I came to China for a reason forgotten, though I think it may have had something to do with a suggestion made by a Chinese medical interpreter I met, that I ought to go to China and practice Chinese a bit more. Well, I came to China, and I worked, and worked, and finally, after half a year, and only a couple of months remaining, I am getting some practice. Whether I needed to come to China for this practice I am not quite convinced.
My latest letters have spoken little of interpreting or translating, which is, of course, because I’ve hardly had time to think outside my work, as a middle school English teacher. I have learned one thing, ___.
I’ve also spoken of some explorations in tea, which I am continuing to pursue, with hopes that I may find some interested customers, or else I’ll have to consume all of this tea on my own. But more on that later.
As regarding interpreting and translating, I have been busy of late. At least, as busy a I can be. First of all, I am excited to announce that I have begun my journey in translation. The job involves a book, without a USBN, and the promise of continued mentor-ship and (perhaps) financial support by it’s author. Besides, the book concerns a topic close to my heart. So, I’ve taken it on, and I am quickly learning the amount of labor involved.
I have decided to first read through the entire text. Though it is a book, and a beautiful one, it is not actually that dense. Many pages are plastered with aged looking photographs and sub-titled with handwritten Chinese notes regarding the contents of the pictures. Wide boarder margins surround the text on each page. The final section of the book is primarily composed of lists and full page pictures. The topic is priamrily biographical, and the new vocabulary mostly involves family relations, transmission and development, and a little folk-lore mixed in. I note the new vocabulary as I read through the text. I have come to learn that, though I know and may even regularly use a term, I still have trouble coming up with a suitable English translation.
The task is not only great by volume – that is, an entire book – but great by quality of work, and learning curve. I am trying to maintain a high standard, while continuing progress on the work. I am also trying to quickly learn and begin applying new techniques. I have no method at this point, and the job seems colossus when I try to think how I will complete it. The Solitary Interpreter pushes on.
I have also begun working with a private tutor, primarily for Mandarin speaking practice. It turns out it’s not easy to find excellent Mandarin speaking folks in Canton – they all speak Canton-ese. With my private tutor I am able to customize my lesson to the topics of my choice. We have been discussing medical crises, social instability, crime, law enforcement and education. All of personal interest, and possibly professional application. I may try again with the medical interpreting exams, and also try my hand at social work interpreting. I know not what the market is like for either of these, but I intend to find out soon enough.
The Solitary Interpreter