29 May 2018

ITI Profile: Claire Cox FITI

We talk to Claire Cox, French and German to English translator and a member of ITI's Professional Development Committee, in the latest in our ITI Profile series.

What made you decide that translation was the career for you?

Claire Cox.

I’d always loved the translation aspects of my degree course, and when it came to deciding what to do on my year abroad, my university, Salford, was very keen on language students doing work placements rather than studying at foreign universities. I had worked for the NatWest Bank in my university vacations and had actually managed to find a job with them in Frankfurt for the German stint of my year abroad, but decided to ask my personal tutor if he could find me anything translation-related instead. He duly found me a post as a proof-reader in a busy translation agency in Sindelfingen and the rest is history!

You’ve been translating for over 30 years - what do you see as the biggest changes in the work over this period?

Timescales are now much shorter than they used to be: I used to regularly have weeks to do assignments, whereas requests for turnarounds within days are the norm now. The advent of computers and the internet in particular have revolutionised working practices; I used to dictate my translations on a dictaphone and have them typed up by the typing pool. We were horrified when it was mooted that we should type our own! Finally, of course, CAT tools make it much easier to ensure consistency. I set up a very detailed filing system when I worked in-house so we could track down old translations for reference, but it’s much more efficient to have technology that brings up related texts at the touch of a key…

Tell us about a recent project you’re proud of

I like to think I’m proud of all the work I produce, and of course much of my work is confidential as I work in the nuclear sector, so I can’t really discuss it here. However, I really enjoyed a big project I did a year or so ago in one of my minor specialisms, food & drink. It was for a large restaurant chain who were setting up a new branch in the UK and ranged from menus, recipes, marketing material to contractual texts, events management and building/IT supplies. I outsourced the parts that weren’t in my comfort zone, but coordinated the whole project – and loved translating about food for once!

You’ve recently joined the ITI Professional Development Committee – what aspects of professional development particularly interest you?

I am passionate about the fact that we all need to keep on learning and developing, even after nearly 35 years in the profession, as in my case. I find it very sad when experienced colleagues take the view that they don’t need to do any more. We learn 'on the job' all the time, of course, but it’s rejuvenating to keep on our toes with other aspects of the profession too, be it writing skills, technological skills or simply finding out how colleagues do things and learning from them.

Do you have any priorities this year for your own CPD?

Having attended the “Translate In Cambridge” workshop in 2016, and thoroughly enjoyed the in-depth approach to wordsmithery, I’m very much looking forward to the German equivalent to be held just outside Berlin at the end of May: “Translate Better”, organised by the BDÜ and the ATA. It’s so good to exchange notes with like-minded colleagues and I hope to come back as invigorated as I did from Cambridge.

You’re a regular blogger – what do you like about it and do you follow any other bloggers?

I originally started blogging as a means of writing what I wanted to say for a change, rather than merely translating others’ words, much as I love what I do. After so long in the business, I felt I had a lot to pass on to less experienced colleagues and it was a means of giving something back to the profession. I’ve also really enjoyed the writing process in itself; shades of all those stories I used to write as a child! I follow a good many bloggers, but particularly like Marie Brotnov’s Translation Wordshop, Nikki Graham’s My Words for a Change, and Emma Goldsmith’s Signs and Symptoms of Translation, especially her clear and concise Trados articles.

What do you value about your ITI membership?

I only joined the ITI relatively late in my career, as I worked in-house originally and then worked part-time until my children were older. When I finally took the plunge, it was because it felt like the right next step for me professionally and my decision has been vindicated many times over. I love the support and camaraderie from colleagues and the fact that we represent a body of qualified practitioners, maintaining standards in the profession and moving forward as we go. The ITI sets a high benchmark for quality and it’s essential to be a part of that if you want to succeed as a translator or interpreter in the UK.

What do you see as the key to a successful translator/client relationship?

Maintaining a friendly working relationship is essential, and trying to offer more than simply what has been asked. Clients are often unfamiliar with the world of translation and might not know all the ins and outs, so we need to do everything we can to support them through the process. Going the extra mile often reaps rewards further down the line.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you feel you could give someone just starting out on their translation career?

Specialise, specialise, specialise! Find a niche you’re comfortable in and work at improving within it.

Do you have a favourite French or German film?

Now you’re asking! I’m not a great movie goer and am struggling to think of recent foreign films I’ve seen and enjoyed. I loved Les Intouchables a few years back and the light-hearted Populaire also appealed to my film-watching tastes. I’m very much for a happy ending, in life as on the silver screen. 

Claire Cox FITI