I was recently asked to write a guest blog by Anne-Marie Colliander Lind about what opportunities could be found in our industry in light of the recent National Security Agency (NSA) scandal and as a result this opened up other questions about the ethics behind such opportunities. In conclusion, therefore, I made reference to Michael Sandel and more specifically to the Rieth Lectures he delivered in 2009. These questions of ethics surrounding such things are often brandished around and battled over in many a public forums, but what about secretly? The most recent development in the NSA scandal suggests to me that the question of ethics didn’t even enter the room when the US made the decisions to force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deliver to them the data they wanted, so why should this stop us creating this information in as many languages as we can possibly? Well if you ask David Miranda, the partner of Guardian Journalist Glenn Greenwald, I’m pretty certain he will be able to give you chapter and verse on this.
I can’t answer the following question because I don’t have a legal degree or the relevant subject matter knowledge to do so, but still I’m going to ask it:
Where do we stand in our industry if we’ve been requested to translate material into another language from a source document which, once we have read it, could be seen as controversial at best or, as in the case of the Edward Snowden files, considered to be a threat to homeland security (in whatever country that may be)?
I can make a number of educated guesses to the answer to this, however as I see it this all boils down to how the subject matter/ source material is viewed from the relevant governments and whether or not it is foolhardy to question their judgement of this material. This ties in quite nicely into our daily life because the understanding of the source material is key to this and within our industry this understanding is the difference between a great translation or something which is not quite up to the mark.
So whatever your own personal views are on the NSA scandal there is, without doubt, going to be a requirement for the information to be translated into multiple languages (the actual reporting on it is already a worldwide subject matter). So the only question that really matters is, “is this the type of work you’re willing to do?” because if it is there’s a huge opportunity out there for you.