We’re excited to welcome Damien, another dedicated Gengo Wordsmith to our hall of fame roster. One of our English to French translators, he started learning English at a young age through video games and movies. Now a full-time Gengo translator, he shares some of the perks of freelancing and offers tips to those who would like to take the same path.
Location: Châtellerault, France
Occupation: Full-time professional translator
Gengo translator since: September 2014
What languages do you speak?
French, English, a little Korean
If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be and why?
I would really love to be fluent in Korean. I learnt it for five years but didn’t practice for a long time. I love the country, its culture and the complex history of the peninsula.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy being a translator and why?
I would say 9. As a freelance translator, I feel really lucky to have a flexible job I enjoy doing. There are unavoidable challenges but I’m generally contented.
How is your experience translating for Gengo so far?
When I started working for Gengo, I had a hard time finding jobs, even if I was using a good RSS tool. But after accepting a lot of small jobs and getting high scores, I became a preferred translator. For many months now, I’ve been translating full-time for Gengo and I manage to earn enough to pay my bills.
Name three of your favorite translation/language learning tools.
I use Trados regularly and Linguee can be a powerful translation ally. I also change the language of Wikipedia articles from English to French to check movie titles, particular devices, abbreviations, etc.
Recommend three of your favorite language-related books/films.
I love “Star Wars” not only for its characters, but also for the way they communicate with each other. “The King’s Speech” is interesting too, because despite his disability, he learned how to deliver an important speech. I also like “Windtalkers”, where the Navajo language was used as a secret code during WWII because the Japanese were unable to translate it.
What advice would you give to new or aspiring translators?
Some translators on online forums might advise you to ignore low-paying jobs, but when you’re a new translator with a 0-word-translated career, don’t hesitate to work on these small jobs. If you do a good job consistently and become a preferred translator, there would be more interesting projects for you in the future.
What do you do in your free time?
I’m a movie buff and I have a big collection of movies from all over the world. In the photo below, I’m holding DVDs imported from India, South Korea, and an Italian movie from the 70s. On the screen is a rare Korean movie and I have various box sets of U.K. TV shows, Jean-Luc Godard’s movies, and samurai movies.
What quote do you live by?
In the movie, “Escape from New York”, the main character quotes Alphonse Karr: “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. I think it means if we really want change, we have to do it ourselves, instead of depending on someone who promised to do so.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Think and reflect on what you really enjoy doing and what you really wish to become in the future. Don’t do things because you want to impress others. Do things that make you happy at the end of the day.
Want to become a Gengo translator?