ATISDA Blog (Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area)


Badly Explain Your Job: Translator and Interpreter Edition

palm tree on beach

As we welcome the warmer summer days, it seemed like the perfect time to take a more lighthearted approach to our profession.

Perhaps you saw the recent social media posts about a game called Badly Explain Your Job in which people summarized their job descriptions in an intentionally misleading way for comic effect. This wordplay game went viral as people had fun writing oddly-phrased descriptions of their jobs. In some cases, it was nearly impossible to guess what the person did based on the awkward or overly-literal description. People had badly explained their jobs too well.

Check out a few examples to see how to play. Since translators and interpreters need context, the type of job has also been provided with the examples, something that was often sorely missing from the original online game. Job titles did not tend to be provided with the summaries.

Here are some ways people in different lines of work might explain their jobs badly.

Badly-explained job: I scurry around after you’re gone to see if you left behind any half-eaten food. I also check if you left me any kind of gift.
(Job: Restaurant worker)

Badly-explained job: I literally take people’s money.
(Job: Bank teller)

Badly-explained job: People throw away half of what I give them but are always annoyed when I show up late.
(Job: Mail delivery person)

Now if anyone knows the value of precision and accuracy in language, it’s translators and interpreters. Our profession is based on opening up communication in places it would otherwise be closed. That might make it challenging to make intentionally misleading word choices. But our extensive linguistic knowledge will make the game all that much easier – and more fun.

Obviously, the work that translation and interpretation professionals do is important and provides real benefits, but surely we can see the humorous side of it, too. After all, there are a lot of possible ways translators and interpreters could have fun badly explaining their profession.

Here are some job descriptions whose meanings intentionally got lost in translation.

Interpreters explaining their jobs badly might say:

  • I put words in people’s mouth.
  • I purposely talk over other people.
  • I repeat what others say as if I had originally said it.


Translators explaining their jobs badly might say:

  • I read what someone else wrote and change the words.
  • I use the dictionary to look up words I already know the meaning of.


And because the translation world relies heavily on project managers and editors, they get to play the game, too.

Project managers explaining their jobs badly might say:

  • Nothing gets done without me, but I don’t actually produce any work.
  • All the people who work for me have never met and never will. I’ve never even met them.


Editors explaining their jobs badly might say:

  • I uncover problems and people thank me, or conversely, want to tell me why I’m wrong.
  • I worry about details that no one else will ever notice. I’ve rewritten this sentence five times.
  • Some people think my job isn’t necessary. Until there’s a problem.


Most importantly, whether you interpret, translate, edit or manage projects, the following description applies:

If I did my job well, you don’t know I did anything.


How else would you badly explain our profession? Share in the comments section!