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Do you feel lonely as a translator - Part 2

That envelope sat on my bedside table every night as I read the pages, already trying to translate them in my head. There were so many words that I had never seen in my life, so many grammatically intricate sentences, that the joy and the excitement of that first day soon subsided. 

They had turned into anxiety and fear. But my desire to get the job was still there. I had a 2-month deadline for 137 pages of countless words. That sounds pretty good for today’s standards, but not for that time!

I had to buy fresh, nice paper and a brand-new ink cartridge for the typewriter. So I waited until I had done that to get started. Some of the sentences and words were already tickling my thoughts. When I had everything ready, I could barely stand going to Uni, let alone having my lunch at home… All I wanted was to go to my room and start! That’s exactly what I did on the days that followed.

If you complain about the hardships of being a translator nowadays you have no idea of what it was like in them days! There were no computers, no iPhones, there was no Internet!! Can you even imagine a world like that? 

Those things were just ideas, crazy unimaginable inventions for the future. They sounded to me like the end of the human race.. computers and robots were things that scared me! How was I to know that they were to become the very future of our beloved profession?

The only things you could rely on back in the 80s were good reference books, your teachers perhaps, if you were lucky, and your colleagues. The typewriter was something else. 

From being good, it turned into a nightmare to me when it decided it would act at its own will. Well, I used to lie in bed awake sometimes wondering if the Supreme Alien Entity of Mars had set its eyes on me and sent all his little helpers to destroy everything I was doing. I imagined the keys being tiny, evil green creatures that would conspire against me when I wasn’t around. 

I imagined them laughing when the papers got jammed or when the cartridge got stuck and wouldn’t move unless I oiled it! 

There was no correction key either, and no way to erase mistakes. The only thing you could do was erase the wrong words with a line of X's crossing over them. But that made the whole thing look unprofessional.  

Why didn’t the Supreme Entity send me diligent, clever helpers like the ones He sent to Egypt instead? Was I going insane or was He testing my limits? I guess it was a combination of the two.

 Sorry for the digression. 

Despite all that, never for a day, I regretted being in my room trying to make sense of the text I was putting together. There were names of animals that I had never heard of, vegetation types that I was unaware of, and lots and lots of repeated words. I knew that consistency was important so I had to keep a log of the words I was using… but I often procrastinate! How stupid of me!

 If any of you have gone through the same or similar things some time back in your lives, let me know.  Have you ever had the impression that the Supreme Alien Entity of Mars was plotting against you or your translation job?

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Very interesting post Sylvia! I have not been a translator for that long a time but I have known a time when computers and smartphones did not exist or at least were not readily accessible to the masses. So I can imagine the hardships! Thank you!

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Dear Laura,

It is lovely to know that you are enjoying it! It gives me the enthusiasm to carry on.

Thank you so very much for your kind comment! 😘


Wonderful to read Silvia! Though unfamiliar with the hardships of using a typewriter, I can very well imagine how hard the work must have been in the absence of all present facilities. Looking at the sunny side though, it must have been the constant touch of those dictionaries, reference books and knowledgeable teachers that has incorporated into moulding such a wonderful writer as you are!! Thanks for sharing!

Replying to

Dear Shruti,

I am so sorry. I read your lovely comment on my mobile the other day, and I was sure I had replied to it. Now I can see nothing on here.

I feel flattered by your words! I agree that all of those factors contributed to me being where I am today but I am not a writer. 😃

I am happy that you enjoyed reading! Thank you so very much! ❤️


"If you complain about the hardships of being a translator nowadays you have no idea of what it was like in them days! There were no computers, no iPhones, there was no Internet!! Can you even imagine a world like that?" Now the machine is doing so much and all we have to do is check and refine what used to take most of our time and that gave people easy access to the works of translation. This is why I get angry with people who think it is okay to go with no post MT editing, no research of words and terms, no study of the source or target context. I was born in the 80s and even though the world was…

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I agree with you, Shams! The good of today's workflow is that it works as a 'filter' where you can separate the real, hardworking translator from the mediocre one who thinks the work is all done for them. The other day, I came across a post where the reviewer complained because he had to do the translation!

Thank you for reading and for your kind comment!


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