Humility… Who Knew!

The very first thing my teachers taught me during my introductory course to translation left me flabbergasted.

First, a translator is humble.

A far cry from what I expected. If you think about it, a translator needs great skills such as analysis, critical thinking, linguistic mastery, a rich vocabulary, writing and, to top it off, traits such as curiosity, meticulousness, rigour, a vast general knowledge, and this is just to name a few. In other words, a translator has nothing to be ashamed of and this is my point. There is a difference between knowing who you are and letting everyone know who you are.

A good translator will:

  • Know his  capacity and its limit, acknowledge it without overestimating or underestimating it;
  • Be open-minded, open to collaboration;
  • Teach, convey his knowledge  without revealing a superiority complex;
  • Let clients’ appraisals and testimonials speak for the quality of his work.
  • Be honest with clients and potential clients.

This school of thoughts relies on the premise that the apprentice is no greater than the master. As much as translators would like the world to know what they do for a living and what kind of complex  and wonderful trade they are passionate about, the author’s voice should come out of a translation, not the translator’s.

You are surprised, aren’t you? Whoever tells you otherwise is dealing with issues of pride.

Related links:

5 Qualities of a Good Translator

Ten Qualities of a Good Translator

Examples of Humility

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