Translation or creation, which is it?
When you are translating, are you trying to outdo yourself in order to deliver a high-quality translation within the deadline agreed upon and are you bound by rigorous standards of discipline? Performance and discipline are undoubtedly among the values that you happen to share with your fellow translators. Motivated by the desire to produce a text that meets the highest expectations, you call upon your writing skills to create the best translation possible in your mother tongue. How do you go about it? How do you keep your confidence level at a record high despite the hardships that plague the current economic situation in the field of translation?
Take a step back from the situation! You may be underestimating those cherished moments when you catch yourself typing two or three sentences in a row in the inspiration of the moment... and rejoice when you realize that the sentence makes complete sense. This is what many people refer to as a moment of grace. I am sure you have experienced these in the past, and even sometimes when you are stuck with a complex sentence at that. Anyhow, it happens to me, and when it does, I’m always overwhelmed by the situation.
How can you experience this state of grace more often? Want to try? First, remove the main substance from the source text. Take for example the following: “Il décroche le combiné, attend la tonalité et compose le numéro.” Make it simpler in French. How about: “Il passe un appel.” Easy to remember and translate using: “He makes a phone call.” Now, the English needs more substance (needless to say, without looking at the source text). “He picks up the phone, waits for the tone and dials the number...” A little old fashioned you might say. Try something more contemporary like: “He picks up his smartphone, checks if the network is available and dials the number.”
Your memory will breathe a sigh of relief as it thanks you for not putting it into overload. Your need for pleasure will thus be met after you have let your writing skills run wild. It was a calculated risk after all. You may then compare your translation to the source text at the proofreading stage. If you have gone too far, you may correct any of the sentences that need to be modified. Go ahead, let your imagination free!
Video: Studio Steve Bergeron