Comparative satisfaction among freelance and directly-employed Irish-language translators


  • Joss Moorkens School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies/ADAPT Centre, Dublin City University


Job satisfaction, status, working conditions, freelance work, precarious work, public service, professional translators


This article reports results of a survey of government-accredited Irish language translators. The survey addresses a particular cohort of minority language translators in a particular linguistic context, where institutional demand for translation is growing. The survey may also be a useful basis for further work on translator job satisfaction. Participants in this survey were passionate about translation and about the Irish language, but conditions of employment clearly affected their concerns and perspectives regarding their profession. All translators report a strong sense of pride in their work, but freelance participants’ perceptions of purpose and fairness in work, payment, colleagues, and job security compare poorly to those of their full-time public service colleagues. Freelancers report that they struggle to work together in the face of falling rates, with some accepting low-paying jobs that are against their own and their colleagues’ best interests. Many of the freelance participants feel threatened by technology, the potential for machine translation to replace human translators, and their powerlessness regarding translations being repurposed for machine translation training. Responses show a fear of falling translation quality, a lack of translation talent, and the lack of an audience for translation. Participants tend to be negative about domestic Irish language policy but see policy at the EU-level to be beneficial, with forthcoming changes presenting an opportunity for skilled translators.