English to French freelance translator

Freelance translators are solitary creatures, who work in total isolation, surrounded by dictionaries and reference books. Right? Wrong! Well, I’m sure some of my colleagues still prefer to shut themselves off to craft their well-turned sentences without the distraction of fellow humans, but nowadays, a whole world of options has opened up to us. The Internet and the advent of coworking mean that more sociable translation professionals can now work wherever they like, be it in a café, in a library or, in my case, in a coworking space. Social networking tools like translators’ portals (proz, translators’ café, etc.), Twitter and Facebook allow direct communication with thousands of colleagues when we feel like talking about our industry or need help with that elusive word.

That’s it for the setting. But what does it take to be a translator? One common belief is that a translator must know a foreign language perfectly. This is important, but in fact, it is even more important to master your mother tongue. Most professional translators only translate into their mother tongue and it is crucial to be able to be an expert at manipulating it in order to convey all the intricate nuances of a document. The other useful attributes are good research skills and the ability to learn quickly in order to be able to tackle documents in different areas. A good sense of humour and excellent communication skills also essential when dealing with clients who don’t really understand the translation process, which can result in tricky situations.

As for how to work in the field of translation, there are many different paths one can follow, but this is how I became a translator. What I love most about this job is the variety of it. There is no “typical day” for me and I get to translate all sorts of documents, from the most mundane (printer manuals) to the most interesting (the conservation of marine habitats in the Channel). If you’re thinking of becoming a translator, you might find my post Advice to a translation student interesting, especially my readers’ comments.

Most translators specialise in certain areas according to their background, their education or their personal interests. I am just as comfortable with creative copy requiring an attractive and engaging style as with in-depth reports based on research. Over the years, I have worked in a number of fields and I’ve developed specialised knowledge of their particular terminology and peculiarities:

Public sector / International development

  • 1999 Activity Report (World Organisation Against Torture)
  • Reports on Children's Rights in various African and South American countries (World Organisation Against Torture)
  • Report on Human Rights in South Africa (World Organisation Against Torture)
  • Annual report on Human Rights Defenders (World Organisation Against Torture)
  • Report on Human Rights in Africa (World Organisation Against Torture)
  • Web site on Internet content filtering (ICRA: www.icra.org)
  • US Government agency articles (Economic Reform Today)
  • Documents on intellectual property for the World Trade Organisation
  • Clandestine immigration (Eurotunnel / UK Home Office)
  • Home Office presentation on criminality
  • Home Office asylum seekers reason statements
  • Articles on sustainable development for the World Bank Institute
  • Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors documents on geographic information systems and sustainable development
  • North Staffordshire information documents for asylum seekers and refugees
  • Information brochure for the Marine Accidents Investigation Branch (British Department for Transport)
  • Report on international development and donor accountability requirements in Africa
  • Article on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for the Agency for International Trade Information and Cooperation
  • Presentation on governance in Sierra Leone
  • Background documents for EU summit on transport and public private partnerships
  • Evaluation of aid modalities (General Budget Support) in seven countries
  • Report on post-disaster reconstruction and the transition from humanitarian relief
  • Proposal on economic advice to the European Commission delegation in Kigali
  • Study of HLI (Highly Labour-Intensive) programs in Madagascar
  • Monthly newsletter on Security Sector Reform (SSR)
  • Report on putting aid on budget in Mali
  • Study on the rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers in Colombia
  • Bid for a project on the rehabilitation and reintegration of children/young offenders in Togo
  • Report on the Education For All Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI)
  • Report on Sector Budget Support (SBS) in African countries
  • Aid assessment in several African countries
  • Disaster preparedness planning guide and toolkit
  • Financial Times articles on economy and finance
  • Report on resource governance and mineral conflict in the DRC
  • Articles on charter cities
  • Training manual on enhancing the political participation of women and youth
  • Paper on sustainable livelihoods in informal economies
  • Manual on disaster risk reduction
  • Study on young slum dwellers as agents of change
  • Article on planning in African cities
  • Independent Comprehensive Evaluation of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement

Environment / Wildlife

  • Air pollution report for East Sussex County Council
  • Brochure on energy saving for Lewes Council
  • Web site for animal lovers
  • Canac products for pets
  • LIFE project on strategies to improve the environment in Europe
  • Interreg II and III projects on Environmental stewardship for East Sussex County Council and Nord-Pas de Calais (over 5 years)
  • Documents on waste management in East Sussex and the Rouen region (Interreg III, over 2 years)
  • Book on ladybirds (Darren J. Mann, Ladybirds, natural pest control)
  • Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors documents on geographical information systems
  • Documents on Environmental Management Systems (EMS)
  • Documents on waste reduction at Kent County Council
  • Exhaustive environmental study of the West coast of Morocco for the Moroccan government
  • Documents on the preservation of beaches for East Sussex County Council
  • Documents on the preservation of marine life
  • Documents on waste management
  • Documents on landfill sites, material recovery facilities, sorting centres, incinerators, leachate treatment centres and recycling centres
  • Documents on composting/recycling and energy recovery
  • Resource pack for teachers on coastal preservation
  • Magazine on renewable energies in Europe


  • Tourist brochure on the David Livingstone Centre
  • Tower of London information signs/boards
  • Web site on tourist guides (www.wcities.com)
  • East Sussex County Council Interreg II project
  • Rother District Council Interreg project on transfrontier tourism
  • Bulletin for a golf resort
  • Interreg III project on regeneration of Folleville and Rye through their medieval past
  • East Sussex County Council Brochure on events in the region during summer 2004
  • Rye Partnership tourism literature
  • British Airways Holidays brochure
  • Bougainvillea beach resort website and brochure
  • Cycling route leaflets for Sustrans
  • Touristic leaflets on Edinburgh and Glasgow
  • Brochure on the Falkirk Wheel, Scotland
  • Brochures on hotel resorts
  • Glasgow bid for the title of UNESCO city of music
  • Documentation and website on the Commonwealth Games 2014
  • Guide on travelling in Ethiopia


  • Marketing and internal documents, brochures, leaflets for a large company selling financial products
  • Presentation for bank products
  • Customer literature for a hotel chain
  • Brochure on home furnishing range
  • Product description for an outdoor company
  • Part of the website of a company specialised in digital photography
  • Part of the website for a low-cost airline
  • Ad campaign for digital photography products
  • Description of footwear for sports
  • Press releases, product descriptions and marketing documents for a company specialised in sports products
  • Part of the website of a manufacturer of transportation solutions
  • Articles on commercial systems
  • Promotional literature for a big airline company
  • Promotional literature for a company specialised in computers, laptops, servers, printers and more
  • Cerestar website
  • Skrivanek Translation Services website
  • Translator's website
  • Promotional literature for car hire company
  • Documents on the services provided by an Internet portal
  • Promotional literature for a well-known sports brand
  • Documentation on a new device tracking runners' performance
  • Documents and labels for a range of shower gels
  • Job search platform


  • Employees skill assessment software
  • Presentation on Product Lifecycle management
  • Project management course for chartered surveyors)
  • Presentation on Lean and Sig Sigma
  • Production management system
  • University management assessment
  • Internal newsletters
  • Internet portal employee performance evaluation process
  • Clients questionnaires
  • Car company portal for their dealers
  • Documents on operational excellence and commercial process management
  • Documents on data management solutions and business content management


Fitness / Bodybuilding / Sport

  • I translate articles for a popular monthly magazine on fitness and bodybuilding (1,000,000+ words so far)
  • Translation of the Laws of cricket
  • Brochures for golf resorts in Spain


I have subtitled numerous Hollywood films, directors' commentaries and documentaries. Films include Charlotte Gray (Gillian Armstrong, 2001), Jeepers Creepers (Victor Salva, 2001), episodes of The Simpsons, Teen Wolf (Rod Daniel, 1985), Forty days and forty nights (Michael Lehmann, 2002), I'll Be There (Craig Ferguson, 2003), The Life of David Gale (Alan Parker, 2003), Jesus Christ Superstar (Norman Jewison, 1973) and many more. Directors' commentaries include Black Hawk Down (Ridley Scott, 2001), ED TV (Ron Howard, 1999), Charlotte Gray (Gillian Armstrong, 2001), From Hell (Albert and Allen Hughes, 2001), Back to the Future 1 (Robert Zemeckis, 1985), About a Boy (Chris and Paul Weitz, 2002), Apollo 13 (Ron Howard, 1995), Red Dragon (Brett Ratner, 2002), The Life of David Gale (Alan Parker, 2003), 2 Fast 2 Furious (John Singleton, 2003), Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004) and many more.