Sunday, February 19, 2006

Touchy Translators and Know-it-alls

A recent discussion thread in the Italian forum of ProZ highlighted quite clearly two defects to which we translators seem to be particularly prone: knowing it all, and being extremely touchy.

A colleague opened the thread warning that negative comments posted on the Blue Board about Italian translation agencies could easily lead to being sued for libel. Other colleagues promptly voiced their disbelief, mostly saying that one could not succumb in libel suit if what he or she had written was the truth. The original poster started to take these comments as personal attacks, and the tone of those that had voiced their disbelief also started to degenerate towards sarcasm.

I don't want to rehash the discussion, which is still under way. What I found unpleasant, but typical of too many of us was:

  1. Freely jumping in with our opinions, certain of the truth of them, but without bothering to check first

  2. Immediately taking contrary opinions as personal attacks

  3. Rapidly escalating the discussion, with growing acrimony

The thread I mention above is only an example, but I could easily mention many others, unfortunately often.

Many of us seem to feel constantly unappreciated and under attack: from other colleagues or from translation agencies (many write of translation companies as enemies always out to swindle poor translators, and not as customers in good faith).

As translators we often know a lot of things, given the nature of our profession, and many of us are quite ready to impart the wealth of our vast knowledge unto others. (Unfortunately, most of us don't know nearly as much as we pretend, and not even as much as we think we do).

I sometimes wish we were better: that we more readily held our tempers, and checked our facts before speaking out.

By the way: Apparently according to Italian law the truth of a statement is often not a valid defense in a libel suit.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more, and have to admit that one reason why I haven't been more interested in discussions/questions on proz is that I've all too often seen things disintegrate into an acrimonious (and seemingly out of nowhere) mud-slinging contest
    (I am prone to hyperbole). Maybe I've just had bad luck?


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