Number four article in our series on the secret life of a discreet animal called “the freelance translator”. Meet Mario, a translator with big ideals.
Mario, who works as a English-Italian translator with our translation agency in Paris, agreed to answer a few questions. After David, Ana and Marjorie, it’s Mario’s turn to talk about his relationship with his work within a translation service.
What do you like about the work of a freelance translator?
Some time ago, I read something someone wrote which said: “Working independently gives me the flexibility to panic when I want, precisely because of the instability of my job.” I found it quite strange… But seriously, I love this work, so there are of course several things I like. In fact, for me, if I think about it, there are two sets of reasons for loving this job: ideological and pragmatic ones.
Let’s start with the reasons you call “pragmatic”. Which are these?
For example, the fact that I can work from home: at my desk, in my chair, enjoying a cup of coffee, my refrigerator close at hand, the cat on my lap … This can be challenging at times when my private life (couple , friends, family, etc.) tries to interfere in my workspace, but it’s important to learn to set boundaries. Then there is also the advantage of the timing: although my days are quite busy, I can take things at my own pace, according to how I feel or what my needs are.
And what about the “ideological” reasons you mentioned?
Well, perhaps it may seem a bit hippie and naive, or perhaps presumptuous, but I like the idea of bringing people together, allowing people who do not understand each other to be able to do so, that ideas that were not translated and would otherwise have been kept locked up in a single country or region can be broadcast, at large… Also, translating means working to preserve people’s cultural identities, without meaning anything protectionist, reactionary or nationalistic. In my opinion, in any case, translation should fight against the uniformity and cultural homogenization of the world.
There are probably things that you don’t like so much, right?
Yes, of course … as in any relationship, there are little details about the other person that bother us. But in this case, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
So, in that case, in order to offer a translation service, do you have to be “married” to your work?
No, I don’t think so… Of course, it’s a job that can be very demanding, especially in terms of schedules and flexibility, with weekends where I need to stay in, sleepless nights… But the fact that I can work from home means that I can reconcile, quite well, in my experience, my professional and private lives.
And what are the “disadvantages” you mentioned earlier?
Flexibility is a double-edged sword: it’s all very well when I decide to go on vacation or not work on a Tuesday, but not so nice when you have to work all night to finish a project or cancel an outing with friends, scheduled for Sunday… In general, the climate of urgency in which the translator lives as a rule is sometimes quite difficult to bear. Sometimes we want the client to tell us: “Oh, you take your time, it’s not urgent.” But that’s never happened.
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