Aug 19, 2010

Who's Who in the JLD - Courtney MacNab

As the JLD Administrator, Courtney MacNab is the perfect choice for our inaugural interview. JLD members already acquainted with her will welcome the opportunity to learn more about her, and those who don’t attend conferences will enjoy meeting her for the first time. I first noticed Courtney at the 2005 Conference, and was impressed by her positive attitude, friendliness and energy. She stepped up to the plate right away for the Division, volunteering for the 2006 Conference Planning Committee. Courtney was elected Assistant Administrator in 2007, and Administrator in 2009.

First of all, what motivated you to study Japanese?
When I was in middle school, I took a six-week introductory course in Japanese offered by a community college near where I lived (in Michigan). The instructors had a show called “Junior Japanese” on the local cable access network, and I enjoyed participating in it. Japanese was not available at my middle or high school, but I started studying it again in my freshman year at Dickinson College.

Did you have the opportunity to study in Japan during your college years or later on?
I spent my junior year studying in Aichi, Japan at the Center for Japanese Studies at Nanzan University. I lived with a Japanese host family, and spent as much time as I could traveling around Japan and Southeast Asia. It was a wonderful year. Immediately after graduating from Dickinson, I was accepted into the MAT (Master’s in Translation) program at the Monterey Institute for International Studies in French and Japanese. After completing my first year, I decided to take a year off. I spent nine months in Paris and six months in Nagasaki, studying at the Nagasaki College of Foreign Languages. I stayed with a wonderful family that has since become my Japanese family. After graduating from MIIS, I had an internship with Toyota Techno Services Corporation, now Toyota Technical Development Corporation, in Toyota-shi. I try to see my Japanese family as often as I can — I spent a month with them in Nagasaki last year.

What inspired you to become a translator?
Growing up, I had several friends who were originally from other countries, including Japan. Whenever I spent time at their houses, I wished I could understand what they were saying to their families. I decided in high school that I wanted to learn foreign languages, and since I didn’t want to become a teacher, I would become a translator. At the time I had no idea what being a translator involved. I thought that I would simply read something in French and write it in English. Luckily, I had some great teachers in high school and college who helped prepare me to become a translator, and to figure out what translating really involved. The two years that I spent at MIIS getting my master’s and the interval between my first and second year there (which I spent working in France and going to school in Japan) solidified my desire to become a translator.

What type of work do you do? Do you specialize?
For Japanese, I specialize in automotive, technical and market research translations. Lately, I’ve also started translating more personal documents such as marriage certificates, diplomas and birth certificates. I also accept translations outside of my areas of specialization, as long as I feel that I am capable of handling them.

For French, I specialize in legal, automotive and real estate translations. I also have a few clients who sell Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and other software designed to improve corporate productivity.

Do you have any advice for freelancers who are just starting out?
I think getting involved in the ATA, regional translators’ associations and online forums/websites/listservs for translators is a great way to network, gain experience and learn from more experienced translators. I would also recommend gaining experience through internships or by providing free or discount translations for NGOs and other humanitarian organizations. I gained a lot of experience and got some great feedback through volunteer work and internships when I first started working as a translator. The ATA and LinkedIn have many excellent listservs with tons of valuable information.

When it comes to actual translation, don’t be afraid to ask the client, project manager, friends or colleagues questions about terminology or the project. And always be honest if a document or subject is outside your area of expertise. I've found that clients prefer an honest translator who does a good job in his/her areas of specialization and sometimes turns down jobs to a generalist who takes on anything and delivers poor quality. Finally, always meet your deadline and let the PM know well in advance if there is a problem.

Do you have an avocation that you pursue in your spare time?
My husband is active duty Army. We spend a lot of time volunteering for various organizations on post that support soldiers and their families. I also love to read and enjoy traveling.

What motivated you to devote so much of your time and energy to the JLD?
When I attended my first conference in 2005, I joined the Conference Planning Committee as a way to network with more experienced translators and learn how the JLD and the ATA worked. It was a fabulous experience. When I was asked to run for Assistant Administrator in 2007, I thought it would be a great way to build on what I'd learned on a broader level. While it's been challenging at times, I've enjoyed meeting new people, networking with seasoned translators, learning about our profession and helping JLD members and people interested in becoming J<>E translators.

What is your vision for the JLD?
I'm really excited about the relaunching of the JLD website and our blog-format newsletter, the JLD Times. I'd like to see more people get involved with the JLD Times by writing articles. Our members have a wealth of experience and expertise and it would be great if we could tap into that. I know that the most successful translators are often the busiest ones, but I'm hoping that I can inspire, motivate and encourage people to submit articles for the JLD Times.

Thank you, Courtney!

聞き手: Connie Prener

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