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Status of translators
Thread poster: David Young
David Young  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:28
Danish to English
Nov 13, 2009

Found the following article (in English) on Århus School of Business' website. It's about the profession in Denmark but I think it will ring bells across the globe.

http://www.asb.dk/news.aspx?pid=20590&focus=23459


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:28
French to German
+ ...
Frightening! Nov 13, 2009

Thanks for the link, David.
AFAIAC, it rings the alarm bells...


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:28
English to French
+ ...
Not that I wasn't aware of this trend, but... Nov 13, 2009

...it can't hurt to outline this here.

The nice thing is that I am now not just repeating this only to be labeled as a naysayer--there is evidence to back it up.

From the article:
...poor product communication in, for example, technical manuals, patient information leaflets or advertising texts is associated with poor product quality...

Now, I can say in all honesty that I didn't make this up.

Also:
The next phase of the project involves studying the reasons for translators’ relatively low status with a view to ensuring, in the long term, that the profession gets the recognition it deserves.

Have I got a clue for the next phase! I see images of translators looking in the mirror, repeating "Lo-ser! Lo-ser! Nananana-na-na!" Newbies, please wake up and smell the coffee!

I will be saving this link for sure.


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 13:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Status? No problem. Nov 13, 2009

In my experience - both as a translator and as an engineer - those who express most concern about 'low professional status' are, precisely, those who have worked themselves into a low status rut and do not have the professional skills, the knowledge - or in many cases, the guts - to do anything about it.

Professional status is not - indeed, cannot possibly be - conferred by any university degree. It is attained by hard work and the consistent delivery of top-quality products to worthwhile clients.

The status of the translation profession as a whole will float skywards once the majority of those who do translating for a living act professionally. In the meantime, those of us who already find our professional status perfectly satisfactory on an individual basis will continue to wonder why there are so many moaners here.

MediaMatrix


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Susana Valdez  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:28
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A complex subject that cannot be sumarized in a few lines Nov 13, 2009

mediamatrix wrote:

The status of the translation profession as a whole will float skywards once the majority of those who do translating for a living act professionally. In the meantime, those of us who already find our professional status perfectly satisfactory on an individual basis will continue to wonder why there are so many moaners here.

MediaMatrix


Your comment is rather subjective, in my opinion. I've just finished my MA thesis about the Translator's Invisibility, studying the status and the role of the translator (in the Portuguese context) and the *reality* is far more complex. I suggest you read the opinion of scholars like the well known Mona Baker or even of Arrojo.


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 13:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Subjective? Yes, of course... Nov 13, 2009

Susana Valdez wrote:
Your comment is rather subjective, in my opinion.

I began with
MediaMatrix wrote:
"In my experience..."

so of course I was expressing a personal, subjective opinion - not addressing translation specifically but rather professional life in general. It reflected my long-held view formed from having seen many people from many walks of life all complaining about the status (or lack thereof) of their chosen profession when in fact they would do better to address their own professional and personal standing within their wider working environment. The translation profession will only be recognised as a true profession when it becomes one; that will only happen when it is populated in the majority with competent people able and willing to deliver quality output in a business-like fashion. Note that I refer to 'competent people' - you'll not find me amongst those who pretend that any kind of formal training in translation is necessary to be a 'profesional', since in my experience (again...) that is simply not the case.

As it happens, leaving aise the specific reference to translation, the first paragraph of my first post here was a quote from something I had published around 35 years ago, in the learned journal of a learned institution in the engineering field. I was responding then to an article entitled "Raising the status!" in which a peer had complained bitterly about the public's poor perception of engineers. Nothing, it seems, has changed...

Frankly I'm not any more interested in the views of Mona Baker (presumably another 'moaner'), or indeed of Arrojo, than I am in the generalisations of hundreds of other so-called professionals who seem quite unable to look at themselves with the same perspicacity as they employ when observing others.

MediaMatrix

[Edited at 2009-11-13 20:32 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:28
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just history! Nov 13, 2009

The history of good translations vs. bad translations is as old as translation, the same way good sex vs. bad sex has been topical since the invention of sex.

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The Misha
Local time: 11:28
Russian to English
+ ...
When I was getting started in this busines Nov 13, 2009

some 25 years ago, nobody studied translator invisibility or any other things translator for that matter. What we did instead was study the craft and try to do the best job we possibly could. It's about professional ethics, really, and if you ask me, it's not all that complicated.

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:28
English to French
+ ...
I agree with you Nov 13, 2009

mediamatrix wrote:

Frankly I'm not any more interested in the views of Mona Baker (presumably another 'moaner'), or indeed of Arrojo, than I am in the generalisations of hundreds of other so-called professionals who seem quite unable to look at themselves with the same perspicacity as they employ when observing others.

Straight as an arrow to the point!

However, as a proud moaner, I challenge you to deny this: those who moan the loudest are usually those who also do something about it. At least, I know I do...

There is black and there is white, but let's not ignore all the shades of gray between them.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:28
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
No time to worry about "status" Nov 13, 2009

mediamatrix wrote:
Professional status is not - indeed, cannot possibly be - conferred by any university degree. It is attained by hard work and the consistent delivery of top-quality products to worthwhile clients... those of us who already find our professional status perfectly satisfactory on an individual basis will continue to wonder why there are so many moaners here.


The Misha added:
What we did instead was study the craft and try to do the best job we possibly could. It's about professional ethics, really, and if you ask me, it's not all that complicated.


Not much to add there. Our situations are indeed so diverse, and in some cases complex, that it is far more productive to look at an individual situation and how it can be improved. I would approach this profession a bit differently if I were a Bulgarian to German translator. I deal with my realities (easy ones for the most part), others with theirs. Or how much detailed use can a high-end catering service get from the business plan for the local Greasy Burger fast food joint? Both models may work fine in their respective situations, but they are different. What the have in common if they succeed is hard work, perception and flexibility.

*****

Edited to add:

What we must not forget is also the general trend for professions practised by many women to be devalued. The reasons for this have been discussed many times in many places, but from my own experience and private conversations with super female translators I know, it's clear that the problem has only a little to do with the clientele. Like in other career fields, women's earnings and status lag because they accept situations which a man would not. I find this deeply distressing, because I have watched the effect of this for decades on the generation before me, my generation and my daughter's generation. Until there are major changes in attitude, there won't be much improvement of the averages. Much better to focus on one person, today, where something might actually be achieved.

[Edited at 2009-11-13 22:55 GMT]


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 13:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aha! - A Challenge! Nov 13, 2009

ViktoriaG wrote:
However, as a proud moaner, I challenge you to deny this: those who moan the loudest are usually those who also do something about it. At least, I know I do...


Again (at the risk of boring my Friday night readers to tears), on the basis of my own subjective and very personal experience in engineering and translation, I agree that some fellow professionals have, as you say:
done something about it.


But, looking around me today, and despite endless moaning (in which I confess I participated in the days of my youth) I see nothing better than status quo in the status of the engineering profession compared to 35 years ago, and a steady* decline in the status of translation.

Moan all you want, Viktoria, I honestly don't think it will help either you or this so-called profession.

MediaMatrix

*I write 'steady' - I ought to have been more direct: 'rapid'.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:28
English to French
+ ...
Not on its own, no Nov 14, 2009

mediamatrix wrote:

Moan all you want, Viktoria, I honestly don't think it will help either you or this so-called profession.

Moaning on its own will not help, I give you that. But sometimes, a moaning session helps to convince people to do something about it. Moaners at least help to confirm to some that their preoccupations are shared by others, which can be motivating. Enough people are fooled into believing that penny-per-word rates are THE standard--when you see others moan about it, you have a chance to realize that that is far from being the standard. It may not always be the case, but sometimes, it will convince some to, as Kevin suggests, at least do something about one's own business.

But you are free to have your own theory.


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Alistair Gainey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:28
Member (2009)
Russian to English
Do we even exist at all? Nov 17, 2009

Not according to the UK's Office for National Statistics, whose recently published Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings includes (in Table 14) over 400 occupations, including the likes of bookbinders, park rangers and poultry dressers, but (as far as I can see) does not mention translators or interpreters (see http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=15313).

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David Young  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:28
Danish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Figments Nov 17, 2009

Alistair Gainey wrote:

Not according to the UK's Office for National Statistics, whose recently published Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings includes (in Table 14) over 400 occupations, including the likes of bookbinders, park rangers and poultry dressers, but (as far as I can see) does not mention translators or interpreters (see http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=15313).


I've often wondered if I was a figment of my own imagination


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:28
Italian to English
Enquiry Nov 18, 2009

I have e-mailed the UK National Statistics Office, requesting an explanation.

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