MATI Member Spotlight: Catherine Breckenridge
Name: Catherine Breckenridge
Language Pair(s): French to English
Degree(s)/Certification(s): M.A. in Language, Literature, and Translation, concentration in French to English translation (in progress)
How long have you been a MATI member? Two months
Where do you live and/or work?
I live and work (and go to school) in Milwaukee. I am a student in the M.A. in Language, Literature, and Translation at UWM, concentration in French to English translation. I also work full-time for an international medical society downtown.
What inspired you to get into your field?
When I was younger I had some misconceptions about what makes a good translator. I was always interested in language and cultures, and I had studied French all through school, but felt a translation career was unrealistic. I thought that my school-learned skills would never compete with the skills of those who had lived in a francophone country for a long time or learned French from a parent. I didn’t understand that being a good translator isn’t just being bilingual. Then, as an undergrad I saw a lecture by a patent translator working in my language pair. She had acquired her B language through study, like me, and she was not an engineer, but she was still very successful in her work because she was an excellent researcher and writer. It made me see translation as a real option for the first time.
I’ve taken a little bit of a winding path, but one constant has been the enjoyment and fulfilment of helping people communicate across language and cultural barriers. In Fall 2014, I officially entered the MALLT program and I’m really happy to be starting this new career.
Where do you see your field going in the future? What are the most urgent issues to be addressed?
So, I’m going to answer this question as a student who has not yet worked professionally in the field – take it with a grain of salt. This semester, we’ve been studying the professional aspects translation, including challenges faced in educating the public about the field. Clients with misconceptions about the translation process have unreasonable expectations for work volume and speed, not to mention the idea that Google Translate is a viable replacement for a professional translator. From my perspective this seems like the major issue of the day. If we’re not all working to correct these misconceptions, then we could find ourselves trying to meet them, lowering work quality and subsequently the client’s perception of our skills and talent. Aside from always having those good conversations with clients, blogs seem a good vehicle for to discuss these issues with the general public, and having them improves SEO.
Do you have any tips for those starting out in the field? For those who’ve been in the field?
I’m going to turn this around and ask my future colleagues, for a student just starting out in the field, what is the one thing you wish someone had told you at the beginning? You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why do you think it’s important to belong to professional organizations like MATI?
1) Professional networking – it really seems paramount in our profession
2) Continuing education – constant learning is key, keeping sharp in the future after graduation
3) Improving my professional profile – I believe that belonging to professional organizations like MATI helps me distinguish myself to clients