Trumpets and translation

Even though we strive for – and frequently achieve – excellence, we translators are normally quite a modest lot.

Except today, I received such wonderful feedback from an agency, I could not contain myself. I blew my own trumpet on Facebook, which I reserve for interaction with family and friends.

In typical translator fashion, I quoted the source text of the compliment, and provided a translation for my predominantly English-speaking friends, part of which made reference to the fact that my translation had already been revised.

One of my friends asked why my translation was revised. I told her about EN 15038 and quality control procedures both before I deliver the translation to an agency client, and what happens once the agency receives the translation. I also added a brief note about the difference between revision and proofreading. This made for a Facebook “comment” almost as long as this blog

Suddenly, it hit me. Not even good friends of long standing have any idea of what my job as a freelance translator entails!

I have known this particular friend since university days. We both studied French Literature, although we were not in the same year. Thanks to Facebook, we pit ourselves against each other in that glorious game of Scrabble (she wins, most of the time), and indulge in an FB chat once a fortnight, or so. She likes to write short stories and occasionally asks me to read through and comment on them and edit here and there. She has just returned the favour by casting her critical eye over something I have in the works. This friend is well-read, well-educated, has a varied and vast experience, and shows a keen interest in a great many things.

Yet for all our personal interaction, it never once occurred to me that she was unaware of the great quality control machine to which so much of our work is subjected. Or why, for that matter, after the rigours of checking and rechecking a translation countless times before delivery even if it is to be revised, I should choose to write a blog which requires more of the same treatment.

I think I shall have to find out more about the mechanics of what my friend does for a living, too.  I may even use such questions to throw her off her Scrabble game. 🙂

By way of explanation of one view of what a translator is, I shall leave you with a very rough sketch of a diagram I was going to give to someone else to draw in preparation for a presentation which never saw the light of day.  The comments were directed at the potential illustrator. It begs the question: Can one apologise for something, and make no apology for it at the same time?

There are other ways of looking at this, of course.
There are other ways of looking at this, of course.


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