Someone once joked, “What a pity, the best presidential candidates are all driving taxis!”

This, of course, doesn’t mean we should pick our next president from taxi drivers (though it’s an option), but it suggests how easy it is to criticize.

And truth be told, it is always easier to criticize. As employees, we complain about our boss because he always wants us to work extra hours without getting extra pay. As students, we moan and groan that our teachers are giving us too much homework and they never seem to care about how we feel. As kids, we object at the dining table and refuse to eat a certain dish because it doesn’t taste as good as french fries or Coke.

Yet, when we finally become parents who spend hours in the kitchen, hoping to better feed our children, when we stand in the front of the classroom and start to teach, or even start our own business, we don’t make quite the same complaints any more. Not because we look at different things, but because we look at things differently.

It’s always easier to criticize.

When I first started my translation career, it seemed to me that I was one of the only, few successful language learners and competent translators on this small island. I could easily spot dozens of “errors” (if not more) in any translation work.

Gee, I thought to myself, how did those guys become translators--they suck!

Then I translated one book. And another. And yet another. Before long, the number of books translated on my résumé amounts to double digits and I no longer wait for the check from only one publisher.

I’ve met some editor who didn’t know much English or translation. The only thing she knew was her boss was always right. When I objected to their “revision” and suggested a meeting for discussion, she replied, “We don’t have time.”

I’ve worked with translation companies who just wanted the cheapest and fastest translation. The project managers always told you, “It’s easy, short, and should be a piece of cake to you,” when in effect they really wanted you to translate college-level textbook materials. Quality? Revision? Editing? None of their business.

I’ve done interpretation for customers who thought I could interpret at the speed of Google Translate--without any preparation, any break, or any time to think.

Now I understand why most senior translators/interpreters choose to be silent when it comes to criticism. Without some basic understanding of the job, most critics tell you how bad the translation is only to feel good about themselves.

I think I know the cynical kind. I used to be one of them. Sometimes, to some people, it is so easy to criticize and it feels so good to do so. It’s simply too tempting.

I’m just happy I’m not one of them any more.

Or am I?


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Avery's Vida Loca Avery的異想世界

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  • Ellen
  • Regarding the traslation job for a certain company, I know a lady who might have the same thoughts as yours... Here is her blog:

    Maybe you already know her?

    ((...who thought I could interpret at the speed of Google Translate...))
    But I guess, those who think so might never check the result after using the Google Translation function... If they did, they will know, how funny and rediculous of some translation results are after Google's translation online...
  • Thanks for sharing.

    AveryTaiwan 於 2010/07/20 05:24 回覆