12 August 2013

Still translating

A long, long time ago - I often refer to it as BC - Before Children - I worked as a translator in a large engineering company that designed and oversaw the construction of projects pretty much all over the world. The ones I remember well were the plant for spirally welded pipes in Italy (tubificio alla saldatura ............ (forgot the rest), a sugar factory in Biafra (yes, that long ago) and plenty of projects in Russia. The two Russian translators had the largest office, they needed two typewriters and the ones for Russian were kind of prehistoric, huge and manual. Can you imagine, a manual typewriter? The rest of us had electric ones, those old IBM Selectrics to start with.
I spent many happy hours chained to my desk and my typewriter surrounded by dictionaries, typing away. The norm was 1 page an hour for translation, 4 pages for typing. There were no computers. I translated bids, specifications, contracts into both German and English, with the odd French letter thrown in.
When my first child was born, I spoke English only with her, not wanting to stick out in any way. When the second child came along, I felt more confident and spoke only German with him and it was quite cute hearing the little guy speak German. But, when he started pre-school, his English language skills were behind those of his peers and we switched to English only immediately. Bad decision in hindsight. As a teenager, he made sure to let me know that we should have toughed it out because, according to him, it is so much easier to learn a foreign language when you are young and even for a teenager it isn't easy. Really? Try that in your 50's - that's when I took Spanish classes.
Anyway .......... trying to get back on track here. I now have an adorable little granddaughter and sorting through all those children's books I had saved, I found our all-time favorite:
It's in English, but I remember well reading it to Henry in German with him cuddled into my side. I remember his little face lighting up when that book came out. So, I translated it into German this morning and sent my daughter the file (she has a copy of the book).
I happened to find another favorite book, this one in German and plan on translating it into English later today before sending everything off to Colorado.

Funny, I seem to have come full circle with the translations. And I have to admit, I enjoy translating children's books much more than those dry technical papers I used to work on.

No comments: