Translation craft´s catch-22
Or should I call it “catch-2020” as we are nearing a new decennium?
Here´s the thing. I sometimes ask myself: What´s the use of being really good at something when no-one appreciates what you´re doing. It´s not that they would not value it if they had the intellectual tools, but most people do not have the education.
Well, come to think of it, it´s not that either, as everybody has been taught how to write Dutch at school – in the Netherlands, that is – but apparently scarcely anyone paid attention or… oh, I don´t know. I only know that Dutch content is littered with errors. It´s as if most online content has been written by people that did not finish elementary school.
Pardon? Do I sound presumptuous?
Oh dear, I did not mean to. I am not presumptuous at all, you see. As the POTUS would say, with his sheer sense of understatement: I am the least presumptuous guy on the planet!
I mean, I am not good at anything! Here, I admitted it – I´m all thumbs and no thumbs-up! With one exception though: language. I feel I am really good at language. Especially as regards my maternal tongue. Or “tongues”, I should say, as I was raised bilingually.
But here´s the catch: nobody seems to appreciate it anymore, or even give a shit. It´s like having your premium wine evaluated by inveterate beer drinkers.
And, the binge drinkers that turned to translation for their livelihoods are getting their d´s and t´s crossed all the time. Once a tricky peculiarity of the Dutch language, it is now up for grabs – anything goes!
Good, I can hear you think, more work for you as a proofreader!
Well, that´s the problem, innit. Nobody notices anymore. And if they do, they don´t bother.
And I hit rock-bottom low, when a client´s in-house proofreader fucks up my conscientiously translated work afterwards. That really sets me off! It feels like having cast pearls to the swine.
The first time it happened I actually went ballistic. Then, it made me think real hard: what´s the fun of this craft? It suddenly seemed all very ungratifying – almost Sisyphean.
I finally decided that the fun is in the process itself. The fun is in the flow, when one is really pleased with the solutions one comes up with. And the beauty of it: one is getting paid in the end. So, what is the problem, really?
And, once the client has paid for the service, it´s really up to him, isn´t it, if he wants to fuck it all up (or have it fucked up for him). Rien ne va plus!