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Who Has a Gift to Foresee: Topical Problems and Prospects of Translation Industry

Lantra was designed for asking any question connected with translator's activity and getting answers from competent colleagues. But during the long existence of the forum many members of it got acquainted and communicated a lot (sometimes in a friendly way, sometimes not), so not only business messages are posted on Lantra. As a result, fierce controversies are rather often. For example, once a simple New Year greeting had resulted in a scandal. How could it happen? The thing is that in Judaism New Year is celebrated in September, so one Israeli wished everybody a happy New Year. A German had responded to it with a humorous message: "Then Merry Christmas at the same time!" meaning that the Christian New Year was a long way off. The situation resulted in a huge flame in which the members were accusing each other of Zionism, anti-Semitism, fascism and other sins. A simple greeting can cause such serious consequences. It makes you doubt of tolerance and sensitiveness of translators.

These observations made me amend my law: I named this amendment the rule of a magnet. Like halves of a magnet which immediately acquire their own positive and negative poles, the human society in its every cell reproduces  a similar structure with its own troublemakers and hooligans, peacemakers and preachers. However, villains in a prison can be more serious than troublemakers in a mathematical university, but the common tendency of distribution of the same standard roles among members of any group of people seems to preserve regardless of the nature of the group itself.

Discussion of my hypothesis at Lantra showed that in comparison with other groups of people the translators' community is more peaceful and tolerant: it was told by subscribers in several different mailing lists.

I don't know what problems are discussed with the help of the Internet by skiers, but for translators the Internet is a really effective work instrument. For example, if you have some difficulties while translating some rare proverb, what would you do? Go to library and try to look it up in the dictionary? Or call your expert friends? These ways are possible, but all of them are inconvenient: I bet you won't be able to solve your problem fast, say, at midnight. The Internet forum is completely different. It functions 24/7 because when the Japanese translators go to sleep, Americans wake up. So you can ask your question at any time without risk of waking somebody up: it will be read by only those who want to read it. And the answer will come from those who are able to give it. At the same time the advisers are excitedly competing showing their quick reaction and deep knowledge. Don't be afraid to become an exploiter, because you don't force anybody to solve your problems. Those who are busy just skip their turn. Thus, Internet allows us to get a prompt answer to the most surprising questions.

Usually people think of translators only when the translation is poor. The translator's mastery consists in the ability to be unnoticed: you read a book and forget that it was written in other language, or you watch a movie and understand all the conversations, heroes' phrases are interconnected, you aren't puzzled by any remark. So, if you like the translated novel, please keep in mind that it's not only the author's merit, but also that of translator (you just won't enjoy a poorly translated book). And if a dubbed movie gave you enjoyment, please thank the translator, at least mentally.

Translated from article written by N.Shahova

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