Saturday, February 27, 2010


By Bernie Bierman

When Rosene Zaros told me that she had started a translation blog and journal, the words that came immediately to mind were a paraphrase of those of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

"Fresh air, thank God, fresh air at last"

Some who read the present commentary may ask, "What makes Ms. Zaros' publication 'fresh air' and why do you think that this 'fresh air' won't go stale?"

The answer to the first part of that question is given in Ms. Zaros' opening piece and I am sure will be reinforced as more issues of this publication come before the eyes of its readership. The answer to the second part of the question is that Ms. Zaros has a record, or to use the American vernacular or slang expression, a "rap sheet".

You see, in today's world of translation, particularly in the segment sometimes known as "industrial translation", Rosene Zaros is a kind of outlaw. Not even an "outlaw" or "so-called outlaw" or a "let's pretend outlaw". She's the real thing. Now, if you don't fancy "outlaw", you might want to accept "heretic". And we all know, or should know from our history what happened to "heretics".

As just mentioned, this latest blogista and journalist to enter the blogosphere has a record or rap sheet that includes "arrests" and "indictments" and "guilty verdicts" for such "crimes" as questioning so-called "conventional wisdom", permitting others to question so-called "conventional wisdom", criticizing translation industry leaders over matters of policy, permitting others to do likewise, asking, inviting and virtually begging the recipients of such criticism to air their views and defend their viewpoints,, and engaging in all sorts of other "journalistic heresies".

Her latest "arrest", "indictment" and "guilty verdict" came in the form of being dismissed (or if you prefer, fired, or if you don't like "fired", you might prefer "canned") as editor of the "Gotham Translator", the bi-monthly newsletter of the New York Circle of Translators (NYCT), one of the oldest chapters in the family of chapters of the American Translators Association (ATA).

And why was she dismissed, fired, canned? Because she believed and believes passionately in a free and open exchange of ideas and viewpoints; because she believed and believes passionately that no idea is sacred and therefore beyond questioning; because she believed and believes that the spatial-like diversity of translation and language results in a spatial-like diversity of ideas and opinions and viewpoints.

But her "superiors" at the NYCT, and by practical and quasi-legal extension those at the ATA, did not like and do not like diversity of opinion and free and open exchange of ideas and viewpoints. And if Ms. Zaros has a "rap sheet" for so-called "violations" of so-called "conventional wisdom", the record of forced and enforced acceptance of conventional wisdom not just by the American Translators Association but other translator organizations throughout the U.S. and I daresay the world, is at least twice as long. Try to air some views embodying "unconventional wisdom" on Henry Dotterer's and one of King Henry's thought policemen will "zap" you so fast that not even Google will have time to get your thoughts into its cache. Or try to talk about issues of translator and translation economics on Anatoly's while citing a few names and locations here and there, and Anatoly's thought policemen will be down on you like a June bug.

And that is essentially why Translation Commentator is not merely a breath of fresh air, but a blast of fresh air.

Many will not like this blog and journal. Many will consider it "unprofessional" or "unworthy of the translation profession". Others will privately fume and fulminate against it. However, I would be willing to wager a good amount of dollars or euros or yen or zlotys or shekels or drachmas that those who do not like this publication or fume and fulminate against it will flatly turn down or, worse, not even respond to an invitation by its publisher to express and otherwise defend their viewpoints.

1 comment:

  1. is essentially why Translation Commentator is not merely a breath of fresh air, but a blast of fresh air. cerita nabi
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