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Poll: Being a translator is most like being a:
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 11:47
SITE STAFF
Dec 24, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Being a translator is most like being a:".

This poll was originally submitted by John Cutler

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 21:47
Turkish to English
+ ...
Other Dec 24, 2009

A down and out - with current workloads!

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:47
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Theatre director? Dec 24, 2009

I think being a translator is a bit like being the director of a play (one of my favourite hobbies). You are trying (with interesting jobs, at least) to interpret someone else's work, bringing out the original writer's inner meaning (if any) and intentions, addressing an "audience", orchestrating the whole thing.
Of course quite often it is being a frenzied drudge and unappreciated maid of all work (as is being a theatre director)!
Merry Christmas, all Prozians,
Jenny


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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 20:47
English to French
+ ...
The closest ... Dec 24, 2009

... I found to a "go-between" is a diplomat.

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:47
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'm in the majority Dec 24, 2009

"detective".

I always find myself (function of being a legal translator?) asking: 1. What the * did s/he want to say by that? and 2. What the * didn't s/he want to say?

Eventually you resolve it diplomatically, but that's part of go-betweening


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:47
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Writer Dec 24, 2009

... the only difference being that you won't writing your ideas, but someone else's.

Bear in mind that I'm not limiting it to literature, but extending it to cover any kind of translation, the most technical included.


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
other> Dec 24, 2009

as a translator - the author's double writing in a different language;

as an interpreter - the author's understudy and a diplomat


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:47
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I didn't see "drudge" offered as a choice... Dec 24, 2009

Just kidding.....

Upon honest reflection, and not in the least wanting to cause any offense (least of all to myself) here is what I think:

When it comes to routine jobs, I think translation is something akin to higher level clerical work. It is, after all, a fairly mechanical process that does not require a great deal of reflection. It is of course also true that the mechanical nature of routine work does reflect a great deal of previous training and learning.

When it comes to "less routine" jobs, a translator is more like a writer/editor who is really engaging with the source text in a profound way and reshaping it creatively so that it most effectively conveys the intended message.

Of course, the matter is not always black and white: Any given job may involve relatively lower or higher proportions of both of the above categories of labor.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:47
Italian to English
Musician Dec 24, 2009

At its most exhilarating, translation is like playing a musical instrument from a score.

The score will have been written for another instrument (language), and may be on a different musical scale, let alone key, so it's a bit like playing piano music on the bagpipes. In addition, the harmonics (connotations and cultural references) of the original instrument may not be available and the translator's audience probably won't share the composer's musical tastes, expectations or sense of rhythm. Notes and chords will tend to resonate differently.

Yet despite all this, a good translator will be to produce a cogent, coherent performance that speaks to the new audience, delivering an equivalent emotional and informational message. Two good translators may come up with markedly different "performances" but both will remain faithful to the original score.

The analogy doesn't work quite so well for Robert's drudge jobs, though


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Abdulvahed  Identity Verified
Iran
Local time: 23:17
English to Farsi (Persian)
librarian Dec 24, 2009

Translator is like a librarian knowing nothing but all things.He knows where is so and so book without knowing all content within it.He knows what reference book he should refer when he is asked for meaning of a word or an article in an especial field of study.He is in control of all classifications of human knowledge, not considered as an expert of those knowledge still all experts are in need of his services.He has learnt how to organize contents of books so as to be more readily and easily available to public, special ,academic and national levels of audiences depending on their needs and tastes. A man for all and for no one who is always thought and sought for his services lack of which would prevent access to the content. Translator and librarian both have their own methods in providing content to their clients but their aim is one “ to make content of different sources available and accessible to clients”

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Miroslav Jeftic  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:47
English to Serbian
+ ...
Other Dec 24, 2009

None of the above for me.

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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 20:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
A collector Dec 24, 2009

I've always thought of myself as a collector of words, and translation is an extension of this for me. And I get oh so excited over some of my finds! But I do have a lot of "repeats" - perhaps someone would like to do a bit of swapping with me?!

Happy festive times everyone - I'm off home to throw together some Christmas dinner (Noche Buena).


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Richard Levy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:47
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Like a Rolling stone Dec 24, 2009

I love my work!

However, it reminds of the obnoxious, dumb ads on US TV. One minute you're getting work, at a decent or even great per-word rate. Next thing you're either 'bored #$%^&' due to no work or agents offering your wages so low you might as well starve.

All in all, thanks to my many decade love for foreign languages/ cultures, I love doing what we do.

Happy holidays and happy new year to all my fellow colleagues around the world!

Richard


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Anna Katikhina  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:47
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
diplomat Dec 24, 2009

it's all about the choice of right words

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Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 22:47
English to Russian
+ ...
Servant Dec 25, 2009

Why is servant not in the list?

Translation is a kind of service. Definitely not a tenth as prestigious as a doctor, not to mention a diplomat. I would compare translator to cab driver and in the present hard times - even to a janitor(

[Edited at 2009-12-25 07:23 GMT]


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