Writer/editor + translator

A problem I frequently encounter when hunting for a job in the Ottawa area is that many of the writer/editor positions — for which I am eminently suited — also expect the candidate to translate. Worse yet, they expect the candidate to translate in both directions: French to English and English to French. Trouble is, I’ve taken enough translation classes, and I know enough translators, to know that you just can’t do that.

While I fulfill the language profiles (CCC French) of these jobs, I know enough about translation to know that I am not a translator, and, if called upon to translate, I would, at best, take forever to do a mediocre job. Also, real translators generally only translate into their native tongue, not both ways.

My guess is that those doing the hiring don’t know about these nuances, and are trying to cut corners by getting their IS-03 writer/editor to pinch in with a little TR-03-level translating (Ottawa types will know what these mean), without realizing what the end result would be. (Embarrassingly bad French-language documents are by no means rare in the public service.) If it’s just a matter of managing the sending out of translation work to the Translation Bureau sweatshops, there’s no indication of that in the job poster that sparked this little rant.

What scares me is that the people doing the applying for this may not know about these nuances either. (Just because you’re bilingual doesn’t mean you can translate.)

I may apply for it anyway, but include this little rant. Might be fun.