Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Passion of the Translator

“What is my passion?” For those who have a clear knowledge and experience of their passion, this question will seem rather strange. For those who have yet to identify what their passion is or who have lived without ever thinking about passion, the question might either go unnoticed or, on the opposite, strike a painful chord, like the echo of something beautiful intuited but never really encountered.

I suspect that this second alternative is rather rare for a translator for the simple reason that translation is rarely presented to a child, teen, or young adult as a wonderful exciting career like that of an athlete, or a firefighter, or a tiger tamer. For one to discover translation as a passion, it has to be natural. Still, it might take longer for someone to find that translation is a passion simply because so many other choices for a passion are presented to them.

I will admit that such is probably my case. After a teaching and a counseling career, towards which I was highly encouraged because “you have the talent,” though writing has always been an attraction all those years, it is only recently that I discovered the kind of energy that made me finally give translation all my attention. And in my opinion this qualifies as a definition for the word passion. Yes, I find joy in giving translation all my attention.

I am aware also that the word passion is rooted in the Greek pathos, meaning suffering. To feel passion for something or someone often wakens some type of suffering, not the type that one needs to find a cure for, but rather that one needs to embrace because it adds tremendous value to the object of passion. The suffering confirms the passion.

This allusion to suffering as the complement of the energetic and joyful aspect of translation will most probably evoke, for the passionate translator, long hours of solitude to learn a second or third language, to get acquainted with a new software program, or simply to read yet another article on the value of a faithful translation. It is the price to pay, small or big depending on each translator, for the opportunity to incarnate one’s true passion, which inevitably leads to the discovery of still higher levels of joy.