miércoles, julio 20, 2005

Translation rules

At last somebody speaks of what needs to be spoken of. The other day, a coleague got flabbergasted when told that some translation agencies send you tests, without paying of course, and then use it as valid translations. It's clear to me that is cheaper to hire a proof-reader to unify texts that to hire several translators. Obviously, this is not a widely used practice, but you have to count on it just in case. Today, after months hearing of the MTM Translations scandal, I've found this little article by Màrius Serra in La Vanguardia. I have taken just part of it, and it says universal truths about the translator work, truths that probably someone not related directly or indirectly with translation knows.
Even though, before you can translate "cock-a-doodle-doo", some of those affected have started getting paid and the agency has changed its name showing some new creativity. The thing with translators is outrageous. They work very hard, get badly paid, most of the times without a contract, always on the run, without social recognition and with the constant fear of getting paid even less. The undeniable advances in applied linguistics within the field of automatic translation offer them very powerful tools, but they've gotten the public to think that translation is an automatic activity; machines do the job for them and then they revise one or two things. Nothing further from the truth. The complexity of translating a text from one language to another not only needs technique. You need some criteria to decide how to translate such and innocent phrase as "debajo de la cama tiene la mano María" from Spanish to Catalonian. (This lasts sentence is tricky to explain. The only thing you readers need to know is that when you translate that sentence without proper care, you get something that sounds very offensive).
Well, I think it's time we stand up for ourselves. We don't need to demand anything, we just need to have a little more self-steem, always thinking that the customer is always right. I know it sounds complicated, but out there there's people translating, producing high-quality texts and getting well paid. If they can, we do too. Besides, they're not even using secret weapons to reach that, just sign on to any translation forum, ask them and they'll tell you right away. Ladies and gentlemen, let's get it done!!

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