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ジェフリー・A・クロフト先生のコラム [1998年-現在] フリーランス・社内翻訳者
学術文献・研究論文・技術機関紙等の翻訳、契約書等の法律文書の翻訳、説明書・規格書等の技術文書の翻訳、手紙・通信文・企業案内・広告・ホームページ等の翻訳に精通。
[2001年-2002年] フリーランス通訳者
日英・英日同時または逐次通訳(主な顧客:富士通, ソニー, TBS等)
[学歴] 学士号:カリフォルニア大学、バークレー校 修士号:モントレー国際大学

第1回:『Life Happens』

One of my first translation assignments as a full-time in-house translator was to translate a letter from the company president to all stakeholders, and particularly to our valued clients, conveying his sincerely held belief that dedication to quality in everything that we did was what set us apart from our competitors. He pointed out that it was just a few years before then that—although Japanese companies had earned respect throughout the world for the finest quality products, noting that Made in Japan was synonymous with excellence in electronics—the user manuals that came with these products had made Japan a laughingstock. He went on to say that this glaring lack of consistent quality translation of user manuals was among the things that fueled his passion to achieve excellence in every aspect of translation—from the driest user manual to the most arcane essay, to the most compelling descriptions of real-world applications for leading edge technologies.

I already shared the same sense of relentless commitment to perfection in translation—from start to finish, and irrespective of the infinite variables and challenges to achieving such levels, including urgent deadlines, to name just one. Over the years, I have come to appreciate that—while there are opportunities to devote ample time and energy to translating in an environment that is conducive to concentration, with stable and smooth equipment, reliable Internet connections, useful and appropriate resources including dictionaries, properly maintained translation memory, and the like—such ideal circumstances are rare.

The challenge is to do your best—to meet or exceed the expectations of all stakeholders—under adverse conditions. I am reminded of this truism to some degree nearly every week, but last month brought a stark reminder and gave me pause to reflect and put things in perspective. The protests, riots, and chaos in the wake of the Ferguson Grand Jury Decision caught me by surprise and made me take stock.

I had two translations left to finish on my train ride home after teaching a three-hour seminar in the evening at U.C. Berkeley. I found that the whole train station was closed when I got there, which would mean a delay and a need to make other arrangements to go home. Initially, I only thought about where I could get my translations done and send them in on time. I didn’t give much thought to why the station was closed.

After waiting for a bus, I made my way to the next station—this was wasted time, I thought, as I had to stand in line to wait for the bus, and then stand on the packed bus until I got to the train station. The trains were delayed at the next station too, so I realized I wasn’t even going to have the chance to work on my translations until I made my transfer at a station in Oakland. But my attitude changed at the transfer station.

Still slightly annoyed, I decided that I would at least get some work done as I waited for the final leg of my commute home by train. Then the smoke started floating into the station and swarms of police helicopters appeared in the sky above Oakland. I could hear loud shouting and sirens just outside this transfer station, and for the first time I began to understand the gravity of the situation—I am always devoted to my work, but this situation could become very dangerous in the blink of an eye.

Smooth, accurate, concise, and hopefully elegant communication is the job of a translator. I reflected at this moment on the fact that it was the utter lack of communication of a whole community in Ferguson, Missouri that had resulted in riots—first in that community, and then in many communities with racial tensions across the United States, including Oakland, right next to Berkeley. This gave me some perspective and helped me to realize that the challenges we face as translators are real, and they can be daunting, when they pile up (e.g., the computer crashing, loss of data, and urgent deadlines all at the same time), but in the scheme of things, these challenges are certainly surmountable.

I got on the train, finished one translation, and got an extension of a few hours on the other after connecting to the Internet via my cell phone. It had been a long, challenging, and at the transfer station, harrowing day, but I was finally able to concentrate and produce translations that met or exceeded the clients’ standards as well as my own.

Translation offers excellent opportunities for us to dedicate ourselves to achieving excellence every day, and great flexibility to do so from almost any location. My experience, even on the periphery, related to the tragic and historic events last month reminded me that we also need to stay flexible, focused, grateful, and proud that we are ultimately fostering communication.

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