Trying to define the profession of a translator, many people would list translating books as one of his or her main tasks. It is the case of not just the third party, but also those who may consider this occupation as a potential future career path. However, such an opinion hardly ever matches reality.

So how does it really work?

The translator’s job consists in converting different types of documents from one language to another; these include books as well as articles, legal agreements and codes, operating manuals etc. To the novices’ despair, it is often those formal papers that are the subject of most commissions, leaving little to no room for creativity. This state of affairs, however, can be advantageous in financial terms.

Far from a fairy tale

Being a fiction translator in Poland is not all sunshine and rainbows. The most outstanding and experienced professionals can count on high pay but unfortunately these are few and far between. That is why most translators work other jobs as well, considering translation as side work rather than their primary source of income. Starting one’s own translation business could also be
a possibility. Yet, the owner may find it extremely difficult to stand out on the market, since clients usually turn towards experienced and trusted specialists. Additionally, all expenses have to be covered by the founder themselves.

A walk in the park or a pain in the neck?

Translation is considered an art not without reason. Even while translating official documents, the author has to be fluent and proficient in both their mother tongue and the foreign language. When it comes to fiction, these skills constitute the absolute backbone of the process. Broad general and cultural knowledge has to be taken into account as well. Understanding the message hidden in the source text is the first step towards successful translation, after all. Additionally, great emphasis should be put on reliability and patience in the creative process.

Contrary to the popular opinion, the profession of a translator is not the easiest. Preserving the author’s intentions while converting a text from one language to another may sometimes prove
a very difficult task. It is especially accurate in relation to translating books. Be that as it may, despite all its difficulties, there is no doubt this process possesses its own kind of beauty.

(Translation K. Z.)

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