Whenever I reply to strangers’ question regarding my profession, I get two different reactions: some show particular interest and ask me about the languages I translate from and to, some others get a vague expression, as if they are staring at an alien.
In both cases, however, I am sure that one thought crosses their mind: do you actually earn your living pretending to earn money from a hobby, especially during period of a glob-around financial crisis?
What does not cross their mind is:
– They all have purchased imported products from somewhere and they all have used instruction manuals in order to set up a device or a piece of furniture, etc. Do they stop to consider that there must be someone out there in the world that has written these manuals and then they were translated by professionals? Hmm, maybe not.
– They all use computers. All the software is in their language. Do they believe that the texts of the software are actually written for every country by a native speaker? Hmm, maybe!
– They all use smart phones, or at least a mobile phone. The same applies here. The software needs to be translated in order for them to use it in an efficient manner. Have they thought about it? Hmm, maybe not!
– They all posses a car. Their choice may have been the result of a commercial they have seen on TV. Do they think that the automotive car industry spends part of their budget to create different commercials for every single country? Most of the times, there is one global campaign, the messages are translated and adapted. Are people aware of this? Hmm, maybe not!
– They book holidays. They check the website of the hotel of their choice and they can read all the information in their language and not in the native language of the country they are visiting. Do they think this is done automatically? Hmm, maybe!
These are just a few examples of a translator’s portfolio. They also serve as evidence that especially in countries of a small population, translation is an integrated part of everyone’s everyday life. The fact that people are not aware that they have probably used goods accompanied by a product created by a professional translator should not make translators frown. People say that behind a great man, there is always a great woman! I say, behind a product, there is always a translator! So, heads up, fellow translators! We are the invisible heroes. Because, languages are Glob-around!