Greater than 2 minutes
When I was six or seven years old, I started translating Hamlet. I could barely understand what I was reading (or writing), but it was fun mingling with words anyway.
Of course, I was no more a translator back then than a kid playing with lego bricks is an architect.
In school I, like many peers, spent endless hours translating The Offspring and Metallica into Russian.
This certainly did not make me a translator, either.
As a freshman, I started freelancing to get some pocket money. I was to major in physics and math, so it seemed logical to focus on technical translation. It was mostly boring, but something in it made me tick. I remember thinking, “Not a single soul in Russia would have known about this air pump if not for my work!”
But it was just a sideline, so I never really called myself a “translator.”
A few years later, I got a “real job” in B2B sales, learned a couple of buzzwords and thus started doing the occasional marketing translation (it’s all about buzzwords, right?). Little by little, I started declining “air pump jobs,” and translating had become much more fun.
Still— you got it.
It was around that time that I got seriously into philosophy and history. Chalmers and Gumilev became my best buddies, and I spent a great deal of time translating them just for the love of it. I never thought I would be able to find clients in that niche.
As it was just a hobby, I didn’t realize I had already become a translator.
When my “real job” popped like a dotcom bubble, and I was finally left one on one with my thoughts, it slowly dawned on me…
I often wonder if there was a specific moment, or event, that made me a translator. Was it when I translated the introduction to “The Conscious Mind”? Or my first air pump manual? Or when poor old Shakespeare turned in his grave from my childhood experiments?
Or maybe, just maybe, we are all born translators — it’s just that the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune only bring this realization to a chosen few?
If it is so, I’m glad I was whipped and hit hard enough to see.
Did this make you think? If yes, there’s more on Ab Hoc.