Interview with a translator
In the three years since I first made an appearance on YouTube with my video in 16 languages, I have received many comments and messages, asking a wide range of things. I have always tried to answer the questions I get to the best of my ability.
One type question that has been asked several times relates to how to work in languages. Part of my work with my languages is consulting on multilingual projects and doing quality assurance on them. This is extremely rewarding as it covers a great number of languages that I have studied and it keeps my brain well-oiled!
There are of course other careers you may wish to do using your languages. Of course, you can combine pretty much any language with any career as you can always move to a new country. However, there are some jobs that rely on a knowledge of foreign languages in any country. There are positions in government and international organisations that require one or more languages to do the work. The language in these types of jobs is usually a tool to get the work done, rather than the end result. For example, when I worked on international projects for the UK government I would carry out a function, using my languages for the communication of what was happening or what needed to be done. The languages in this case are a means to an end.
The other two main jobs we think about, after teaching, which use languages as their end result are interpreting and translation. These two roles are often confused by lay people. Of course anyone without a clear grasp of the differences can certainly be forgiven. I had to be told the difference too.
David and Claude from The Polyglot Project podcast talked to Robert Bigler (a truly lovely person with a great talent for languages – check out his channel on YouTube too!) about his work as an interpreter. I highly recommend you take he time to listen to that interview with him, if you haven’t done so already.
Whilst Robert does also work as a translator too, I felt it would be useful to talk to someone who works solely in translation to give and insight into that work for anyone interested in starting a career in translation. I hope you therefore enjoy the following interview with my good friend, John.