When — some time ago — we started talking about launching this blog and things didn’t quite looked real yet, one of the first plans we discussed was to come up with a series of subjects that could (i) help, educate or somehow guide other professionals in the field, (ii) inspire discussions, debates, agreement and disagreement, (iii) tell everyone a bit about us and about what we do, how we do it and why we do it.
One of such subjects was precisely why we had become translators and what that initial “spark” that started everything had been. I am fully aware that there are as many reasons as are translators out there, ranging from lame to astonishing, from unexpected to understandable, from obvious to “un-freaking-believable!”
Through the years, I’ve met people who became translators because they wanted to understand rock ‘n’ roll songs, or because they wanted to learn a foreign language to leave Cuba, or because it simply ran in the family. I even met a young woman once who became a translator to annoy her parents who were pushing her to attend medical school.
Here in America, lots of immigrants become translators because they can take advantage of their bilingualism and make a living thanks to it. This happens in Europe too where some folks grow up speaking multiple languages and choose to turn that into career later in life.
Needless to say, there are countless others who chose this path out of mere passion for language, based on their linguistic skills or simply because they liked it.
I, for one, chose to study translation after a sudden change of mind in high school motivated by a deep dislike of agriculture. Years ago in Cuba, middle and high school students were required to work in the fields for six weeks during the school year. And since then, agriculture and I are like God and Voltaire, we salute but we do not speak. And the countryside… well, it looks OK in postcards.
For some time, I had thought of pursuing a career in biology. But right during my senior high school year, some intellectually handicapped bureaucrat in the Ministry of Higher Education decided to eliminate majors and force all biology students to take what they called “wide-profile” courses.
This meant that after graduating from university chances were you could end up researching something you were not necessarily passionate about. And being Cuba primarily an agricultural country, I imagined myself in some sugar cane research lab in the middle of nowhere. Not an attractive picture, at least not to me.
So I suddenly started thinking about alternatives. A cousin, who had been lucky enough to escape the wide-profile nonsense and had managed to become a geneticist, suggested that I studied English at the university. I immediately started “flirting” with the idea and soon after that, I was admitted in the English Language and Literature course, majoring in Translation and Interpretation.
A few hours into the first week of classes and I already felt at home. Five years, a lot of hard work and quite a few great influential professors later, I graduated and, just like the old cliché goes, the rest is history.
Now, like you have probably said — or been told — on a first date… enough about me! It’s your turn!
I just want to encourage you all to drop a line or two commenting about what led you to become translators. This invitation is extended as well to my colleagues here at Nova. I already know their great stories and I’m sure you would enjoy hearing them too.
Share your thoughts!