Letter to the Editor

To Make a Living or to Translate | Valerij Tomarenko

After reading Valerij Tomarenko’s article “Translate Differently and Don’t Fear,” I felt the need to intone a dirge.

Tomarenko says “I personally have been making a decent living off my translations for more than two decades.” Well, so have I, for the past three decades, in fact. But that has come to a screeching halt.

It’s my own fault. Luckily, I no longer have to make a living translating, because I refuse to use CAT tools, or anything else that reduces translating to some form of mechanical exercise. So my opportunities are reduced, but at least those that come my way let me do the joyful business of applying my language skills to whole texts and to create from them other whole texts.

My mentor in the Boston College Slavic Languages Department, Professor Michael Connolly, who knew that I was pursuing my master’s degree in Russian to become a translator, stated flatly, “Translation is mechanical.” I rejected that indignantly. I still reject it indignantly, however much it has been realized in the mundane world of the “translation industry.”

Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall . . .

Elliott B. Urdang | Providence, Rhode Island

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