been pondering on how to break into the translation business, bearing in mind what Marie-Hélène warned you all about last time, and I found that the best modus operandi, as old Brookesduddy would say (more about him next time), is to lie. Not little lies, either, big ones, great huge gigantic whopping ones the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Goebbels had the right idea – a lie repeated many times becomes the truth (although maybe he was lying).
The first and most obvious lie is that, if you’re as young and obviously just out of university as I am, it simply conjures up an image of a pimply upstart who knows bugger all. So you add ten years or so on to your age and school and university dates on the CV, to be in with a chance at least, and doctor up your photo with Photoshop. When Mr. Bossyboots was giving me my dressing-down before he tried to bump me off a few weeks ago, he told me he still had to justify himself for certain jobs even after years of experience, so what chance would I have? There’s definitely no point starting from scratch, then.
It might seem rather unethical, but as you all know far better than me, there are plenty of lies coming out the other end too, so it evens things up a little. One agency said to me the other day about a text they were going to send: “ … No, it’s not technical enough for a technical rate, looks fairly easy and straightforward, this text, actually … hmm, yes, let’s see, page one, um, “Table of Contents”, fine, no problem, page two, “Introduction”, “Scope”, blah-blah”, no, nothing difficult there, page three, “Background”, blah-blah, no … a piece of cake, really.” When it arrived, I found it was in pdf, which they hadn’t mentioned, with endless tables twenty-three boxes across by fifteen down, all crazily subdivided with meaningless abbreviations, and the frightening “Technical Specifications” had finally kicked in by page four – just looking at them brought out goose-pimples on my arms.
So I’ve been using the Big Lie. Like the Three Big Lies. The First Big Lie is: “Er, yes, we sent your cheque in the post yesterday” – a damn lie! The Second Big Lie, “Yes, er, yes, I’m standing here in the office right now watching the truck leave the yard with your order on board” – another damn lie! And the Third Big Lie: “Hey, just lie down and don’t worry about it, honey – and if you do get pregnant, I’ll marry you”. Actually, I made the third one up just now, but I can’t write the original Third Big Lie on this forum because it’s a little too raunchy and, you never know, there might be children reading this ( ... children stealing your jobs, who knows).
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