You have to bear with me a bit to get how this story is related to UBI. It's only in the conclusion, but we'll get there, trust me.
I gave an interview to an airline magazine, Onur Airways. As it is a Turkish airline, the interview was in Turkish. As every airline magazine has the English of the articles besides the local language, the interview was to be translated into English too. As we had grown a friendly relationship with the editor while exchanging emails for the interview and as I now write mostly in English, I offered to do the translation myself. It was a short piece anyway. The editor said there was no need, their translator would be doing it promptly. I didn't insist.
When the interview was done, I asked to see the layout. Generally editors do not let out pages before they are published. But Mr. Aykanat was very kind to send it to me, so that I would be satisfied with the outcome. All is fine up to this point; the rest was a disaster story.
All his compliments, all the nice words and wishes to keep up our “friendship” as long as we live etc. vanished. Why? Because I read the translation and found it horrifying. Of course, the trouble is not exactly that. I have no way with rhetoric or smooth-saying, I know that. I do not shy away from criticism or harsh words if I believe they are deserved. So I told Mr. Aykanat that the translation was awful. I was curious, who had done such a translation. Who was this person working as the translator of the magazine for one of the top airlines of Turkey without obviously having any competence?
As a rule of thumb, one translates into his native language from a foreign one. The logic being that you are more in command of your mother tongue, so it's easier to find the right words. This translation looked like it was done by a Turkish; what's more, by a Turkish who didn't really know English so well.
Mr. Aykanat said the translator was born and grew up in Australia. Turkish mother, Australian father. He was a linguist. Mr. Aykanat claimed that it was actually the translator's Turkish that was not so good; he defended the translator saying “He tries to give the meaning instead of doing a literal translation.”
I still insisted that the translation was bad.
“I do not know English well enough to judge,” Mr. Aykanat replied. “I showed the interview to our previous translator and he said it wasn't so bad.”
So this was even worse! There was another translator, a professional one working in the field, and he had approved of that horrible translation which was full of meaningless sentences. “People generally do not like translations,” Mr. Aykanat commented; sort of attributing my being upset to a whim. He seemed to be fine with the non-existent quality.
In a way, I understand him. Who reads articles anyway? Especially articles in airline magazines... They are not for reading, you just scroll through the pages looking at photos. That's why Mr. Aykanat was boasting what a wonderful visual magazine they were publishing. Rightfully so. The magazine was nice. Visually!
I felt bad about criticizing the translation but I couldn't bring myself to be involved in such a low-quality piece. Even though it was obvious that I wasn't the one who had said or written that nonsense, I didn't want an interview like that published with my name on it. So I suggested I do the translation.
Mr. Aykanat was once again very kind, he sent me the original translation so that I could correct the mistakes. Well, that was a big mistake! Because once I started, I realized how hard that would be: Working through someone else's words which were actually supposed to be my words! I started but I couldn't go on. I should have done the whole thing from scratch. Even though I was willing to do that at the beginning, at this point, after so much back-and-forth exchange of emails, this interview had turned to be a dread. What's more, I just couldn't bring myself to do a job without getting paid which someone else had gotten paid for. The translator had done a crap job and had got paid for it, why would I be spending my time and energies to do a good job when I wasn't even going to get paid?
Again... This also went back to the question: Who would be reading the interview in English and who would be caring anyway? “Just let it go,” a voice (of reason) whispered to me from one shoulder. “Just let it be printed the way it is.”
My husband said the same thing. “The important thing is to get yourself be known, to get published.”
Yet... Yet... The voice inside me, my very essence -if you want to call it the ego, call it the ego,- protested. “I can't. I can't let it go. I do not want to be involved in such a low-quality work even though it is not my work.”
So what was I supposed to say to Mr. Aykanat now? I had to get back to him. Dreading it, I wrote another email. “Sorry, I cannot bring myself to do the translation. Maybe we wait a while, I may find the energy to do it in time, we publish the interview then.”
Aah! There came back a furious answer! “I'm fed up with this.”
As if I wasn't! He could be sure I was fed up even more than him. Was it worth all that trouble for the small amount of visibility that interview could bring me? Besides, it was only four pages, mostly photos, and that with photos on the right, writings on the left where they get less attention. What's more, Mr. Aykanat had put a title “A True Traveller” but there was nothing in the interview or an introduction explaining why I was a true traveller. Nothing about my three round-the-world tours, nothing about my being the first Turkish woman to backpack the world. Reading the interview, you'd get the impression that I was just an ordinary traveller.
Anyway... Going back to the editor's response. “This has taken just too much effort,” he said and concluded “Let this stay as just a memory between us.”
That is, he wasn't going to publish the interview.
Of course I was upset. I was upset at all the time I had spent for nothing once again. Why did all the work relations I started ended up being cut like this? Why wasn't I more tolerable, more understanding, more easy to get along with? I mean I didn't feel I needed to be an especially easy person, but it hurt that I couldn't get along and work with anybody. Of course it had to be my fault, right? These people were doing business, they had jobs, they were getting things done. There had to be something wrong with me!
I reviewed my responses to Mr. Aykanat. I considered what I could have said and done. No... I'm sorry I couldn't accept any wrongdoing, I couldn't see anything wrong with myself. It was them who were in the ones in wrong.
Whatever... I decided to forget about it. Cross out one more person, one more work-contact in my life. There were so many of these by now.
But I couldn't forget about it. Not without giving him a piece of my mind. I was furious and I felt wronged. I had to let him know.
So I sat down and wrote. “Your translator is the one who does the bad job and I get to be punished for it!” And I went on. “Let alone the sentences where it's impossible to get the meaning, let alone the basic mistakes... So there can be a linguist who does not know the difference between Argentina, the country, and Argentine, a person from Argentina?! So I want to go to see the “guerillas” in Uganda??!!!!”
I couldn't put enough exclamation marks here. How can a linguist translate gorillas as guerillas? (Incidentally, which are almost the same as English in Turkish too, goril and gerilla, respectively.)
I went on: “I had told you not to publish the interview but please publish it. Publish it, tear the pages out and push those pages down the throats of those translators!”
It isn't that hard to find a good translator in Turkey. This is not about money either as Mr. Aykanat tried to explain it with institutional problems related to finances. You go to Robert College (an American high school in İstanbul), ask an English teacher for the best student. I'm sure any student would make a better job than the translator this airline magazine was using. Of course it's not nice “to play with the bread of someone” as we say in Turkish. But come on, students need money too, they need incentives. What's more, sorry to say, money should be paid to the one who is more worthy; not to the one who has contacts or who just happened to get some job.
Now, this is where UBI comes in. Everybody needs to eat. I wrote to the editor “We provide these people, we give them money, they just do not do such crap jobs!” Seriously... Just don't do anything if you are not going to do it properly!
People steal and swindle too to make money. I mean I understand, if they do not have any other means, how do they survive? UBI would eliminate crooks too.
Carlo said “People will still be stealing and doing bad things even with UBI. They will get that money, spend it on alcohol or gambling, and then be left penniless again.”
I said, “Okay, but then at least we know that they have been provided for. If they haven't used it properly, we no longer have to feel responsible for them. And we know who they are. And they do not have excuses for their behavior. So we can leave them to fend for themselves.”
Yes, yes, there definitely is a need for UBI. Not on a country basis, but on a global level. UBI in its true sense, a universal UBI. For everyone. For every single person living on this Earth.