Translator of the Month – May 2012

Each month at Lingua Translations, we like to shine light on a translator who we have particularly enjoyed working with. This month there was no hesitation amongst our project managers. A unanimous decision was made that Olivier Parrot deserved the title. We have been working with Olivier on various projects over the past year. He has completed each one efficiently and to a very high standard. An extremely talented linguist, Olivier translates from English and Japanese into his mother tongue, French. He has a wide range of specialities including IT, video games, manga, music and art! Olivier is diligent, polite and always happy to help, making him an absolute pleasure to work with.

Here’s what Olivier had to say:

Many of my Asian friends tell me that a common stereotype is that Frenchmen spend most of their time vainly discussing philosophy (with a glass of wine in hand, obviously).

Let’s be true to form, then. The jobs I do for Lingua Translations are English>French, but since I also work Japanese>French, I thought I might share some Far-Eastern wisdom with my fellow translators!

My current computer wallpaper is a work of calligraphy by Musō Soseki, a famous Buddhist monk and historical figure who lived in Japan some 700 years ago. It’s a beautiful work of art, and the text is equally interesting. It reads ‘Betsu ni kufuu nashi’, which could be interpreted as saying ‘no devising anything’ or ‘no need to think of a way to do things’. Of course the scholar had a more religious/philosophical meaning in mind when he wrote this, but it’s universal enough that we can try to see where it takes us when applied to our activities (besides, we’re free to play a little with the words, aren’t we?).

And for us?

So for us translators… This idea could point to the fact that there’s no need to devise anything when translating, we just have to do what is natural: the text already contains all that is necessary, in terms of facts, meaning, and opinions. Maybe there is ‘no need to think of a way to do things’? Sure, sometimes we get a headache trying to find the right expression, the right structure. But when we have finally found it, doesn’t it seem to be the most natural thing in the world?

We could stretch the original quote a little further still, and take it as a reference to the role of the translator itself: no need to add anything, no need to put the original text in the mould of our own ways of thinking. All we need to do is adjust ourselves so that the original text and its natural translation can simply be connected.

Is there such a thing as a natural translation already contained in the original text? And how about not leaving the mark of our personality on the text: is it such a desirable goal? Well, that’s one way to look at things, anyway. Food for thought between two jobs, perhaps… A glass of wine, anyone? Thanks to everyone at Lingua Translations, it’s always a pleasure working with you!

Well I think that’s given us all something to think about! We would like to thank Olivier for all his hard work, we’re certainly looking forward to working together on plenty more projects in the future.