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I think everyone involved in the language services industry has heard this one once or twice. It is normally accompanied by the gnashing of teeth and an “if looks could kill” expression on the face of the translator being asked.

I can completely understand where people get this idea from – people who don’t speak different languages aren’t to know that machine translations are largely useless, and they often don’t consider the knowledge required to assess and translate the nuances and connotations of a particular utterance. That said, most first aiders recognise that they are not qualified to perform heart surgery, so why is translation different? Despite the fact that it is a highly academic discipline, and one which requires years of training, people just don’t recognise it as a legitimate profession. As Chiara mentioned in her article about Translation Day, there seems to be very little knowledge of the industry, and this can lead to misunderstandings.

Personally, I think that we all need to be a little less tetchy about this, and start to look at the positives. Someone just asked you a question about jour job, for a start. They actually showed an interest, so explain to them what goes into a good translation. We’re certainly not going to improve the image of the industry by biting people’s heads off for asking an innocent question. If we take these opportunities to educate people, and give them a glimpse into the business we work in, we have a much better chance of gaining recognition.

So, next time someone asks you this question, perhaps you will retort: “Well I know how to count, does that mean I should be Chancellor of the Exchequer?” Or, you may look at this as a positive, and end up having a pleasant discussion about the industry, and increasing understanding of an often ignored profession. Your choice, of course…

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Todos los que trabajamos en la industria de servicios lingüísticos hemos escuchado esta pregunta más de una vez. Normalmente la reacción del traductor ante esta pregunta es morderse la lengua y dirigirle una mirada envenenada de esas de “si las miradas matasen…”

Entiendo completamente de donde saca la gente esa idea, ya que aquellas personas que no hablan lenguas distintas no conocen la inutilidad de las traducciones automáticas y por tanto tampoco saben los conocimientos requeridos para estudiar y traducir los matices y connotaciones de un enunciado. La mayoría de los socorristas reconocen que no están cualificados para realizar una cirugía de corazón, ¿por qué ha de ser diferente en la traducción? La gente parece no reconocer la profesión del traductor como una profesión legítima, a pesar de ser una disciplina que requiere años de preparación académica. Como Chiara menciona en su artículo sobre el Día del Traductor, parece que hay muy poco conocimiento de la industria, y esto puede dar lugar a malentendidos.

Pienso que todos deberíamos ser un poco menos quisquillosos sobre este tema y comenzar a ver el lado positivo. Para empezar vamos a tomárnosla como una pregunta sobre tu trabajo. En realidad, esta persona está mostrando interés, así que le podemos explicar en qué consiste una buena traducción. Si nos comemos a la gente por hacer una inocente pregunta no vamos a conseguir mejorar la imagen de la industria. En cambio, si aprovechamos estas oportunidades para enseñar a la gente una visión del negocio real en el que trabajamos, tendremos más posibilidades de ganarnos su reconocimiento.

Por lo tanto, la próxima vez que alguien te haga esta pregunta, tienes dos opciones. Una es contestar: “Yo sé contar, ¿eso significa que debería ser el Ministro de Hacienda?” La otra es tomar la pregunta de manera positiva y terminar teniendo una agradable conversación sobre la industria de la traducción, y mejorar así la comprensión de una profesión a menudo ignorada. Por supuesto es tu elección…

Summary
Article Name
I know some Spanish, can I be a translator?
Description
Translation also requires years of training. It is not enough with knowing the language.
Author
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The service offered by Lingua Translations provides us with instant translation for every destination we travel to, and has proved invaluable.”

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