Visiting countries where your target language is practised
I must say that I do not feel that much proud that I haven’t visited at least the majority of places where people speak the languages I translate from or into. Maybe I’m being harsh with myself, but that’s the case.
Language variants to excel at
If you take away Croatian and Hungarian, the languages I excel at (the first almost being my mother tongue, the latter my original mother tongue), you’ll be left with German and English. Now, if you want to have these two languages under your belt, you shall have to travel to either Germany or England to find the best variant of these languages (I prefer German German to Austrian German and British English to American English). In my case, you could say that I took the easier path, in that I didn’t opt for travelling, but received the language in the schools within the state system. There way no language school nor a teacher who was a native in these languages. But it is precisely because of these above facts that you would say that this is in no way the easier path. Without being truly exposed to the natural language environment where they are spoken, hearing without end its endless stream, it certainly isn’t the most favourable way to embark on a career of a translator.
Concept of a linguistic race
It being easy or hard, the fact that I haven’t visited any of the above countries was unchanged until 2005, when I decided to head to England and Scotland before graduation in order to charge my batteries ahead of writing and defending my diploma thesis. I stayed there for a few weeks, but even that short period was enough to open up a vast gap before me, and to see what disadvantages I had in using the target language before in relation to how it was being used at the point of my stay. There were „holes“ to be covered, languages deficiencies to be overcome. I had to be quicker int he laps just like an athlete in order to join the group of runners who had the chance of finishing the race earning a good end result. So then, my English side was attended to. The German side was like a sleeping beauty, still not having the opportunity to witness the linguistic reality currently being practised there by natives. Was the knowledge I gained in the compulsory education and at university really enough to converse with Germans at ease and understand every facet of the language?
Necessities for a translator: visiting countries of the target language
If you want to be a successfull translator, then you must be ready to take that challenge. Confront reality and confront the speakers oft he language you aspire to acquire successfully.
A translator can not and shall not tolerate possible linguistic mistakes he or she makes. Each mistake can be gravely „punished“ in his or her job. Still, a translator must come to terms with it and visiting the country whose language he or she has been learning for a considerable number of years is a big must.
Germany (Heidelberg) had to wait a lot, but now I’m starting to explore its’ true ground.
(to be continued)