Are Translators Grammar Nitpickers or Not?
However, as Jan Freeman mentions in her post about that very subject, the difference between the two has not always been apparent, and to this day it confounds quite respectable folk. The translation professional works in a language that is so alive it sometimes seems to writhe as speakers and writers try to wrestle it to the ground and force it to behave a certain way. It’s just not in its nature to “behave” and sometimes, at least to us, translation feels more like lion taming than anything else. We’re trying to work with this beast that is the English language, in a way that creates a translation that feels natural and is correct.
And then again, we’re not even touching translation into languages other than English in this post.
Translators Do Care About Language
Sometimes, to the uninitiated or unprofessional, putting on the guise of someone who is overly uptight about language might make you seem as if you care, deeply, about language. But to the true translation professional, this is actually the opposite of the truth: When you truly care about language, you see it as an art and a science. As this incredibly fraught comments section over on Good Reads suggests, translators care, a lot, about the way language is translated. And that it is an art and a science. But being overly technical about grammar is not the way. That’s our stance as language and translation professionals.
Currently, there is a lively discussion over on LinkedIn concerning the Oxford Comma. GrammarGirl and some of her followers (devotees) have been discussing this small area of punctuation for a couple weeks now. This is the sort of thing that people who love language love to do. Harold Ross and James Thurber carried on a decades long discussion (argument) about the comma, and there was no “right” or “wrong” to be had: simply a riotous, heady discussion. We applaud that discussion, and hope that language lovers, linguists, translators and all language professionals will speak out and share that love for language.
What about you? Do you enjoy following grammar rules? Do you love grammar or does it sometimes get in the way of your work?