Found in translation

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On September 22, a collective groan rose from the Berkeley Circle. British prime minister Boris Johnson  had made a statement in Washington that  began, “I just think it’s time for some of our dearest friends around the world to ‘prenez un grip’ about all this. ‘Donnez-moi un break’ […].”

 

Now that he had “delivered”  Brexit, would the prime minister’s promise to “energise the country”mean making foreign languages into a music-hall joke?

 

Berkeleyites, whose daily bread is served in a foreign tongue, needed reassurance. The respect they feel for every member of the great family of national languages appeared not to be shared by the top political representative of one of them. Were other languages to be slighted in favour of “going it alone”? Was it wisecracking that Brexiteers were going to “take back control” of?

 

The Circle’s good fortune was to have comfort on hand. Juliet Haydock came to talk to us about how translation works in our contemporary world. That it looms large, sustained by a huge structure, can be seen by a glance at the European Union.  The EU has twenty-four official working languages. All of its legislation must be translated into each one. Members of the European Parliament can each speak in any one of the official languages, with every word translated into all the others.

 

Juliet Haydock could have kept us interested by simply relating how she managed to get through some of the most difficult exams a translator can face. She earned admittance to the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL), the Association Traduttori e Interpreti (AITI), and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI),  where she added the honour of being named a Fellow.

 

She could also have chosen to explain in detail the complete translation service she offers. The product of thirty years of experience, this is so much more than a simple, correct rendering of words. It involves preproduction, production and post-production stages. A preparation process deals with administrative and technical concerns as well as linguistic aims. The actual translation is subject to multiple controls and verification including a final overview by an external reviser. Client feedback is carefully considered and archiving completes the service.

 

For our pleasure, Juliet decided to let her conversation follow the meandering lines of her life as a translator and more. She studied biology at York University and feels it and an ability to write lucid English probably served her better in her work to come than a language degree. After work for the health service, she yielded to a dream and departed to live in Italy. That the future specialist in pharmaceuticals, transport engineering, and EU affairs had a romantic side is part of the charm of  Juliet’s story. The fact that she earned another degree, a BA in English Literature and the history of ideas indicates the breadth of her interests.

 

Juliet learned Italian working for three years at the United Nations in Rome. She then moved to Turin where she spent four years as a translator, added Spanish to her capabilities, and acquired solid grounding in medical matters and auto plus rail engineering. Her vocation as a translator was now set and fixed. Staying clear of agencies, she would proceed step by step becoming part of professional bodies, doing some teaching, and perfecting her own translation service. 

 

In Juliet’s view, the translator is not a solitary figure sparring with words in a third-millennium version of a garret. She has always encouraged cooperation and sharing, been a mentor, and even created her own paid internships. In 2015 she moved to Cardiff in Wales and joined what she thinks of as a translation community, co-working being the rule.

 

 

Over the years, Juliet’s affectionate attachment to Italy has never faltered. She spends four months of every year at her property in Capena north of Rome. There in the Sabine Hills, she organises a working retreat for translators. Romance has not fled but merged with the practical. She has created a website, hiddenlazio.com, that seeks out the beauties of place with memories that stretch from the Etruscans, through Hannibal the Carthaginian to Giuseppe Garabaldi and beyond.

 

Peter Byrne