Yes, today I am returning to the age old question of ‘nature vs. nurture’. Do you learn translation or is it an inherent ability that you either have the talent for or not?
Two months ago I met an uncle who I had known nothing about. Yes, I know, it sounds like it’s been taken out of a corny movie script but it’s true. And guess what? He was a translator. He was head of the foreign language service at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa. He used to translate German and Spanish texts before he took on a Project Manager role at the CSIR. He no longer does translations but this curious coincidence got me thinking.
Can certain professions run in the family and I don’t mean following in the footsteps of your father or mother. It would be fascinating to do a case study over many generations of family members to see if a pattern of professions run in the family. What I’m trying to say in my garbled manner is: is a certain talent for a profession inherited? They do say translation is the second oldest profession so it’s possible I may have had translation ancestors dating from 1100 AD.
I know some people are more language oriented and was it just coincidence that I ended up doing the same as my uncle? Or does it really run in the family? Did the previous generations of my family have talent for languages or is “talent in languages” a myth?
I will always remember a quote from Fire Ant and Worker Bee in their book The Prosperous Translator that “translation is an art and a craft – results count not how you acquired the skill. Verdi only started composing in his late twenties”.
So, what do you think?