We continue our International Translation Day series with today’s interview with Carolyn Yohn. Carolyn is a translator working from French and Hungarian to English. She blogs at Untangled Translations about her love for languages, the Hungarian culture and her specialization in the legal field.
Hello! Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Certainly! My name is Carolyn Yohn, and I am a legal translator. I work from French and Hungarian into English under the name Untangled Translations. Sometimes I do some academic translation as well. My husband and I are currently moving from Washington, DC, to Sacramento, CA—a major change for both of us. We both were born and raised in Virginia, though I’ve also lived in Hungary, Switzerland, and Morocco.
You have quite an interesting language combination, working from Hungarian to English. What makes you so passionate about translation?
I fell in love with Hungarian poetry and humor while on a high school exchange year, and I wanted to share it with the world! For now, legal translation isn’t too bad—I enjoy the structure of the field, the specificity of phrases, and the information I glean as I work. But I’m always thinking about how I may eventually contribute to making Hungarian poetry and literature as well know as Dickens or Dostoevsky.
How do you usually celebrate International Translation Day? Is this day special to you or is it just like every other day?
This is only my second full year as a full time translator, so honestly, other events or responsibilities have overshadowed this holiday in the past. That said, this year I’m excited to help spread the word about the profession any way I can! Cross-cultural communication helps the world go round.
Which difficulties do you face as a freelance translator (and now self-published writer!) ? Does having a rare language combination help?
Oh, the usual I’m sure. 🙂 My greatest challenge has to be temporary lack of confidence: everyone has their off days, their distracted days. And I’ve always been very critical of my own work, even as a kid. It helps to be involved in the wider translator community, and to have non-work-related hobbies, too. On the one side, you get commiseration, on the other, you get a little escape from your head.
Working with a rare language combination is a great conversation starter, so business-wise I suppose it makes me memorable. Translation-wise, I enjoy the challenge of switching between French and Hungarian—it keeps me on my toes.
On the other hand, our profession has great aspects. What’s your favorite and why?
I love the freedom of working for myself, from home. Being in some company’s office five days a week just didn’t suit me. Plus, I get to dabble in so many other tasks: graphic design, HTML coding, marketing and sales… No day is like any other!
What do you think the future holds for us translators?
I think that any translator who stays flexible and continues to learn and grow her skill set will always find a market for her skills. There are many intelligent, well-educated people out there who either have no ability or no patience for acquiring extra languages—and need far more complex information translated than a machine algorithm will ever be able to do.
Thank you so much for this interview, Carolyn!