It is essential to be able to rely on translation — not only on the text, but on the translator as well, and generally on the entire translation process. Because this is important to the people who pay the bills, it will be important to the translator as well; the pragmatic considerations of keeping your job (for in-house people) or continuing to get offered jobs (for freelancers) will mandate a willingness to satisfy an employer’s or client’s needs. But for the translator or interpreter a higher consideration than money or continued employability is professional pride, professional integrity, professional self-esteem. We all want to feel that the job we are doing is important, that we do it well, and that the people we do it for appreciate our work. Most people, in fact, would rather take professional pride in a job that pays less than get rich doing things they don’t believe in.
Despite the high value placed on making a lot of money (and certainly it would be nice!), a high salary gives little pleasure without pride in the work. The areas in and through which translators typically take professional pride are reliability, involvement in the profession, and ethics.
Reliability in translation is largely a matter of meeting the user’s needs: translating the texts the user needs translated, in the way the user wants them translated, by the user’s deadline. The demands placed on the translator by the attempt to be reliable from the user’s point of view are sometimes impossible; sometimes disruptive to the translator’s private life; sometimes morally repugnant; often physically and mentally exhausting. If the demands are at all possible, however, in many or even most cases the translator’s desire to take professional pride in reliability will override these other considerations, and s/he will stay up all night doing a rush job, cancel a pleasant evening outing with a friend, or translate a text reliably that s/he finds morally or politically loathsome.
Involvement in the profession
It is a matter of little or no concern to translation users, but of great importance to translators, what translator associations or unions we belong to, what translator conferences we go to, what courses we take in the field, how we network with other translators in our region and language pair(s). These “involvements” sometimes help translators translate better, which is important for users and thus for the pride we take in reliability
Reading about translation, talking about translation with other translators, discussing problems and solutions related to linguistic transfer, user demands, nonpayment, and the like, taking classes on translation, attending translator conferences, keeping up with technological developments in the field, buying and learning to use new software and hardware — all this gives us the strong sense that we are are not isolated underpaid flunkies but professionals surrounded by other professionals who share our concerns