This simple question asked on Twitter got great response and I though I would share some inspired tweets from translator, interpreter and editor colleagues. So here you go, and let me know if you find more ideas to throw into the mix!
Let’s start with basics
Knowing a foreign language makes you great translator.
(While I’m at it, my favourite comparison: having fingers makes you a great pianist.)
— ☕ Okultysta Brodokles🕯️💀 🦈🐼 (@beardimon) 2018年7月3日
Not anyone who speaks 2+ languages can be a translator. Translation is a supercompetence that requires extremely high levels of reading comprehension, writing ability, critical thinking, and cultural knowledge (to name a few things.) You have to be an expert in everything
— Calvin Westfall (@calbinw) 2018年7月2日
Translator and Interpreter are two different jobs
A person who speaks multiple languages, and acts as an intermediary so that people who don’t speak the same language can converse aloud with one another, is not called a “translator”.
— Andrew Levine (@andrewlevine) 2018年7月3日
Translation is an art
Foreign languages are not just yours spoken with a silly accent, and word for word translations will almost always be unintelligible. Any halfway readable translation is 50% the original 50% the translator.
Also, there are levels of fluency between ‘none’ and ‘native.’
— gG (@dubble_g) 2018年7月3日
And we translators are human, after all
Translators are not infallible. We can’t produce a perfect text. So either have it proofread or pay the translator enough so they can hire a proofreader.
— StarlingUK #fbpe #inlimbo (@starlinguk) 2018年7月2日
Why most of us only have a maximum of 1, occasionally 2 target languages
To be a good translator it’s much more important to be excellent at your own language (the one you’re translating into) than at the foreign language you’re translating from.
— Ervin Sperla (@sperlaervin) 2018年7月2日
“I learned French at high school and…”
I am a native speaker of the language you’re asking me to translate to, with a degree in translation & interpretation. “But they speak the language at home” doesn’t qualify them to correct something I actually learned to do/researched to death.
— Maria G. (@MsMarialba) 2018年7月3日
“It’s nothing too technical, so can I have it tomorrow? Please?”
If a text has taken three months to write, it is unlikely that a 24-hour turnaround for translation will do it justice.
— Teresa Bridgeman (personal) (@alwaysonrepol) 2018年7月3日
“Hey, you’re a translator, right? How do you say ‘Injection blow molding’ in your language?”
Also, some people seem to think that translators are “walking dictionaries” and know every word instantly. And that it’s not necessary for translators to understand meaning and context of the text, as we are simply asked “to translate what is already there”.
— Andrea Bernard 🇯🇵 🇬🇧 🇫🇷 🇩🇪 (@SparkTranslator) 2018年7月3日
Mostly the latter
95% of translators do not in fact translate books. Most of us translate documents, contracts and other boring stuff.
— Gun Street Girl (@EevaMarie) 2018年7月3日
From here tweets on editing – translators get called interpreters interchangeably, editors get the same with proofreaders
Proofreading is not copy editing is not content (or line) editing & none of it is your 4th grade teacher taking points off for spelling.
— Finnan Haddie (@FinnanHaddie) 2018年7月4日
Editing is more about fixing arguments and story structure than fixing sentences. Often when I tell someone I’m a book editor, I get some form of: “That’s so awesome! I love finding typos!”
— Amanda Cook (@axiongirl) 2018年7月3日
Writing professionally is not simply typing up ideas. Editing takes many forms and is much more than reading + correcting typos. Both writing and editing require serious study and ongoing practice. A good writer is not necessarily a good editor and vice versa, and that’s OK.
— Lisa L. Owens (@LisaLOwens) 2018年7月3日
Same goes with translators and editors
Good writers do not necessarily make good editors. Writing and editing require different (though complementary) skills. Editing is about more than just fixing typos.
— Jessica (@RappaDappa) 2018年7月4日
Parallels can be drawn with translation/editing once again
There are tons of different guidelines for editing different types of written media for different kinds of audiences. I’m not just there to check your spelling. Though I do enjoy that part.
— John Helix (@johnhelix) 2018年7月3日