January 6, 2021
Maria Joaquina Marques

All professionals should be guided by ethical, deontological and moral values that will help them follow a set of pre-established and commonsensical norms, rules and directives.

Translators should do the same and carry out their professional activity with the same ethical values. When offering their services, or when evaluating a potential project, translators should assess whether they fulfil all the requirements, if they follow pre-established rules or if there is any reason why they shouldn’t accept the work in question. If the client seeks a translator or agency that works from language X to language Y, for example, translators that do not work in this language combination should not offer their services, unless they subcontract to a colleague that does work with this language combination and with the client’s knowledge, of course. Offering services that do not fulfil the requirements not only shows a lack of professionalism, breaking the translators’ code of conduct, but it also tries to make others believe that they master something entirely beyond their capabilities. Likewise, an agency should not set absurd rules or conditions with a client or a translator, just to clinch the deal. This will inevitably harm their reputation.

Cases like this give translation and translators a bad name, leading many to believe that it’s merely an “odd-job”, and that just knowing another language is enough to be able to translate it, because automatic tools can do the rest. If the translator or agency themselves perpetuate this idea, what values does the profession have left? What does its future hold? It isn’t all about making money, and a profession’s ethical and deontological values serve precisely to define rules, and create a solid professional image for translators. Those who go against these values or break these rules should pay the price, because it jeopardises the hard work of those who strive for a decent career and standard of living.

Associations and social media group should not be used as a smokescreen, for example, to mask less-deserving actions and inferior values.

Even so, it’s also true that we see groups of professionals who have come together to uphold the good name of a profession that is inextricably linked to global communication.