Maybe he would use a form which covers the entire semantic space if he could, but none is available. Latin does not have an additional super-tense which subsumes the future indicative and present subjunctive the way that the Latin subjunctive subsumes the Greek subjunctive and optative. If it did, maybe the author would've chose that tense because he didn't care to express the subtle distinction between future-hypothetical and future-hypothetical-but-with-a-little-bit-more-certainty.
We don't know because there is no such Latin tense. He must pick one, and by picking one he is excluding the other one whether he wants to or not. You missed my point about gender distinction. Other languages can carry on a conversation about an individual and never declare the gender.
If "one" was acceptable I would've used it before. I've been in situations where I wasn't sure if the person I was speaking about was a man or a woman because I couldn't tell and I had to pick one or the other when I said something like, "He's over there. So yes, we are forced to distinguish gender with the English pronoun. English nouns are genderless though, while Latin nouns impose gender. The gender system isn't something you bring into the language when you want to use it Chinese pengyou is genderless and numberless.
English friend says loudly, "Only one! And Latin amicus says very loudly, "Only one, and it's a guy! If a Roman was speaking about a particular individual he was forced to distinguish gender. Latin has no direct equivalent to the English word friend. Latin has two words or if you prefer one word permanently divided into two This doesn't mean that English can't make these distinctions. It means that Latin can't avoid making these distinctions.
As I said before, languages do not differ in what they can express any language can express anything any other language can ; they differ in what they force the speakers to express. They differ in how they force the speaker to divide up the world. Some languages force many more distinctions than a speaker may find relevant at that particular time, but he is still stuck to those distinctions.
English has that super-noun So let me end this on a good note I consider all of you my friends Re: Perfect subjunctive or Future perfect Post by lauragibbs » Fri Mar 25, pm Just a quick addendum I really do admire the stamina you all have for this kind of discussion; it's not something I can muster!
Perhaps part of the reason why it is so hard to accept a blurring between the future indicative quid faciam and the present subjunctive quid faciam is because, in English, those same spaces are not blurred. Even more so with future perfect ceperint and perfect subjunctive ceperint. The way we construct our English future I will do and our future English perfect I will have done is really unambiguous… even though English abounds with ambiguities of other kinds, of course.
Although I don't have Calvinist's range of language knowledge, the non-English language in which I am most fluent, and which I learned before learning Latin is Polish, so I want to share an example from Polish. The Slavic languages followed a very different route from the I-E verbal system - instead of developing tense and mostly abandoning aspect, they developed aspect and mostly abandoned tense.
As a result, in Polish, there is only "past" and "non-past" while aspect does the work of distinguishing between what we would call non-past present and non-past future. Morphologically, the present and future tense endings are the same - not just identical i. After wrapping my mind around that, I really decided it is just better to leave English behind when you are studying a foreign language. Languages really are DIFFERENT, and I suspect that many linguistic misunderstandings result from applying often unconsciously assumptions about one language to another language, when those assumptions do not necessarily fit.
Re: Perfect subjunctive or Future perfect Post by adrianus » Sat Mar 26, am lex wrote: 3 One went to the store. The first and second sentences above work fine; the third is not proper English. I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Re: Perfect subjunctive or Future perfect Post by adrianus » Sat Mar 26, am lauragibbs wrote Last edited by adrianus on Sat Mar 26, am, edited 1 time in total.
The affinity between the Latin future and the Latin subjunctive is therefore very real, historically, morphologically and - I would argue - semantically, and in a way that is quite different from English. In English there is no such affinity between the future and the subjunctive, simply because our future did not evolve from the subjunctive and is not permeated with subjunctive endings as the entire Latin future system is.
I was just guessing that perhaps this English influence is what prevents you from admitting any affinity between the Latin future and the Latin subjunctive. Just a guess. I guess there is some other reason. The ambiguity in ceperint is something WE perceive because we are the victims of our paradigms. The Romans lived their lives paradigm-free. I am not persuaded by anything you have said that ceperint was ambiguous to any but the most hypersophisticated Latin speaker.
It was a non-indicative non-past perfective, structurally speaking. But since the Roman gramamrians were not structural linguists, they describe it differently and even differently amongst themselves, e. Re: Perfect subjunctive or Future perfect Post by adrianus » Sat Mar 26, am lauragibbs wrote: I was just guessing that perhaps this English influence is what prevents you from admitting any affinity between the Latin future and the Latin subjunctive.
For the period at issue, this includes the poetry of authors such as Lucretius, Catullus, Vergil, Horace, Propertius, Tibullus and Ovid. A survey of the quantity of the theme vowel in the PS and FP in these poets reveals that the situation which obtains is different from that presented in introductory texts and reference grammars. In fact, the survey shows that the quantity of the theme vowel used in the PS and FP may vary considerably from poet to poet.
I'm suspicious of his translations and statistical analyses. I have greater faith in those he criticizes,— but I'm a comparative novice, of course. Fautor illius viris, ut fateor, non sum. Re: Perfect subjunctive or Future perfect Post by adrianus » Sat Mar 26, pm calvinist wrote: It's convenient to shrug off those you disagree with Also Adrianus, you are nit-picking my examples, which are merely intended to help explain my points and are maybe not always the best examples that could be given.
Latin grammarians would have to think of it this way because imagining a word that solely meant friend without referencing gender would seem "unnatural". They don't necessarily represent exactly how the speakers themselves would've understood the language. Last edited by adrianus on Sat Mar 26, pm, edited 1 time in total.
Take any part of Greek, say the difference between the imperfect and the aorist in narrative, or word order, or when the article is used, or which connective is used, and you will often find two approaches. Semantic Maximalists say that these differences always mean a great deal, and they are confident that they can precisely analyze the text and tell you exactly what each word means.
They often refer you to long tomes of secondary literature, specialized studies which analyze these differences. Of course, the studies don't usually agree, so you will find one guy saying that the imperfect is the more "vivid" tense in narrative, while another guys says the historical present is more vivid. On the other side are Semantic Minimalists. They acknowledge that there may be very slight differences in meaning, but they feel that if you try to articulate these differences, you are essentially trying to read the mind of a writer who lived in a very different world than yours.
You are just as likely to say something that is false than something that is true, and you cannot falsify subtle differences in meaning. How would you prove, for example, that a word is NOT emphatic? Semantic Minimalists feel that word choices are made somewhat subconsciously, with a FEEL for how the words sound, not with an obsession for what the words mean.
Semantic Minimalists tend not to like long grammars, and try not to treat Latin or Greek any differently from their native languages, which they learned and use without recourse to grammars or linguistic studies. I have come to believe that Semantic Minimalists and Semantic Maximalists are really personality types more than anything else. I really like thee, Dr. Fell, the reason why I cannot tell. I don't know why I like Semantic Minimalism.
I don't know why any of us are what we are. Re: Perfect subjunctive or Future perfect Post by adrianus » Sat Mar 26, pm What you say relates, Markos, but there are many positions between the extremes. Pertinet quidem quod dicis, Markos, at multi sunt loci inter extrema. Markos wrote Re: Perfect subjunctive or Future perfect Post by calvinist » Sat Mar 26, pm Markos, your observation is both brilliant and absolutely right.
What is most important is probably the disposition of the particular author we are reading. For instance, just this morning my girlfriend was telling me about her day at work. At one point she started talking about a conversation with an employee. She said, "Luke was like Now, Adrianus might say that maybe it's because my girlfriend isn't educated enough in the English language and she is just hopelessly wandering about in the dark abyss of linguistic ignorance.
I would disagree. The shift was done subconsciously probably for convenience: "Luke was" becomes "he's". The shift wasn't semantic, it was for convenience, and it was done without a conscious decision. If we were speaking Chinese, she probably would've left the verb unmarked, as it was clear to everyone that she was describing a past event.
But English forces you to choose a tense and so the verb was marked with additional information that was considered irrelevant to her Of course the distinction between the future tense and the past tense would be significant, but that doesn't mean that her subconscious choice between past and present was significant semantically.
Now a literary author will probably be more conscious of his choices while writing although not necessarily during everyday speech which is done on the fly. However, this will probably vary between authors and will probably even vary with the same author. Note my usage of the future tense in the last sentence, which could have also used the past "this probably varied" or the present "this probably varies".
I did not use the future to make some semantic distinction from the other two possible tenses. In fact, I don't know why I used the future tense He's probably not quoting them verbatim, as they may have been speaking in Aramaic. So the question remains, why? Most discussions took the assumption that John intended a semantic distinction between the two verbs, similar to English "love" and "like".
This was interesting, but never satisfied me entirely. Then I came across a grammarian who noted that a significant characteristic of John's style is a preference for synonyms. John seems to ignore the possible distinctions between similar words and instead uses them side-by-side to "dress up" his narrative. It adds more variety and color to the narrative. This was probably done subconsciously and was either learned from reading other authors or reflected an aspect of his personality.
He may choose a certain form or word because of the way it sounds, or how it affects the meter. This is true in prose just as much as it is in poetry. Anyone who has read authors like Faulkner or Hemingway understands that their choice of words, sentence structure, and word order is for purely stylistic reasons many times. If we read too much into this we may be guilty of over-analysis at the very least, and in the worst case we might be flat wrong, inserting additional meaning that was never intended.
Note that in the last sentence I switched from "may" in the first clause to "might" in the second, even though they mirror each other. Did you notice? I was conscious of this as I did it and the reason I did it was purely stylistic. To me there is no semantic difference between the two I want to comment quickly on something you said Adrianus. Re: Perfect subjunctive or Future perfect Post by adrianus » Sat Mar 26, pm calvinist wrote: Now, Adrianus might say that maybe it's because my girlfriend isn't educated enough in the English language and she is just hopelessly wandering around in the dark abyss of linguistic ignorance.
I really believe that your view of language is way too mechanistic Adrianus. The author may have consciously chosen the particular linguistic parameter, and may intend a semantic distinction Adrianus, you seem to think that 2 is the only possible relationship between structure and expression. Last edited by adrianus on Sun Mar 27, am, edited 2 times in total.
Re: Perfect subjunctive or Future perfect Post by calvinist » Sat Mar 26, pm adrianus wrote: calvinist wrote: 2. We approach language from opposite points of view. I approach it as a linguist primarily, and I think you approach it primarily as a grammarian Adrianus. I would bet it has a lot to do with our respective personalities, backgrounds, and interests.
I'm a linguistics major, with a heavy interest in language acquisition and second language acquisition in particular. I don't like to be limited by the "system", and I honestly believe that music has kept me in a healthy balance as far as that goes. In music the balance between "theory" and "practice" is much more obvious, as it is "practice" which dictates the "theory" and constantly shows how limited our theoretical descriptions are. I, Lex Llama, super genius, will one day rule this planet!
And then you'll rue the day you messed with me, you damned dirty apes! Re: Perfect subjunctive or Future perfect Post by adrianus » Sat Mar 26, pm calvinist wrote: 1. The author may have subconsciously chosen the particular linguistic parameter tense,mood,one-of-multiple-synonyms , and in this case the semantic distinction is reduced significantly, if even present.
The author may have consciously chosen the particular linguistic parameter, and may intend a semantic distinction. The author may have consciously chosen the particular linguistic parameter, but may have done it for stylistic and not semantic reasons. Will you agree with me about the 3 points I made describing possible ways of the relationship between linguistic structure and expression?
But it's certainly not correct usage now It may eventually come to pass that "they" is considered acceptable as a third-person singular pronoun as "you" is now the accepted second-person singular, although it was originally only the plural and "thou" was the singular. But that day has not yet come. Re: Perfect subjunctive or Future perfect Post by calvinist » Sun Mar 27, am adrianus wrote: Here's an example of something I imagine will separate us. I myself don't believe that synonyms are semantically identical but that they have similar or near-identical meanings.
Last edited by calvinist on Sun Mar 27, am, edited 1 time in total. And Adrianus, I love the fact that you write so much Latin. I do know that Latin folks are way ahead of us Greek folks in this regard. I'd love to get to the point where I can do with Greek what you do with Latin. Keep it up. Re: Perfect subjunctive or Future perfect Post by adrianus » Sun Mar 27, am calvinist wrote: Calvinist and many others say that ceperint can be understood as either perfect subjunctive or future perfect with no significant difference in meaning.
Adrianus and many others say that ceperint is only one form, and that form can and should be distinguished as it makes a significant difference. Last edited by adrianus on Sun Mar 27, pm, edited 1 time in total. Re: Perfect subjunctive or Future perfect Post by adrianus » Sun Mar 27, pm calvinist wrote: It is important to keep the two ideas [style and meaning] separate.
They point to the same event. Both sentences have the same referent. I believe it is confusing and deceptive to say they are different in meaning, unless you note explicitly that the only semantic difference is connotative, and n"ot denotative. Connotative differences are difficult to articulate, and they are very individualized. What is considered informal slang in one part of the language community may not be in another part of the language community.
I think Canada is somewhere near the middle — you can nudge a bit, but not too much. The U. But even there, there is such a word as obnoxious. Werner Maurer1 A provincial governor in Finland is entertaining guests from Kenya, and wants to address them in English; his English is inadequate to the task, so he writes up a one-page speech in Finnish and has it translated into English. Clearly, if the translation is not timely, if it is made after the luncheon engagement, it is useless.
As often happens, the governor is too busy to write up the speech in good time before it is to be read; he finishes it on the morning of the luncheon, and his staff immediately start calling around to local translators to find one who can translate the one-page document before noon. An English lecturer at the university promises to do the job; a courier brings him the text and sits in his office while he translates, waiting to carry the finished text back to the governor's office.
A Chinese iron foundry is seeking to modernize its operations, and in response to its queries receives five bids: one from Japan, two from the United States, one from Spain, and one from Egypt. As requested, all five bids are in English, which the directors can read adequately. When the bids arrive, however, the directors discover that their English is not sufficient; especially the bids from Japan, Spain, and Egypt, since they were written by nonnative speakers of English, pose insuperable difficulties for the directors.
With a ten-day deadline looming before them, they decide to have the five bids translated into Mandarin. Since they will need at least four days to read and assess the bids, they need to find enough translators to translate a total of over 20, words in six days. A team of English professors and their students from the university undertake the task, with time off their teaching and studying. To subscribe to it, send a message to listserv segate. For subscription information to other translator listservs, see Appendix.
Sooner or later the time will come when it too will have had its day. Timeliness is least flexible when the translation is tied to a specific dated use situation. One of the most common complaints translators make about this quite reasonable demand of timeliness is that all too often clients are unaware of the time it takes to do a translation. Since they have written proposals or bids themselves, they think nothing of allowing their own people two weeks to write a forty-page document; since they have never translated anything, they expect a translator to translate this document in two days.
The frustrating slowness of translation as of all text-production is one of several factors that fuel dreams of machine translation: just as computers can do calculations in nanoseconds that it would take humans hours, days, weeks to do, so too would the ideal translation machine translate in minutes a text that took five people two weeks to write.
User-oriented thought about translation is product-driven: one begins with the desired end result, in this case meeting a very short deadline, and then orders it done. How it is done, at what human cost, is a secondary issue. If in- house translators regularly complain about ungodly workloads before critical deadlines, if agencies keep trying to educate you regarding the difficulty and slowness of translation, you begin to shop around for machine translation software, or perhaps commission a university to build one especially for your company.
The main thing is that the translations be done reliably and quickly and cheaply — more of that in a moment. If human translators take too long, explore computer solutions. It is not often recognized that the demand for timeliness is very similar to the demand for reliability, and thus to the theoretical norm of equivalence or fidelity. Indeed, timeliness is itself a form of reliability: when one's conception of translation is product-driven, all one asks of the process is that it be reliable, in the complex sense of creating a solidly trustworthy product on demand and not costing too much.
We need it now. And it has to be good. If a human translator can do it rapidly and reliably, fine; if not, make me a machine that can. This is not to say that a product-driven user-orientation is pernicious or evil. It often seems callous to the translator who is asked to perform like a machine, working long h o u r s at repetitive and uninspiring tasks, and expected n o t to complain indeed, to be grateful for the work.
But it is important not to become narcissistic in this. Translators are not the only ones working long hours at uninspiring tasks. Indeed the people who expect translations to be done reliably and rapidly are often putting in long exhausting hours themselves. The reality of any given situation, especially but not exclusively in the business world, is typically that an enormous quantity of work needs to be done immediately, preferably yesterday, and there are never enough hands or eyes or brains to do it.
Yes, in an ideal world no one would have to do boring, uninspiring work; until someone builds a world like that, however, we are stuck in this one, where deadlines all too often seem impossible to meet. The user's view 17 What we can do, as translators and translation teachers, is to reframe the question of speed from an internal viewpoint, a translator-orientation.
How can we enhance the translator's speed without simply mechanizing it? More on this in the next chapter. Cost Reliably, rapidly — and above all cheaply. Cost controls virtually all translation. A translation that the client considers too expensive will not be done. A translation that the translator considers too cheap may not get done either, if the translator has a strong enough sense of self-worth, or an accurate enough sense of the market, to refuse to work virtually for free.
Private persons with a book they would like translated and no knowledge of the market may call a translator and ask how much it would cost to have the book translated; when they hear the ballpark figure they are typically shocked. Certainly not five thousand! When "quality" or reliability suffers as a result and it almost always does , it is easy to blame the result on all translators, on the profession as a whole.
Trade-offs From a user's "external" point of view, obviously, the ideal translation would be utterly reliable, available immediately, and free. Like most ideals, this one is impossible. Nothing is utterly reliable, everything takes time, and there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Even in a less than ideal world, however, one can still hope for the best possible realistic outcome: a translation that is reasonably reliable, delivered in good time before the deadline, and relatively inexpensive.
These real-world limitations on the user's dream of instant reliable translation free of charge are the translator's professional salvation. If users could get exactly what they wanted, they either would not need us or would be able to dictate the nature and cost of our labor without the slightest consideration for our needs. Because we need to get paid for doing work that we enjoy, we must be willing to meet nontranslating users' expectations wherever possible; but because those expectations can never be met perfectly, users must be willing to meet us halfway I wonder if anyone on the list has had an experience similar to mine.
I work at a large company on a contract basis. I've been with them, off and on, for over 2. At present, I work full-time, some part-time, and often — overtime. The work load is steady, and they see that the need in my services is constant. They refuse to hire me permanently, though. Moreover, they often hire people who are engineers, bilingual, but without linguis- tic skills or translator credentials, or abilities.
The management doesn't seem to care about the quality of translation, even though they have had a chance to find out the difference between accurate translation and sloppy language, because it has cost them time and money to unravel some of the mistakes of those pseudo-translators. I know that I will be extraordinarily lucky if they ever decide to hire me on a permanent basis. Ethically, I can't tell them that the work of other people is. Most engineers with whom I have been working closely know what care I take to convey the material as accurately as possible, and how much more efficient the communication becomes when they have a good translator.
I tried that. Any user who wants a reliable translation will have to pay market rates for it and allow a reasonable time period for its completion; anyone who wants a reliable translation faster than that will have to pay above market rates.
This is simple economics; and users understand economics. We provide an essential service; the products we create are crucial for the smooth functioning of the world economy, politics, the law, medicine, and so on; much as users may dream of bypassing the trade-offs of real-world translating, then, they remain dependent on what we do, and must adjust to the realities of that situation.
This is not to say that we are in charge, that we are in a position to dictate terms, or that we can ever afford to ignore users' dreams and expectations. If users want to enhance reliability while increasing speed and decreasing cost, we had better be aware of those longings and plan for them. This book doesn't necessarily offer such a plan; such a plan may not even exist yet.
What it offers instead is a translator- oriented approach to the field, one that begins with what translators actually do and how they feel about doing it — without ever forgetting the realities of meeting users' needs. In Chapter 2 I will be redefining from the translator's perspective the territory we have been exploring here in Chapter 1: the importance of reliability, income, and enjoyment, that last a subjective translator experience that is completely irrelevant to users but may mean the difference between a productive career and burnout.
Discussion 1 The ethics of translation has often been thought to consist of the translator assuming an entirely external perspective on his or her work, thinking about it purely from the user's point of view: thinking, for example, that accuracy is the only possible goal of translation; that the translator has no right to a personal opinion or interpretation; that the finished product, the translated text, is the only thing that matters.
What other ethical considerations are important? Is it possible to allow translators their full humanity — their opinions, interpretations, likes and dislikes, enthusiasms and boredoms — while still insisting on ethical professional behavior that meets users' expectations? Translators typically point to the low quality or reliability of machine-translated texts, but in some technical fields, where style is not a high priority, the use of constrained source languages specially written so as to be unambiguous for machine parsing makes reliability possible along with speed and low cost.
How should translators meet this challenge? Translate faster and charge less? Retrain to become pre- and post-editors of machine translation texts? Learn to translate literature? Next list user-oriented ideals for the translator — the personal characteristics that would make a translator "good" or "reliable" in the eyes of a non-translating employer or client. Now compare the lists, paying special attention to the mismatches — the character traits that would make people like you "unqualified" for the translation field — and discuss the transformations that would be required in either the people who want to be translators or in society's thinking about translation to make you a good translator.
What are the parameters of the discussion? What are the main issues? What are the pressures and the worries? Try to perceive translation as much as possible from this "external" point of view. Then identify the type of text reliability that each would be likely to favor — what each would want a "good" translation to do, or be like. Take a translation use-situation from this chapter and try to negotiate a who is going to commission and pay for the translation, the source or target user or both who stands to benefit most from it?
Who are translators? What does it take to be a translator or interpreter? What kind of person would even want to, let alone be able to, sit at a computer or in court day after day turning words and phrases in one language into words and phrases in another? Isn't this an awfully tedious and unrewarding profession?
It can be. For many people it is. Some people who love it initially get tired of it, burn out on it, and move on to other endeavors. Others can only do it on the side, a few hours a day or a week or even a month: they are writers or teachers or editors by day, but for an hour every evening, or for an afternoon one or two Saturdays a month, they translate, sometimes for money, sometimes for fun, mostly one hopes for both.
If a really big job comes along and the timing and money are right, they will spend a whole week translating, eight to ten hours a day; but at the end of that week they feel completely drained and are ready to go back to their regular work. Other people, possibly even the majority though to my knowledge there are no statistics on this , translate full time — and don't burn out. How do they do it? What skills do they possess that makes it possible for them to "become" doctors, lawyers, engineers, poets, business executives, even if only briefly and on the computer screen?
Are they talented actors who feel comfortable shifting from role to role? How do they know so much about specialized vocabularies? Are they walking dictionaries and encyclopedias? Are they whizzes at Trivial Pursuit? Translators and interpreters are voracious and omnivorous readers, people who are typically in the middle of four books at once, in several languages, fiction and nonfiction, technical and humanistic subjects, anything and everything.
They are hungry for real-world experience as well, through travel, living abroad for extended periods, learning foreign languages and cultures, and above all paying attention to how people use language all around them: the plumber, the kids' teachers, the convenience store clerk, the doctor, the bartender, friends and colleagues from this or that region or social class, and so on.
Translation is often called a profession of second choice: many translators were first professionals in other fields, sometimes several other fields in succession, and only turned to translation when they lost or quit those jobs or moved to a country where they were unable to practice them; as translators they often mediate between former colleagues in two or more different language communities.
Any gathering of translators is certain to be a diverse group, not only because well over half of the people there will be from different countries, and almost all will have lived abroad, and all will shift effortlessly in conversation from language to language, but because by necessity translators and interpreters carry a wealth of different "selves" or "personalities" around inside them, ready to be reconstructed on the computer screen whenever My father worked for the international area of a major Brazilian bank.
As a consequence, I lived in 8 countries and 10 cities between the ages of 1 and My parents learned the languages of the places we lived in "on location". My father never wanted us my 3 brothers and I to study in American or French schools which can be found anywhere , but instead forced us to learn and study in the language of the place.
My parents encouraged travel and language studies, and since I was 14, I traveled alone throughout Europe. I learned the 3Rs in Spanish, did high school in Italian and Portuguese. Italian used to be choice for girlfriends:- The outcome: I speak Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, and French and translate from one into the other.
I have always worked with the set of languages I learned in my youth. I have started learning Russian, but I didn't like my teacher's accent. For the future, I plan to study Chinese I have a brother who lives in Taiwan and a nephew who speaks it fluently. A crowd of translators always seems much bigger than the actual bodies present. But then there are non-translators who share many of these same characteristics: diplomats, language teachers, world travelers.
What special skills make a well- traveled, well-read language lover a translator? Not surprisingly, perhaps, the primary characteristics of a good translator are similar to the expectations translation users have for the ideal translation: a good translator is reliable and fast, and will work for the going rate. From an internal point of view, however, the expectations for translation are rather different than they look from the outside. For the translator, reliability is important mainly as a source of professional pride, which also includes elements that are of little or no significance to translation users; speed is important mainly as a source of increased income, which can be enhanced through other channels as well; and it is extremely important, perhaps even most important of all, that the translator enjoy the work, a factor that is of little significance to outsiders.
Let's consider these three "internal" requirements in order: professional pride, income, and enjoyment. Professional pride From the user's point of view, it is essential to be able to rely on translation — not only on the text, but on the translator as well, and generally on the entire translation process.
Because this is important to the people who pay the bills, it will be important to the translator as well; the pragmatic considerations of keeping your job for in-house people or continuing to get offered jobs for freelancers will mandate a willingness to satisfy an employer's or client's needs.
But for the translator or interpreter a higher consideration than money or continued employability is professional pride, professional integrity, professional self-esteem. We all want to feel that the job we are doing is important, that we do it well, and that the people we do it for appreciate our work. Most people, in fact, would rather take professional pride in a job that pays less than get rich doing things they don't believe in.
Despite the high value placed on making a lot of money and certainly it would be nice! The areas in and through which translators typically take professional pride are reliability, involvement in the profession, and ethics.
Reliability As we saw in Chapter 1, reliability in translation is largely a matter of meeting the user's needs: translating the texts the user needs translated, in the way the user wants them translated, by the user's deadline. Professional pride in reliability is the main reason we will spend hours hunting down a single term. What is our pay for that time?
Virtually nothing. But it feels enormously important to get it right: to find exactly the right term, the right spelling, the right phrasing, the right register. Not just because the client expects it; also because if you didn't do it right, your professional pride and job satisfaction would be diminished. Involvement in the profession It is a matter of little or no concern to translation users, but of great importance to translators, what translator associations or unions we belong to, what translator conferences we go to, what courses we take in the field, how we network with other translators in our region and language pair s.
These "involvements" sometimes help translators translate better, which is important for users and thus for the pride we take in reliability. More crucially, however, they help us feel better about being translators; they enhance our professional self-esteem, which will often sustain us emotionally through boring and repetitive and low-paid jobs. Reading about translation, talking about translation with other translators, discussing problems and solutions related to linguistic transfer, user demands, nonpayment, and the like, taking classes on translation, attending translator conferences, keeping up with technological developments in the field, buying and learning to use new software and hardware — all this gives us the strong sense that we are are not isolated underpaid flunkies but professionals surrounded by other professionals who share our concerns.
Involvement in the translation profession may even give us the intellectual tools and professional courage to stand up to unreasonable demands, to educate clients and employers rather than submit meekly and seethe inwardly. Involvement in the profession helps us realize that translation users need us as much as we need them: they have the money we need; we have the skills they need.
And we will sell those skills to them, not abjectly, submissively, wholly on their terms, but from a position of professional confidence and strength. Ethics The professional ethics of translation have traditionally been defined very narrowly: it is unethical for the translator to distort the meaning of the source text. From the translator's internal point of view, the ethics of translation are more complicated still.
Or, to put that differently, how does the translator proceed when professional ethics loyalty to the person paying for the translation clash with personal ethics one's own political and moral beliefs? What does the feminist translator do when asked to translate a blatantly sexist text? What does the liberal translator do when asked to translate a neo-Nazi text? What does the environmentalist translator do when asked to translate an advertising campaign for an environmentally irresponsible chemical company?
As long as thinking about translation has been entirely dominated by an external nontranslator point of view, these have been nonquestions — questions that have not been asked, indeed that have been unaskable. The translator has no personal point of view that has any relevance at all to the act of translation. From an internal point of view, however, these questions must be asked. Trans- lators are human beings, with opinions, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings.
Translators who are regularly required to translate texts that they find abhorrent may be able to suppress their revulsion for a few weeks, or months, possibly even years; but they will not be able to continue suppressing those negative feelings forever. Translators, like all professionals, want to take pride in what they do; if a serious clash between their personal ethics and an externally defined professional ethics makes it difficult or impossible to feel that pride, they will eventually be forced to make dramatic decisions about where and under what conditions they want to work.
And so increasingly translators are beginning to explore new avenues by which to reconcile their ethics as human beings with their work as translators. The Quebecoise feminist translator Susanne Lotbiniere-Harwood , for example, tells us that she no longer translates works by men: the pressure is too great to adopt a male voice, and she refuses to be coopted.
In her literary translations of works by women she works very hard to help them create a woman-centered language in the target culture as well. In The Subversive Scribe Suzanne Jill Levine tells us that in her translations of flagrantly sexist Latin American male authors, she works — often with the approval and even collaboration of the authors themselves — to subvert their sexism. This broader "internal" definition of translator ethics is highly controversial.
For many translators it is unthinkable to do anything that might harm the interests of the person or group that is paying for the translation the translation "commissioner" or "initiator". Every week a packet of photocopies arrives, almost all of it based on scientific research in Brazil and elsewhere on the harmful effects of smoking. As a fervent nonsmoker and opponent of the tobacco industry, she is pleased to be translating these texts.
The texts are also relatively easy, many of them are slight variations on a single press release, and the money is good. Gradually, however, ethical doubts begin to gnaw at her. Who in the English- speaking world is so interested in what Brazilians write about smoking, and so rich, as to pay her all this money to have it all in English? And surely this person or group isn't just interested in Brazil; surely she is one of hundreds of translators around the world, one in each country, hired by a local agency to translate every- thing written on smoking in their countries as well.
Who could the ultimate user be but one of the large tobacco companies in the United States or England? She starts paying closer attention, and by reading between the lines is finally able to determine that the commission comes from the biggest tobacco company in the world, one responsible for the destruction of thousands of acres of the Amazon rain forest for the drying of tobacco leaves, a neocolonialist enterprise that has disrupted not only the ecosystem of the rain forest but the economy of the Amazonian Indians.
Gradually her ethical doubts turn into distaste for her work: she is essentially helping the largest tobacco company in the world spy on the opposition. One week, then, a sixty-page booklet comes to her, written by a Brazilian antitobacco activist group. It is well researched and wonderfully written; it is a joy to translate. It ends on a plea for support, detailing several ways in which the tobacco industry has undermined its work.
Suddenly she realizes what she has to do: she has to give her translation of this booklet, paid for by the tobacco industry, to this group that is fighting this rather lucrative source of her income. Not only would that help them disseminate their research to the English-speaking world; sales of the booklet would provide them with a much-needed source of funding. So she calls the group, and sets up a meeting; worried about the legality of her action, she also asks their lawyer to determine what if any legal risks she and they might be taking, and be present at the meeting.
When at the meeting she is reassured that it is perfectly legal for her to give them the translation, she hands over the diskette and leaves. No legal action is ever taken against her, but she never gets another packet in the mail from the agency; that source of income dries up entirely, and instantly.
It seems likely that the tobacco company has a spy in the antitobacco group, because she is cut off immediately, the same week, perhaps even the same day - not, for instance, months later when the booklet is published in English. And on the other hand, to what extent can the translator afford to compromise with those ethics and still go on taking professional pride in his or her work?
Income Professionals do their work because they enjoy it, because they take pride in it — and also, of course, to earn a living. Professional translators translate for money. And most professional translators like most professionals of any field feel that they don't make enough money, and would like to make more.
There are at least three ways to do this, two of them short-term strategies, the third long-term: translate faster especially but not exclusively if you are a freelancer ; create your own agency and farm translation jobs out to other freelancers take a cut for project manage- ment ; and the long-term strategy work to educate clients and the general public about the importance of translation, so that money managers will be more willing to pay premium fees for translation.
Speed Speed and income are not directly related for all translators. They are for freelancers. Obviously, this requires a large volume of incoming jobs; if, having done a job quickly, you have no other work to do, translating faster will not increase your income. For in-house translators the links between speed and money are considerably less obvious.
Most in-house translators are expected to translate fast, so that employ- ability, and thus income, is complexly related to translation speed. Translation speed is enforced in a variety of unofficial ways, mostly though phone calls and visits from engineers, editors, bosses, and other irate people who want their job done instantly and can't understand why you haven't done it yet. Some in-house translators, however, do translations for other companies in a larger concern, and submit records of billable hours to their company's bookkeeping department; in these cases monthly targets may be set billable hours per month, invoices worth three times your monthly income, etc.
Some translation agencies also set such targets for their in-house people. I will return to 4 in the next section. Who would "prefer" to translate slowly? Don't all translators want to translate as rapidly as possible? After all, isn't that what our clients want?
The first thing to remember is that not everyone translates for clients. There is no financial motivation for rapid translation when one translates for fun. The second is that not all clients need a translation next week. The acquisitions editor at a university press who has commissioned a literary or scholarly translation may want it done quickly, for example, but "quickly" may mean in six months rather than a year, or one year rather than two.
And the third thing to remember is that not everyone is willing or able to force personal preferences into conformity with market demands. Some people just do prefer to translate slowly, taking their time, savoring each word and phrase, working on a single paragraph for an hour, perfecting each sentence before moving on to the next. Such people will probably never make a living as freelancers; but not all translators are freelancers, and not all translators need to make a living at it.
People with day jobs, high-earning spouses, or family money can afford to translate just as slowly as they please. Many literary translators are academics who teach and do research for a salary and translate in their free time, often for little or no money, out of sheer love for the original text; in such situations rapid-fire translation may even feel vaguely sacrilegious. There can be no doubt, however, that in most areas of professional translation, speed is a major virtue.
I once heard a freelancer tell a gathering of student translators, "If you're fast, go freelance; if you're slow, get an in-house job. The instruction would be more realistic like this: "If you're fast, get an in-house job; if you're really fast, so your fingers are a blur on the keyboard, go freelance. If you're slow, get a day job and translate in the evenings.
The simplest step is to improve your typing skills. If you're not using all ten fingers, teach yourself to, or take a typing class at a community college or other adult education institute. Take time out from translating to practice typing faster. The other factors governing translating speed are harder to change. The speed with which you process difficult vocabulary and syntactic structures depends partly on practice and experience.
The more you translate, the more well-trodden synaptic pathways are laid in your brain from the source to the target language, so that the translating of certain source-language structures begins to work like a macro on the computer: zip, the target-language equivalent practically leaps through your fingers to the screen.
Partly also it depends on subliminal reconstruction skills that we will be exploring in the rest of the book. The hardest thing to change is a personal preference for slow translation. Translating faster than feels comfortable increases stress, decreases enjoyment for which see below , and speeds up translator burnout. It is therefore more beneficial to let translating speeds increase slowly, and as naturally as possible, growing out of practice and experience rather than a determination to translate as fast as possible right now.
In addition, with translating speed as with other things, variety is the spice of life. Even the fastest translators cannot comfortably translate at top speed all day, all week, all month, year-round. In this sense it is fortunate, in fact, that research, networking, and editing slow the translator down; for most translators a "broken" or varied rhythm is preferable to the high stress of marathon top-speed translating.
You translate at top speed for an hour or two, and the phone rings; it is an agency offering you a job. You go back to your translation while they fax it to you, then stop again to look the new job over and call back to say yes or no. Another hour or two of high-speed translating and a first draft of the morning job is done; but there are eight or ten words that you didn't find in your dictionaries, so you get on the phone or the fax or e-mail, trying to find someone who knows.
Phone calls get immediate answers; faxes and e-mail messages take time. While you're waiting, you pick up the new translation job, start glancing through it, and before you know it some sort of automatism clicks in you're translating it, top speed. An hour later the fax machine rings; it's a fax from a friend overseas who has found some of your words. You stop translating to look through the fax.
You're unsure about one of the words, so you get back on e-mail and send out a message over a listserver, asking other subscribers whether this seems right to them; back in your home computer, you jump over to the morning translation and make the other changes. You notice you're hungry, so you walk to the kitchen and make a quick lunch, which you eat while looking over the fax one more time.
Then back to the afternoon translation, top speed. If the fax machine hasn't rung in an hour or two, you find a good stopping place and check your e-mail; nothing for you, but there's a debate going on about a group of words you know something about, so you type out a message and send it.
Then you edit the morning translation for a while, a boring job that has to be done some time; and back to the afternoon translation. The translator's view 31 And all this keeps you from burning out on your own translating speed.
Interruptions may cut into your earnings; but they may also prolong your profes- sional life and your sanity. Translation memory software Many freelance translators and agencies increase translation speed through the purchase and use of translation memory TM software. TM software makes it possible for a new hire to translate like an old hand after just a few hours of training in the software. However, despite these limitations, TM software has brought about a revolution in the translation profession that is comparable to the spread of digital computers in the s and the Internet in the s.
From the agency's point of view, this policy makes perfect sense: if you make a few minor changes to a user's manual and send it to a freelancer to be updated in the target language, why should you pay for the whole manual, when the freelancer only retranslates a few brief passages? Freelancers complain that the databases they receive from agencies are notoriously unreliable, and that the old translations they receive are full of errors and awkwardnesses, and they can't stand to submit the "new" translation without redoing it substantially.
Clients and agencies will often tell a freelancer to change the old translation only in the new passages; but this means a mishmash of styles, inconsistent phrasings, etc. Thus, increasingly freelancers are having to decide whether to take on a TM-revision job at all — whether it's worth the extra headaches and smaller fee. In fact, many freelancers accept this sort of job only from direct clients, and only on an ongoing basis — i.
Then it makes sense to charge less for the recycling of past work, because they know they can rely on work they have done themselves. Others accept all such jobs, even from agencies, but charge by the hour rather than the word.
That way the work is more expensive for the client or agency while the freelancer is building up the relevant databases, and gets cheaper with repeat jobs. Still, freelancers who do high-volume work in repetitive fields especially those who do the bulk of their work for two or three agencies say that TM software pays for itself the very first week — sometimes the very first job. They note that there is an inevitable "down time" involved, as you have to spend several hours learning how to use the software, inputting term databases, setting operating options, and so on; and the software is somewhat time-consuming to use.
But the gains in productivity are enormous, an estimated 20—25 percent or higher. Freelancers who use TM software regularly say they will not translate anything without it — even a short easy sentence that seems to require no terminological support at all. You never know when you might need the work you did for that little job in the future, even as a springboard to jog your memory or jump-start your imagination.
The translator's view 33 they did as freelancers; building up a substantial clientele takes time, often years. A successful agency-owner may earn three or four times what a freelancer earns; but that sort of success only comes after many years of just getting by, struggling to make payroll and sometimes earning less than you did before , and dealing with all the added headaches of complicated bookkeeping, difficult clients, unreliable freelancers, insurance, etc.
There is, of course, much more to be said on the subject of creating your own agency; but perhaps a textbook on "becoming a translator" is not the place to say it. Raising the status of the profession This long-range goal is equally difficult to deal with in a textbook of this sort, but it should not be forgotten in discussions of enhancing the translator's income.
Some business consultants become millionaires by providing corporate services that are not substantially different from the services provided by translators. Other business consultants are paid virtually nothing. The difference lies in the general perception of the relative value of the services offered. The higher the value placed on the service, the more money a company will be willing to budget for it.
Many small companies and even some large ones value translation so little that they are not willing to pay anything for it, and do it themselves; others grudgingly admit that they need outside help, but are unwilling to pay the going rate, so they hire anyone they can find who is willing to do the work for almost nothing.
One of the desired outcomes of the work done by translator associations and unions, translator training programs, and translation scholars to raise the general awareness of translation and its importance to society is, in fact, to raise translator income. Enjoyment One would think that burnout rates would be high among translators. The job is not only underpaid and undervalued by society; it involves long hours spent alone with uninspiring texts working under the stress of short deadlines.
One would think, in fact, that most translators would burn out on the job after about three weeks. And maybe some do. That most don't, that one meets freelance translators who are still content in their jobs after thirty years, says something about the operation of the greatest motivator of all: they enjoy their work.
They must — for what else would sustain them? Not the fame and fortune; not the immortal brilliance of the texts they translate. It must be that somehow they find a sustaining pleasure in the work itself. In what, precisely? And why? Is it a matter of personal style: some people just happen to love translating, others don't? Or are there ways to teach oneself to find enhanced enjoyment in translation? Some translators dislike dealing with clients, and so tend to gravitate toward work with agencies, which are staffed by other translators who understand the difficulties translators face.
Some translators go stir-crazy all alone at home, and long for adult company; they tend to get in-house jobs, in translation divisions of large corporations or translation agencies or elsewhere, so that they are surrounded by other people, who help relieve the tedium with social interaction. Some translators get tired of translating all day; they take breaks to write poetry, or attend a class at the local college, or go for a swim, or find other sources of income to pursue every third hour of the day, or every other day of the week.
Some translators get tired of the repetitiveness of their jobs, translating the same kind of text day in, day out; they develop other areas of specialization, actively seek out different kinds of texts, perhaps try their hand at translating poetry or drama. We will be dealing with these preferences in greater detail in Chapter 3. Still, no matter how one diversifies one's professional life, translating like most jobs involves a good deal of repetitive drudgery that will simply never go away.
And the bottom line to that is: if you can't learn to enjoy even the drudgery, you won't last long in the profession. There is both drudgery and pleasure to be found in reliability, in painstaking research into the right word, in brain-wracking attempts to recall a word that you know you've heard, in working on a translation until it feels just right. There is both drudgery and pleasure to be found in speed, in translating as fast as you can go, so that the keyboard hums.
There is both drudgery and pleasure to be found in taking it slowly, staring dreamily at and through the source text, letting your mind roam, rolling target-language words and phrases around on your tongue. There are ways of making a mind-numbingly boring text come alive in your imagination, of turning technical documentation into epic poems, weather reports into songs. In fact in some sense it is not too much to say that the translator's most important skill is the ability to learn to enjoy everything about the job.
This is not the trans- lator's most important skill from the user's point of view, certainly; the user wants a reliable text rapidly and cheaply, and if a translator provides it while hating every minute of the work, so be it. If as a result of hating the work the translator burns out, so be that too. There are plenty of translators in the world; if one burns out and quits the profession, ten others will be clamoring for the privilege to take his or her place.
But it is the most important skill for the translators themselves. Yes, the ability to produce reliable texts is essential; yes, speed is important. But a fast and reliable translator who hates the work, or who is bored with it, feels it is a waste of time, will not last long in the profession - and what good are speed and reliability to the ex-translator?
The translator's view 35 And in some sense this textbook is an attempt to teach translators to enjoy their work more — to drill not specific translation or vocabulary skills but what we might call "pretranslation" skills, attitudinal skills that should precede and undergird every "verbal" or "linguistic" approach to a text: intrinsic motivation, openness, receptivity, a desire to constantly be growing and changing and learning new things, a commitment to the profession, and a delight in words, images, intellectual challenges, and people.
In fact the fundamental assumptions underlying the book's approach to translation might be summed up in the following list of axioms: 1 Translation is more about people than about words. Which is not to say that translation is not about words, or phrases, or registers, or sign systems. Clearly those things are important in translation.
It is to say rather that it is more productive for the translator to think of such abstractions in larger human contexts, as a part of what people do and say. Nor is it to say that human translation is utterly unlike the operation of a tape recorder or machine translation system. Those analogies can be usefully drawn. It is merely to say that machine analogies may be counterproductive for the translator in her or his work, which to be enjoyable must be not mechanical but richly human. Machine analogies fuel formal, systematic thought; they do not succor the translator, alone in a room with a computer and a text, as do more vibrant and imaginative analogies from the world of artistic performance or other humanistic endeavors.
Is this, then, a book of panaceas, a book of pretty lies for translators to use in the rather pathetic pretense that their work is really more interesting than it seems? It is a book about how translators actually view their work; how translating actually feels to successful professionals in the field. Besides, it is not that thinking about translation in more human terms, more artistic and imaginative terms, simply makes the work seem more interesting.
Such is the power of the human imagination that it actually makes it become more interesting. Imagine yourself bored and you quickly become bored. Imagine yourself a machine with no feelings, a computer processing inert words, and you quickly begin to feel dead, inert, lifeless. The autotelic [self-rewarding] experience is described in very similar terms regardless of its context. Artists, athletes, composers, dancers, scientists, and people from all walks of life, when they describe how it feels when they are doing something that is worth doing for its own sake, use terms that are interchangeable in the minutest details.
This unanimity suggests that order in consciousness produces a very specific experiential state, so desirable that one wishes to replicate it as often as possible. To this state we have given the name of "flow," using a term that many respondents used in their interviews to explain what the optimal experience felt like.
Challenges and skills. The universal precondition for flow is that a person should perceive that there is something for him or her to do, and that he or she is capable of doing it. In other words, optimal experience requires a balance between the challenges perceived in a given situation and the skills a person brings to it.
The "challenge" includes any opportunity for action that humans are able to respond to: the vastness of the sea, the possibility of rhyming words, concluding a business deal, or winning the friendship of another person are all classic challenges that set many flow experiences in motion. But any possibility for action to which a skill corresponds can produce an autotelic experience.
It is this feature that makes flow such a dynamic force in evolution. For every activity might engender it, but at the same time no activity can sustain it for long unless both the challenges and the skills become more complex. For example, a tennis player who enjoys the game will want to reproduce the state of enjoyment by playing as much as possible. But the more such individuals play, the more their skills improve.
Now if they continue to play against opponents of the same level as before, they will be bored. This always happens when skills surpass challenges. To return in flow and replicate the enjoyment they desire, they will have to find stronger opposition. To remain in flow, one must increase the complexity of the activity by developing new skills and taking on new challenges. This holds just as true for enjoying business, for playing the piano, or for enjoying one's marriage, as for the game of tennis.
Heraclitus's dictum about not being able to step in the same stream twice holds especially true for flow. This inner dynamic of the optimal experience is what drives the self to higher and higher levels of complexity. It is because of this spiraling compexity that people describe flow as a process of "discovering something new," whether they are shepherds telling how they enjoy caring for their flocks, mothers telling how they enjoy playing with their children, or artists, describing the enjoyment of painting.
Flow forces people to stretch themselves, to always take on another challenge, to improve on their abilities. A translator sent me his resume and a sample translation I didn't order him anything — just asked him to send me one of the translations he had already done — that's an important point.
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