The countdown to International Translation Day ’13 is almost over! But the fun doesn’t end just yet as today, we receive Catharine Celllier-Smart, a translator working with English and French. Catharine was born in London but now lives in the beautiful Reunion island (are you jealous?). She also blogs about our profession.
Hello, Catharine! It’s a pleasure having you participate in this project! Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
The pleasure is all mine, Emeline. I’m a freelance French to English translator. Originally from the UK (I grew up in London), I’ve lived in Reunion Island, a French overseas department in the south-west Indian Ocean, for about 20 years, apart from three years spent living in South Korea 2008-2011.
I worked for a long time for private sector companies doing non-language related work, but I often did translations during my free time. When my husband and I returned to Reunion from South Korea I knew it was the chance I’d been waiting for to start my own translation business as a full-time freelancer.
What makes you so passionate about translation?
I love helping people to communicate. Communication – in all its forms – really makes the world go round, and I definitely enjoy the fact that my language skills can help me be a part of that.
How do you usually celebrate International Translation Day? Is this day special to you or is it just like every other day?
It’s often just like any other day for me. If my commitments allow I try to attend the online conference(s) organised annually by a well-known translators’ website. There are no events held locally on Reunion, and there are so few of us translators on Reunion that it doesn’t really make it worthwhile to organise anything ourselves.
I do think International Translation Day is a chance to make the non-linguist population more aware of the work we do, although of course we also try to do that every day, don’t we?
Which difficulties do you face as a freelance translator? How is working on a remote island any different from being based on the continent?
Generally speaking I face the same joys and difficulties as other freelance translators. About half my work comes from local clients and I suppose that theoretically there’s less likelihood of non-payment as the island’s not that big – I could always go and pay my client a visit in person if needs be!
The remoteness means it’s always difficult and expensive to travel anywhere, and I miss the opportunity of attending conferences, training sessions, and social events in person where I’d meet other translators. I try to compensate by doing online training and by being active online, particularly in social media.
Extreme weather conditions can occasionally play havoc (did you know that Reunion Island has most of the world’s rainfall records?), but thankfully the volcano – despite being one of the world’s most active – is never a problem! Keeping my native English up to date used to be difficult when I first moved here, but thankfully internet and Skype have helped change that.
On the other hand, our profession has great aspects. What’s your favourite and why?
There are several, but if I had to choose just one: I enjoy the freedom to work when, where and how I want.
What do you think the future holds for us translators?
I think the future can be very bright. I’m perhaps more optimistic than translators who work mainly with agencies; I see more and more (direct) clients who need our services, and it’s definitely a tendency that’s on the increase. I’m a firm believer that the future is what we translators make it.
Thank you for your continuing support throughout this project, Catharine!