Different approaches to life in translation
Translators come in all shapes and sizes. A couple of weeks ago, I met two whose lifestyle and approaches couldn’t be more different. Both, as translators tend to do, have travelled and lived in different countries, but, while one is connected to colleagues all over the planet, the other lives in a small professional world of his own. I may even be the only other translator he knows.
The first of these translators is Jessica Lucio, of Double Dot Translations. I knew her through Facebook and she contacted me some time ago saying that she was coming to the Barcelona area and wondered if there were any translators’ events going on while she was here. As luck would have it, I discovered that two of the translators’ organisations I belong to – APTIC and MET – were holding their monthly joint social evening during that time. So I told Jessica and arranged to meet her in Barcelona shortly beforehand.
The APTIC-MET social evenings bring together the Catalan translators’ association and a group of translators and editors generally working in English. Although I’m a member of both associations, the events are usually on a Wednesday, which isn’t generally a convenient night for me, but this time I was able to change my schedule and go along. So it was that Jessica and I found ourselves sitting on a terrace beside Mar Bella beach in Barcelona, swapping life stories.
Hers is a remarkable one, which I’m not going to tell in detail here. Suffice it to say that she is Spanish/Catalan by heritage, German Swiss by birth and upbringing, at least partially English by education and now lives in Colombia, although she is back in Europe at the moment visiting friends and family. Of course, as a translator she can still work as she travels, just as she will be able to if she ever chooses to live somewhere else in the world.
But what really struck me, as we chatted with other translators from the Barcelona area, was the way someone like Jessica could travel to somewhere she wasn’t known and connect with colleagues as easily as she had. Cyber contacts quickly became real human contact. Who says that friends you make using a computer aren’t “real”?
I was reminded of the evening I’d spent with Jessica and members of MET and APTIC a few days later when I ran across the other translator in my story. Michael is the father of one of my son’s classmates and I ran across him at a school football match. We got to talking about work, finding new customers and so on and I mentioned the two associations. It turned out he’d simply never come across them. He lives in the same city as I do, but, as a translator, he works alone, in his own world.
Now, I’m not saying he’s wrong or in any way inferior to anyone else. In fact I remember myself working in my own little bubble and being relatively content for some years. But I can’t help thinking how much richer my professional life is now that I have come out of the translation cave and linked up with colleagues in associations and on social networks. Maybe it doesn’t make me a better translator, but it adds interest and colour to my life: a Facebook discussion can liven up a bleak, depressing morning; a comment on one of my blog posts can make my day, and that evening I spent at the beach bar was fascinating and fun. It’s always good to get to know likeminded people, whether it’s online or in person. So remember, if you ever do want to meet up, either online or in the Barcelona area, don’t hesitate to get in touch.