The contradiction (?) of this profession
Thread poster: mariana24

mariana24  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:50
+ ...
Jan 14, 2008

Hi all,

I've been thinking lately -and literally- about the theory and practice of Translation, yes. I would like to know if you share any of my thoughts/feelings about this.

I have always had a love affair with words, literature, words' meaning, language, etc., as I gather many of us have. Since I became a full-time translator -not too long ago- I have discovered that the romantic idea I had about translating as spending hours on end thinking about what meaning to convey in the other language, reading and investigating the origin of practically all words, and so on, and enjoying it all the way, has more or less been knocked down by the practicalities of my plain economic needs. I enjoy what I do, and I do very much. But not in the way I thought I would, as I describe above. I find my self tied up on a string of deadlines, with little time to really give it a third thought, although extremely careful about the first and second thought. Did Trados clean-up successfully? Can I manage this DTP? Am I supposed to edit all this text on these images?

I am sure I am not the only one, but apart from those of you lucky enough to be able to actually do this without the limit of a tight time frame and crazy deadlines -and most probably dedicated to literary translation, how do you make your translation dream come true? Do you? Did/do you have one? How do you manage with both worlds?

Thanks in advance. I need your thoughts to stir mine.


PS: Don't get me wrong. I never thought that this job had no down-to-earth aspects. It's the distance between the look from outside and the actual thing I am thinking about. I find that distance as being too far.


Krzysztof Łesyk  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:50
Japanese to English
+ ...
Romantic or not, this is still fun! Jan 14, 2008

I (think I) know how you feel - I used to have a different idea of translator's/interpreter's work before I started doing it "for real". I'm not a freelancer - I work in an office doing translations/interpreting for one particular project at the time - so my deadlines are usually not that strict and I'm being paid by the hour regardless of the amount of work I have to do, but the job is definitely less romantic than I thoughticon_wink.gif

Anyway, what keeps me going is re-adjusting my dreams a little bit. I still like researching words I find interesting, pondering grammar structures and so on, but what I thrive on now, is the sense of accomplishment after finishing a large and/or difficult project. In my particular situation (translating/interpreting between two foreign languages) the joy is even bigger - when I submit a translation to our American subcontractor and they congratulate me on a job well done or say that they couldn't have done it without me I'm on top of the world. If I have to translate TO Japanese and I'm congratulated - no words can express how great I feelicon_biggrin.gif

What I'm trying to say is, even if the work is not exactly what you though it would be, I'm sure you can find lots of joy and happiness doing it. Even if sometimes deadlines seem too tight, people insist on sending you PDFs or graphic files instead of easily editable formats (the bane of my existence, I swearicon_wink.gif) and you have to fight with your software more than with your dictionary (fortunately I don't have to use Trados. Hell, I wouldn't even know how).

Best wishes to you and keep a stiff upper lip - as I always say, easy things get boring much too quickly!icon_smile.gif


Renée van Bijsterveld  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:50
Member (2007)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Focus on the few nice jobs Jan 14, 2008

Yes, that's right, most of the time it's simple production work, but sometimes there are jobs for which you can do this little extra. I can live weeks on a translation that's a little more understandable than the original (some source manuals are really badly written) because of my efforts, or a job for which I do have the time to brood on this or that translation (mostly overnight, I have to admit). Not very romantic, I agree, but I just try to keep focussing on the few really nice and challenging jobs: they make up for the many other words that simply pay my bills.

And I still spend a lot of time looking up meanings etc. but I try to do it ever faster than before.


Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:50
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Alienation of worker and work Jan 14, 2008

It happened according to Karl Marx with the rise of capitalism and industrialisation. This affects all professional work nowadays. Only artists are sometimes excluded. A famous painter can still start a painting everyday anew till she is really satisfied with the result, or a famous director can spend a whole shooting day on one take.
The rest of us has to optimise his use of time. I they pay us per word we are hardly expected to put out masterpieces.
And there are directors who shoot every take only once and still considered masters. So perhaps there are also translators among us that can do it.



The Misha
Local time: 22:50
Russian to English
+ ...
What did you expect, really? Jan 14, 2008

A bed of roses? At least you don't have to punch the clock every morning.

As to the allusion to Karl Marx, the alternative suggested by this venerable gentleman sure as hell made the worker bees happy. I should know, I experienced it first hand.


mariana24  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:50
+ ...
Thank you =) Jan 15, 2008

Thank you Krysztof, ReneevB an Heinrich, there are the good parts too, of course, and as I say, I do enjoy them, fortunately. Thank you for you happier view, it helps. But most of all, I confirm I am not alone, and that is a relief.

As for Misha, thank you also. I can see you can really understand written English.




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