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First-class work with first-class people

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The other day, there was a comment from a reader of my essay, that referred to a book titled "Good to Great" by James C. Collins. The comment was stating about the translator of the book, Mr. Yoichi Yamaoka. Here is the reader's comment.

"Good to Great" is a good book often referred to by many people. Whenever I think about the book, it reminds me of its translator Mr. Yoichi Yamaoka. "If you were to have translation as your profession, you have to be prepared that many people might look down on you for lacking originality. Whether you express it or not, you must retain your resolute attitude. Rather than being proud of a third-class original job, you'd better chose a path to help contribute to a first-class one." He expressed this in one of his writings and he respectfully continued it. He left many achievements, but due to his heart infarction, he passed away at the age of 62; still very young.

Translators tend to get disrespected about their work and that might discourage them from further pursuing their profession. However, if you don't have dignity, you won't be able to get work done, with quality, that impresses readers. Mr. Yamaoka must have been fighting against this disrespect.

Many of the things we do won't be known by everyone. Even though you end up being a celebrity, you know that you have achieved the status, not just because of yourself, but because of an amazing amount of help you gained from others. First-class work tends to fascinate first-class people. So, stick with first-class work regardless of what your position is. A quite different conclusion from an old saying "better be the head of a dog than the tail of a lion." Any part of a lion, a first-class work, is better than a dog, a third-class work.

※引用出展:「翻訳とは何か-職業としての翻訳」(山岡洋一著、絶版)

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