Tag Archives: translators’ work

Translator’s health continued

oral_translationWe’ve spoken about writing translators, now let’s move on to oral ones. Due to the particularities of their job, oral translators are free of many aforementioned problems, sedentary lifestyle isn’t their thing because they have to travel a lot; the “mouse syndrome” and all other radiculitis usually pass them by as well. However, instead of all that, an oral translator is under many other risks.

Due to a massive strain on the voice, it’s susceptible to laryngitis (sore throat) and sore voice chords (up to the point of voice loss), as a result of constant noise interruptions (for example, in cases of translation at an industrial site), hearing is also damaged, and due to physical and psychological strains, the entire organism is suffering. When working with delegations and other officials, one needs to drink quite often (this has been confirmed) which has a harmful influence on liver and kidneys. So the main advice for an oral translator is to: mind his throat (if anything’s even slightly wrong, stock up on soothers, steamers, hot tea with honey), to not get colds, look after themselves, and drink in moderation.

Interpreters are a whole different story. No other type of translator is strained physically and intellectually to this extent. When you remember the history of interpreting, you get goosebumps. Apparently, Soviet translators had to be taken away to the hospitals from the Nuremberg process (first case of massive international interpretation during the trial of Nazi elite in 1945): they had to work for several hours without a single break or shifts. Even nowadays, various mental health problems aren’t a rarity amongst interpreters even if the schedule is regular (the norm for such complex work is 3-4 hours a day). An interpreter has to be able to minimize the stress, stay calm in force majeure situations, and also always look after his or her mental state.

As a conclusion, I’d like to wish all colleagues all the health in the world, effectiveness and productivity, and longevity.

Translator’s health

translator_healthToday, I’d like to raise a subject as current and significant as translator’s health. Of course, each profession has its advantages and disadvantages, as well as professional risks. Of course, potential health risks exist in any activity (even inactivity! 🙂 ) but there is a weak spot everywhere. Let’s have a think about how we, as translators, can ensure our safety and stay healthy without any adverse effects on high performance rates.

Let’s start with the fact that every morning we wake up, stretch, wash up, have breakfast and… the start of the working day divides translators into two camps: translators that work for organizations get ready for work and freelancers stay at home. Sometimes, you can be so jealous of a freelancer! If they want, they can have a shower in the middle of a working day; if they feel like it, they can take a walk, get distracted at any time; they can take a short break at any moment, stretch or work out, but there are no fitness hours in the office… But to be fair, there’s not much to be jealous of. At the end of the day, we all spend most of the day behind a computer (unless you’re doing oral translations, but that’s a different story), but members of staff are forced to get to work (which implies exercising, fresh air and gaining appetite) by virtue of their working hours, whereas an overworked freelancer can sit in a stuffy room for up to two days staring at the screen and hitting the keyboard. Sounds familiar? Let’s make a conclusion: exercising, physical activity and fresh air are very good for you if you’re sitting down all day.

Let’s move on: working behind a computer puts our eyes in danger (worsening vision and computer eye syndrome), limbs (e.g. computer mouse syndrome or, to use a scientific term, carpal tunnel syndrome), skeleton (scoliosis and radiculitis), nervous system and mental state (stress, increased fatigue, insomnia, depressions, etc.) but everybody knows about all that. By the way, it’s recommended that you take a break every 2-3 hours of working behind a computer and get proper sleep in order to restore nervous system (go to bed before 23.00). It’s also a well-known fact that sitting down all day causes vasoneurosis and has a negative effect on immune system. To prevent that, we can recommend active vacations, sports, herbal concoctions, healthy diet and a well-planned working day.

Speaking of timetables – a well-structured timetable of a staff translator is in general much better for the organism: a lunch break regulates dietary regimen, a set working day ensures time off in the evening, plus weekends and vacation days. Freelancers, however, are often devoid of weekends (clients do love to send work over the weekend!), stay up late with urgent orders and forget to eat when the body demands it. Good time management and following a schedule are absolutely necessary when you’re a translator. Being a workaholic and overworking won’t help anyone: the Japanese, notorious for being like that, even have a word – “karosi” which means dying from work-related exhaustion. So, in order for karosi not to happen, translators must have excellent time off!