December 7, 2021
Maria Joaquina Marques

There has been much debate about the translator’s invisibility. Some people argue that we should not even notice the translator’s presence in a good translation, while there are those who believe that the translator must be recognized and have their names included in the works they translate.

A good translation can be defined in several ways: a book that is so well translated that we get involved with the plot, with all the characters, that keeps us reading from the first to the last page; a film with perfect translation and subtitling, which gets us hooked to the screen; a play whose translation moves us. It is the entire work of the translator that becomes visible, that helps the reader, the spectator, but that has no setbacks, no spelling errors, no misunderstandings or unrelated sentence structures.

Should this work remain anonymous? Is it better for the translator to remain invisible behind the scenes, producing excellent content without receiving praise? Or should the translator demand recognition that their name appears on film credits or the cover of a book? Or is it the client's obligation to recognize someone who has done such a great job?

If we pay more attention to the topic, we can always question whether the work of technical translators should not also be duly recognized and credited. We know, of course, that the base work is its author’s property, but wouldn't it be easier to demand responsibility for mistakes made in translations done by non-professional translators or companies with less good practices? By recognizing a technical translator on the cover of an engineering manual, wouldn't we be passing the weight of responsibility for a magnificent final work on to the person doing this work? Let's think about this!

We all like to do a perfect work and to be recognized for it, and, in the case of translators, if we think that a translator wins a good part of their clients with their portfolio, seeing their names recognized, valued, and appreciated for good work they carry out is crucial, and it becomes a win-win situation. Translators gain visibility, clients gain better translations and materials are treated in a more committed and professional manner.