Archive for mei 2012


Welcome to the first post of this weblog.

Let me start this weblog by explaining why I want to start as a freelance translator, although I read everywhere that this is a difficult market to start in.

Due to circumstances (maternity leave and subsequently the end of my contract with the university I worked for) I had some time to think about new career options. I decided I want to do something I’m really good at, has practical relevance, has plenty of opportunities to fill my hunger for learning new languages and developing new skills, and has flexible hours so that I can also look after my three children.

In the past, I have done quite a bit of translating for staff members of my faculty. I discovered that I really enjoy doing that. Translation not only requires highly developed language skills in both your native language and the source language, but also requires a lot of creativity. My colleagues sometimes felt guilty when they asked me to translate something for them because they thought they asked me to do something rather boring. I never really understood that. It would be boring if you understand translation as a word-for-word process. Like the ‘translation’-exercises one often has to do when learning a foreign language. However, the work of a true translator is something entirely different. As a translator, you’re not only concerned about the right terminology and correct grammar. What makes it interesting is that language always is connected to culture. The author has written his text from the perspective of his own culture. The job of the translator is to transpose this text to the culture of the intended readers. Just a quick example: in German, especially in scholarly texts, it is normal to build very long sentences. If I would keep this sentence structure in Dutch, the Dutch reader would find the text utterly unreadable. In a Dutch translation, I would have to thoroughly restructure this. Or, when translating business correspondence, it is very important to correctly asses the level of (in)formality which is appropriate in a specific case. And then there always are those expressions and idiom which are simply untranslatable. This is where the creativity comes in. How do you translate those typical German or English expressions into a different language? You need to be a creative writer in the target language to be able to do that.

In this weblog I intend to address some of these issues as I encounter them.