I recently stumbled upon a blog post by Oxford Dictionaries called “9 translators on what they love about translation“. Instead of reading it right away, I decided to stop and think of the things I love about translation, as a craft and as a profession, and here are my conclusions:
While translators are encouraged to specialize, each specialization can expose us to various fields and we get to learn new and interesting things all the time: literary translators move between periods, continents and registers; legal translators can translate a business contract, followed by a child custody agreement; as a translator specializing in marketing, I’ve translated many texts about fashion and cosmetics (two of my specializations), but also about baby toys, irrigation systems and IT products for businesses, as well as articles about management and education and personal correspondence. I translated simultaneously by typing lectures about augmentative and alternative communication, urban planning, and even a talk about the Von Trapp family, the inspiration behind “The Sound of Music”.
All this information we’re exposed to can enrich us and open us up to new domains we knew very little or nothing about, and maybe didn’t even know existed. Sometimes our texts provide us with insights and information we can implement in our own professional and personal lives. An article about marketing can help us promote our own business, and a psychological text can influence our behavior. And sometimes we just get to enjoy random new pieces of useless information.
We might be physically isolated, as most of us work from our home office, but the many translators organizations available around the world and the internet have created a lively translators community. First and foremost, our community supports us professionally: assistance with terminology, business advice, and referrals. (In the largest Hebrew translators group on Facebook it is agreed that there are no stupid questions.) Our community is also a place we can socialize, make friends and get emotional support. In one of my favorite international translators groups on facebook, translators from around the world send each other local chocolate. I feel like wherever we are, we can always contact the local translators community for recommendations and tips, or just to spend a pleasant evening with lovely people.
Translators can work from anywhere around the world; all we need is a computer with our preferred translation software and an internet connection. Those of us who are self-employed can work at the most convenient times for them and set their schedule according to their deadlines and needs.
In 7 years of being a translator, I’ve traveled all over Israel; I translated texts about one of my favorite museums in the world; I spent two hours at an artist’s studio, looking at his work and hearing his explanations; I translated a Nobel Memorial Prize laureate in Economics; And almost met an actual princess. I know translators who got to translate their favorite authors, and even a two translators who met at Israel Translators Association events and got marries – not bad for professionals who mostly work from home.
And of course, the actual work
Chasing after the right word, looking for the exact phrasing and finding the Hebrew equivalent – I just love it. In a way, I was looking for all of these, in conversations and in writing, even before I knew I would become a translator.
Now I’ve told you why I love being a translator, I can go read what the other 9 translators said on that blog post. And you, what do you love about our wonderful profession? What kind of experiences have you had? What useless facts have you found out through your work?