WHY NATALIE LOVES TO BE LOST IN TRANSLATION
One day it might be breast implants, the following, oysters. Translator Natalie Soper never knows what will arrive in her email inbox next.
“I do become a temporary expert in lots of things as part of this job,” laughed Natalie, who studied French and Spanish at university before completing an MA in Translation Studies.
She now translates from French and Spanish into English specialising in business documents as well as the arts and culture sector.
“Most translators have their niche, mine is business and corporate documents and I have an interest in arts and culture too, mostly because of my work at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.”
After returning from university Natalie worked as a bilingual training coordinator at Hemsley Fraser as well as being an usher at the theatre where she continues to live-caption certain performances in a voluntary capacity.
“It’s nice to still have that link with the theatre and it’s another way of indulging my love of language,” said Natalie.
Setting up her business Bellingua Translations 18 months ago, Natalie used to combine translation work with her theatre shifts but she has now decided to take the plunge and concentrate all her energies on building her business.
“I wouldn’t want to do anything else, I love language and every day is a challenge and every day offers something new,” she said.
“Lots of people I know have moved to London to work as translators but I want to make it work in Plymouth which is where I’m from and where I love living,” she said.
“You can do this kind of work anywhere as long as you have your laptop and the internet and Plymouth is a great place to have a small business.
“I can work from home one day, on the Hoe the next and I sometimes use the Regus Express hot desks in Drake Circus.
“I’m a member of the Devon Chamber of Commerce too which is a good way of networking and sharing ideas.”
There is also a very active online community of translators which Natalie is an enthusiastic part of.
“It’s great because if you’re stuck on something or just want some general advice people are really willing to help.”
In October she will be appearing on Translators on Air – an online talk show for translators and interpreters, sharing hints and tips about how to work with translation agencies.
Has she ever encountered a word she was unable to translate?
“Just once, in an extremely complex geology report which had already been translated from Chinese into French,” she said.
“I was then translating it from French into English and there were some words for fault lines that I just couldn’t translate. None of my fellow translators could help – so I had to go back to the agency who had given me the work and say I was stumped!”
Natalie’s work comes via a variety of translation agencies as well as personal recommendation and her plan is to expand her client base over the next few years and she doesn’t see online translation sites as much of a threat to her business.
“Things like Google Translate have their place but a computer can’t add context so, while it might be ok for a bit of help on holiday, important documents need the input of a skilled translator and I can’t see that changing.”
Business may be Natalie’s niche but if she could choose just one project to land in her inbox it would be a children’s book.
“It’s a really delicate art, translating writing for children, my MA was about the particular challenges of translating Alice in Wonderland and I’d love to get into that area one day.”
Brexit is one word which looks certain to be coming up a lot in the future and Natalie hasn’t yet come across a foreign language version of it.
“So far French and Spanish newspapers have also been using the word Brexit or le Brexit in the case of the French,” said Natalie.
“I anticipate seeing it in a lot of translation work in the future – it’s become quite the buzzword!”