The popularity of reality TV shows has sometimes made me wonder what a reality show about translation would involve. Note that I don’t have a television, so I may be a bit off on what the average reality show is all about, but from what I understand, it involves challenges and each week someone is kicked off the show.
So we have a group of eager wannabe-translators. What would they face on So You Think You Can Translate?
Every week, our eager contestants would pick a new style of text out of a box (financial report, poem, academic article, medical records, play, essay, speech, contract, short story, etc.) and they would have to translate that on their own. To make this even more difficult, they could also pick references from a box, so they would be limited to using one or some combination of the following: computer tools, dictionaries, Internet references, encyclopedias, or libraries. Contestants might get a total of two special links for the entire season, and that would mean that if they were really stuck on a translation, they could decide to call a professional translator or some other expert (a professor, language teacher, botanist, lawyer, novelist, editor, architect, etc.) for help.
In addition, there would be group, pair, and individual challenges. Challenges might include learning a new language, performing a sight translation, working on a relay translation, subtitling, interpreting, giving a presentation on some aspect of translation, learning how to use a new computer tool, reviewing a book on language or translation, negotiating with a customer, handling an angry client, advertising their services, and putting together a literary magazine of new translations.
The contestants’ translations would be critiqued by a panel of experienced judges, but the viewers would vote on who the winners of the other challenges should be. Each week, the contestant with the least votes would have to leave the show.
As the season draws to a close, the ultimate winner would be pronounced the nation’s Best Translator and she or he would get help starting her or his own freelance business. This would include an office with the works (computer, big desk, ergonomic chair, coffee machine, full sets of dictionaries and encyclopedias, etc.) plus a year’s worth of advice from an accountant, a mentor, and membership in any appropriate translators’ association.
I know I’d watch this show! Anyone else? What else should be on it?