Bilingualism – Part III

In this third and final part of the series about Bilingualism, Eta Trabing discusses what it really means to be a “professional”, some of the rewards of the language-related professions, and even gives us suggestions of less-known paths for bilingual individuals.

By M. Eta Trabing, Berkana Language LLC – www.eberkana.uscomments-151907_640

Professionalism Means…

  • Being totally accountable for your work. You are solely responsible for doing your job well and carefully. And you are totally and solely liable for its quality.
  • Doing the absolute, best job each and every time. Sometimes, we get a little careless and sloppy because we’re in a hurry, but we can’t afford to do that. Millions of dollars or a person’s life and livelihood may be at stake!
  • Making sense and asking the right questions and providing cultural comments, when appropriate. You are the only bridge between two languages and two cultures, so you must be a strong and reliable bridge.
  • Going beyond the bare essentials. Go out of your way to be helpful, when the situation allows, but generally provide more of a service than someone else – that’ll endear you to people who will call you again! And repeat customers is what you want.
  • Understanding your clients’ needs and meeting them honestly. If you cannot do a job, pass it on to someone else who will then owe you a favor and who will look after your client well. If you cannot meet a client’s needs, say so, don’t misrepresent your capabilities! The client will be grateful and know that you will do a good job when you say you can.
  • Don’t say “it’s good enough” about a job done. If that’s all you can say about it, then it’s already probably NOT good enough. If you think “it’ll pass, they won’t notice this or that,” you are making a grievous mistake! People notice a lot more than you think and it will count against you.
  • Proudly sign your name to each job (if only figuratively!). Imagine if you had to sign your work and then the client posted it on the internet. Would you be proud of what you did, or not so much?
  • Having earned your money. It’s a good feeling to know you have done a good job and ethically earned your money.

 Some Rewards Are…

  • We get to transmit vital or important information. Sometimes, it’s really dumb stuff, but so it goes – not everything in life is vital or important, some things are useless and inane, but get said anyway.
  • We act as cultural and language bridges.
  • We help people.
  • We learn new things all the time.
  • We make friends all over the world.
  • Our minds are constantly stimulated and forced to expand. And, as you get older, it’ll keep you from having dementia!!

Other Language-Related Specialties

  • Précis writers for the United Nations – summaries of committee meetings prior to the verbatim record being translated; must know how to pull out what’s important, like abstract writing.
  • Interpreter, translators for the United Nations, must use British English and British spelling (not the American version)
  • Terminologists – conduct research to itemize terms connected with a certain field, define them and find equivalents in another language; they prepare glossaries for use by T/Is
  • Typesetters / Desktop publishing – DTP – typists who specialize in various languages and who set up and prepare brochures and advertising materials in other languages, inserting graphics, maps, tables, etc. They need to know how to write the foreign language, without spelling mistakes and how to hyphenate correctly, although a lot of cut and paste is done by English-only speakers.
  • Proof-readers / Editors – proofreaders ensure that no translator has missed parts of an original in the translation, that there are no typos or other mistakes. Editors tend to rewrite a translation to where it still reflects the original, but have a little more leeway in how the translation can be made to sound more native.
  • Anything else you can think of! Truly!

Bilingual Jobs

  • Each and every job done anywhere in the world can become bilingual, and will make the job better.
  • There are as many jobs and specialties as there are human endeavors, so your scope is endless.
  • A bilingual job does not mean you should be required to translate or interpret, but simply to do your job in two languages equally well. You now know that being bilingual doesn’t automatically make you a translator or interpreter, so no one should be demanding that you be one or the other!
  • Different bilingual jobs will require different levels of language proficiency. If you are a psychiatrist, you will really have to know the right terminology in your second language; if you are an office clerk or store clerk, your language level need not be as high; if you are an electrical engineer, you would need a higher level; if you are a bilingual receptionist, you don’t need as high a level, but you need people smarts and a pleasant personality; and so on and so on.
  • Every one of us has a niche or can make one somewhere! You’ll never know until you start looking. Sometimes a little something falls in your lap and that suddenly gives you an idea to branch out into something. The world is full of surprises! Be open to them!
  • Not everyone who is bilingual must or should aspire to be an interpreter or translator. Your life would mean a lot if you were a superb bilingual nanny for children whose life you will have impacted for generations to come! Or anything else that strikes your fancy!
  • Each and every job can be made better by adding a language, increasing your boss’ profits and providing you with a higher income!

We hope you have enjoyed this series, and we look forward to continuing to hear stories from our readers. Send us your story!


Check out Part I and Part II of this series.