In 2012 I created a list of signs you should be a translator, with the kind help of the members of the Agenda Translation Forum on Facebook. Here it is:
(You may have stumbled upon this list before, as the Norwegian-Hebrew translator Dana Caspi translated it into Norwegian for a workshop several months ago, and it got translated into other languages. At the end of this post you can find the German version, translated from Norwegian by Ebba D. Drolshagen.)
- You read any text you see, be it your milk carton or conditioner bottle.
- Language mistakes give you the shivers.
- You obsessively correct people’s grammar.
- You also obsessively proofread every text you stumble upon (including those on the back of your cleaning products) and edit it too, while you’re at it.
- You always help people find the words they’re looking for.
- You always help tourists communicate with bus drivers and supermarket cashiers.
- That moment when you’re reading a text in your source language for fun and suddenly realize you’re translating it in your head.
- You’re also trying to decide if you want to translate it and if your target audience will like it.
- People always ask you about word meanings.
- You usually know the answer.
- When people ask you a professional question, you usually ask for the context.
- When you read a translated novel, you keep wondering what the source looked like.
- Sometimes you realize the novel you’re reading is actually in its original language.
- When you read a book with lots of word plays, you’re upset or frustrated because it’s untranslatable.
- And then you feel sorry for the actual translator.
- You know your text better than its author.
- You won’t rest until you find the exact word you’re looking for.
- That moment you wake up in the middle of the night with that word you were looking for yesterday.
- You get mad when book reviews fail to mention the translator.
- You get asked at least once a month what’s the use for translators when you’ve got Google.
- The number of dictionaries you own is in the double-digits zone, and the digit in the tens place probably isn’t one.
- Your happiest moment is when you stumble upon a word you don’t know and have to look it up.
- You call limousine services to ask about vehicle lengths and their local names, not to mention jewelry-making supplies stores, lawyers, accountants, crane operators and rock band members – anyone who can help you find the correct term.
- When looking for that elusive term, you also enter countless online professional forums and post questions that start with “hello, I’m a translator and I’m working on a text about…”
Can you think of other signs? Please post them in the comments.
Many thanks to the Agenda group members, and especially Linda Penias Ohana, Inbal Sagiv-Nakdimon, Liron Rubins, Sharona Guri, Lior Betzer, Nina Rimon Davis, Tami Eylon Ortal, Ada Lewinski, Anna Lein, Guy Herling, Mor Rosenfeld, Ora Dankner and Yifat Ben Yaakov.