The Lighter Side of Translation – at ESRA

What an appreciative audience! No speaker could ask for anything more.
That’s how I felt on Tuesday the 16th, when giving my talk & presentation at Janet’s beautiful home in Rishon LeZion. The audience was ESRA  members, some from town, some from out-of-town. The comfortable and elegant living room was packed. Most people had had their coffee or soft drinks and cake before the Live Entertainment began. My laptop had been connected to the large, flat TV screen, and the ppt’s opening slide was already displayed:

Though there were a few translators in the crowd, most listeners weren’t involved in translation. Which isn’t an accurate statement, come to think of it: Any English speaker living in Israel is, to some extent, actively involved in interpretation and translation every single day, whether they like it or not. It’s just a fact of life, part of living here.

I had given these issues serious thought when preparing my talk. I wanted to give examples that the audience could easily relate to, and other examples that would shed new light on the subject, tell them things they didn’t know. Judging by reactions, I think I achieved both ends.

My talk attempted to describe what a [freelance, self-employed] translator’s work day consists of: Talking to prospective and existing clients; agreeing to do a specific job; grappling with difficult, obscure, or poorly-written text; and trying to make the best of it.

Most of us translators work alone in front of our computer. If we don’t reach out to colleagues, don’t belong to forums and discussion groups, we don’t realize that we’re all in the same boat. “We translators should stick together,” I said to a young guy, who introduced himself as a translator and who turned out to be a student at Beit Berl College, in the department of translation. He didn’t seem impressed or amenable to that notion. Pity, really. On the whole, I’ve found that formal students of translation, i.e. those studying towards a university/college degree in translation, are in dire need of a “reality check”. Studying the theory plus a bit of practice is very loosely connected to actual work in the field. Which is sometimes more like a battlefield between client and translator. And which is why Prof. Miriam Shlesinger  was kind enough to invite me to give a lecture at Bar Ilan University a few years ago. “You put the fear of God into them,” she grinned at me with satisfaction at the end of my talk.

Well, this time, in Janet’s parlor, I didn’t put the fear of God into anyone, but I may have burst a couple of bubbles. And I made people laugh, which is a wonderfully rewarding feeling. In our profession, if you don’t look at the lighter side of things, you’re likely to end up pretty miserable. Which is one of the reasons I’m such a big fan of Mox’s blog  and share his insights often on my Facebook page.

As for the actual content of my talk and presentation – I don’t want to repeat myself. But I can tell you that several of the examples given in that talk were taken from this-here blog; so just browse away, and you’ll find plenty of examples of what we’re up against as translators. 
Have fun!


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