Ahead of the International Translation Day CIOL Scotland very thoughtfully organised an event that featured two lectures: “Social Media for Linguists” and “Translation in Occupied Germany, 1945-1949”. Thus I spent Saturday at the University of Stirling set at the foot of the Highlands with the Wallace Monument cutting through the landscape.
As a translator I feel at home and at ease working with texts, ploughing through dictionaries, playing with linguistic ideas and making creative choices. Semantics and style are my expertise. Marketing appears to be a distant beast that is hard to conquer and tame.
Alba Sort took me out of my comfort zone straight through the underwater stones of social media marketing. One of her slides carried a scary message to the effect that regardless of the level of your expertise if you are not visible online, you are dead (at least professionally). I take it that word of mouth nowadays equates to going viral on the Internet.
Hence this post, an attempt to give credit to the wonderful marketer Alba and to commit one of the deadly sins of marketing, i.e. to shout out loud to all our potential clients: We are here, we are wonderful and very visible online — and we are always ready to provide top quality translation in and out of Russian to all our customers!
After lunch @Dr Anne Stokes gave a profound insight into the literary translation market of post-war Germany – the country that was occupied and ideologically divided.
What stood out and astonished me was the revelation that in those days translations were not perceived as capable of carrying an ideological message separate from the originals. While writers and their books were under scrutiny and often were victims of censorship, translations were taken as a matter of fact even if they were produced on the territory controlled by ideological “enemies”.
Germany represented quite a vivid example of this. While the selection of book titles and authors was strictly controlled by the ruling powers in each respective part of the country, translations were shared across zones with conflicting ideologies. In other words, the Soviet zone would think nothing of circulating a book converted into German by a translator from the US or British zones and vice versa.
According to Dr Stokes, the ideological aspect of translation did not come to be taken seriously until much later into the 2nd half of the XX century.
I do wonder whether modern users of translated texts and in fact the authors of the source texts realise to which extent they are in the power of translators. Translator’s expertise (or the lack of it) is well capable of changing not only the ideological message, but also the tone, the style – and sometimes the entire meaning of the original. Linguistic nuances are very subtle and it takes a masterful hand to recreate each of them in the target text while preserving the uniformity of the original.
Now, going back to marketing – translation is a serious business and if you need doing it – it’s worth doing it properly – with a translator that would be your ally – not a traitor.