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Poll: Is being open-minded an essential prerequisite for being a translator?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
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SITE STAFF
Dec 8, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Is being open-minded an essential prerequisite for being a translator?".

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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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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
Definitely Dec 8, 2007

- and I believe working as a translator helps to broaden/open the mind too.

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:34
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
It's an essential prerequisite for being Dec 9, 2007

That's all.
Jenny.


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Diana Arbiser  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:34
English to Spanish
+ ...
Ditto Dec 9, 2007

Jenny Forbes wrote:
It's an essential prerequisite for being

That's all.
Jenny.


That's exactly what was on my mind when I answered the poll.


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Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 00:34
English to Russian
+ ...
Important but not essential Dec 9, 2007

Being open-minded is a good quality for both work, friendship, parenthood, etc. I believe, I'm an open-minded person.

However, I would not go too far insisting that this quality is "essential." Good memory, patience, ability to concentrate, attention and accuracy are essential!

[Edited at 2007-12-09 07:51]


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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
I don't understand the question Dec 9, 2007

How can being open-minded be a specific prerequisite for being a translator?
How can being closed-minded/narrow-minded be a useful prerequisite for anything?
Agree with others-being opened-minded is a prerequisite for being.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:34
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not my business Dec 9, 2007

Jenny Forbes wrote:
It's an essential prerequisite for being
That's all.
Jenny.


Honestly, I feel that the fact that other people are open-minded or not is not really my business, the same way it not my business to judge or have an opinion about whether they like their eggs scrambled, fried or boiled... All people have a right to live and feel the way they prefer, even if I don't agree.


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Gianni Pastore  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:34
Member (2007)
English to Italian
Of course not Dec 9, 2007

It's like saying that there are NOT close minded people amongst us. Which is hardly the case, I believe (as for any other type of job out there).

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:34
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
As for the subject of this poll... Dec 9, 2007

... I voted N/A. In my opinion, our job is to translate, and as such we don't necessarily have to be ready to entertain all ideas. It would not be very honest to say that you are ready to entertain all ideas, as most probably every person accepts and agrees with just a very limited part of all ideas floating around in our world.

Let's compare with art dealers: they have to accept that many types of paintings exist, and they have to understand them and their painters. But they won't necessarily consider putting all of them in their private gallery at home. They'd probably buy for themselves just a very small fraction of all the paintings they see in the year. Does this make them closed-minded?

Or mechanics: they have to understand all models and makes (or at least those they work with), but if they could afford any of them, they'd probably choose for themselves just a few of the 500 models they are aware of. Does this make them closed-minded?

So most probably us translators must understand and be able to work with all ideas old and new, but this does not mean we should be ready to consider or entertain the idea of applying them in our lives, right? Does this make us closed-minded?


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Jim Tucker  Identity Verified
United States
Hungarian to English
+ ...
The question can be taken on the purely linguistic level,... Dec 9, 2007

... in which case open-mindedness is a primary attribute of the good translator: you must always be open to the possibility that you have misunderstood something, even slightly - always ready to give up a version in which you had confidence, if there come to the fore hints that it might be flawed.

In such cases, open-mindedness is the sensitivity to alternate paths, and a willingness to abandon your own. It is a constant awareness of your own shortcomings, real as well as merely conceiveable. This can really keep the translator out of all kinds of trouble.


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Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 16:34
German to English
I said yes, for the same reason Dec 9, 2007

Jim Tucker wrote:

... in which case open-mindedness is a primary attribute of the good translator: you must always be open to the possibility that you have misunderstood something, even slightly - always ready to give up a version in which you had confidence, if there come to the fore hints that it might be flawed.

In such cases, open-mindedness is the sensitivity to alternate paths, and a willingness to abandon your own. It is a constant awareness of your own shortcomings, real as well as merely conceiveable. This can really keep the translator out of all kinds of trouble.



I voted "yes", for exactly the same reason!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:34
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Definitely Dec 9, 2007

A few weeks ago I saw maestro Zubin Mehta bein interviewed on Italian TV. As it was on RAI International, this interview might have been older than it seemed... or not.

The interviewer asked Mehta what was his stance before the orchestra upon, say, playing Beethoven's Fifth. His answer was that he took the position of Beethoven's advocate. By reading the scores, his mission was to understand how Beethoven would like to have his masterpiece played, and get that message to the whole orchestra.

We, translators, are in a somewhat similar - though not wholly alike - position. Unless otherwise instructed (more about this below), we have to take what someone else wrote, and convert that same message, intent, content, into a different language, so that its speakers will get the same idea. This calls for the open-mindedness of not internalizing that idea, but conveying it as if we did. In the analogy, Mehta might compose music quite differently from Beethoven.

Sometimes we are requested to translate things in a way they look "local", not translated. That's why it's called "localization". Take for instance a leadership development program, which is expected to lose its foreign flavor during translation, so it will be readily absorbed by trainees in and from a different culture. Musically, one could compare this to the late Ray Conniff's versions of some classical music for dancing.

And for those who think narrow-mindedness is a flaw, there are some professions where it's a must. One example is occupational safery. Envision this:
"Hey, my brains are melting into sweat in this heat. Do you mind if I remove my helmet?"
"Most certainly. You must wear a helmet at all times in the foundry area. Your life may depend on it."

So, after all, the essential prerequisite for any profession prevails: common sense. It will tell you when, and what kind of, open-mindedness is required in translation.


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Cristina Heraud-van Tol  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 16:34
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No Dec 9, 2007

People are open-minded and close-minded regardless of their career. Some excellent doctors are prone to experiment with stem cells while others don't; this is not a prerequisite for being a doctor.

According to the dictionary, "Open-minded is to be open to new thoughts and ideas", and I believe this is something personal which is in your nature or not. The majority of translators I know are shy, introvert and conservative, yet they translate good. Perhaps they are more updated nowadays due to Internet but not necessarily open-minded.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:34
Flemish to English
+ ...
No Dec 9, 2007

What counts is have a thorough command of both source and target-languages in all their intracies and cultural aspects, being able to understand the content and to transpose this content in a correct written manner into the target-language. That is what we are doing, isn't it?


[Edited at 2007-12-09 15:04]


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R-i-c-h-a-r-d  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:34
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Being open-minded is a way of life... Dec 9, 2007

I think you have to be open-minded in your attitude towards life and therefore before starting out on a career as a translator but not necessarily open-minded AS a translator itself. In fact sometimes you have to be quite close-minded and just accept a standardised translation phrase, not just translate it in the way you feel it really should be written. There are certain standards in all industry specializations and we have to tow the line to a certain extent. As an author, perhaps you have to be more imaginative and open-minded, accepting new ideas, but as a translator we have to stick to the original as much as possible, respecting the author's ideas/facts, not digressing or deviating too much...

It's a good question. We have to be open-minded as people in all respects of life, in terms of politics and religion, the upbringing of our kids etc....but only to a certain extent when working on a translation.


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