Proust Questionnaire – feat. Eve Bodeux

ata-fld-newsletter-logoThis is part of a continuing a series of Proust questionnaires answered by members of the FLD Leadership Council. Eve Lindemuth Bodeux is serving her second two-year term as Administrator of the French Language Division. In the 1990s, she was editor of the FLD newsletter (when it was still printed on paper!). A French to English translator, she has been active in the translation industry for more than two decades. She specializes in high-level business documents, international development and digital marketing texts. She has authored many articles for industry professionals, clients and the business community as well as her book for language professionals, Maintaining Your Second Language. She can be reached at www.bodeuxinternational.com.

How did you get involved in translation?

When I moved to Colorado in the 1990s, I was looking for a job doing “something international.” I ended up getting invaluable industry experience working at two translation agencies before I went out on my own. I have a background in both multilingual project management and French to English translation as well as two master’s degrees—from both an American university and a French one. I have been a member of the American Translators Association for almost 20 years and the organization has been a wonderful resource for me as the industry and my own business have evolved over the years.

What subject areas do you translate?

I translate corporate marketing content, business documents and many RFPs. I also translate international development documents for NGOs active in francophone countries. In recent years, leveraging my experience with my own bilingual children, I have also translated several children’s books that have been published.

What job would you do if you weren’t a translator?

I have heard the saying that, “no one ever wants to be the backup singer.” I understand that this means that people usually want to be in the lead, not in the background, but, taking it more literally, I want to say that, as a life-long alto, I always thought it would be fabulous to be a professional backup singer. It would be less stressful than being the star, but still lots of fun. A few years ago, I saw Johnny Hallyday in concert in Los Angeles and he had a powerful group of backup singers, so that confirmed that this would definitely be my “dream” job in an alternate universe.

What is your greatest strength as a translator?

My family and educational backgrounds have provided me with in-depth cultural knowledge that is often the key to understanding the meaning of original French texts. I build on that by reading a lot in French, watching French movies, keeping up with French news, staying active with the French community where I live, and visiting France often. In addition to strong source and target language skills, cultural knowledge is imperative for accuracy in translation.

Tell us about a particularly interesting project you have worked on.

A few years ago, I translated several seasons of a French-language TV series about women giving birth in different parts of the world. It was fascinating to learn about the conditions under which women give birth in different places and how this rite of passage is viewed by cultures around the globe.

Where would you most like to live?

I have lived in Colorado for over 20 years and adore this state, my town and my own neighborhood. I love traveling and meeting new people and exploring new places, but I am proud to call Colorado home.

Do you have a favorite French or English book?

I like reading memoirs as well as, unsurprisingly, books about France. Two in English that can be read as a pair that I come back to over the years are My Life in France by Julia Child and Clémentine in the Kitchen by Samuel Chamberlain. Child’s book focuses on immediate post-war France while Chamberlain’s book focuses on pre-WWII France, and they both lovingly discuss food.

I picked up one of my go-to French-language books at a museum outside Paris. It’s entitled Femmes du XVIIe siècle : en verve and is a compilation of quotes from women in the 17th century on various topics such as friendship, beauty, loyalty, happiness, jealousy and others. You’d be surprised at how modern their ideas were.

Tell us something surprising about yourself.

I was born and raised in Alaska and am one of seven siblings. As I mentioned, I do love Colorado, but you can’t take the Alaska out of the girl and I go back often to visit.

If you could translate anything in the world, what would it be and why?

I have to decline to answer this directly because I like translating a range of content and think that the variety of topics we are offered is part of the magic of what we do. It is also part of what makes translation intellectually stimulating. My answer, then, is that I’d like to continue to receive interesting and varied projects.

What is your greatest achievement?

I don’t know if it is my greatest achievement, but I am proud of having released my book Maintaining Your Second Language in 2016. It was a labor of love and it thrills me to be able to share my ideas on language learning and retention with others who are passionate about language.

Proust Questionnaire – feat. Andie Ho

ata-fld-newsletter-logoThis is part of a continuing series of Proust questionnaires answered by members of the FLD Leadership Council. Andie Ho is a French-to-English translator to the food industry.

How did you get involved in translation?

I earned my degree in French but didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, so after graduation I took a year off to work. During that year, I met a math grad student at Dartmouth who discovered that I also have a formal math background. He asked me to translate a 50 page research paper by an eighteenth-century Swiss mathematician for a project he was working on. I agreed, not knowing what I was getting myself into. That first translation was embarrassingly terrible, but it introduced me to translation, and the very next year I began my master’s degree in the field. Since then, I have continued doing math translations for the same person, and we are working on publishing one of them.

What subject areas do you translate?

My areas of specialization are food, cosmetics, and law. It sounds like a strange hodge-podge of subjects until you think about it: France is known for its gourmet food and high-end cosmetics. As for law, well, everybody needs contracts.

Tell us about a particularly interesting project you have worked on.

I translated some divorce documents for a wealthy couple. Their antics were worthy of a reality TV show, and the descriptions of their assets were unreal. I didn’t even know flooring could be designer-label!

Tell us something surprising about yourself.

I performed in Carnegie Hall when I was 16. My high school orchestra entered a competition and was one of three groups chosen to perform. We raised $60,000 for the travel expenses, and our saint of a teacher, only a few years out of college herself at the time, managed to take 50 unruly teenagers to one of the most chaotic cities in the country without losing any of us. If you’re a music aficionado, do yourself a favor and attend a concert in Carnegie Hall at least once in your life. The acoustics are phenomenal.

Do you have a personal motto?

I have a sticky note in my office that says “Why not me?” It’s not intended as a complaint; rather, it’s a reminder that I can achieve the same success as the people I look up to if I simply set my mind to it and work hard. Sometimes I dismiss an idea or goal because I assume it’s out of my reach, but if I just sit down and think it through, I can almost always come up a with a feasible game plan. I’m a pretty good problem-solver.

What’s your favorite word or phrase in French or English?

My favorite French word is si (the one that means “yes” in response to a negative question). English doesn’t have an equivalent, which occasionally causes confusion.

“Didn’t you like the movie?”

“Yes.”

Yes you liked the movie or yes you didn’t like the movie?”

In French, there is no ambiguity.

What words or phrases do you overuse?

It’s not a word or phrase, but I have an unhealthy affinity for the em-dash. I use them à toutes les sauces. I know I have a problem, but I managed to get through this entire questionnaire without using a single one!

Proust Questionnaire – feat. Jennifer Bader

ata-fld-newsletter-logoThis is part of a continuing series of Proust questionnaires answered by members of the FLD Leadership Council. Jennifer Bader is an ATA-certified French-to-English translator specializing in corporate, legal, and financial translations. She is also a practicing attorney and and a founding partner of Provenzano Granne & Bader LLP. She has been a translator since 2011 and an attorney since 1999.

How did you get involved in translation?

I had left my job as a corporate attorney and decided to homeschool my kids. I didn’t want to stop working completely, so I started trying to think of what I could do from home with a flexible schedule. Suddenly I remembered a translation company that had come into our Paris law offices years before to pitch their services, and I thought, “Gee, I wonder if any of those translation companies take freelance translators?” As we all know, the answer to that is yes!

What subject areas do you translate?

Because of my professional background, I primarily translate legal, financial, and other business documents.

What talent would you most like to have?

This is not related to translation, but I wish I had a beautiful singing voice. Oh, well.

What is your greatest strength as a translator?

I think having been to law school in both the U.S. and France and having worked as a lawyer in both countries are my greatest strengths. I didn’t have translation credentials when I started, but I was so used to writing and so familiar with the kinds of documents I was translating that it was a very comfortable fit.

Tell us about a particularly interesting project you have worked on.

I did one translation that was completely different from my usual work. A children’s author approached me. She was writing a picture book about Jules Léotard, the 19th century French acrobat after whom the leotard is named, and who was the inspiration for the song “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze.” She asked me to translate portions of his memoirs, which she had found scanned into Google Books. It was written in a very dated style and challenging to translate.

Where would you most like to live?

Having recently moved back to NYC from Baltimore, I’m pretty darn happy with where I live right now! I do miss Paris terribly, though. I would love to be able to spend more time there.  I’m definitely a big city person.

What’s your favorite word or phrase in French or English?

A very old French friend of mine always tells me, “Je te connais comme si je t’avais tricotée.” I love that phrase.

Do you have a favorite French or English book?

This is tough, since I have so many. My favorite area of literature overall is the 19th century novel. I think if I had to pick, my favorite French book would be Zola’s L’Assommoir, and my favorite English book would be Maugham’s Of Human Bondage (though that’s early 20th, not 19th).

What words or phrases do you overuse?

Do you mean in translating or in real life? In translating, I probably overuse “with respect to.” However, I would like to take this opportunity to defend all lawyers by stating that I have never in my life used the phrase “party of the first part.”

Tell us something surprising about yourself.

Hmm. I guess my translator friends mostly don’t know that I was a very serious ballet dancer when I was a child and teenager. I thought hard about whether I wanted to go straight to college or first try auditioning for ballet companies. In the end, I didn’t want to “ruin” the college experience by starting older than everyone else, and I thought I needed a more intellectual career. I stopped dancing altogether because I couldn’t bear the fact that it wasn’t leading to a career anymore. One day my sister will drag me back into class, she’s promised me.

What is your favorite quote?

I know I said my favorite literature is the 19th century novel, but my favorite quote is from a 20th century poem. Actually, my favorite quote is the entire poem: “Mother to Son,” by Langston Hughes.

If you could translate anything in the world, what would it be and why?

Most (or all) of my favorite books have been translated already. I guess I must have very conventional taste. I would love to translate a non-fiction book at some point, though—maybe a biography. Or, if it hasn’t been translated, a schoolbook that captures an era in French education, like Le Tour de la France par deux enfants. On a day-to-day basis, my favorite documents to translate are briefs in legal cases with long and complicated factual backgrounds, and preferably individuals rather than companies as the parties to the litigation. Those are a lot of fun.

What are some of your favorite translation or language resources?

For legal writing, and in fact for writing in general, anything by Bryan Garner is wonderful. For translation specifically, I use iate quite a bit (the European Union’s terminology database), and the Council of Europe’s French-English Legal Dictionary.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Being sworn into the Paris Bar was pretty exciting. I got to wear a black robe.

Do you have a hero?

Hillary Clinton. Is that too political?

Do you have a personal motto?

See “Mother to Son,” above.

Proust Questionnaire – feat. Gay Rawson

ata-fld-newsletter-logoThis is part of a continuing series of Proust questionnaires answered by members of the FLD Leadership Council. Gay Rawson is a professor of French at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.  She also has over 20 years of experience as a freelance FR <> ENG translator and interpreter working across of a variety of subject areas from local to international levels.

Do you have a personal motto?

Courage!  My advisor for the MA thesis used to sign her emails with this and now I do.  Seems like everyone can always use this.  I also try to remember these words: “Be Kind; Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle” apparently attributed to the Reverend John Watson.  I find it helps me frame my interactions so that I am more of a listener and problem solver.

What talent would you most like to have?

I wish I knew every language so that I could communicate effectively and speak to everyone in the language of their heart.

How did you get involved in translation?

I was doing a Ph.D. in French at the University of Iowa and they needed someone to translate and interpret for some political asylum cases at the Legal Clinic.  I was looking for extra money and interested in using my French in different ways so I applied.  I eventually was chosen to work on the project and it was life changing.  It was both humbling and powerful to be able to help tell someone’s story and, hopefully, play a role in their quest to find peace in their lives.

What is your greatest strength as a translator?

My path to translation and interpretation is not traditional.  I have eclectic interests that have allowed me to gather unique experiences.  When no one else wanted to do it and when no one else thought it was interesting, I tried it.  If we take cultural and linguistic competency as a given (I think this is the most important basic feature that a translator must have), I think my greatest strength is that I have a wealth of diverse subject areas and experiences that are applicable in surprising ways to most any situation.  I encourage my students to take full advantage of their degree in the liberal arts at my university (I am a professor at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota).  A true passion for lifelong learning and a natural curiosity have been my greatest gifts and are my greatest strengths as a translator.

What are some of your favorite translation or language resources?

I love collecting new resources all the time!  I have a webpage with some of my favorites: https://freefrenchresources.weebly.com/.  Please send me any of your suggestions and I would be happy to add to this collection.

Lately I’ve been trying to learn slang to be able to relate more to my students (and kids).  Some of the websites we play with for that (not applicable in many situations per se but interesting):

Amusez-vous bien!

Proust Questionnaire – feat. Beth Smith

ata-fld-newsletter-logoThis is part of a continuing series of Proust questionnaires answered by members of the FLD Leadership Council. Beth Smith is a French to English translator specializing in tourism, advertising/marketing, and the psychology of happiness (an accidental specialization developed when translating the book The Finance of Happiness by Renaud Gaucher).

How did you get involved in translation?

I did my first translation back in grad school. One of the professors was editing a special edition of a journal and needed a bunch of people to translate texts, so he asked me to translate an excerpt from a Haitian novel. I enjoyed it, I got paid, but never really thought about translation again. Several years later (in 2007, I think), a French friend who is a filmmaker asked me if I would translate one of his scripts into English. I enjoyed it so much that I started researching translation, did the NYU certificate, and here I am.

Do you have a favorite French or English book?

I’m going to reveal my lowbrow tendencies here, but in English, I’d have to say the Harry Potter series. Ok, it’s not a single book, but I’m not going to pick one over the others. I’ve read the series several times and have spent much time over the years discussing the books and movies with friends, students, acquaintances, random people, errr… anyway. Harry Potter.

In French, I’m really torn, but I’m going to go with Boris Vian’s L’écume des jours. I read it for the first time in a grad school class, and struggled a bit, as I had only been studying French for four years at that point. But I love Vian’s inventiveness and the way he plays with language, plus there’s such heartbreak at the end. In a good way.

Where would you most like to live?

The obvious answer is “somewhere in France,” as that was something I dreamed of for a long time. But in the summer of 2014, I went to visit a friend in The Netherlands, and he took me to the island of Texel for a day. For some reason, I completely fell in love with it: the beach, the boats in the harbor, the small towns, the cute houses, everything. I’m not even a beach person! So I have a semi-plan to eventually move to Texel. At the moment, I’m still teaching full-time as well as translating, but eventually I’ll take the plunge into full-time freelancing. Then who knows?

What is your favorite quote?

What do you want? A medal or a chest to pin it on?

This is kind of obnoxious and I’m not sure it’s an actual quote, but my dad used to say it to me all the time when I was a kid, and it makes me laugh. I never got a medal, so I should have asked for the chest!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Buying a house. My finances were a shambles for several years after grad school.

Proust Questionnaire – feat. Carolyn Yohn

ata-fld-newsletter-logoThis is part of a continuing series of Proust questionnaires answered by members of the FLD Leadership Council. Carolyn Yohn translates French and Hungarian legal and academic texts into American English under the name Untangled Translations.

How did you get involved in translation?

With earning a language degree in mind, I spent my first year of college in Switzerland at a small, dual-accredited American school. About a month in, the career counselor called about a job she found that immediately made her think of me: one of our politics professors was writing a book on Switzerland’s relationship to the EU, and the Euro currency specifically. He could read his Italian and German sources but needed help accessing information in French. I spent the year poring over books, articles, and speeches, summarizing everything in English and picking the stand-out quotes to translate more completely for him. To this day, I don’t believe he has finished his book, but the project taught me just how valuable my language skills were—and that I could get paid to use them.

What subject areas do you translate?

I translate French and Hungarian texts related to law and political/economic history, with a substantial sideline translating documents for visa applications. Book-length non-fiction projects are my favorite.

Tell us about a particularly interesting project you have worked on.

Soul Stories, my first Hungarian book translation, is on its way to the printer now. What a fun ride getting there! I originally connected with the author, a journalist, through an expat mailing list for Bay-Area Magyars. He had written several popular collections of poetic bursts of encouragement in a charming prose style and was interested in self-publishing English translations of his favorites in a new volume. It was a leap of faith to take on the project, and I have no regrets.

Where would you most like to live?

Budapest and Montréal are definitely on my list of “some day” homes. For now, the Sacramento, California area treats me well; it’s nice to have so many days with good weather to get outdoors.

Do you have a favorite French or English book?

I actually collect copies of Le Petit Prince in languages that I have at least dabbled in. So far, that includes the French original and translations into English, Hungarian, and Swahili. I even have a beautiful pop-up book version. Some day, I’ll add Italian, German, and Romanian translations to the collection.

Tell us something surprising about yourself.

I recently became a PADI-certified SCUBA diver! I grew up by the Atlantic Ocean and might as well be a fish, but being able to dive several stories underwater for 30-40 minutes at a time took the experience of swimming to a new level. The final training dive was to 35ft at Lake Tahoe (about 60ft adjusted for altitude). We played tic-tac-toe on the sandy bottom, annoyed a few crawfish, and watched a school of silvery fish shimmer by. Magic!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Some volunteer translations I provided helped a client of a Georgetown law clinic earn political asylum. The young attorneys working his case sent me a photo of the group in front of the courthouse on the day asylum was granted—the man’s big grin of joy and relief reminds me just how personal translation work is. Whether we see the end result or not, what we do to help people communicate truly touches lives.

À Propos: ATA President-Elect and FLD Member Corinne McKay Answers Our Proust Questionnaire

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Find our more about our Proust Questionnaire!

Corinne McKay, CT, is a former administrator of the French Language Division and current President-Elect of the American Translators Association. 

How did you get involved in translation? Well, maybe it was destiny, because my birthday is International Translation Day (no kidding!). But after getting a Master’s in French Literature and teaching high school French for 8 years, I had a baby and wanted a change. So in 2002 I sat at the kitchen table with my baby daughter and the phone book, and started cold-calling translation companies to find out how to apply. 13 years later, here I am!

What subject areas do you translate? Mostly international development, corporate communications and books. I translate for internationally-funded development projects in West Africa and Haiti, for French universities and law firms, and I recently translated two books: a murder mystery set in Egypt and a memoir by a Sherpa written in the 1950s.

What is your greatest strength as a translator? I’m persistent: whether it’s researching a term, or finding a colleague to answer a question, or finding a new client, it takes a lot to crush my spirit!

If you could translate anything in the entire world and get paid for it, what would it be and why? I love translating outdoor adventure and mountaineering memoirs (kind of a niche within a niche), and fortunately the French and Swiss write a lot of them! My absolute dream project would be to translate Louis Lachenal’s Carnets du Vertige, a memoir about the first expedition to successfully summit an 8,000-meter peak. So if anyone has an “in” with his heirs, let me know!

Please tell us something about one of the most interesting projects you have ever worked on. The text of the Sherpa memoir I just translated was like a game of telephone, because the Sherpa author was illiterate in his own language and didn’t speak French. So he dictated the book in English to one of the other expedition members, through an interpreter; then yet another person translated it into French, for reasons unknown. I’d love to see how closely my translation resembles the “original” English!

What linguistic resource (dictionary, glossary, website, etc.) would you like to share with our readers? Linguee: lots of people probably use it already, but it’s great for researching words or phrases in context.

Do you have a favorite word or phrase in French or English that you’d like to share? When I started taking French in middle school, our textbook included a photo essay called “Le beau paysage sauvage du Mont Saint-Michel.” Mont Saint-Michel is still one of my favorite places in the world, maybe because of that story, so the phrase pops into my head a lot!

Outside of works on T&I, is there any book (fiction or non-fiction) that you enjoyed reading that you would like to recommend to others? It can be in either English or French. I don’t read much fiction, much less historical fiction, but I became absolutely addicted to Hilary Mantel’s Henry VIII series, including Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. I regularly stalk Amazon for the third volume in the series, which is supposed to come out this year.

Do have a funny “food” translation story you’d like to share? Tell us about it! I find ordering coffee in France or Switzerland to be surprisingly difficult, and it’s a major issue because I am a caffeine enthusiast! It always strikes me as odd that in the US, we call espresso drinks by Italian names, but not the Italian names that Italians use; and then there’s the “no cappuccino after dinner” custom to deal with. But it’s hard to go wrong with un grand crème at any time!

What is something about you that has nothing to do with translation that is interesting or surprising? I play the Renaissance lute (on a very amateur level!). I started about two years ago and now play in a little early music ensemble with two women who’ve taken me on as their community service project; but I don’t dress up in Renaissance costumes (yet!).

What is your favorite quote? “To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

What have we not asked that you’d like to answer? Why do I love the FLD? That’s a good question! Because it’s given me a network of wonderful colleagues who will help with terminology questions at any hour of the day or night, because it helped me build the confidence to become more involved in ATA, and because the FLD always has the best division dinner at the conference!

Thanks, Corinne!

public domain photo of Marcel Proust

À Propos: ATA President and FLD Member Caitilin Walsh Answers Our Proust Questionnaire

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Find our more about our Proust Questionnaire!

Caitilin Walsh, CT, the current ATA President and FLD member, translates from French and German to American English. 

How did you get involved in translation? Like many, by accident: I wanted to teach language but after I earned my foreign degree, I was told I needed another two years of graduate courses in the US. A private language school offered me a job to teach certificated teachers enough French to pass their endorsement, so I decided to pursue translation full-time instead. The irony is that I ended up teaching after all—teaching translation!

What subject areas do you translate? I do a lot of geeky stuff (like software manuals or corporate IT documentation, and even a few games), and I love anything that lets me be über-creative, like marketing. I’ve done a couple of book-length food-related translations, and those are immensely satisfying, though I tend to gain weight when I work on them.

What is your greatest strength as a translator? My background is in the theater, so I’m good with creative problem solving, and my dad was an engineer who let us take things apart, so I’m pretty good at understanding how things work.

Please tell us something about one of the most interesting projects you have ever worked on. I worked on the French version of Trivial Pursuit as a question-a-day computer calendar. My job was not to translate, but to come up with three wrong answers to make the questions multiple choice. I dog-eared a copy of the Quid (this was before the Internet!). Every time someone called me, I would ask them a Trivial Pursuit question; if they got it wrong, that was one I didn’t have to look up!

Do you have a favorite word or phrase in French or English that you’d like to share? That’s a bit like asking me what my favorite book is—the others might get jealous. I do love the way French allows for neologisms and playing with the language, and take delight in reading new entries in the J.O.

Outside of works on T&I, is there any book (fiction or non-fiction) that you enjoyed reading that you would like to recommend to others? It can be in either English or French. I’m incredibly behind on my reading pile: ask me after I step down as President in November!

What is something about you that has nothing to do with translation that is interesting or surprising? I’m synesthetic. Everything I read, or hear has color or texture. A loud room is blinding, and playing in an orchestra is psychedelic. The real irony is that I’m married to a man who is colorblind: I’m seeing colors where there are none, and he can’t see the ones that are there!

What is your favorite quote? That’s a hard one. I love J.M. Barrie in Peter Pan: “When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” There’s a lot of magic in life if you are willing to quiet your thoughts and listen to your heart. But on my more serious days (and when dealing with difficult people), I ponder Goethe, “Behavior is a mirror in which everyone displays [their] own image.”

Thanks, Caitilin!

public domain photo of Marcel Proust