Public perception

Subject: Public perception
From: Robert Bononno <bononno -at- ACF2 -dot- NYU -dot- EDU>
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 1994 21:26:08 -0400

Dear tech-whirlers,

I've been cornered into writing a short piece for the ATA Chronicle
(American Translators Association) on the public's perception of
translation and translators, and possibly the issue of client education.
Now, I realize this is the tech writers list, but I was hoping to gain a
bit of insight from the collective mind.

There are a number of similarities between the two groups as well as some
significant differences. Things in common might include a concern with
language, technical nature of material we work on, education and
training, work and educational background in a technical field rather
than education in translation or technical writing, lack of visibility as
a professional group, traditionally substandard wages (translators
primarily I think), lack of input into the work process, the need to be a
jack or jill-of-all-trades, increasing emphasis on technology as an
integral part of the job, etc.

Dissimlarities? Well, the STC is about 3x as large as the ATA. My feeling
is that most tech writers are employees, whereas nearly all translators
are independent, aka free lance. Translators in the US come from a wide
variety of national backgrounds, so there is a lack of a common culture
among us. Translators seem to know little or nothing about things like
marketing, public relations, sales, or collecting outstanding invoices.
There's also a fair amount of schizophrenia among translators and within
the ATA particularly about whether agencies/bureaus/brokers should be
represented within the organization. I've never seen this kind of
dissension within the STC. There's also considerable distrust of
academics by many practicing free-lance translators and far too wide a
gap between theory and practice, and between technical and literary
translators. The STC--at least in its publications--appears to be much
more comfortable with the academic world and theory in general.

So if any of you feel the urge to jump in, I'm all ears. I'll try to
extrapolate from your ideas about technical writing to translation. I
don't have plans to use any quotes in the article, I was just looking for
something to jog the old noggin into a state of semi-awareness.

Till next time,

Robert Bononno /// Techline
bononno -at- acf2 -dot- nyu -dot- edu
CIS 73670,1570

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