For 15 years I worked as a full-time staff translator in a boutique translation agency specialising in intellectual property, mainly translating patents from French to English, together with patent litigation and oppositions and trade mark documentation.
What was my translation journey?
I didn't enjoy French at school, but when I was 18 a family friend rashly thought I would be a good chaperone for her younger daughter at a holiday language school in Paris. So on my first visit to a non-English speaking country, a lifelong interest in languages began.
Fast forward to a degree in French and Spanish, eighteen months as a motorcycle messenger and a postgraduate certificate in translation, when I added Portuguese, and my translation career began as a staff translator at the international division of a major bank in the City of London, translating Spanish to English, taking Institute of Bankers classes and wading through piles of documentary credits. My next move was to reinsurance, using Spanish and Portuguese and dealing with insurance contracts and loss reports (mainly ship, aircraft and railway accidents – sometimes gruesome but interesting).
A change of language at my next job saw me using French for the UK office of a French freight forwarder, where I learned about import, export and freight movement in general (ironically topics once again coming to the fore with Brexit).
Moving away from London, I then worked as a freelancer, gaining experience in mechanical engineering and water treatment, and gaining an MSc in translation at Imperial College during this time.
The pandemic prompted a return to freelancing in December 2020, working with patent texts and technical documentation.
Photo: © Kirk Saywell