Interview with Ibrahim, Professional Interpreter and Translator English / Arabic:
First things first, we would love to learn more about you: why and when did you decide to become a translator/interpreter? Where did the idea come from, and have you ever considered doing anything else?
I have been blessed with reasonably good knowledge of two languages: Arabic & English, mainly because my early education was bilingual and my university education was in the UK. As a result, I found myself translating or interpreting throughout my academic and professional life, both for business and personal use. Having spent a career in the information technology field, I finally wanted to do something different. A friend who translates in a different language group spurred me to think about translation, and my son-in-law, who is an interpreter/translator, provided the required encouragement and initiation. I have not looked back since!
How different is being a translator/interpreter from what you had expected?
Translation turned out to be a highly enjoyable, challenging and complex field; much more than I had expected, proving the adage that the more you know about something, the more complex it becomes. Conversely, we have a tendency to always oversimplify anything we do not know well.
What is, according to you, the best way to learn a foreign language? How did you learn your languages?
I began learning English at the age of 10. This is the first rule – start early! If that ship has sailed for you, the next thing you need to do is immersion in the culture of the language you are trying to learn. Live in the environment of the language and taste its usage and nuances first hand, with the natives. Courses are useful, but they can only teach you that much.
What are the challenges of being a translator/interpreter? What are the perks?
I find that the main challenge is trying to understand or anticipate the kind of translation the client seeks. Is he or she after a verbatim translation, warts and all, or simply looking to understand the content in a general sense? Does he expect you to correct obvious mistakes? What about misstatements, unfinished thoughts and unnecessary repetitions? I find these questions baffling, if not frustrating, especially when you do not have clear guidance and have no access to the client in order to clarify his expectations.
Thank you very much!