Challenging Stereotypes

Recently, I’ve noticed an increasing number of memes and posts on social media that seem to play into several negative stereotypes people have about translators and about translation as a profession. While I realise that translation, or any career, is not all rainbows and sparkles, it seems to me that these posts, whether meant ironically or not, do nothing to help raise our professional profile.

Translation is often a misunderstood profession – and there is no easy way to combat this. Nevertheless, over the coming weeks, I’m going to be challenging some of the stereotypes I come across most often and exploring what we can do to overcome their negative impact.

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If there’s a stereotype you’ve heard lately that you would love to write about, get in touch and let me know!

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3 Comments

  1. Hi Carol, my pet peeve stereotypes are:
    – overworked translators burning the midnight oil
    – underpaid translators struggling to make a living
    – evil agencies squeezing translators until the pips squeak

    I don’t understand why so many translators paint freelancers as poor victims of an evil oligopoly of agencies when my experience has been completely the opposite – flexible working hours, earning enough to live a comfortable lifestyle and working with small, friendly agencies that care about quality (the fact that I feel like I’m bragging by saying I have a normal working life just demonstrates how ingrained this idea is!)

    I think it’s quite damaging actually. New entrants to the profession see these memes and think that it’s the norm and there’s nothing they can do about it. Potential clients might start believing that translators are all beavering away round-the-clock and thus change their expectations. As you say, while it’s not all hearts-and-flowers all the time, negativity doesn’t really improve the image of the profession!

    • Hi Carmen, thanks for your comment. I absolutely agree – many translators seem to wear their working weekends/all-nighters as a badge of honour, and while I’m happy to work the odd weekend for an important project, it’s certainly not the norm for me! I’d love for you to expand on one of your pet peeves as a guest blog – email me if you’re interested!

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