Who I am determines the way I like to work. I am an incorrigible perfectionist, and what better way to turn that into a positive trait than to be a translator? I am also strongly self-motivated, and I have never been afraid of accountability. When a translator takes on a project, the author puts his brain child in her hands, and I am aware of that responsibility at all times. The author should always feel free to ask me why I translated a piece of text a certain way, and I feel that I should always be able to explain it.
I believe that a good translator understands how just one little word can make the difference between sense and nonsense, between a piece of text that flows and one that sounds off. A good translator understands what the author is saying in the source text, and can correctly translate that while at the same time being able to distance herself enough from the original to ensure that the text in the target language is the best it can be on its own.
I am fascinated with written language in all its forms. I particularly love literature, and I thoroughly enjoy writing myself. I have been translating non-fiction texts since 1986, but it was during the last semester of my graduate studies in English literature in 2001 that I became interested in translating fiction as well. Throughout my literature studies, author intent and the effect of language on the reader were of course always the main factors, and I have to say that my non-fiction translating, too, has benefited tremendously from studying literature.
I enjoy completely immersing myself in a text and getting a feel for the author’s style and how it translates–or doesn’t translate–into English. Often things that sound fine in Dutch just don’t sound right in English, but the problem can be hard to put a finger on at first. The more time I have to work with a text, the better I will come to know it, and then I can make the translation the best it can be.
I am a nitpicker who loves to find just the right word, even if it takes a while. I will not stop looking until I find the solution to a translation problem. It helps that I am originally a librarian, so I’m also a reference book fiend and extreme Internet surfer. “I don’t know” is never the answer. No-one can know everything, but everything can be looked up. And with the Internet the world is at our fingertips, and I know that somewhere out there someone knows the answer to my question.