Mary, 27, is finishing a two-year accelerated BA in translation at the University of Ottawa. She studied at the University of Waterloo for 5 years, and graduated with an honours BA in French. While at Waterloo, she participated in the co-op program and spent a year studying at the Université de Nantes in France. She is currently taking part in a the University Partnership Program with the Government of Canada's Translation Bureau, through which she receives job training while still in school. Mary will begin working at the Translation Bureau in the Life Sciences Division this fall.
Stephanie: What made you decide to become a translator?
Mary: I've always liked languages and writing, so translating seemed to be a good combination of the two since you need a strong knowledge of the language you're translating from (for me, French) and excellent writing skills in the language you're translating into (for me, English).
Stephanie: What do you like about your job?
Mary: I like working with language and writing, and I also enjoy trying to find the best way to say something -- it's kind of like a puzzle to me. I also like that I learn something new with every new text I have to translate.
Stephanie: What is your least favourite part of the job?
Mary: Sometimes it gets tedious when I'm translating something highly technical or just plain boring. I also don't like it when the French text is really badly written, because that means I have to figure out what the author is really trying to say (not just what he or she has written on the page) before I can do my translation.
Stephanie: What advice do you have for someone considering becoming a translator?
Mary: Make sure that your knowledge of the source language (the language you're translating from) is strong, of course, but make sure that your knowledge of the target language (the one you're translating into) is even stronger. In most cases, your final translation should not sound like a translation at all. As well, read, read, read! You never know what you'll be translating next, especially if you're a freelancer, so being well informed will save you time and research in the long run.
Stephanie: What kind of an education did you get to be a translator?
Mary: I have an honours BA in French, and am almost finished an accelerated BA in translation. You generally need at least a BA, although a master's degree can come in handy, too. It is also possible to be a translator with just experience in the field, although this is becoming less frequent. Most customers who hire freelance translators prefer those who are certified by a provincial association, such as the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario.
Stephanie: What's your favourite book?
Mary: 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' by John Irving.
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