Les Piles Intermédiaires was the best Professional Language blog of the Top Language Lovers 2014 competition! We interviewed her to get some more information about the person behind the blog.
She chose to be anonymous, which makes it even more special to have the opportunity to share information about this ‘mystery blogger’ with you.
Languages: French (native) English, German, and also studied Russian, Italian and a bit of Yiddish.
Location: Current: Strasbourg, Past: Paris & Luxembourg.
The blog: Since 2009
Why did you start your blog?
I was looking for an outlet for personal writings (and rantings) about various things: fun facts about languages, thoughts on translation and more specifically audiovisual translation, but also books, films, family stuff, etc. After about 100 posts, I found it more interesting to confine myself to my professional field, i.e. languages and translation, so I did (more or less, with a few exceptions along the way).
How did you come up with the name, and why this name, what does it mean?
Because I’m an extremely messy person, I tend to pile things up here and there for weeks until I finally find the time and energy to tidy up my place. These “interim piles” (I’m sure a native speaker could come up with a better translation) are an important part of my daily life and my blog is a bit like them: a collection of things I “stack up” there because I find them interesting, surprising, funny, enlightening, inspiring…
Why did you decide to become a translator? And in which fields/languages?
I was looking for a way to combine my various interests and passions: foreign languages (English and German, in my case), writing (in my mother tongue), as well as films and moving images in general. Audiovisual translation seemed like an obvious choice.
How would you define your blog, as in your guidelines for writing, since your blog is very diverse?
Indeed, it’s a big hodge-podge of a blog. I do try to keep it about languages and translation, although I occasionally write posts about other subjects of interest to me (mainly films or series, books, shows and shoes). But even so, the topics covered range from dictionaries, books about translation and client relationships, to translations from the past, translation dilemmas, interesting linguistic facts, appalling translations, MT, the daily activities of translators or the current evolution of language. I also try to think in terms of posts series, whenever I come across a topic that could fit in an existing series like the “quirks and habits of translators” or the “new words” I come across and explore. But at the end of the day, there are no rules.
What do you love most about being a translator and what do you hate about it?
I’m passionate about words, so working with words is certainly one of the most pleasant aspects of this profession, together with learning new things all the time. Believe it or not, there’s nothing I actually “hate” about being a translator (but I wish I were better at taking vacations).
What is the funniest translation request you have ever received from a client?
I could probably draw a list of the most ridiculous job offers I received in the last ten years (“medical translation, DE>FR , 8,500 words for tomorrow, € 100 budget”, that sort of things). But since I’m easily amused, I quite enjoy any audiovisual client calling me for a new documentary translation and saying something like: “How about a program about moray eels/prehistoric cave art/ turf grass production/Styrian cuisine/current affairs in Egypt/pigeon breeding/the contemporary Baroque music revival in South America/the life and work of Bud Spencer?” It’s always a surprise.
Typical freelance translator’s lifestyle is sitting at your desk in your pyjamas with your cat and a cup of coffee. How far are you from that stereotype.. how do you work?
Time for my big confession: I don’t have cats and I only drink tea or instant coffee… But I do sometimes work in my pyjamas (phew!). Apart from that, indeed, I feel like a very stereotypical translator, working from home with very little interaction with the outside world on normal work days.
What is/are your favourite language related blog(s)?
For French-speaking readers, I warmly recommend ATAA’s blog, L’autre jour, Bahan, Le clavier cannibale, Langues de feu, Ma voisine millionnaire and La poutre dans l’œil (and needless to say I really hope to see them among next year’s Top 25 Language Professionals Blogs!).