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Poll: Do you think the social prestige of translators is high?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
SITE STAFF
Mar 9, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think the social prestige of translators is high?".

This poll was originally submitted by Dr. Tilmann Kleinau. View the poll results »



 

Silvia Barra (X)  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:44
English to Italian
+ ...
No, at least in Italy and for women Mar 9, 2010

In Italy the common people believe that almost everyone can do a translation: it is sufficient to have a dictionary and a PC. There are companies that prefer using an internal resource (if the person little knows the argument and the language) rather than asking for a translator.
Moreover, for women translation is considered an hobby, a way to spend some time between cooking, laundering and caring about children.
Unfortunately this is reflected by rates.

Silvia


 

Susanna Martoni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:44
Member (2009)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Don't think so Mar 9, 2010

In Italy like all over the world there are people who do not know many aspects of life, do not consider other jobs, are not interested in knowledge, do not care at all of anithing at all.
The most important point of view, to me and when speaking of translations, is mine (and ours!).

That's why I voted Yes.

(I know, Silvia, that there are many people who consider women and translators second-hand beings. I just pretend they do not exist. As long as I can stand...)


 

DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:44
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Depends ... Mar 9, 2010

I am often asked - isn't that all done by machines/software etc nowadays? What to say ....

 

Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:44
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
Invisible entities Mar 9, 2010

Our job is to be invisible, creating the illusion that the target text is not in fact a translation. As soon as the reader's attention is drawn to the translator you are doing something wrong. Inevitably this leads to our invisibility in the prestige scale. The problem is that, while real translators go unnoticed, 'mock' translators are made conspicuous by their mistranslations and poor use of language. Unfortunately this reflects on the whole industry.

Simon


 

Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:44
English to Italian
No Mar 9, 2010

I voted no, as I am usually told/asked:

- you work when and if you want (really??? - and how can I eat regularly, pay bills...??)

- you have a lot of free time (oh sure, that's why I wake up at 6 am and work till 8 pm and sometimes - fortunately - I work on saturday mornings, and I visit my parents with my computer...)

- you are rich (ouch! maybe I can't read properly my bank balance!)

- exactly, what do you do? (my answer: without me and my
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I voted no, as I am usually told/asked:

- you work when and if you want (really??? - and how can I eat regularly, pay bills...??)

- you have a lot of free time (oh sure, that's why I wake up at 6 am and work till 8 pm and sometimes - fortunately - I work on saturday mornings, and I visit my parents with my computer...)

- you are rich (ouch! maybe I can't read properly my bank balance!)

- exactly, what do you do? (my answer: without me and my colleagues you couldn't read any foreign book, article, document.... you should study languages!!!)

- it is not a real job, you know the languages so there is not any effort (hey, do you think I am a living dictionary? - do you think I can type just using my brain?)

- you're lucky, you get paid for doing nothing (I usually use very bad words to reply - as far as I am concerned I decided to be a translator when I was 15, and I did all I could to become a translator, as anyone else here I think)

so after this very short list... social prestige? what is it? I do this job because I love it, and I am lucky I don't do it for my prestige, or I would need a doctor to recover from depression!!!

take care and be strong!!!
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Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:44
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
Depends what other profession we use as a point of reference Mar 9, 2010

I chose neither high nor low as I don't believe that we belong to either extreme. Also I believe that translators are not homogeneous group - rather the opposite. I agree with Diane - competition with machine translation does us no favour

Cheers
Stanislaw


 

Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:44
French to English
+ ...
No but... Mar 9, 2010

No, I don't think we have high "social prestige" as such, but here in the UK, at least, you're often regarded as being very clever. Gosh, you speak 2/3/4 foreign languages - you must be really brainy. But then, that's because so few people in the UK bother to learn any language other than English.... Then again, there are those (like my ex-father-in-law) who equated what I do to to being a typist - grrr!

As others have said, it really doesn't matter if you love what you do. I'm quit
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No, I don't think we have high "social prestige" as such, but here in the UK, at least, you're often regarded as being very clever. Gosh, you speak 2/3/4 foreign languages - you must be really brainy. But then, that's because so few people in the UK bother to learn any language other than English.... Then again, there are those (like my ex-father-in-law) who equated what I do to to being a typist - grrr!

As others have said, it really doesn't matter if you love what you do. I'm quite happy working away behind the scenes. It is very satisfying, however, when you're away on holiday and you come into your own sorting out problems with bills, accommodation, incidents for your non-linguist friends. I like to think that helps to increase our prestige slightly!
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Elodie Bonnafous
France
Local time: 01:44
Member (2009)
German to French
+ ...
It depends Mar 9, 2010

It depends on many criteria, and above all on the social context / culture.

In France, my experience is that we are highly respected, whereas in Germany, when I say I work as a translator, most people look down on me, as if they considered translation as a "minor" job. Many answer "sure, you're a French native speaker, so it must be easy for you", and many ask "why don't you rather work as a teacher?". In Germany many consider translation as a "survival job for people who find nothi
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It depends on many criteria, and above all on the social context / culture.

In France, my experience is that we are highly respected, whereas in Germany, when I say I work as a translator, most people look down on me, as if they considered translation as a "minor" job. Many answer "sure, you're a French native speaker, so it must be easy for you", and many ask "why don't you rather work as a teacher?". In Germany many consider translation as a "survival job for people who find nothing else".
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Caterina De Santis
Italy
Local time: 01:44
Member (2009)
German to Italian
Invisible entities 2 Mar 9, 2010

I agree with Simon's opinion:

"Our job is to be invisible, creating the illusion that the target text is not in fact a translation. As soon as the reader's attention is drawn to the translator you are doing something wrong. Inevitably this leads to our invisibility in the prestige scale."

anyway I am very proud to create this illusion.
Caterina


 

Sandra Petch
Local time: 01:44
French to English
+ ...
An underestimated profession Mar 9, 2010

If translation were highly regarded, we would never hear:

"I would do this myself but I don't have time"
"It's an easy text to translate"
"We translated this ourselves, it just needs a quick check"

I know that a senior translator at a French multi-national used to answer the second statement with "I'll be the judge of that!"


 

Ciarán Rooney  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 00:44
Member (2009)
Danish to English
+ ...
Look at you like you've two heads Mar 9, 2010

Most people in Ireland have never thought of translation before. They're either interested or look at you as someone that should go out and get a proper job.

Ciaran


 

polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
translators, no - interpreters, yes Mar 9, 2010

If you wear both hats, you will find that when you announce youself as an interpreter, people prick up their ears and look at you with respect. They'll ask you if it is hard to do, whether you have interesting anecdotes or whether you have ever worked for anyone famous.....
Somehow being an interpreter equates with having a highly intelligent brain and being able to do something out of the ordinary..
Re-shoot the scene from the start and imagine the reaction when you say you are a tr
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If you wear both hats, you will find that when you announce youself as an interpreter, people prick up their ears and look at you with respect. They'll ask you if it is hard to do, whether you have interesting anecdotes or whether you have ever worked for anyone famous.....
Somehow being an interpreter equates with having a highly intelligent brain and being able to do something out of the ordinary..
Re-shoot the scene from the start and imagine the reaction when you say you are a translator. The best you can expect is for someone to ask you what languages you speak. Mostly, you can hear the lead balloon hit the floor.
Yet, at the end of the day, the two jobs require more or less the same skills and translation requires a degree of precision that interpreters can at times get away without.... but that is another tale...

[Edited at 2010-03-09 12:48 GMT]
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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:44
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
yes interpreter.... Mar 9, 2010

interpreters, people know. Translators seem to have the same image as writers in that 'anyone can do it.' It's not really a special skill. And the fact that you have different or flexible work hours makes people think you spend your days on vacation. OK, i often am asleep when others are awake, but I also work when most people are sleeping!

 

Barbara Figueroa Savidan
Spain
Local time: 01:44
French to Spanish
+ ...
I said yes... Mar 9, 2010

I said yes just to encourage myself!

I think that some people understand our job and is interrested in it, and other just are unable to understand what a translator is...

But the most complicated thing is to make people understand our schedule, timetable, etc. because we DON'T have one... In my case, I am available 24/24 hours... and as somebody else said, I travel with my computer everywhere!

Anyway, I love my job and It would be very hard for me to work
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I said yes just to encourage myself!

I think that some people understand our job and is interrested in it, and other just are unable to understand what a translator is...

But the most complicated thing is to make people understand our schedule, timetable, etc. because we DON'T have one... In my case, I am available 24/24 hours... and as somebody else said, I travel with my computer everywhere!

Anyway, I love my job and It would be very hard for me to work again as an employee in an office with a boss... NO WAY!!!
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