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M. E. Llorens
- Publié sur Amazon.com
By sheer serendipity I came across the following gem on Amazon this weekend: "How to Be a Freelance Transalator: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Freelance Translating Success." Can you spot the typo? (Hint: it's in the title.) (Can you spot the name of the author, for that matter?)
For a couple of laughs, I bought the dang thing and read it on my old Kindle. First of all, it is apparent that the friendly folks at HowExpert Press are ambitious spammers. While most self-published titles price themselves toward the lower end of the spectrum (from $0.99 to $3.99), this spunky little magnum opus proudly retails for the suggested Amazon Kindle price of $9.99. However, my bibliophilic hormones were already set ablaze by "transalators," so I decided not to quibble and went for it. So I plunked down my $9.99 and downloaded the thing.
First rude shock: it's tiny! I guess it's about 4,000 words, perhaps 15 or 16 pages of a traditional book. I did a double take, but, nope, there it is in cold hard bits. The ebook file is a paltry 36 KB. A lot or a little, perhaps you ask? Compare it to another ebook dealing with the same topic: Becoming a Translator, which in the print version boasts 320 pages and has a Kindle file size of 1230 KB. Okay, "How To Be a Freelance Transalator" fits a whopping 34 times into Robinson's book. That's a little worrisome. But think about it this way: if it condenses the same amount of information into that file size, they are roughly equivalent. Moreover, Robinson's publisher doesn't offer any discount to Kindle buyers: his tome's electronic version retails at a very snooty $31.90, comparable to any old-media hardcover. But, again, think about it this way: if every line of Transalator costs 34 times as much as Robinson's writing and costs a third, then the folks at HowExpert have an unbeatable value proposition that will be the envy of any hard-working machine translation entrepreneur. Cheaper and a time saver! The mind boggles.
But stop judging covers and cut to the nitty-gritty. The proof is in the pudding. The quality is in the reading. And, certainly, when you open your ebook, there is a lot that resembles pudding splattered over every electronic page. As Descartes did in a Flemish, man-sized oven so many centuries ago, the anonymous writer of the book is a stickler for first principles: "Apart from being fluent in a foreign language, a translator must also have a very good command of his native language." Yes, command of your native language is definitely a plus, for a variety of things that go far beyond translation, from graduating pre-school to communicating with your parents (you know, those people who claim to have made you and also feed and clothe you for the first few years of your life, when you are in no condition to make an independent living as a "transalator").
But then we dive into the rough-and-tumble world of professional translation, where it doesn't really matter what you know (or even what you do), but rather who you know: "The first order of business for a freelance translator is to cultivate positive feedback." To which I say: really? I would have thought a bit of, you know, actual translation would be in order before cultivating all that positive feedback...
Other advice is more practical (i.e., not directly contrary to the laws of reality). One section is entitled: "Keep track of all the translation gigs you make." Translation gigs? Groovy, baby. Then the author delves into territory I had never even heard about before: the (seemingly) dreaded "translator's block." Translator's block? I had heard of writer's block, but translator's block? I mean, a writer has trouble starting an article or continuing with a book because, after all, the millions of decisions that go into making the text require a lot of thinking and hard work. Translation is also requires a lot of creativty and tiny decisions, but fortunately the pain of creation ab nihilo is not one of them, for pretty basic reasons I am not going to go into here. "Translator's block"? Seriously, if anyone ever comes to you and says they're suffering from that, you should give them a swift kick in the kiester. You need inspiration, little grasshopper? How about next month's utility bills? Or is that not enough of a muse for you?
Then comes a little pearl of wisdom that is worth $9.99 all on its own. If you have a large project, do this: "A large assignment can be very stressful; it can make you nervous and prevent you from concentrating. As soon as you break your work down into pieces it won't seem so big and scary anymore, and you'll be able to relax and start working easily." Yes, that sounds like sane advice. If you have a 50,000-word text to deliver by Monday, just break it down into pieces. Let's say, oh... 50,000 words? Start with "the." That's not so scary, is it? Translate it.
Choose the next word.
Do it 49,998 more times and you're `round third and headed for home. (Of course, I can't guarantee the quality of your translation if you work like that, but at least you'll make your deadline, also an important objective, as the Transalator usefully informs us.)
All in all, Anonymous's "How To Be a Freelance Transalator" is an eye-opening treasure trove of experience. I truly and really hope someone "transalates" it soon into a gazillion languages using the same software that wrote it, because denying this to the millions of non-English-speaking masses would truly be a shame. Furthermore, I can't wait for the upcoming companion titles: How To Be a Perfessional Proofe-reader and How To be a Freelance Riter.