Posted by: patenttranslator | January 20, 2019

Similarities and Differences between the Advice of Personal Relationship Gurus and Translation Marketing Gurus

Now that I have been happily divorced for close to a year after 34 years of a punishing marriage, and retired for about the same time, I finally have the time to watch undisturbed in my cozy apartment in a quaint town in Southern Bohemia tons of interesting, strange and funny Youtube videos on topics of special interest to me, topics including minimalist lifestyles, designing a small apartment or a so-called tiny house, or techniques for dealing with narcissists and feminism’s war on men, women and the society, to name just a few.

I used to waste a lot of time by following what was happening in American politics and politics worldwide, but I finally realized that that this was a complete waste of time, and that other topics, such as the ones mentioned above, are much more worthy of my attention.

One such topic is also dating advice for women and men: either advice from female relationship gurus for men on how to date women (to get them into bed in record time), or advice from women on how to attract a man and keep him happy.

Although, given that men are such simple creatures, wouldn’t food and sex be sufficient in this respect?

To my surprise, while I was watching this invaluable advice from relationship coaches, one thought kept occurring to me throughout the video watching sessions: The guidance of these relationship mentors and coaches is so similar to the marketing advice of translation experts who coach and mentor novice translators on how to make it in the translation business.  

I think that the difference here is that while the relationship coaches and gurus usually do know something about relationships, and sometime they seem to know a lot, the translators who dispense advice on how to become a successful translator, or translation entrepreneur if you will, often know very little about translation and the translation business.

We will all accumulate a lot of knowledge and sometime even wisdom during our lifetime – if we are not totally stupid and live long enough. Unfortunately, if we live too long, we will most likely be robbed of most of this valuable knowledge and wisdom by Alzheimer’s.

A few days ago I visited the 87-year-old mother of an old friend of mine. Although the years changed her so much that I would not have recognized her had I not known who she was, and she did not even recognize me at first, once I told her my name, she immediately started recalling details about my mother, my sister and my brothers that I did not even know about myself.

Wow, I thought to myself, she’s still as sharp as a tack. But then she said:”I am very old. I am already 60 years old”, and when we told her that she was already 87, not 60, she responded by saying:“Oh, so what comes after 87, is it 70?”

But let’s come back to the subject at hand. Unlike the relationship coaches on the internet who usually have a lot of relevant experience and know a thing or two about human nature, translation marketing experts are almost always quite young, they have often been translating for just a few years, and what they do know is limited to a very narrow field, which is possibly transferable only to translators who work in the same field and translate the same language pair, and even then it may be applicable only temporarily because everything changes with a lightning speed in our world.

I have been translating for a living for a relatively long time, since 1980 when I graduated from university with a degree in languages. But I realize that I don’t know much about anything even in my chosen field of “translation” because it is such a vast field. Scio nihil me scire (I know that I know nothing).

I have been trying to share the little bit I know about how to make a living as a freelance translator on my silly blog for something like 10 years, just for fun rather than for profit.

I know a lot about translation of patents because I have been translating mostly patents for at least the last 25 years. But what I know about patent translation is not directly applicable to translations in other fields, or even to other languages than Japanese, German, or French, which are the languages from which I have been mostly translating patents myself.

In my opinion, the coaching offered in seminars by “experienced” and “successful” translators to other translators can be of some limited use basically only to total beginners, often disparagingly referred to as “newbies”, who may be for understandable reasons totally clueless. And even then, only newbie translators who work in the same language pair and translation fields will probably be able to derive some utility from this coaching by “expert translators”.

It’s one thing when a smart woman, experienced in affairs of the heart, dispenses advice to young men on things like how to avoid the wrong kind of woman (gold diggers, narcissists, or nasty feminists), and how to attract the right kind of a life-long partner. A lot of useful advice can sometime be found in these Youtube video, which are free and sometime very entertaining.

But the advice of translators who have been translating for only a few years, if that long, on how to prepare résumés that will be noticed by “LSPs”, whether to “do or not do” translation tests, or whether to “do or not do” post-processing of machine translation and how much one should charge for something like that is really potentially useful only to total dummies.

 We are all very different people. What attracts one type of woman to a man is very different from what another type of woman will find irresistible – although the one thing that all females find extremely attractive in any type of man is of course a lot of money.

But unlike relationship coaches who seem to realize that there are limits to the fine teachings they are trying to share for fun and profit with the followers of their Youtube channels, most translation coaches seem to believe that they have swallowed all the wisdom available in the whole universe on the subject of “translation”, and on the subject of how to become a “successful translator”, whatever that might mean.

If you are smart, brave and persistent enough, you will eventually realize what does and what does not work for you when you work as a translator. This is something that you will or will not figure out on your own. There is no need to listen to translation gurus. You just need to figure out your own method that will work for you, and this method may be very different from all of the methods other translators are using.

The same is true about advice on personal relationships. Just be yourself and if you are bringing something to the table and you are lucky, you will find somebody who is compatible with you.

And if not, don’t let it bother you too much and enjoy your life anyway. Nobody will give you unconditional love – that is something that only a parent can give to a child. If that is what you want and need, get a dog. And if you can’t be happy alone, you will probably never be happy with another person either.


  1. You left out one thing – such advice is often connected with profit.

    There are even worse parallels. When we deal with a chronic illness, some days could be a bit dark, and that’s where we tend to seek – and find – all sorts of advice, in a wide range of credibility. Blogs of a “my journey and battle with…” type, pseudo-scientific pages – I am a doctor of werunetapuethic medicine… Illustrated stories of “before” and “after”… Forums with so many suspiciously similar posts…Inevitably, there is a link to buy something, to download something, to take a look at Amazon and a miraculous product with hundreds of reviews.

    And there is a moment when we pay and someone makes money.

    Of course, people with a functional brain should not be stupid, silly and irrational. But there are times in human life when even the most reasonable people might show a chink in the armor. Illness, pain, loneliness, long-term lack of financial success. It’s all very similar, really. Buying an amazing advice because it can change your life, too desperate to actually take a careful look at the seller. So, the business thrives. What the Czech author Jaroslav Žák once called obchod s nadějí – a business of selling hope.


  2. Yes, I did not go into the monetary aspects of the advice dispensing mechanism by assorted ad hoc gurus. I made that decision when I started writing my silly post, not sure now why, probably because I did not want to piss off too many people. I usually make enough people angry at me as it is, such as a feminist who criticized me in a comment that I deleted.

    And also, I am a capitalist and I see nothing wrong with selling useful advice.

    But selling hope is often immoral when nothing is delivered in the end.

    Hope is a good product for merchants selling snake oil, there is an infinite supply of it and it can be sold to suckers over and over again.

    Hope and change! Hope and Change! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can what?

    He never specified what it is that “we can”, nobody asked him to do that and absolutely nothing changed.


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