Throughout my experience as a full-time and part-time translator in the Greater China area as well as in the US, I can honestly say the general attitude toward the profession of translation is this- it is something not important, or in some cases, not regarded as a skill at all.
Yet, people throughout the two places are so reliant on translation.
People in Greater China don’t want to pay for translators in general because transforming one language into another is, and should be, a minimal task, with costs at a bare minimum. “It’s just language and we expect something so commonly used should be free of cost,” said one client.
If only it were that easy.
More than ever people in Taiwan and China are looking to expand their businesses abroad or are looking for ways to further connect with the outside world. I tell clients there that they need to consider that proper translation is a bare minimum for communication and that they need to hire someone to do a proper job.
They hated this idea, yet further down the road when their clients started rolling in from abroad, they loved the idea of translation and its effects.
Clients in the US meanwhile have the attitude that the “Asian” guy in the office must know someone or perhaps is capable themselves of translating important documents from one language to the other without proper training. The idea of translation as a necessary skill and profession in the West still isn’t thriving, although I must say it is much more respected than in Greater China.
Meanwhile, other clients throughout both regions have had papers translated for publication in journals abroad. They wanted to use Google Translate versions and hated the idea of paying someone to either edit or translate their paper.
Yet, after their work was featured in leading journals they later got a bump up in their career and believed the investment was worth it.
Other clients meanwhile sold goods online and were able to reach a new customer base farther than they could have ever imagined because they were willing to invest in a proper and professional translator.
Some things we “hate” investing in can actually be used to our advantage if we allow them to. Letting go of the “love-hate” relationship towards translation can be a good start, and trusting in a professional translator or translation company may be one of the best decisions you make.