Today is International Translator’s Day, a day of celebration, pride and – still – hard work. Although our work is appreciated by clients and end clients alike, there’s much ignorance about our job. When I tell people that I’m working as a freelance translator, they often ask “So you translate books?” or tell “Wow, I use Google Translate all the day”. The International Translator’s Day therefore is a nice day to celebrate our job, to connect with others and to praise ourselfes for the great job we’re doing day after day.
There are many reasons to be proud of our job, and below I list 5 that we do not easily realise. So spread the word or print them to use them in those days you cannot think about anything to be proud of (I know, that happens as well).
1. We make things available to the world
We’re not inventors, we’re not all whiz-kids, but we bring things to the world – or the world to things. Whether we are translating a recipe for a whole new food product or a manual for a brand-new smartwatch: we unlock products with potential for people who didn’t have access to them before.
As translators we are ensuring success for the companies who develop products. How would they be able to market their products or to deliver their products if there were no such people like translators – who know the ins and outs of products and markets alike and who can build the cornerstones for success of global players in local markets? Not many people will realize it, but without translators the world would have looked much worse.
2. We are good in keeping secrets
Can you hold a secret? I can and therefore I won’t write about what I translated yesterday. And no, you won’t know it in 7 years!
We’re required to sign NDAs and confidentiality agreements and sometimes we’re so scared by the penalties they ‘promise’ that will take our secrets into our graves.
But hey, we would even use our common sense and shut our mouths if we didn’t sign those papers, wouldn’t we?
We’re good in keeping secrets and companies who hire us can rest assured that their valuable business information will not be published – now or never.
3. We are front-runners in a fast-changing industry
I am not even ten years in business but things have changed so much! CAT tools are improving year after year, companies are investing in machine translations and knowledge is more accessible than ever. In order to keep up that fast pace, we need to invest in training, in knowledge and in new tools – again and again.
Only by keeping upfront we can make sure that we are in business five years from now. That’s what we like and we make sure that we master all our tools to stay competitive and to offer our clients the best service possible.
4. We are specialists
There are specialists and generalists, but in general even the generalists are specialists. We are professionals in language and in certain fields: we know how to speak and write our language, we know the spelling and grammar rules from several languages (source and target at least), we know how to use our software and resources, and we know everything from a few fields. So if clients come up with something we never did before, we know how to use our knowledge and tools to provide the best service possible and will use our brains to deliver the best translation possible. If we are not specialists in a field, we’re at least specialists in flexibility.
5. We are indispensable
In about 5 years a great deal of our work is replaced by machines, who master the logic behind our language. But we will educate them. In another 5 years, the quality of machine translations is almost perfect, and we will only need to make some minor amendments. But we will do.
The major companies will replace us by machines. But we will keep working – translating books or important texts that stupid robots don’t master. Technology is causing anxiety and our job will certainly change. But we will survive.
We’re indispensable and companies will always need linguistic professionals – even if it’s only to make sure that they’re machines are not choking in terms they will never be able to speak aloud. Our ability to keep secrets (machines can be hacked, humans not), our linguistic specialism and our flexibility will open new horizons and companies will need us to make things available to the world.
And again …