I only undertake a job if it fits my specialisms and my work experience. This way, you can be sure that you will receive a piece of work that satisfies your needs or the needs of your client. I am not a proponent of the ‘learn as you go’ philosophy, which seems to be quite common these days. I can’t spend time familiarizing myself with a subject matter when I have been asked to translate or edit a text. For example, since I have never shown any interest in learning mathematics or engineering, I won’t accept a job in these fields—I will not be able to understand the source text, let alone transfer it in another language or edit another person’s translation! I am very sensitive to issues of quality and I take full responsibility for work I deliver; I hate deferring that responsibility to someone else ‘further down the chain’. And this, of course, is true even in cases where my name will not be associated with a piece of work for confidentiality or other reasons.
I believe a translation should not only be true to the original but also suitable for the target audience. This means that the lexicogrammatical features of the text should fulfil the expectations of the intended readers and win their trust. It should read like it has been written by one of them, by a person who has a good grasp of the matters discussed and who is familiar with the industry or the field of activity that the text is about. This requires a lot of preparatory reading and it might require extensive research when it comes to terminology. As it happens, terms change, especially new ones and ones that have been originally created in a foreign language. As a translator, it is my duty to ensure that I use valid and current terms, the ones that experts prefer to use. I never use ‘just some term I found’ in some source of questionable credibility and reliability in hope that the reader, who is an expert, will be able to make sense of it, even though I do not. In addition, when I spot an unclear or ambiguous passage in the original text, I always ask the client to clarify the intended meaning—unless, of course, the ambiguity or obscurity is intentional. Again, I do not expect the reader to understand more than I do: I do not replace source language words with target language words and hope for this to become a coherent text which will make sense to the reader when it does not make sense to me.
I want my work to make a positive contribution to society and humanity. Hence, I do not undertake texts which aim to deceive or misinform or misguide. Also, I do not accept jobs which promote hatred or violence or ideologies which I find abhorrent. And I never work with clients who demand too much work in too little time for too little pay, which would violate my dignity. I only take on jobs which—in a more or less direct manner—reinforce what is good in the world and help the planet become a better place for everyone. And this holds true not only for voluntary, pro bono work that I do, but for paid work, as well, irrespective of the remuneration offered.
Abiding by the law is an essential element of my professional conduct. This means that I will immediately reject any collaboration with a person or business that proposes to engage in illicit actions, directly or indirectly. The most common case, of course, is a client who proposes to perform work without issuing a tax invoice or with issuing a reduced invoice. I never agree to such proposals: I always issue the required tax invoice and all sums of money I receive from around the world end up in a bank account in Greece. Taxes might be a burden, but one needs to pay them if one desires to be a citizen of a civilized society and a contributor to everyone’s well-being. Tax evasion—and tax avoidance, to a lesser degree—make one a parasite, who lives to the detriment of everyone else. It is that simple.