This forum is for those interested in problems of modern linguistics and translation.
Jan 2010, 13:39, Mark Kit
The Deeds of Small People
The world is pushed forward by small people. Great people are there as well, but in negligible quantities. The Great people are commonly considered to be the history drivers. This fallacy was created by Small People who wrote books and shot movies that make Great Guys look great. The Small People won battles for Napoleon and manufactured riffles for General Grant. They sell newspapers, clean hotel rooms, and write speeches for the President. Some small people translate, too.
Small people make small errors. Small errors cause small consequences. Other small people are killed by those small consequences. “Do not touch the wires with the tool”. The missing “not” word in the translation leaves behind a widow and two orphans. “Production casing” is translated as “industrial box” (cute, is not it? The translator thought that casing comes form the word “case”). An engineer takes 2 Tylenol pills to get it. Two hours of his precious time lost.
By all means translators are small people. They are not supposed to be noticed. Do you pay much attention to a telephone on your desk? Even when it rings? The ring and the call attract your attention, not the phone. So do the translators. When you don’t need them they do not exist. When you do need them, they are supposed to be there in great quantities. All ready to jump as high as you want them.
So they jump. Often not high enough, though. The thing is that the small people can make you get fired for a critical error you made with the help of a small guy who did not bother to look in the dictionary. And notably the small guy (the one who made the mistake in the first place) will not be blamed or punished exactly because he is so small that such actions do not make sense.
In 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, a radar operator saw lots of dots on his screen. The dots were moving towards the US navy base. Officers he reported to thought it was an approaching group of American planes due to arrive that morning. Small people were those officers. Japanese warplanes killed 2402 and injured 1282 Americans.
It has taken the mankind a few thousand years to start thinking that Small people are not really so small. They may be worth noticing. At least every now and then.