Thursday, October 29, 2015

The title of this article is a bit provocative, but we are sure that you are a wise reader. We would like to share with you our thoughts on how to really become a translator in this Internet of Things era. If we look at glance, being a translator means that being a bilingual person. It means that one that speaks two languages will automatically be a translator. At least this is what general thought may contain so far.

We agree that everyone can be translator, regardless of the educational background they have. Working on English to Indonesian translation does not necessarily have the one from English education background do the translation. If you do not belong to the English department, or you do not literally major in English department, you are allowed to do the translation. This is what we called translation seen from the context of job. Everyone is free to choose their own job and to be a translator is another choice.

Translation job campaign
If you are a member of the Association of Indonesian Translators, or if you keep a breast of the recent events occurring in the past 2 or 3 years, you might have remembered how this association made big campaign on the translation. They promoted the translator career from one campus to another campus. This is good as the job will be widely known to the public and this billionaire business will never be taken for granted.

Translator exodus
The massive exodus then occurs and we cannot control it anymore. Everyone now intends to be a translator as they think everyone can be a translator. Even, senior high school students try their best luck by becoming a translator, teachers do as well. Some people with engineering background without having sufficient knowledge of being a translator dod the same thing. The reasons vary, but one thing for sure, better financial condition is the priority. Some speakers prefer telling the best side of being translator, setting aside the bloody struggle they went on during their hard time. For fresh graduates and university students, they consider this as great opportunity to make their dream come true. There is no other option but being another translator and this cycle happens over time.

Not everyone can be a translator
You may disagree with us but what we share is based on our experience. The misconception around us so far is that everyone can be a translator. If we have good English education background; literally, we can translate well just because we are undergraduate of English department, we can be a translator. It is not that simple. Being translator involves many things instead of our language technical knowledge. We once trained some English to Indonesian translator candidates for our office. Technically, he was quite competent for the related job. His GPA is excellent and he has good background of being good English-Indonesian translator. That is the initial knowledge we have when dealing with him. The time flies and the process stages and we found that what we expect did not come true. He failed to be a translator and did not work with us anymore though we still make good relationship. There is no definitive theory that translator profession has something to do with talent, but we are sure this has. On the contrary, our fellow translator who is not from English department background can translate very well. He is recently invited to Silicone Valley for translation project. It is out of expection, but that is the truth and makes us believe that talent also plays a very important role to have smooth journey on this industry. Just imagine that our resistance to hard time is really tested when we decide to be a translator. We have to sit hours while thinking to find the right words and this is one of the things most people hate. Of course, it is more than that!

Life at risk
Life is full of risk and so is this job. The translator exodus without balanced promotion will risk every one's job. Just imagine that there might be so many impromptu fresh translators emerging, and trying their best luck. Being a translator is every one's right, but motivating them without providing them with balanced information of translation career pros and cons will be another story. They risk their lives for others' persuading speech and explanation. They only have initial knowledge, suggesting that being translator is the best choice as they can be rich with no delay.

From translator's perspective
Some may be happy with this phenomenon and some may not be. Some think that they deserve this and some think that the translation market will be decreasing in rate while the demand for it remains relatively high. Who is to blame? There is no one to blame, but the information provided should be communicated in a balanced way. Sharing its pros and cons should be done to avoid this exodus. As many users do not really understand Indonesian, they will never really care about the translation they request. They just know that the translation was handled by the native speaker and to be wrong is impossible. The established translators with standard rate are then competing with these fresh translators. The price war occurs and translators blame each other. What we do not realize is that there are so many 'ilegal' translators we do not even know them. Blaming one person is not the answer.

From client's perspective
The more translators are available, the happier the clients are. This might be correct, but for the thoughtful clients with quality translation in mind, this phenomenon will be another issue to them. Sourcing qualified translator will not be an easy task as usual. This is like buying a good cat in a sack. Client will never know which one is a good cat. Client has to really make deep research before he/she decides to buy. This, of course, will waste time and money as well as energy. Recruitment process will take longer time than it used to be.


  • Every single information should be communicated in a balanced way; the pros and cons should be equally shared. Talking about pros more than cons will not be good idea as this will cause massive exodus without required skills from true translator
  • Being translator means that you really master two languages; can communicate very well in writing to represent the source language
  • Program outreach is necessary, but thorough assessment should be fully employed.
  • To compete means to be ahead of our competitors and it is a must for the translator to improve his/her skills over time
  • Everyone can be a translator regardless of the educational background he/she holds, but to be specialized translator is another good choice. Commit to your profession and do the continual improvement
  • Sourcing new translator will never be an easy task, thus solid recruitment system should be employed. Working with third party is also suggested. If you are now recruiting English to Indonesian translator, you can test the candidate and have the third party linguist (can be a trusted Indonesian translation company or a professional individual) check the test and decide if the test is up to your company standard.
If you are unsure of what to do, feel free to contact us. We sometimes help our fellow partner recruit new translator. Just email us at


Post a Comment

Share This Article