To kick off this series of interviews leading up to International Translation Day ’13, I interviewed fellow translator Lloyd Bingham. Lloyd is an in-house translators working with French, German, Spanish, Dutch and his native English (impressive, right?). He blogs over at Lloyd translates and is known for his Translator Diaries series. Based on this collection of interviews, he has a free e-book in the works, coming up on October 5.
Hello, Lloyd, and thank you for letting me interview you! Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Well, I’m a senior in-house translator working from French, German, Spanish and Dutch into English. In addition to translating, I co-manage the team of a dozen in-house translators at one of the UK’s largest translation companies. That’s what I do Monday to Friday, 9-5. Outside of that, I tweet and write on my website about language and translation as ‘lloydtranslates’, so I can engage with the translation community and keep up-to-date with developments.
You are a language-lover and it really shows through your blog. What makes you so passionate about translation?
I had a taste of translation when I did some pro bono work as a student. I think the idea of making texts available to a whole new audience is exciting, as translations act as bridges between cultures. On a more personal level, it’s learning so many new things each day through the texts we work with and the research that goes with translation. And for me, it’s using all the languages I’ve learnt. Before I started taking the idea of translation of a career seriously, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to use all of my languages in my career and would end up losing them. Translation helps me not only keep them up to scratch, but to improve them each day.
How do you usually celebrate International Translation Day? Is this day special to you or is it just like any other day?
To be honest, I’ve yet to celebrate it and usually forget which day it falls on (now I know it’s 30th September!). So I’m glad that this initiative has been taken to engage more translators in this day. On Twitter, I have seen mentions of the odd gathering in person for this day, which is great if you live in London and haven’t got any work on that day, but for the majority of us who live elsewhere and have to work, it’s fantastic to organise virtual events to celebrate our profession and our community.
As an in-house translator, do you think you face less difficulties than freelance translators?
Different difficulties, I would say. We face similar challenges, certainly, such as meeting client demands, ensuring quality, pursuing continuing professional development, and so on. But whereas freelance translators face the test of running a business, chasing payments, marketing, and developing business, in-house translators have requirements and targets placed on them by their employers. I would say, though, that working in-house is good preparation for progressing to freelance translation.
On the other hand, our profession has great aspects. What’s your favorite and why?
I think the amount of control that translators have over their destiny, over shaping their career, is a winning aspect. You can pursue training in different domains, focus marketing efforts on the certain types of clients who you want to work with, network with individuals and companies who you would like collaborate with, attend different industry events, and even learn new source languages. Very few careers can boast this.
What do you think the future holds for us translators?
It’s hard to say. The great news is we hear that the industry is growing. I see lots of new professionals starting up, and I mean translators who have studied hard and built up experience to offer a service with authority, translators who respect their industry, argue for quality and for their morals. Conversely, there are attempts to drive down prices within the industry, which I don’t think will be pandered to, as all industry professionals, and I’m including the reputable agencies here as well as freelancers, value the industry and refuse to sell it short. Thanks to social media, the translation community is becoming increasingly united, which can only make it stronger to fight such attempts at devaluation.
There is also a linguistic threat to the industry that, I feel, is not being taken seriously enough. I deal with hybrid language on a daily basis, texts written in Denglisch or Franglais. Languages have always borrowed and adopted from each other, but since the world has never been so connected, the lines between languages are blurring, and decades down the line, we may arrive at the point where you have a text in a hybrid language that contains such a mix that it could be argued it could be understood by the audiences of both the original source and target languages, rendering translation redundant. We can only reinforce the rule that translations should always be carried out by professionals, and continue to promote respect for all of our individual working languages on their own merits, something I feel very passionately about.
Thank you so much for your insights, Lloyd!