A Longitudinal Study of Translators in Greater China
In Translation Studies, most of the empirical studies on translators in society rely on a cross-sectional methodology, which takes a snapshot of a population at one specific time. However, giving the evolving nature of translation work, translators would experience changes from time to time. Therefore, follow-up studies of translators are paramount because this approach allows Translation Studies researchers to explain the changes that translators may experience over time. This article presents findings from a longitudinal study which examines translators’ possible changes in their occupation, visibility between clients and end-users, capital received and job-related happiness over a three-year period. The analysis is based on 92 Chinese translators in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan between 2009–2010 survey data (Wave 1) and 2012–14 survey data (Wave 2). It is found that freelance translators are less happy than other current translators. Some social variables such as age, level of education, region in which the translator lives, the translator’s major field of study and the appearance of the translator’s name on translations are found not related to their decision to leave the field. What are found to be significantly related include sex, years of translation experience, and time spent working on translation assignments. It is also found that the turnover rate for female translators is higher than that for male translators. In addition, those who abandon the work of translation are mostly inexperienced translators.