Posted by: patenttranslator | November 19, 2017

Intolerance of Others on Social Media Is a Sign of a Small Mind

Unlike most of the posts on this blog, today’s post will not be about translation, or only marginally so.

Instead of creating another ferocious diatribe against the translation industry, I thought it might be a good idea to write a post about the music videos I put at the beginning and end of each post.

Some people really like my videos and even thank me for the art accompanying my posts. But some people don’t understand why I have videos accompanying my posts. Quite a few, actually. And some react to the music videos with aversion bordering on disgust when they don’t like either the music or the content.

Some people look for connections between the videos that I use and the things I say in my posts. We can find connections between almost anything in this world. But since I have about 600 posts on this blog, there are links to about 1,200 YouTube videos, and the connections that we may form in this manner are mostly in our minds.

Which is as it should be. People who read poetry also create connections and associations in their mind with the words on paper, and every single one of them will be different from those of other people.

“Why does he uses videos, when his blog is supposed to be about translation?” some people ask.

My blog is not really about translation, or at least not only about translation. The name of the blog is Diary of a Mad Patent Translator, and mad as I am, my daily thoughts are naturally not only about translation, but also about all kinds of other things – some of which I keep to myself because I have not gone completely mad yet – and some of which I share with people who read my blog.

As a patent translator, I have no choice but to spend many hours per day sitting in front of my computer and translating patents. Some people might find my life boring, but daily translation has been the rhythm of my life for about three decades now. I have gotten used to this rhythm and for the most part I like it.

It’s an easy way for me to pay my bills, and as those of us who are not trust fund babies know, to find an easy and at least semi-enjoyable way to pay the bills is the most important thing in life, right after good health.

One privilege that we translators have, unlike most people who do something else for a living, is that we can listen to music when we work, basically as much as we want to. So listening to music when I translate is a special perk that has been another part of the rhythm of my life for about three decades now.

Just like I want to share my thoughts about translation with other people and anything else I want to write about, I also want to share music videos that I like with people who read my blog.

You can disagree with what I am saying, and if you have something worth saying and discussing, you can leave a comment, and I will either respond to it, or let other people respond, if they so choose.

But I do not believe that anybody has the right to call what I am saying “inappropriate”. And by the same token, nobody has the right to call the videos that I like “inappropriate” either.

Did somebody make you the king of the world? Who gave you the right to decide what is and what is not “appropriate?”

You are free to ignore the thoughts and music videos that I share with my blog’s audience. Simply don’t click on the videos. And if their content, or even the very idea that a blog that in your opinion should be only about translation uses music videos upsets you, why don’t you only read blogs that have no videos?

You can decide which videos are “appropriate” and “inappropriate” for your children to watch (although they are not very likely listen to you.) But I am not your child, so stay out of what is only my business and none of yours.

I have noticed how intolerant many people are of other peoples’ opinions who they might disagree with, often on Facebook, but also on blogs, if these opinions do not follow precisely the groupthink du jour. Intolerance of others, a sign of small-mindedness, is a disease that is also very visible in some translator groups on Facebook.

Some translators consciously try to form cliques of people who enjoy fighting against other groups, not always because they have much to disagree with, but sometimes simply on principle, to show whose side they are on.

It can be entertaining to watch these fights, which often turn into a feeding frenzy, similar to what happens when hungry sharks attack a tasty, injured fish. But the problem is, entertaining though the spectacle may be, this kind of trolling makes it impossible to discuss anything, when even a minor disagreement with another person’s opinion or taste is interpreted as a horrible attack ad hominem that must be responded to in kind.

In North Korea, the police have the right to inspect the cell phones of North Korean citizens to make sure that they don’t have any South Korean or Western songs stored in their phones. Only North Korean songs, proclaiming the genius of the Chubby Leader, are “appropriate”, everything else is “inappropriate.”

Watching movies that are not officially approved as “appropriate” (for example South Korean and American movies), is considered so “inappropriate” in North Korea that people who are caught doing so are sent to labor camps for reeducation.

Those among us who think they have the right to determine what discussions or videos are “appropriate” and “inappropriate” for a translation blog are in my opinion creating an atmosphere of intolerance that is more suitable for North Korea than for thoughts and videos that can be freely shared on social media among translators living in free countries.



  1. Some recently posted videos had cute young ladies in revealing clothing. Did those generate more objections than usual? I don’t mean to complain, I’m just curious.


  2. Oh, yes, very much so.

    The female Taliban was out in force with some choice comments about how disgusting such pictures are and how they have no place on a blog about translation.

    One of the commenters called me a “dirty old man”.

    I was tempted to respond in kind by using strong words in the same manner, but then I realized that I should not stoop to their level.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Amen, Steve, Amen! Intolerance of others is truly a hallmark of small brains! Petty-minded Stalinists!

    As for me, keep posting those videos–and unorthodox ideas–I really enjoy them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your music with us. I usually enjoy discovering new music and also your take on stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much!


  6. In my case it never entered my mind to click on your videos! I am sure I am missing something, but I do read your posts with pleasure and much agreement (and with congratulations to you for your insights and your success in our profession). Not listening to your videos is no doubt related to the impossibility for me of listening to videos while I translate, even though (or because) I love music and an am avid choral singer. Just can’t do those two activities at the same time. Your brain and my brain are different that way.


  7. Thank you, Jan.

    Your daughter reads my posts too, I think. Sometime she leaves a comment, although she has not done it in a while.

    Yes, some people told me that they never click on the videos, although they do like to read my silly posts.

    And one guy told me that he comes to my blog only for the music. But he mostly said it to disparage the content of my posts. He kept telling me that in the near future there will be no work for human translators, based on the fact that machine translation passed the ATA test from Portuguese, but that there will still be plenty of work left for MT post-processors.

    Maybe you remember him, if you read my blog back in the day, like seven years ago, he was trying very hard to piss me off whenever he could think of something suitable for that purpose.

    He actually came back under three different sock puppet names if I remember it correctly. But I could tell who it was anyway.

    Wonder if he reads me still.

    I kind of miss him now.


  8. Yes, it is a waste to respond to such attention-speaking trolly behavior. I don’t suppose it’s related, but makes me think about Jordan Peterson and the ideologically motivated PC climate present on some campuses. Maybe such confused students are migrating to your comment threads, but hope not!


  9. Here is what happened:

    I read Steve’s 2000 op-ed on machine translaton which explained how statistcal machine translation posed no threat to translators after AI expert Ray Kurzweil explained how this type of MT would just get better and better. Steve concluded that there will be plenty of work for translators for *centuries*.

    I merely pointed out why he was wrong but added I often like the youtube clips he puts up. Over the years, his time frame has shortened to “MT won’t affect me because I’ll be retired when it happens.” (paraphrase)

    I did not “troll” but Steve does not allow disagreement with him in his comments section. I’ve seen this with other translators who disagree with him.
    I started to read this blog much less after almost every post was a rant against MT and translation vendors.)

    By the way Eric, we’ve had the neural net version of Google Translate for a year. How long do you think translators will work without MT and for good wages. Everyone knows average real wages have been falling for a decade as they haven’t kept up with inflation.


  10. Hey, welcome back, Jeb.

    I wanted to flush you out, and I did.

    You were my first troll, and that’s kind of like first love, one does not forget those. (I will never forget Helga, that’s for sure. Wonder what happened to her).

    Commenters who need to use several different sock puppet identities to hide who they are are automatically trolls. I think most people would agree.

    “By the way Eric, we’ve had the neural net version of Google Translate for a year. How long do you think translators will work without MT and for good wages.”

    Same old tune.

    Despite what you said 8 years ago, I am still here, making more money than ever. Machine translation affected my work only in a positive way – as a valuable resource. But I still think that it will never replace specialized translators such as myself, at least not within my lifetime. Neural this, neural that – it’s all just propaganda aimed at selling snake oil.

    The Japanese patent translation market did crash, I do very little Japanese now. But it has nothing to do with MT and everything to do with things like the overall decline of Japanese technology, which I think is due mostly to the fact that that Japan must compete with much cheaper labor costs in China and Korea.

    So I switched to translating Chinese and Korean patents for a while through Chinese and Korean patent translators and becoming a specialized mini-agency, and now I translate mostly German patents to English, mostly by myself.

    But you probably know that from my posts.


  11. Thanks, Steve!

    I was not a troll. You simply erased my comment when you disagreed with it, and I’ve seen you threaten the same with others.

    I don’t see the Japanese translation market as crashing as translators still get lots of work in that area. What has happened is that there has been no rate increase since 2000, which means a 40% drop in annual real wages for those working in the US or most other countries except for Japan. A full time Japanese patent translator might make $80,000 today at the current yen rate but made closer to $130,000 in inflation adjusted dollars the late 1990s and early 2000s. That’s a huge drop.

    A major reason for this is that Indian translators who charge just 25% of most Japanese translators began to use Google Translate from 2007, which gave them a powerful tool to compete against Western and Japanese translators. And MT will just keep getting better and better.


  12. Well, the Japanese patent translation market did crash, as several patent translators have commented on this blog, namely for me and for people who do not want to or can’t lower their rates to be able to compete with Indian translators.

    I’m glad to hear that it is not quite dead yet in Japan, but I am for the most part out of it, at least until and unless the rates go high enough to make it worth my while again.

    But since I doubt that it will happen any time soon, I am sticking to German, which at this point is plentiful and pays better than Japanese, at least when it comes to translations for filing, and I am finalizing my plans for retiring, just as I told you 8 years ago.

    Fortunately, I don’t need to make as much money as I did when my children were still financially dependent on me.

    Whether you are a troll or not, is a matter of opinion.

    But I have had experience with trolls who were much, much worse than you.

    So that’s how I see you.

    I have the right to delete any comment I want to on my blog, of course.

    And so do you, if you have your own blog, Jeb.


  13. I wonder if the music rhythm and the translation between source/target “languages” which have their own rhythms helps or hinders the process.

    This is my first time here – I presume you translate patents between languages ( En to Fr for example ). Do you also “translate” the patent language for level of understandability or fitness of purpose? – though that may be more in the field of technical writing.

    I think your articles being bracketed with the video/audio is
    quite appropriate even if only as your own personal idiosyncrasy; but as you say my view of your expressions are irrelevant.


  14. I did not say, or at least did not mean, that other people’s views are irrelevant. Everybody’s view of what I say or what videos I use on my blog is equally relevant …. if only to the extent that I may agree or disagree with it.

    But nobody’s view is relevant to the extent determining what is “appropriate” or “inappropriate” to be included on my blog.

    In other words, my view of what other people consider “appropriate” or “inappropriate” for inclusion on their or my blog is irrelevant, as long as I believe in the principles of free speech and democracy.

    I think I know what’s appropriate for me.

    But I know I don’t know what’s appropriate for other people.

    That’s what I meant.


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