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Indonesian Translator's Perspective:
Posted on Thursday, September 20 @ 23:33:36 EDT
Topic: Work as Freelancer

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So what, gitu loh?

For some established professional translators ‘selling out’ or in this case ‘going really cheap’ means degrading oneself to the point that one must educated the public on what a good translation versus a bad one is. Unfortunately, selling out or going really cheap, for a rookie, newcomer in the field, it is a –must do— attitude in the hope of getting some and possibly more work or clientele. This outlook, selling out, an attitude disadvantageous for the established translators in the translation industry, is an opening or gap in the customers mind for which customer education is essential and must be revealed out in the open by those established professionals.

Why would one say that? Well, it is expected that by cultivating a better understanding and a better positioning provided by an opinion based on research, investigation, study an outcome shall grow, ready and willing to exhaust the cash outflow to the fullest. Whether a seminar, conference or an intelligent article, books etc, the customers are lectured, lead on to believe to a product of high quality, which must or should be likely to be. A customer shall be oriented to point and choose the best provider not on the basis of rates but on other measurable constraints. Of course one expects that these constraints be of objective in manner.

Accordingly, what’s a good high quality translation then? Linguists, experts and the like in the field have many ways to set the standards, benchmark, point of reference to what a good, understandable, high quality translation is. All of them requires the average person, a layman to force the grey cells to a maximum and then to raise an eyebrow and ultimately utter, “so what!”

In this day and age, one and the most prevalent way of measuring a high quality product or service to the best of my knowledge and in this case translation, literally, is the most expensive value in hard cash and to a person requiring a translation service, a good translation translates to her or his needs which in this case, simply put is the cash. Simple or is it not?

At any rate, if the budget is tight, then the lowest price is obtained. On the other hand, if the budget is enormous, which I doubt, (so convince me otherwise people), then the translator or translators with the best credentials, accreditation, experience etc. and in this case the right price, shall have the greatest prospect and possibility of getting the work completed. The establish person or individual shall have with him or her sense of satisfaction, pride and superiority that the work, effort is a well worth job done.

Let me story-tell an obtuse but objective chronicle, at least for me:

Long ago, in a land far away, there lived a community of specialist in their field. One day, a stranger who arrived at this unusual place wanted to contract his needs to a specialist, therefore a demand was created. This individual then browsed around for a supplier. After some time investigating and the effort spent were not wasted, the stranger was recommended to go to specialist A. At the appointed place the stranger asked specialist A for the services, A asked for a quotation, the demand’s range for specialist A was to low, and was not specialist A’s liking, fortunately, this network of specialists had an elevated excellence of ethics, since there wasn’t a meeting point of demand and supply, specialist A suggested specialist B, the same thing happened to specialist B. This chain of events ended up to specialist Z. A miracle had happened a transaction was met. The demand and supply coincided. The stranger felt happy and pleased. At last, the job was congregated and done. The stranger went about on the journey with a story to tell to the rest of the world.

To sum up, all translators will go this path whether they like it or not. It’s a fact of life. Or is it not?

By Harry Hermawan | Published  11/17/2005

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