Guest post: Love Your Translator

Welcome back to our guest series! Today we actually have two guests: Anja Müller and Marie-Luise Groß, the minds and (green) hearts behing the Love Your Translator campaign.

Welcome, Anja and Marie! 🙂

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Caroline has been one of our very first supporters. She opened the door for us to the lively Brazilian community of professional translators and interpreters. Therefore, we would first of all like to thank you, Caroline, for your support and for having us here today!

When you walk through your city, maybe on your way to work early in the morning or to meet a friend in your favorite street café in the late afternoon, do you pay attention to the grafittis, posters and stickers on walls and street lamps? Never really thought about it? Well, you should definitely keep your eyes open, because you might spot a sticker with a green heart, telling you to “LOVE YOUR TRANSLATOR”.

About ten months ago, we had the idea of bringing the discussion of translators’ lack of visibility in our society to a different level. We wanted to call attention to this phenomenon by involving people from all over the world. We wanted them to talk about translation. We wanted them to reflect about who the “people behind the texts” (as Andrew Chesterman referrs to translators) are, how they work and which role they play in our globalized world.

Last year, Marie talked about fair translations at the Falling Walls Lab, an international conference for young researchers, in Berlin. We decided to start our sticker campaign at the lab and hoped that at least a few conference participants would take stickers back to their countries and do some sticker bombing for us. So, within only a few days, we had 200 prototype stickers printed, set up a Facebook page and a blog and we were ready to go.

The first stickers traveled to Israel, the USA and to some cities in Germany. We gave everyone who wanted to support us two or three stickers to attach them to a street lamp (or anything else) near a famous sight in their city. And we asked them to share a picture of their sticker online, as a reference. The original plan was to give stickers to people we already know. But word of the LOVE YOUR TRANSLATOR campaign spread so quickly into the international translators’ and interpreters’ community that we were left almost speechless.

Only within a few days, many translators, interpreters, international literature lovers, Translation Studies scholars and others sent us requests for stickers and we realized that a few hundred stickers would by far not be enough. So, we had 5000 new stickers printed and sent them to Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, France, Albania, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Australia and other countries. It was amazing! Sometimes, we had sent away more than 50 letters a week. We are still receiving so many pictures, that we can hardly keep up with updating our galleries.

When we look at the numerous tweets and e-mails we have received over the past ten months from all over the world, we are so humbled by the massive support we are getting from the global translator community. The pictures and messages mirror a diverse and international, caring and closely interwoven professional community.

Earlier this year, when sending away stickers has become really expensive for us and our budget was too tight to have new stickers printed, many of our friends and supporters had donated money through a crowdfunding campaign at betterplace.org and we could continue with the LOVE YOUR TRANSLATOR campaign.

We have also received some critical feedback, which we appreciate just as much. We are aware of the fact that LOVE YOUR TRANSLATOR remains mainly within the translators’ bubble. We also realize that patting each others’ backs might not have a massive impact on how much translation buyers are willing to pay.

But, on the other side, we have talked with many of our friends, business partners and coworkers about translation and about this sticker bombing campaign. People ask us about what they have to consider when they need a translation and whether we know good translators. So, there’s a little bit of progress there. If we look at our website or Facebook page, we see a growing community. It is small and it might not have a lobby. But maybe language professionals can be their own lobby. They stand up for themselves and connect with each other. They share best practices and professional norms. So, staying within the bubble might not be such a negative thing, as long as it encourages translators to be proud of their professional role. We believe that spreading the word for more appreciation for language professionals’ work, while having fun and building a community is one small step into the right direction.

If you have not requested your LOVE YOUR TRANSLATOR stickers yet, visit our website and drop us a note.

It was a great honour to feature you both on our blog! Thank you for accepting my invitation and taking the time to write about such a lovely campaign. You girls rock! I’m a big fan of you both and great supporter of your initiative.

If you haven’t heard of the campaign before, check it out. Order your stickers and stick them around. Spread the love. And for those who have already ordered, received and sticked them already, please help the girls by donating for the campaign. Any amount is much appreciated.

About the authors
LYT_usMarie-Luise Groß is a Ph.D. candidate at the Center for Translation Studies of the University of Vienna. Her research focus is on the impact of the social web on freelance translators’ social networks, on internet entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries and internet-enabled business models.
Anja Müller is a freelance translator for English, Polish & German in Dresden, Germany. “During my very interesting and challenging work I often face […] lots of prejudices against my profession”, she says.  With LOVE YOUR TRANSLATOR, Anja wants to promote greater understanding and appreciation for all her colleagues and herself.

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3 thoughts on “Guest post: Love Your Translator

  1. Pingback: Weekly favorites (Aug 22-28)

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