This 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):