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Attorneys

It is important to stress that, while "inductive" experience of the people who have

a direct impact on a translator's work is always the most useful in that work, it is

not always possible to predict who those people will be in advance. Representatives

of new agencies and clients call out of the blue; the people an interpreter is asked

to interpret for are always changing; not all technical writers are the same, nor

are medical writers, legal writers, etc. Personal differences mean stylistic differences;

the better able a translator or interpreter is to recognize and understand

an unexpected personality type, the better able s/he will also be to render an

idiosyncratic style effectively into the target language.

And this means that it is never enough for translators to get to know certain

people, or certain types of people. You never know what personalities or personality

types will prove useful in a translation or interpretation job — so you need to be

open to everyone, interested in everyone, ready to register or record any personal

idiosyncrasy you notice in any person who comes along.

This in turn requires a certain observant frame of mind, a people-watching

mentality that is always on the lookout for character quirks, unusual (not to mention

usual) turns of phrase, intonations, timbres, gestures, and so on. Translators who

"collect" little tidbits of information about every person they meet, every text they

read, and turn them over and over in their mind long after collecting them, will be

much more likely to be ready for the peculiar text than those who are completely

focused on linguistic structures in the abstract.

One of the most important new developments coming out of the study of

multiple intelligences and learning styles (Chapter 3) is the study of "personal

intelligence," or what is now being called "emotional intelligence." Daniel Goleman

(1995: 43—4) outlines five elements of emotional intelligence:

Emotional self-awareness — knowing how you feel about something, and above all how

you are currently feeling. Many professional decisions are made on the basis of

our reactions to people; this makes recognizing how we are reacting essential

to successful decision-making. As Goleman (1995: 43) writes, "An inability to

monitor our true feelings leaves us at their mercy." For example, if you hate your

work, the sooner you recognize that and move on to something you enjoy more,

the better off you will be. If you love certain parts of it and hate others, being

aware of those mixed feelings will help you gravitate more toward the parts

you enjoy and avoid or minimize or learn to reframe the parts you dislike. And

the more astute your emotional self-awareness, the better you will also get at:

Emotional self-control — transforming and channeling your emotions in positive

and productive ways. Many translators work alone, or in large impersonal

corporations, and battle loneliness, boredom, and depression. The better able

you are to change your mood, to spice up a dull day with phone calls or e-mail

chats or a coffee break, or to "think" (visualize, breathe, soothe) yourself out

of the doldrums, the more positive and successful you will be as a translator.

Clients and agencies will do things that irritate you; the better able you are to

conceal or transform your irritation when speaking to them on the phone or

in a meeting, or even get over the irritation before speaking to them, the more

professional you will appear to them, and the more willing they will be to give

you work. And the more effectively you are able to channel and transform your

emotions, the better you will also get at:

Emotional self motivation — finding the drive within yourself to accomplish

professional goals. In almost every case, translators have to be self-starters.

They have to take the initiative to find work and to get the work done once it

has been given to them to do. They have to push themselves to take that extra

hour or two to track down the really difficult terminology, rather than taking

the easy way out and putting down the first entry they find in their dictionaries.

The better able they are to channel their emotional life toward the achievement

of goals, the more they will enjoy their work, the more efficiently they will do

it, and the more professional recognition they will receive. At the very highest

levels of self-motivation, translators experience the "flow" state described by

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990), where the rest of the world seems to fade

away and work becomes sheer delight. And knowing and channeling your own

emotions also helps you develop powers of:

Empathy — recognizing, understanding, and responding to other people's

emotions. This is a crucial skill for professionals who rely on social contacts for

their livelihood. While many translators work alone, they also have clients

whose needs they have to second-guess and attempt to satisfy, agencies that may

only hint at the institutional complexity of a job they are trying to get done,

friends and acquaintances who know some field professionally and may be able

to help with terminology problems. Sensing how they feel about your requests,

or your responses to their requests, will help you interact with them in a

personally and professionally satisfying manner, leading both to more work and

to enhanced enjoyment in your work. And of course the better able you are to

empathize with others, the better you will be at:

5 Handling relationships — maintaining good professional and personal relationships

with the people on whom your livelihood depends. Translation is a business;

and while business is about money, and in this case words, phrases, and texts,

it is also, as this chapter shows, about people — interpersonal relations.

Successful business people are almost invariably successful socially as well as

financially, because the two go hand in hand. This is perhaps clearest when

money is not involved: how do you "pay" a friend for invaluable terminological

help? The pay is almost always emotional, social, relational: the coin of friendship

and connection. But even when a client or agency is paying you to do a

job, the better able you are to handle your relationship — even, in many cases,

professional friendship — with them, the happier they are going to be to pay

you to do this job and future ones.