Are you a fork lifter?

About a year ago I signed up for the newsletter of a translation agency. Let’s call it Nice Translations.

Well, some time ago Nice Translations sends me its latest issue. One of the headings this time is about getting to know more about the life of their translators. ‘What a great initiative to fight that controversial translator’s invisibility!’ I thought.

And then I read on…

‘… Are you a fork lifter in the day and a translator in the night?’ On one hand, this might sound like ‘Do you play Peter Parker in the day and Spiderman in the night?’. So, translator equals super hero. On the other hand, my first interpretation was ‘Do you have an ordinary job during the day and fancy some easy cash, such as babysitting* or translating?’

If this is the visibility that translators will get, maybe they should not be sooooo visible after all. I fully understand people who get started on translation on the side and then become full-time translators. This is the case for several experienced freelancers in Italy, as translation degrees are fairly recent. What I partially understand (but do not approve of) is that some people believe/are led to believe that they are translators since they possess the amazing power to turn Wie alt bist du? into How old are you?

But what really puzzles me is that Nice Translations wants to show off that they employ people who are not qualified for their projects. As a colleague, I would not feel comfortable. As a client, I would start wondering why I pay for translations by ‘forklators’ and hopefully change the language service provider.

What do you think, my dear readers?

*Babysitters, please do not take it personally, there’s no intention to offend at all.


About Chiara Vecchi

A blogging translator working from English and German into Italian. You are more than welcome to visit my blog!
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11 Responses to Are you a fork lifter?

  1. chiara says:

    Se avessi letto la notizia probabilmente non avrei dato poi cosi tanta importanza a questa frase, dato che molti nostri colleghi non sono solo traduttori, ma concordo appieno su quello che hai scritto!! Le agenzie di traduzione richiedono sempre 5 o persino 10 anni di esperienza come traduttori full-time e poi ti ritrovi colleghi che non hanno alcun tipo di qualifica e che anni fa hanno intrapreso questo percorso lavorativo (magari anche per scherzo) e non l’hanno più lasciato.

    Mi hai fatto pensare però anche a quelle agenzie che richiedono avvocati ed ingegneri per svolgere le loro traduzioni legali e tecniche. E’ vero che un avvocato possiede una conoscenza legale molto più approfondita di quanto non possa averla un traduttore (che ha studiato per anni traduzione), ma mi domando: se fanno gli avvocati (lavoro che prende molto tempo, anche nottate intere) dove trovano il tempo di fare anche i traduttori??? Non saranno tanto bravi da avere abbastanza lavoro come avvocati? Fare il mestiere per cui hanno studiato non gli interessava più ed hanno deciso di cambiare?

    Potresti prendere spunto da questa mia osservazione per scrivere un articolo.
    Ciò che scrivi è interessante e continuerò a leggere il tuo blog.

    • Grazie per questi spunti di riflessione Chiara!

      Credo che si debba valutare caso per caso: una persona che abbia una formazione giuridica e poi abbia intrapreso studi di traduzione è, a mio parere, molto diversa da un avvocato che a tempo perso si dedica alle traduzioni.
      Penso che la strategia adottata da alcune agenzie, ovvero servirsi solamente di persone con una formazione di base non attinente alla traduzione, possa dipendere da una certa diffidenza verso quei traduttori che non sono qualificati. Ritengo però che, come traduttori, possiamo dimostrare di aver acquisito quelle conoscenze settoriali così ricercate.

  2. I completely agree, Chiara! It seems that the myth of the stay-at-home mum who translates as a hobby is not dead yet.
    I remember a client asking me (after I had turned down his offer to provide a service that has nothing to do with translation) “Don’t take offence, but… do you ‘only’ translate? You don’t have any other job?!”. I was quite upset to hear this, because I feel very proud of my job, and wake up everyday with a translation project to look forward to.
    I don’t understand how people think it’s a shame to chose translation as a career rather than a side job for pocket money…

    • Hi again Louise! I just think that most people do not realise what translation involves and how much commitment it requires. Once you take a practical example, most people do understand that it is better to hire a professional.
      One of my latest favourite examples of bad translations is when the Italian Ministry of Education posted a translation of ‘pecorino cheese‘ which was misteriously turned into ‘doggy style’. There are quite a lot of articles about it in Italian. Maybe this story will make the supporters of translation-is-useless a bit more aware of the consequences… 😉

  3. Hi Chiara, what an interesting read in the morning! Yes, people out there can’t really believe that translation is a real job. Like… you stay at home all day, you don’t even have to be too creative, as you have the source text there, you can do all your research online and you work with companies around the world. It’s too good to be true! 😉

  4. Pingback: Weekly favorites 31 (Feb 27-Mar 4) | Adventures in Freelance Translation

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