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The life path of a translator (Castellano)
Thread poster: Aurora Humarán
Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 08:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oct 2, 2005

The life path of a translator (Lanna Castellano in Mona Bakers’s "In Other Words.")

Let us enjoy this paragraph by Lanna Castellano quoted by Mona Baker in her book: “In other words” (1992, London: Routlegde.) Castellano’s paragraph is part of a study she wrote in 1988.

Though obviously not feasible in some of its proposals, these words do have certain very true statements, thought provoking ideas that may help us reflect on our profession.

Au


[…] Our profession is based on knowledge and experience. It has the longest apprenticeship of any profession. Not until thirty do you start to be useful as a translator, not until fifty do you start to be in your prime.
The first stage of the career pyramid –the apprenticeship stage– is the time we devote to investing in ourselves by acquiring knowledge and experience of life. Let me propose a life path: grandparents of different nationalities, a good school education in which you learn to read, write, spell, construe and love your own language. Then roam the world, make friends, see life. Go back to education, but to take a technical or commercial degree, not a language degree. Spend the rest of your twenties and your early thirties in the countries whose languages you speak, working in industry or commerce but not directly in languages. Never marry into your own nationality. Have your children. Then back to a postgraduate course. A staff job as a translator, and then go freelance. By which time you are forty and ready to begin.



[Edited at 2005-10-02 15:41]


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Joanna Krahelska
Local time: 13:10
Polish to English
+ ...
how very true... Oct 2, 2005

...and how nice it is to hear (for a change) that I'm actually in my prime (which is what I've always suspected anyway )
many thanks, Aurora, for posting this!
the best, jk


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 08:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hi Oct 2, 2005

Joanna Krahelska wrote:

...and how nice it is to hear (for a change) that I'm actually in my prime (which is what I've always suspected anyway )
many thanks, Aurora, for posting this!
the best, jk


Hi, Joana!

It is clear that the author is not trying to be patronizing or merely proposing impossible aims. It is the underlying idea that matters: what do you need to be a good translator? Studies are not enough, experience regarding the profession is not enough: we need to mingle with the cultures we translate from. I was in Great Britain once and a couple of times in the US. I do regret that I have not had an opportunity (because my path followed other directions) to live in any of these two countries. Had my path included a couple of years in the US, I would be a more 'complete' translator now.

I am starting my Master in Translation (going back to School after 23 years, I graduated as a Legal Translator in 1982) but I know I will only acquire more academic knowlege. The first hand experience ('sense of language') that living in a country gives you cannot be studied.

Au

[Edited at 2005-10-02 16:00]


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Mariana Idiart  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Exactly! Oct 2, 2005

Hi!

I have always entertained the idea of being able to spend some time in England or the US, because I believe that it would complete my understanding of the language and culture I translate from. I haven't given up hopes yet that someday, as Au says, my path will take me there. In the meantime, I will keep on studying and seizing every opportunity I have to improve my translation skills. Hope my prime is not that far as Castellano suggests

Mariana



[Edited at 2005-10-02 21:53]


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Joanna Krahelska
Local time: 13:10
Polish to English
+ ...
mingling ;) Oct 2, 2005

Aurora Humarán wrote:

Studies are not enough, experience regarding the profession is not enough: we need to mingle with the cultures we translate from.
e first hand experience ('sense of language') that living in a country gives you cannot be studied.

[/quote]

hi Aurora, well the slogan "get out and mingle" is all very nice for the young... myself (being in my prime of course ), I do not really feel like leaving my country for any longer stretches of time
I did mingle as a kid of ten or something, and that helped a great lot! all I had to do afterwards was just use the language (and mingle on a smaller scale)
but I hope you'll admit translators are like wine: they tend to grow better with age (until Alzheimer's knocks on the door, of course)... mingling alone won't help here although it is great for a start, but then you just have to learn by doing
the more pages you've been through, the better you are at translating... this takes time, of course, and this is why I'm happy that I chose this particular profession where a person can be over fifty and still in his/her prime!
the best, jk


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 08:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Experience Oct 2, 2005

Joanna Krahelska wrote:

hi Aurora, well the slogan "get out and mingle" is all very nice for the young... myself (being in my prime of course ), I do not really feel like leaving my country for any longer stretches of time



Of course, Joanna. I was just going back to Castellano's original proposal. Even if had the opportunity to move now (also being in my prime ) I am not so sure if I would take it. I have too many roots in Argentina. The experience of living abroad should have come at fifteen or twenty.


but I hope you'll admit translators are like wine: they tend to grow better with age (until Alzheimer's knocks on the door, of course)...


Who would deny this? If you want to make me suffer just show me anything translated by me, say, a couple of years ago.


and this is why I'm happy that I chose this particular profession where a person can be over fifty and still in his/her prime!
the best, jk


This leads us to wonder at what age a translator retires. At 65? At 70? At 75? Ever?

Au


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Joanna Krahelska
Local time: 13:10
Polish to English
+ ...
retirement...? Oct 2, 2005

Aurora Humarán wrote:

This leads us to wonder at what age a translator retires. At 65? At 70? At 75? Ever?



leaving aside Alzheimer's and other such delights, I would say a real freelancer never actually retires
on the other hand, I wonder: what is the standard life expectation of a translator? ever met an octagenarian among real professionals? well, I haven't... this might mean, sadly, that the issue of retirement is not applicable to many of us
the best, jk
PS. you're absolutely right: one's old translations are indeed a pain in the... whatever


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree Oct 3, 2005

What Lanna Castellano describes may not be the same in all details, but it is fairly similar to my own; similar enough that I can identify with it. I also took the time to travel and educate myself while young and later in life I continue to live fully in both languages and cultures that I have made my own.

Now as to whether an octagenarian can still function in the profession, ask me in another 15 years and if I'm still around I'll tell you. Well... another 15 years and one month to be exact.

I actually have known a few still working at or close to that age, and I assure you they can. Those who dig ditches, install roofing and paint houses may have to retire sooner, but at this time I am also still engaged in those kinds of activities so I may have some hope for an even longer future in translation.


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 19:10
English to Chinese
+ ...
Retired? Oct 3, 2005

Some young Taiwanese translators, under 35, told me that they suspect they would have long lives being in the profession.

I was tired in another profession and I get retired in translation. I hope, there shall be another 30 years to go with the fun.


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Joanna Krahelska
Local time: 13:10
Polish to English
+ ...
makes me feel even better! Oct 3, 2005

Henry Hinds wrote:

Now as to whether an octagenarian can still function in the profession, ask me in another 15 years and if I'm still around I'll tell you. Well... another 15 years and one month to be exact.

I actually have known a few still working at or close to that age, and I assure you they can.



thx Henry!
like I said, leaving aside the various unpleasant conditions of the elderly, I'm pretty sure I will still be working when I'm eighty... if I live to be eighty, of course (highly unlikely if you ask me, not with all my private risk factors, but then again you never know...)
also, it's nice to meet some people in their prime around the place!
the best, jk


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:10
Italian to English
One of us Oct 3, 2005

Lanna is, of course, a ProZ.com member:
http://www.proz.com/translators/41389?bs=1


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 08:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank you, Russell! Oct 3, 2005

Russell Jones wrote:

Lanna is, of course, a ProZ.com member:
http://www.proz.com/translators/41389?bs=1



I will send her an e-mail in case she has not seen this thread.

HugZ from Buenos Aires.

Au

[Edited at 2005-10-04 09:15]


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Lanna Castellano  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:10
Member (2003)
Italian to English
+ ...
The life path of a translator Oct 4, 2005

Well, well ... thank, you, Aurora, for telling me about this thread - a humble hacker at the coal face of legal translation quoted on the Literature and Poetry forum, inhabited by those people on the hilltops of our profession....

I hope I wasn’t being patronising when I gave that talk at a conference back in 1988. You have quoted the more serious bits, but even here it was a little tongue in cheek. I don’t think my views have changed much, though, about the life path of a translator. For a long time now I’ve been involved – in the Institute of Translation and Interpreting in the UK – with setting up a little support for those coming into translation and for those like me who have been around for ages but always hope to get better. It started with ‘guardian angels’, then went on to the less successful mentoring, and now we have a lively virtual ‘peer support scheme’.

I have seen people coming into the profession, many of them dropping out, and lots of them maturing and growing old here. The ones who have frightened me have been the people who do a language degree, then a post-graduate translation course, then struggle to start as a freelance and know nothing else in life. Did any of you decide at the age of 14 that you wanted to be a translator? Bet you didn’t. Bet your children look at you and say “never, never, will I do as dull a job as yours”. And they’re right, at least at their age. As long as you’ve acquired a good enough education, you should be off living “vite di avventure, di fede e di passioni”, to quote Benedetto Croce. You should be doing a dozen jobs, falling in love with a dozen people, most of them unsuitable except in giving you a new outlook on the world. If you’ve ever been engaged to the boy or girl next door, dump him or her. You will know when you really want to go back to learning our trade, and you when you want to be a little quieter and channel all that spirit of adventure and your faith and your passion into this best of all ways of making your living.

The thirties or forties are a good time to start. Who wants to be like footballers, high earners at 25, finished at what you’re good at when you’re 30? (There are so many Georgie Bests with their sad stories in the football world, very few Pele’s.)

As for how long we go on for, I know plenty of translators in their late 70s and 80s who have always been good and are even better now (I’m galloping after them myself, and at least I’m busy if not good). Henry H, at 65 you’re still a chickling. And, Joanna, you don’t have to worry about Alzheimer’s: statistical research has shown that the percentage of sufferers among translators and crossword addicts is minimal. There’s something about wrestling with words that keeps our minds agile. What may get us in the end is our eyesight – I had an old friend whose clients stopped sending him work because he never noticed the sentences at the top and bottom of the page. Now I come to think about it, men start to totter downhill in our profession a little earlier than women. A kind of mental rheumatism takes over and they lose the urge to learn, but even so that’s not until the the age of 84.

As they say (do they?), old translators never die, they just meet their final deadline.


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José Luis Villanueva-Senchuk  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 08:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
What a coincidence... Oct 4, 2005


«Our profession is based on knowledge and experience. It has the longest apprenticeship of any profession. Not until thirty do you start to be useful as a translator, not until fifty do you start to be in your prime.»


Thank you, Aurora!

You bring Castellano's words to us. She appears here and shares her essence with us

She/You mention this apprenticeship component. Please take a look at this thread in the Interpreting forum: http://www.proz.com/post/264403#264403



JL


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Krokodil
Germany
Local time: 13:10
German to English
+ ...
Grandparents Oct 4, 2005

I wonder where I could start up again and conjure up grandparents of different nationalities .....



Aurora Humarán wrote:

The life path of a translator (Lanna Castellano in Mona Bakers’s "In Other Words.")

Let us enjoy this paragraph by Lanna Castellano quoted by Mona Baker in her book: “In other words” (1992, London: Routlegde.) Castellano’s paragraph is part of a study she wrote in 1988.

Though obviously not feasible in some of its proposals .....



(quote from Lanna Castellano)
[…] Let me propose a life path: grandparents of different nationalities .......



[Edited at 2005-10-02 15:41]


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