The economic downturn has coincided with my busiest time yet. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been translating all hours of the day and even broke my rule of never working at the weekend, but in these uncertain times, I felt like I should make the most of the work available while the running is still good: I’m very aware that things could take a bad turn very quickly.
It’s the closest I’ve ever felt to “burning-out” and so when friends asked if we wanted to join them for a week’s holiday in Italy, I jumped at the chance of a much-needed break. If I carry on much longer, I’m convinced that the quality of my translations will suffer and I don’t want to disappoint my clients.
I was talking about Italy with a history teacher friend of mine, who is currently teaching the Italian unification to her pupils, and she told me the origins of the word “magenta”:

1860, in allusion to the Battle of Magenta, in Italy, where the French and Sardinians defeated the Austrians in 1859, because the brilliant crimson aniline dye was discovered shortly after the battle.

I’ll be back in just over a week, all rested and ready to translate again.

Magenta toner photo by verseguru

By | 2016-10-18T15:49:10+00:00 April 10th, 2009|Words|8 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Danilo Nogueira April 10, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Same here. Will have to raise my prices to reduce demand. Cannot handle the traffic.
    Let’s not pay any attention to clients who ask for discounts because of the crisis. They never paid us a bonus when their business was making loads of money, did they? So let us make a little more money now, that we have a tail wind.

  2. céline April 10, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    None of my clients have asked for a discount/price reduction yet, but it’s happening to a freelancer in my office, who works in a completely different industry. I wonder what she’s going to do.

  3. Simon April 10, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I had a frantically busy start of the year, but then about 2 weeks ago it was as if someone had suddenly turned off the tap. It has gone so dreadfully quiet that I am getting quite worried. I hope this is just because of Easter.

  4. Licia April 10, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Interestingly, in standard Italian “magenta” is a very dark red, more like crimson, and two alternative explanations are usually given to the origins of the name, both related to the Magenta battle:
    – a reference to the huge amount of blood lost on the battleground
    – a reference to the colour of the trousers worn by the French Zouave soldiers
    In Italy usage of “magenta” is mainly restricted to printing and computer graphics/image editing contexts and it is very unusual in standard Italian. Younger Italians who have seen it only in computer contexts tend to think of “magenta” as a colour hue between purple and pink, like the one in the picture above, which in standard Italian is more commonly described as “fucsia”.
    Enjoy your trip to Italy but do skip Magenta!

  5. céline April 10, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    @Simon: I’ve been working on 3 big projects as well as my usual, regular projects and they’re all ending at the end of April. After that, who knows? But then, isn’t that always the case for freelancers?
    @Licia: Thanks! We’re off to Tuscany and I doubt I’ll be moving very far from whatever comfy chair I can drag outside.

  6. Bela April 13, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Do you have an idea *why* you’ve had so much more work than usual this year? Why should there be an increased need for translators in times of recession? Puzzling.
    I would have said the colour of the pigment in the photo above was fuchsia, but I am told by Wikipedia that what I think of as magenta was the colour used by printers and the current magenta (used on screen) is that bright bluey pink. Hmm…
    How interesting that in Italian fuchsia has lost its ‘h’. It should really retain it since it comes from the German name ‘Fuchs’.

  7. Audrey April 13, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Things have been very quiet all March just as last year and it seemed to pick up again with the new financial year. But September to February were absolutely frantic. Has anyone experienced the same?

  8. céline April 21, 2009 at 11:23 am

    I really think it’s been a coincidence. It just happened that 3 clients had large projects at exactly the same time, only one of which is a “commercial” project, which may or may not be linked to them trying to fight the current situation. The others are part of projects which started a couple of years ago, before we all heard of “sub-prime” thingies.

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