It’s easy to look at a piece of advice and come up with a hundred reasons why it won’t work for you. There are as many ways to be a translator as there are translators, after all.
But maybe none of our professional problems are that unique. So if a suggestion doesn’t fit your situation 100%, rather than dismissing it entirely, I think it’s worth thinking about the ways in which it might fit.
For example, Fire Ant & Worker Bee are big advocates of the idea that translations appearing in print should bear the translator’s name as a matter of course, and that it is the responsibility of translators to ensure this happens. In their online column and book, they put up a good argument in support of this idea and offer easy-to-follow advice for translators wishing to pursue this option.
I think it’s a great idea. But given my current portfolio, it would be easy to dismiss it and focus on how it doesn’t suit me. For example, I don’t often work on translations that are destined for print, and as such, my work can be tweaked and updated by any number of people over its lifetime (which isn’t to say the work is any less critical or lucrative, of course).
But I can still see the merits of the suggestion, and there’s no reason why I can’t apply the principles behind it to all my translations. What translator wouldn’t benefit from taking concrete steps to ensure proper accountability, due recognition, rigorous standards and appropriate control of their work? These are lofty ideals and not easy to reach with every job, but that’s not to stay I should stop aspiring to them.
Regardless of our individual circumstances, I think we can all learn something if we keep our minds open and our brains turned on when we hear about the ways in which other translators work.