Translation is not a hobby
I sometimes hear or read of translation and translators talked about in elegiac tones or through stereotypes you might find in fortune cookies. A romantic aura or image, which is quite far from reality and also risks to harm their reputation.
Translation is, first and foremost, a profession. A translator has nothing to envy to physicians, lawyers or other such professionals. Not in terms of the long studies and ongoing training you need to succeed and stay afloat in today’s competitive market. Not in terms of the strict procedural standards and confidentiality you need to abide by if you want to be part of the sectors’ professional bodies and be taken seriously by your peers and clients. Not in terms of entrepreneurial spirit and networking abilities, which you need to make your business prosper. Nor in terms of being able to work to the highest standards, asking for the right price for your work.
So, is translation not an art as well? In part it is. Insofar as by art we mean talent, and being aware of how hard cultivating talent really is. As I said here, I believe even technical translation includes a part of creativity, just like writing does. After all, Marguerite Yourcenar said, rather authoritatively, “Translation is writing.” But do you know how hard it is to write something simple, clear and effective? Now think of translation and double the efforts.