What makes great translators great?*

Per leggere questo post in italiano, clic here. Mille grazie, Alessandra Martelli!
Si desea leer esta entrada en español, haga clic aquí. ¡Gracias, Karina Pelech!  
Pour lire cet article en français, cliquez ici. Merci beaucoup, Amaury Lainé!

About one month ago I received a LinkedIn invitation from Amaury Lainé, a young French translator who wrote to me asking this question: “What makes great translators great?”


Many reasons make it obvious that I do not know the answer. Only may I guess it from what I have learnt from a few great translators I have met along the way.

In the first place, I would like to remark Amaury’s bravery and intelligence. He searched on the Internet and found his target. He wrote a personal message to the professional (or professionals, I guess) he wanted to address to. He came up to me at Trikonf, a translation congress celebrated last October in Freiburg, and felt free to introduce himself and chat. That is heroic and thus admirable.  

So he himself inspired me on my first tip about “what makes great translators great”. He asked for 5 tips, but I have not been able to restrain myself.

1. Great translators are not afraid of social media. They do nor despise it nor do they ignore it.

 2. Great translators know that their reputations rests exclusively on every working day. They know that many  other things help, but at the end of the day only a few terminological and style decisions matter.


3. Great translators are endlessly curious (Internet changed their lives in an inconceivable way, and they are so grateful).


4. Great translators are indescribably humble, generous, and well-mannered (so Nature prevents them from answering to the key question in the title). By the way: this is useful also for movie makers, speleologists, and French chefs, among others.


5. Great translators DO read a lot and they read unceasingly until the end of their days. If you are unable to share what you are reading about at any given moment or recall its title, then sadly the world of translation is not for you! A translator would not even achieve mediocrity without a pasion for books.


6. Great translators do not take professional criticism as personal. Not even when it is personal. Humbleness helps here again.


7. Great translators love their job. They consider themselves a rare kind of artists who try to convey info in the source language into the translator’s best mother tongue, leaving no trace of their admirable work. Have I mentioned humbleness?


8. Great translators are not afraid of machine translation. They know art is not a machine issue. They are watching and trying to figure out how machine translation can work for them rather than against them.


9. Great translators correct all the time, mainly their own job (but also other’s; many times they are regarded as opinionated).


10. Great translators feel the need to share their knowledge with beginners in order to make their way a bit easier (and shorter!). This tip’s boundary with exhibitionism remains unclear.

What do you think makes great translators great? I would welcome your thoughts and opinions on the subject so dear to my heart!

*I wonder if truly English speakers will forgive me to dare to write in a language which is not my mother’s. I apologize from the bottom of my heart. Any corrections will be warmly welcome.
NOTE: My wonderful cousin Carmen Prosser was so kind to help me with the writing, but I did not follow all her advices. Shame on me. 
9 comentarios
  1. Niki-K
    Niki-K Dice:

    The Bancroft Strategy. by Robert Ludlum. Y encontré un error de gramática (whomever cuando debió haber sido whoever). Los traductores no podemos ser lectores normales, LOL. No podemos con nuestra almita…

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  2. paratterminar
    paratterminar Dice:

    Gracias por tu comentario, Niki-K, pero no te entiendo bien, discúlpame. ¿Me recomiendas el libro de Ludlum? Lo buscaré, gracias. Respecto al error, no veo «whomever» en mi texto, pero gracias igualmente. Saludo.

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