Making the Most of Languages
I have known for a while that I would love to be a translator, or at least to find a job that involves translation.
I first heard about Banana Link in February last year during Global Opportunities Week – an event taking place at the University of East Anglia (UEA) involving employers looking for volunteers and advertising for internships. A number of events were about careers using language, which sounded like the perfect opportunity for me.
Banana Link is a co-operative based in Norwich that works closely with banana and pineapple workers in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa to improve their working and living conditions.
A volunteer told me they were looking for French and Spanish translators, so I applied as soon as possible. It was a great chance for me to practise translation and I knew the experience would be great for my CV. I passed the translation test and have officially been a volunteer for Banana Link since June.
Learn new skills
This job is really convenient for me, and students in general. You can work at home and for as many hours as you want, so there is no need to worry about it taking up too much of your precious time (especially when you have a lot of university work). They do not always have texts to translate, but when they do they send an email to all the translators asking who is able to do it. There is a deadline, but you’re usually given a few days, so you never really feel under too much pressure.
I’d worked on literary translation a lot at college and university in France, but the translation of Banana Link is completely different. Literary and technical translation are two exercises that require completely different skills. While you often need to sound poetic and retain the effects of the original texts in literary translation, technical translation is more about getting each word right and remaining as close as possible to the original piece.
Don't be afraid of change
So far, I have translated a couple of reports and Power Point presentations for Banana Link, but I’ve struggled a lot with technical terms I’d never translated in English or French before. These words are often about plantations, the legal rights of workers, and laws and organisations that do not always have an official translation in French, or that I simply do not know.
Translating for Banana Link has been an incredible opportunity for me. I’ve learnt a lot in terms of translation and on a human level about plantation workers in Africa.
To help their translators, Banana Link provide a very long English/French/Spanish glossary with the technical words most commonly used, such as plantation, supply chain, guidelines, World Banana Forum etc. Although most of these terms had been translated to Spanish, there wasn’t much in French. I set myself the task of translating the whole glossary into French during the summer break. It took a lot of time and research but I completed it. It’s been useful for me and will hopefully help other translators as well.
Banana Link also offers other types of volunteering opportunities in administration, communication and research. So if you are interested in gaining valuable work experience, I recommend a visit to their website.
Anne-Sophie Kleczewski is a European English Literature student studying at the University of East Anglia. She has been a student in the UK for two years and she offers help and guidance to students on her webpage where she writes on student life at UEA – and offers cooking tips!