The Service you don’t see

Marcos Chiquetto mar 10 2023

Imagine that you took the utmost care with some work you did, doing your best to assure the highest quality result possible. And then someone sees what you did and comments that the work you performed just cannot be noticed. It is as if no work had been done. Would that make you happy?

— Of course not. Who would be pleased in knowing that their work wasn’t even noticed?

There is one professional who is happy when this happens: the translator. The greatest compliment that a translator can receive is: “I read this, and it didn’t seem like a translation”.

The objective of the translator’s work is to reproduce a text or some speech in a target language that is as close to the original as possible.

Let’s look at what this means in regard to journalistic material, for example. In the original language, the text flows naturally, and most people don’t pay particular attention to the words or phrases. The objective of that communication is to transmit ideas, and people connect with the ideas, not the form. When this type of text is translated, the effect in the target language should be the same, meaning that people should pay attention to the ideas, not the words or phrases. But, if the words used call attention to themselves and if the reader senses something unusual about the form, then the translation probably wasn’t well done.

In this case, the average reader might say something like: “I don’t understand this, it must be really deep.” On the other hand, if the reader is familiar with the subject, he may say: “what a strange text, it looks like a bad translation.”

This is the paradox of the translator’s job: if it’s well done, most people won’t even notice the work the professional has done.

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