A friend of mine translates small texts (up to 1000 words), but since translation is not her main source of income, she says she is not a professional. What does it mean to be a professional?
When I first started it took me sometime to realise the importance of what I was doing. Fortunately, I was working in house in a team with editors, so my work was being checked, and I received constant feedback. With time (and feedback), I started acknowledging my responsibility – translating clinical trial materials, can you imagine how big this is?
It is rather dangerous to think of yourself as not a professional, simply because this is not your main income source, or maybe because you just started. If you’re not a professional, then you have no obligation to your work. When there’s no obligation, there’s no commitment to quality or research, you just change the words in the document and voilá, done.
It doesn’t matter if you’re translating clinical trial texts, divorce papers or a novel, your reader is counting on the veracity of your words. Often, your reader is not a speaker of the source language, so they have no way to check if you did a good work, they just rely on you.
Professional translation means accepting the responsibility for your work, acknowledging the need of your reader and doing your best with all tools at hand to deliver the best translation possible. A professional translator seeks constant development, because they know there’s much more to learn. A professional translator makes their work understandable in the target language and makes it possible for this text to fulfill its purpose – excellent communication.