Since this community has so many people from so many different backgrounds, I thought it might be fun to talk about what we all do in meatspace. I think it’d be really fascinating to get a bit of insight into what people do (or used to do if retired) on a day-to-day basis. To keep it from getting too personal or posting identifiable information, I thought we could just keep it to the ups and downs and surprising things about a given career. I’ll get us started… (If this seems overly self-indulgent, please let me know and I’ll take this down.)
Career: Translator (Japanese to English)
Note: The experience of a translator probably varies quite a bit depending on the language set. I would love to hear from people who handle other languages.
Things I Love:
- I get to say I am a professional writer! Because technically, I am! Seriously, though, not to brag, but I take a lot of pride in creating readable documents in English; a lot of craftsmanship goes into each and every sentence.
- I get to learn SO much. I translate all sorts of documents, and you have to understand what the document is talking about to come up with something equivalent in English. This means spending a lot of time poring through Wikipedia articles about subjects that I would never look up otherwise, including things like Hazmat requirements and navigating export control rules.
- I work both in-house at a major manufacturer and freelance. In both areas, I get to set my own schedules and priorities when it comes to what gets translated when. (I agree to a deadline, rather than having one imposed on me.)
Things I Hate:
- Some people are just not very good at writing. A lot of documents that I have to translate are just really poorly written (and I’m talking about grammatical and logical errors, in addition to really flat prose), but I still have to translate them all the same.
- Some of the documents that I have to translate are incredibly boring. Checklists for turning a piece of equipment on or off, that kind of thing.
- My clients are ultimately the Japanese people who request translation, rather than the natives who read the English documents. Sometimes, people have certain preconceived notions about what words should be used, and they’ll modify my words without consulting me, which often means accidently replacing a noun with a verb or vice versa. I cannot express how much this annoys me, seeing my work ruined.
Things People Don’t Know
- Japanese is a very ambiguous language, so it’s not always clear what a sentence is trying to say. (Sentences do not need to have a subject in Japanese. Something like “Went to store. Was berated by staff. Will never go again.” Is perfectly fine in Japanese.) If I am on a tight deadline and I am not sure what a sentence is trying to say, I absolutely will just guess.
Ok, that’s enough from me. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else gets up to when not on the BBS.