When I grow up, I want to be…

by Néstor Hernández, TI department.

 

Just for a moment, let’s move our imagination to July 1789. To Paris, in particular.

Tired of the established system, after fulfilling thousands of lines on the Complaint Books, you take part in the Bastille Day and, surprisingly, you escape unharmed from the short, but intense, battle.

Sometime after that, and due to circumstances that occur in life, you are with the Napoleon troops in Egypt, taking part in the Commission des Sciences et des Arts. The sun sets and the heat burns your brain so intensely that focusing becomes difficult and being aware of what you just discovered becomes even more complicated: a polished plate showing three writings into, apparently, three different languages.

The rest of the story is well known. You may have even seen the plate itself in the British Museum with your own eyes.

Two centuries later, you usually work sitting in front of a machine which is able to help you in the wonderful task of the global communication. Every day you are part of one chain: one device is manufactured in China and, a few months later, a person in Puerto Rico streets is reading peacefully the User Guide in her language, just to find out how the device works.

If you think about it carefully, it is really wonderful. Obviously it is difficult to be aware, during 8-9 hours a day, of the crucial role a translator plays in the communication channel.

As if we were in a time machine, this little post would love to bring you back again to 2013. As the figure who took us to Egypt in his African campaign would say: from this blog, 215 years are watching us. Let’s stop and think for a second with this amazing perspective of time.

The day will come when we must choose something to express and develop our concerns, a vocation that motivates us to deepen the knowledge of our favorite matter. Unfortunately, this century will not be well remembered due to its extremely hesitant economical starts, as the world crash has affected, at least minimally, every averagely developed country. It is clearly seen that the influence of this situation sets a trend when choosing a profession.

The question I am finally asking is targeted to two well defined groups:

One group would consist in the Translation & Interpreting students, in their last college years. The excitement and the vision of an unstable horizon perturb the hope for a immediate working future.

The second group would consist in graduates, who are working as freelancers or regular employees for one o several companies from the industry.

In both cases, and specifically regarding the technical translation field and taking into account we should not express feelings neither moods in them (instructions, guides, documentation), the question I am asking is:

Are you aware that your work should not only get limited to producing X words per hour, even if the customer demands so, to make your production be the highest in the group or to type faster or slower in your wonderful PC?

A good translator must differentiate by uniting vocation and brain when doing her job.

The only thing that the limits set by style guides, TMs or terminology do is putting up logical barriers (sometimes, psychological) when completing the final translation work. However, regardless the number of tools we use, the human component will be still there.

Who did not hear that our industry would fail badly due to the existence of the intelligent software able to automate our daily tasks… I can assure, according to my personal experience and background, that this was also brought up 10 years ago. The answer is easy: if you are reading this little story, it means you are keeping your job.

The barriers I mentioned before condition the way, but we must provide our own intuition of the translated text and the target it is directed to.

Without the need to press any button in our imaginary time machine, we are back again to 1798, to that hot afternoon, with a written stone in our hands and all the power you have thanks to the wonderful human ability to create and to interpret.

You can finish the reading and keep on thinking that tomorrow at 10 am you will have to deliver this or that project. For those thinking so, quick revision of the grammar and style changes and end of the post.

A little percentage may decide that they do not want that part of the text to be just simple characters and symbols unified to form sentences. They want their training and education signature and seal to be carefully reflected among the words.

To my best knowledge, in order to close a blog post properly, you must include a little moral as the final ingredient.
A great musician gets differentiated by her interpretation.

A very technical and perfectionist student watches and reads the Mozart’s Ave Verum score and executes it without skipping any silence, any quaver, any quarter note… the full piece with no mistake at all. The audience will hear and receive the notes and frequencies perfectly ordered and executed. End of the post.

A great music interpreter, as your academic degree mentions, makes the audience tremble with those notes. I can assure that she will remark or cut out a quaver if the emphasis deserves it.

No need to mention Mozart for this example: the joy when you sing a Happy Birthday song to a close person is wonderful for the honoree, even if you are interpreting in F major by mixing harmonies and diminished notes.

Make others tremble with your texts and corrections; you are interpreters and, secondly, translators.

And now, finally, end of the post.