By Adriana Adarve – Owner of Adarve Translations
We all know the proverb, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other.”
Does it always hold true?
In my life, and in my work as a translations provider, there is of course no place for hate or disdain towards others. There is only place for understanding and serving my two masters to the best of my abilities. Yes! You read correctly: “my two masters.” Whether this proverb holds true for many people or not, the truth of the matter is that, as a translator, I do find myself serving two masters, and sometimes even more than two, at any given moment.
But, how can this be? What “masters” am I talking about? And, how can I serve all these different masters at the same time?
It is quite simple, actually. An individual client is one of my “masters,” while the audiences for which the different translations in their different languages are intended are my other “masters.”
It is imperative for me to know my clients and the intended audience of the work I do. Above this knowledge, it is vital for me to feel and show respect and understanding towards them.
But… What if I don’t know the audience as well as I know my clients?
Well then, I better get to the most important task first: Getting to know my master audience as much as possible before I embark on the task of trying to help them. Otherwise, how can I pretend help them or provide them with the written word they need in their language if I don’t know how they function and what is really important to them?
For example, in a society where terms such as “hurry,” “haste,” “rush,” “quickly,” “as soon as possible,” are the words of the day, or more accurately, the words that literally drive our days, we also find people with a different set of values, for whom these words have little or no meaning whatsoever. It is not that they ignore these words. No, they are simply not part of their vocabulary, much less of their way of life. They live at a different pace than ours, a pace that is simply a vital part of who they are.
Keeping this knowledge in mind, I find that it is not so hard then to serve two or more masters at the same time.
Indigenous people are one such group for whom the concept of time, timeliness or expediency is completely different from ours, and, sometimes—according to our definition, not theirs—even non-existent.
Thus, when facing a request from a client from our “rush-driven” society to deliver a translation intended for an audience for whom the concept of time and expediency is totally different or non-existent, my task becomes one of understanding both parties, and doing everything in my power to bridge that gap that separates them.
It is not a question of trying to change the client or the audience. It is a question of “setting my feet on both worlds,” and finding the best way, and the correct words that will help each party understand how differently they work and understand life; and yet, how with mutual understanding and respect for each other’s differences they can still collaborate and find a satisfactory middle ground.
All the best!
Adriana Adarve, Asheville, NC
About the Author: Adriana Adarve is the owner of Adarve Translations and is fluent in three languages (English, Spanish & French), as well as pluri-cultural, multi-cultural, plurilingual and multilingual.