After the summer break, let us restart our monthly e-meeting with translators and interpreters. The translator we are interviewing today is Miranda Joubioux. Miranda Joubioux grew up in Ireland. She moved to Brittany in 1990, where she has lived ever since. She set up her own translation business in Sarzeau (56) in 2004. Below she explains what led her to work as a full-time French to English translator (and occasionally interpreter), specialising mainly in the fields of architecture, boating, boat racing and anything to do with the sea.
Tell us about your professional history?
I graduated from University College Dublin with a Master’s degree in Linguistics and Old & Middle English in 1987. We didn’t study much applied linguistics, so becoming a translator never occurred to me. I wanted to work in publishing at the time. So after, working for a while in an architect’s office and then for an accountant, I joined the marketing team at Oxford University Press, where I stayed for a couple of years.
Translation experience in the boating field
I worked for a while for a bookshop, followed by other short jobs. One day, I applied for a job with a start up in the Web business. The owner of the company was a former Admiral’s Cup racer of Danish descent.
Afterwards, I used an umbrella company to test the translation market, and, in 2004, I set up my own business as a sole-trader. I learned how to translate on the job
Actively involved in the Société française de traduction
In 2008, I joined the SFT, which offers training, and I set about improving my skills. The SFT also helped on the networking front.
How long have you been a translator? Have things changed a lot since you started your business?
Officially, I have been a translator since 2002, but in practice, I started in 1996, when I translated websites. So, that’s 23 years.
Before the age of the Internet
When I started translating, there were few search sites on the Internet. Google didn’t exist. I spent a lot of time ringing experts and consulting libraries to find the right translations. Clients who were in a rush sent their sources (copy and images) on a CD sent by La Poste’s 24-hour delivery service (Chronopost) and we sent the translations back the same way.
The dangers of the Internet in the translation work!
These days students use the Internet almost exclusively for their research and miss out on terminological data from other sources. We also have the fairly recent addition of contextual searches on the Internet, and the growing presence of machine translation, which makes translation look easy. In some fields, the internet does not provide sufficient information, particularly in boating, and the risk is not knowing your subject well enough.
In your opinion what are the three main qualities you need to be a translator?
- Be rigorous;
- Have good business acumen;
- Know how to work and learn on your own.
You might ask, “what about languages in all that?”
Could you offer some advice to newbies or anyone who has changed career and is training to become a translator?
Managing a company
My advice would be to ensure you have training in the basics and how to manage a company, since nearly 80% of all translators work freelance. The SFT has a very good training course “Réussir son installation et se constituer une clientele”. I’d advise anyone starting out in France to attend it.
Working alone and networking
Translating is a solitary profession, so I would also recommend networking. It’s a great way to meet people and understand some of the difficulties faced by translators. Ideally, go to regional meetings, but you can also join Facebook groups. I’ve learned a lot from the SFT and I now have the chance to give something back. Last October, I became a member of the regional Grand-Ouest SFT board. We organize meetings for translators in Western France.
Training in specialisms to stand out from the crowd
I would also advise newbies to specialize and train in these specialisms. By doing this you can charge more for your work and steer away from the bottom of the market, where your clients will show you little respect and you will quickly slide into accepting any job at any price to survive. Lastly, I’d say that the market is changing again and that it would be wise to keep up to date with these changes so as not to be left behind.
How to contact Miranda:
Contact: https://www.art4u.fr, LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/art4u/,Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Art4uFrance/ Twitter : @Art4uFrance SFT page SFT To read our interviews, visit CORTEXTUEL translation-minded
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