Alexandra Gamanenko is a senior Ukrainin translator and editor of the Literary Translation Department at Design Studio. I read her entry and thought: it needs to be reproduced, so that more people get to read it.
So here we go:
(1)"Translator" is a profession: Wrong! There is no such thing as “just translator” anymore — almost all translators work in their own niches, translating types of texts they are familiar with in the fields they have at least basic knowledge. Such an approach helps translators ensure the highest quality and save time, both clients’ and their own. That is why a translator, who works with texts on IT or medicine, will refuse to take, say, an article on theoretical physics or a book of nursery rhymes.
In actual fact, the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators has a Code of Professional Conduct which bars its members from taking work they are not competent in on ethical grounds.
(2)The only thing a good translator needs is to know well is some foreign language. A bit like saying that all I need to be a dentist is a set of teeth! Knowing a foreign language is important. But so is knowing well the translator's NATIVE language. People assume that if some language is somebody’s mother tongue, they know it well. But there are millions of native speakers who have poor vocabulary and lack speaking or writing skills. People who can’t express their thoughts well enough in their native language will make mediocre translators. Being literate does not make you a Stephen King, does it?
(3) ALL good interpreters and translators can do each other’s work WELL. Sure. Define "well" and "good", please? Translating and interpreting require completely different skills. Of course, there are those who can combine do both jobs equally well, but not everyone. A shy bookworm with a stage fright can make an excellent translator, but never be a good interpreter.
Alexandra promises to write more. I can't wait :-)
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