Jessica Crispin explains:

It's mostly women's work, and it's not a job from which you can retire comfortably (unless you are lucky and skilled enough to make it into the top echelon where publishers are interested to hear the new discoveries you made about a 400-year-old classic). When you do turn in a year's worth of work in exchange for what must end up being $.75 an hour more likely to be a multigenerational soap opera than a work of art you get the added bonus of the news that if you're an academic, translating can actually hurt your chances for getting hired or making tenure, or you get some jerk showing up at your reading to harangue you for translating the German "reise" as "holiday" instead of "trip," because obviously the author intended "trip" and by choosing "holiday" you have changed the meaning of the entire work. Or maybe you have some yahoo declaring that translation is an impossible act and philosophically suspect. After a 35-year career of this, I would probably be a little angry.

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