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How to manage translation and still have fun

By Alana Chalmers

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

This is one of those inspirational, yet anonymous, quotes that makes you want to hunt down that person and dump a pile of work on their desk. Or their beach towel. Because they probably have some sweet gig that doesn’t include a desk or deadlines.

Managing translation at a large company can be high stress, fast paced, and unrelenting. But it’s also challenging and fun, and you meet the best people doing it.

What is it like to manage a translation process? Well, it’s really not that different from managing an editing process.

Here are some common phrases you might hear if you manage translation.

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Wordplay: Are some words truly untranslatable?

Wordplay is a regular column by editor and language writer James Harbeck in which he tastes and plays with English words and usages.

What’s English for Schadenfreude? Schadenfreude, of course.

Words are like Barbie dolls or trading cards or Hummel figurines or camera lenses or kitchen gadgets: if we see one that fills a spot that we don’t already have filled, we want it. Even if we didn’t know that we needed to fill that spot until we saw the word.

This is surely one reason listicles about “untranslatable words” are currently popular. Perhaps you never thought before about wanting a word that means “the look on a person’s face as they watch the person ahead of them at a bakery take the last one of the pastry they wanted,” but once you see a word for it, gosh darn-it, you have to have it.*

The funny thing about those articles on untranslatable words, is that they always give translations for the words. And not just “Schadenfreude (n.): Schadenfreude,” either, but “Enjoyment of someone else’s suffering.” So, really, the words aren’t untranslatable, are they? Not any more than anything else is. There just isn’t a single word for them. (more…)