This advert for Leica cameras made me think of the translator’s craft. And the skill and work and care and honing and polishing that it takes to produce a really good translation that truly serves your client’s needs.

The Most Boring Ad Ever Made? from Leica Camera on Vimeo.

What do you think, readers: is craftsmanship boring?

With thanks to Katherine Parish (translation student and photographer) for posting this ad on Twitter.

Other posts you might like:

Translators’ pay: how much are you worth?

From GIGO to QIQO: the quest for quality

Omnishambles: object-lessons in how not to contract out language services

 

By Marian Dougan


6 Responses to “Craftsmanship: is it boring? Not for translators (the good ones, that is).”  

  1. 1 Steve Dyson

    Excellent and very relevant.
    Thanks for posting.

  2. 2 MarianD

    Thanks, Steve.
    I attended a “Translation Duel” with Ros Schwartz and Adriana Hunter at last year’s Edinburgh Book Festival. They’d both been given a section from a story by Dany Laferriere, L’air sentait Pilang-ilang, to translate and the event was a discussion of their translation choices (I don’t think they’d translated a single sentence the same way). The first 10-15 minutes of the event focused just on the title and the first couple of sentences – there was so much to say about their translation thought processes. All the thinking and re-thinking, not to mention research, that can go into just a single word.

  3. 3 Pierre

    Hi Marian,

    Interesting point, thanks for sharing!

    I think it is boring to watch – you want us to watch 45 mn of polishing? er… no thanks!,

    But so would be a translator’s thoughts record while she/he polishing a text:

    “should I get rid of that clause…? Mmh, let’s see… How about changing it for a gerund and put it at the start of the sentence…. Ah yes, but then the link with the catch phrase is weak… bladibladibladibladibla…”

    😀

    That said, it does make you aware of the time craftsmanship takes, as opposed to standardisation – something that it far from obvious.

    Maybe it would be worth filming a translation job and putting it on youtube: no one would watch the entire vid, but everyone would find out the actual time it takes.

    Well, that was my 10 mn tea break – back to boring translation train of thoughts (not to mention a delayed Scotnet’s call notice to finish…)

  4. 4 MarianD

    Hello Pierre, yes I have to confess I didn’t watch the whole video – I jumped to the end (I spend enough time on Twitter etc without then watching a 45-min video too!). But I think the concept is valid – it would be really boring to watch a translator poring over their final draft, but it’s not (usually) boring for the translator doing it.

  5. 5 MarianD

    What was the research for, Kim? I’ve seen website usability tests where the user is given a task to perform on a site – buy something, book a ticket, find some information – and voice their thought processes as they do so. It’s fascinating to watch/listen to.

  6. 6 Pierre

    Another interesting research area involves eye tracking.

    I attended an academic presentation a few years ago where the speaker explained that they were trying to rebuild the grammar/syntax process that takes place in our mind by comparing the “reading” (the translator’s eye movements) and her/his “writing” (key strikes and mouse clicks).

    Very insightful, especially to compare the way we build our thoughts in different languages, but pretty useless from a practical point of view 😉

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