Conferences are a great source of inspiration - Interview with translator David Murphy
This is the eighth in our series of interviews with translators from all over the globe. Translation is a very diverse industry - we want to introduce some of the people behind making the world a more multilingual place. This episode is an interview with David Murphy of www.wordofmouth.se.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I come from Ireland and have been translating for more than a decade. I am an Authorised Swedish-English translator and currently live in Brazil. I hold a Law degree from Queens' University Belfast and a Masters degree in European Intellectual Property Law from Stockholm University. I worked in the financial sector for many years before embarking on my translation career. Due to my background, I specialise in financial/legal texts. I also assist clients with Portuguese language translations and other language combinations. You can contact me via Twitter, LinkedIn and via my website.
How did you decide to be a translator? What makes you passionate about languages?
I had a flair for languages at school and enjoyed reading and writing, so in some ways my translation career has been a natural evolution. I had the good fortune to live in Sweden for many years and picked up the Swedish language pretty quickly. Having worked in a quite rigid banking environment for several years, I found it exciting and challenging to open my own language business. I started off by teaching financial/legal English but before long I began to focus my energy on translation. I immediately knew that it was the career for me and I haven't looked back since.
What have you done to improve your translation skills in the last year?
Being a translator is all about continuous learning and improvement. Hopefully with each year, I become an even better translator. I try to keep up with my languages and read newspapers and books. I also attend conferences, which are often a great source of inspiration and tips regarding translation resources.
How do you prepare for a translation project?
I do a lot of background research before commencing a new project. I only accept assignments that I am comfortable with in terms of subject-matter.
What aspects of your job are the most challenging?
Managing deadlines is the most challenging aspect of my work as translator. I translate a lot of Annual Reports and in Sweden most of this work occurs between January and April each year so this is quite a hectic period.
What excites you the most about the languages you work with?
I am fortunate to work with the Swedish language and most of my clients are listed Swedish companies. Swedish companies are pioneers within many fields. I get the chance to work on some very exciting projects for clients that are exporting cutting edge technologies all over the world. I see the innovation of Swedish companies at close hand and find it inspiring in terms of developing my own business.
What are good or bad things about freelancing?
Being a freelancer is a lifestyle choice. There is no such thing as a 9-5 day for me. I only have direct clients so I have to try to be available when my clients need me. I take time off when my clients are not working. July is a quiet month in Sweden when a lot of people are on holidays so I try to plan longer vacations during this period. We have a great deal of freedom and flexibility as freelance translators today. I was able to relocate my business from Sweden to Brazil a couple of years ago, something that would have been impossible in most other professions.
What are you wishes for 2014? What excites you, what are you sceptical about?
I am a curious person and I want to keep on learning and become an even better translator. Work aside, I am looking forward to the World Cup here in Brazil in a few months' time. It should be a great spectacle.
What would you pass on as personal advice to new translators?
I think new translators should invest time in building up a network. Attend conferences, meet up with other translators and be open. Try to learn as much as you can about the areas you are interested in. Use social media to market your services, e.g. Twitter and LinkedIn. Posting relevant content on LinkedIn and Twitter is a good way to keep in touch with your growing network. In the longer-term, I would also recommend working for direct clients.
Thanks to David for the answers!