My sister sells tickets in a French train station and is in amost daily contact with English speakers, so she’s been sent on an English course. She has a first assessment this week, during which she’ll have to answer simple questions about herself. She asked me to provide a translation of a few sentences, just to check that she knows what she’s going to say. Among these sentences, the following: "J’ai une sœur, elle habite en Angleterre, elle a 30 ans et elle travaille sur l’Internet" (I have a sister, she’s 30, she lives in England and she works on the Internet). Here we go again. Yet another person who hasn’t got a clue about what I do for a living, but this time it’s my own sister.
Translators seem to be a bit of a mystery to most people. Our self-employed status seems to baffle them, as they can’t quite fathom how one might find clients, and how we fill our days. I often find myself struggling to describe an average day’s work. It does vary quite a lot; last week, I worked form 8am to 6pm pretty much every day, but the week before, I only worked a couple of hours in the morning three days in a row. Last week, I spent one afternoon interpreting in Lewes and translated human resources documents, but this week will be mainly taken up by subtitling Missing and finishing a big project for an English school. I think the variety of it all means that people don’t have a clear idea of what you do, and are likely to forget between two meetings.
Anyway, I did what my sister asked and faithfully translated her little blurb about herself, apart from the one sentence I mentioned earlier, for which I was a bit more creative: "I have a sister, she’s 30, she lives in England and she does my homework for me".