Christine Lemor-Drake – TRANSLATOR OF THE MONTH, APRIL 2011
Your blogger, Jonathan Goldberg, (himself a professional French-English translator), interviews Christine Lemor-Drake, chosen by this blog as Translator of the Month for April, 2011. Christine is a native of France who has been working as a freelance translator and interpreter in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2003. She was an Occupational Therapist in Paris, and studied languages there until she moved to San Francisco. She interpreted and translated extensively as a volunteer for various groups and non-profit organizations before she decided to study and become a professional. She likes to serve as a cultural liaison between France and the Bay Area. She is an active member of various non-profit organizations in the Bay Area and belongs to a few in France as well. Christine can be reached at Christine@appletopomme.com and her services are described at www.appletopomme.com.
I was raised and educated in France, except for the year 1960, when I lived as a baby in Cincinnati. I took English as a second language in Middle and High School. Later, for a few years, I was director of immersion programs in Great Britain for French teenagers during Easter and summer vacations. While traveling solo in Canada in 1986, I met an American man and moved to San Francisco in 1990 to start a family with him.
Jonathan: How did you come to be involved in translating and interpreting?
I studied English, Russian and Latin in Middle and High School and later Russian and Japanese at INALCO International Language Institute in Paris and always enjoyed the classes when translating into my native language. As an Occupational Therapist specializing in the emerging technology for disabled children, I had to translate most of the manuals and informally became the in house interpreter for all the non-French visitors, patients and families. After ten years in San Francisco, I felt that I was losing my vocabulary in French and was looking for a second career, as my kids were growing. In 2003, I received a Certificate in translation studies from UC Berkeley extension and established myself as a freelance translator. I slowly built up a clientele by word of mouth. I could have used my contacts to start an agency, but I prefer to be my own boss and the only employee.
Jonathan: Which do you prefer: interpreting or translating?
I enjoy both for different reasons. As an interpreter, I can use my interpersonal skills to their full potential and as a translator, I can furiously surf the net, books and dictionaries with a new purpose for each new job.
Jonathan: What is your field of specialization?
For translation, I specialize in civil status and immigration documents, as I am registered with the Consulate-General of France in San Francisco. I also translate, edit and proofread materials in the arts and humanities and I get a lot of requests for personal documents.
For interpretation, professionally, I only do community interpretation and I am often asked to interpret for various groups or at events, as I am very involved in the Bay Area French community.
Jonathan: Is there much room for interpreting in San Francisco, where you live, or do you have to travel further afield?
By choice, I only interpret locally.
Jonathan: What is the nature of your clients?
I work mainly with direct clients. I do only voiceovers for agencies.
Jonathan: You are active in the TransMUG division of the Northern California’s Translation Association. How did that come about? What is it engaged in?
TransMUG stands for Mac User Group for Translators. This is a Google group with 103 members from all over the world.
When I studied to become a translator, I was told that the use of Macintosh was not appropriate in that profession, because of the lack of translation software for that platform. Wordfast was the only one. By choice, I had never worked on a non-Apple computer since 1984, after I discovered the Macintosh working on adaptive technology for disabled people, so I decided to address that issue, and over lunch at Macworld 2003, I convinced two other translator colleagues to start a Macintosh User Group to make sure that we would not have to “learn Windows as a second language.” Two of our first group leaders now work at Apple. Yves Averous created the Google group and started a blog a few years later. We have meetings about four times a year and meet at Macworld. We used to volunteer there when Apple was running the show.
Jonathan: Do you network a lot with other professionals?
Yes. I try to attend every NCTA general meeting and I am a member of numerous French groups in the Bay Area. I refer jobs to colleagues as I refuse to translate in many specialties. I also meet with “want to be translators” to help them assess if this is a good choice for them.
Jonathan: Do you find participating in Internet translation forums, such as NCTA and the Yahoo group (both of which you and I belong to) to be instructive? Do you read linguistic blogs?
I get the email digests from the NCTA email list and answer when I have the time and I feel competent to help. I ask for advice on the NCTA, Entre nous and Yahoo group forums. I forward job requests on all these lists. I do not read many blogs and rarely ever use professional websites.
Jonathan: What are your future plans?
I plan to work as a translator and interpreter as long as I get work, I enjoy it and I can stay away from machine translation. I might attend a certification program in health care interpretation in 4 years time.