Becoming a Translator by Douglas Robinson

Posted on: September 9, 2021

On my YouTube page, I’ve been doing some very random thoughts on this Becoming A Translator by Douglas Robinson. Eventually I’d like to put my ideas together and create a proper series of articles, but for now let me make a few brief observations.

It’s hard to say something useful to would-be translators. Any framework or viewpoints we apply are our own artificial thoughts and do not necessarily represent the best way for any particular learner. It’s kind of like in marketing where they say that 99% of ads don’t work but no one knows which 99%. That means that when I’m looking at other textbooks, I can’t help but compare it to my own, as yet unformed, views on how to do things.  Here’s part 1 of my video series.

Let’s turn to the book itself. Broadly I like some of the ideas, but I think it could have been stated in 30 pages or so rather than a few hundred. Thinking about things from the client’s perspective for example is an important thing to do, not just for translators, but it’s hard to say much more than that. Giving a few examples of where other translators encountered problems or showing studies might help reinforce the idea.

I felt like the discussions in the book, while interesting and possibly useful, didn’t seem to have any obvious or direct relation with actually becoming a better translator. I wonder if more practical tips such as suggested translator workflows or editing processes might be useful. I’m not really sure.

There seems to be a big gap in the market for a book that basically gives an introduction to translation studies, just enough to be useful to practical translation. That same book could also give some practical training, something that would cover the DipTrans exam for example. Something to think about in the future.

Anyway, I’ve done a chapter by chapter review playlist of the book by Douglas Robinson here, new part will be published on YouTube every week.