You know you’re studying translation when…

Just another Saturday evening at a party. You meet some new people and get to know each other. At some point, the same question appears over and over again: What do you study? When you tell them that you study translation, they all show nearly the same reaction by asking me things I simply do not want to answer ever again. So here are my favourite five reactions:

DE translating intext1#1: “Oh, so you are going to be a translator for the EU!”
Yes, of course all of us studying translation are going to be professionals for the EU. It is not very hard to get a job at the most famous institution in Europe and you do not have to be very qualified to even be invited to the first interview before many other tests start…

#2: “You study translation? Great, then you have to know what [insert totally weird word which you have never heard about yet here] means in Spanish!”
It is totally obvious that a translator has learned THE WHOLE DICTIONARY by heart for every language he speaks, right? Call me the walking dictionary.

#3: “Ok, so which languages do you speak?” And when I answer “German, English, Spanish, French” they just go like “Ohhhh… that’s not much. Maybe you could also learn Chinese.”
I mean, what the …?! Which languages do you speak fluently, Mister smartypants?

#4: “That sounds so stressful. So you have to listen and then one second after that you already have to translate. Man, that’s tough.”
Nooot. I’m going to be a translator and not an interpreter. There is a huge difference between the two terms: translators translate texts while interpreters translate oral communication. So nope, it’s not that stressful at all.

And finally #5, which is my favourite: You get the same empty stare after explaining what your tasks are as a translator and they just reply: “Great, so you can use the Google Translator for work.”
Yes, that’s exactly what I meant when I said that preparing a text can take quite some time because you have to double-check all of your translated words in several dictionaries and dictionary programs.
But let’s be honest: we all have this stereotype thinking when it comes to different fields of study. So just keep calm, relax and keep answering people’s questions. If you are interested in other stereotypes, you might as well have a look at these cliches about multi-cultural kids.


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