Translation Work

There’s money in translation, folks. This month I made a thousand dollars (in 4 different currencies), and I don’t have much time to dedicate to translation. I have a very research-heavy workload, I travel, people came to stay with me, I chair my department, prepare for the Fall semester, read. So it’s not like I can work on translation all day. Or every day.

Also, all the blather about the dangers of automation to translation is bunkum. The kind of stuff I have been translated will never be automated. It would be way too expensive and probably not even work.

My translator persona is part of my grieving process. When my friend died, I colored my hair in her color. When my father died, I started doing the work he had done for his clients. He didn’t have much hair, so I had to do this instead. For some reason, this is what helps me grieve. I kind of become the person who passed on. It might be weird but it works for me. Plus, I will now teach my translation course more effectively because I’m actually doing it and learning how translation changed since I last did it.

The most rewarding translation project I’ve done was subtitling in English video testimonials of Ukrainian refugees in Poland. It was emotionally grueling, plus I had to learn to make .srt files. But the translation is very easy. It’s conversational Ukrainian or Russian, which I can do in my sleep. And I feel like I’m helping to get these stories out.

Who Lists Pronouns

I have found myself in an unexpected and somewhat weird position of working as a translator for 3 large companies. One is medical, one is tech, and one a religiously affiliated multinational charitable concern.

And let me tell you, my friends. As part of this work, I’ve been in correspondence with many people. In the medical company, in particular, every translation goes through many rounds of review. This puts me in touch with many employees in different positions. I have noticed that the frequency of people listing their pronouns in the email signature in all 3 companies is an order of magnitude higher than in academia.

In academia, secretaries and members of low-level administrative staff list pronouns. Maybe a few early-career academics with no publications. Serious people list their recent books and corresponding links but very VERY rarely pronouns. Yesterday, for instance, I had to get in touch with 5 academics I don’t personally know for a colleague’s tenure review. Zero pronouns. On the same day, I coresponded with 4 people in the corporate world. All had pronouns.

The main source of wokeness is no longer academia. It’s still a major source of it but there’s now a much more powerful and wealthy one. That is the world of transnational business.

Daily Reminder

This is the cost of the decades of coddling of Russia. And the same people who did the coddling now have the gall to criticize Zelensky for doing everything he can, including some pretty humiliating things, to make this stop. I want everyone who has been snarking that “maybe the war in Ukraine isn’t that bad” to look at these pictures and try to recover a shred of dignity.