Basic Do’s and Don’ts for a translator and interpreter

I’ve been trying to create a post on basic PROS and CONS for a translator and interpreter. Maybe for you it might be common sense, but there’s nothing wrong with posting a ‘friendly’ reminder of our duty as professionals. I am aware that many enjoy the privilege of living in free-speech countries, while others are still struggling to fight for their rights. However, our duty is to be neutral in certain situations, mainly in political aspects because our image is in jeopardy.  Believe me, Internet and “Saint Google” are pretty powerful tools when researching about a translator a customer is interested in hiring.  So, here are my humble tips:

DO’s

  • Promote cultural awareness and peace.
  • Be humble.
  • Help decode the correct message from the main language into the target one.
  • Keep a neutral point in a trial.
  • Keep your CV/résumé updated.
  • Make sure your CV/résumé, webpage, and e-mail messages have ZERO fatalistic errors (i.e., misspellings, wrong verb conjugations, misused genre/mode).
  • Follow all ethics you’ve learned as a professional services provider.
  • Advise newbies translators seeking your help and experience.
  • Make sure everything is proofread before delivering your final product to your customer.
  • ALWAYS try to investigate, research, and find out about translation agencies before accepting any work offer or assignment from them. This is important to avoid scammers and ID thefts. Yes, no more scam victims!
  • Have a great time and network in conferences!

DON’T

  • DO NOT Promote hate.
  • DO NOT Promote racism.
  • DO NOT Belittle others (whether colleagues, clients, newbie translators, or humble human beings).
  • DO NOT Post political or radical opinions in Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site under PUBLIC if you’re a state, federal, sworn, certified, and/or licensed court interpreter.
  • DO NOT Discriminate colleagues wearing hijab, crucifix necklaces, or kippah.
  • DO NOT ACCEPT ‘peanuts‘. You are not a monkey. You are a human being who has  invested so much effort (and funds!) into your career.
  • DO NOT Work in degrading, insulting, denigrating conditions.
  • DO NOT ACCEPT sketchy payment methods.
  • DO NOT Neglect your CV/résumé.
  • DO NOT Include too much personal information (for example, your marital status and your wife’s name) in your CV/résumé. Nobody cares!
  • DO NOT e-mail your CV to any random person or company. Be sure it’s legit.
  • DO NOT STEAL CLIENTS from your colleagues by contacting them. This promotes bad reputation for the profession and senseless lower rates.
  • DO NOT Include languages you don’t even work with in your name tag when attending certain translation conferences or seminars (yes, some of them require you to specify your languages with color-coding stickers or labels). Yes, it’s quite understandable you’re learning Arabic, but don’t specify it if you’re still on LEVEL A1.
  • DO NOT Stop learning.
  • DO NOT CATFIGHT with your racist customer. Yes, it is disgusting how some translators face discrimination and racism, but your impeccable behavior would speak louder than close-mindedness.
  • DO NOT BE COLD when networking. You could scare people away.

Hope you find these thoughts useful! Many translation and interpreting associations such as ATA and IATPI have their own bylaws and code of ethics, but my basic tips are definitely useful. Not only  should we be careful with our reputation, but continue creating a more peaceful and respectful environment among colleagues.

Have a great day!

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