“Por lo que! Therefore, so that, because of, for this reason…this is one you should not be missing now.”
Thank you, Carl. I will never forget this Spanish conjunction ever since that day in second semester when we were sight translating some awful Hugo Chavez speech.
Your classes were hard; intermediate and then advanced translation into English where we covered economics and politics, a bit of legal and a smattering of technical. While learning constructions and solutions to tricky phrases was important, the real lessons I learned about being a translator had less to do with the translations themselves and more to do with who I really am.
Translators are curious beasts. They are constantly checking, and looking up words, ideas, isms; drawing connections between languages, syntax, semantics and historical usage. For this innate inquisitiveness and relish for knowledge is what allows someone with two or more languages to become a translator in the first place.
I did not learn this fact from any one of your lessons. Rather, the constant exposure to the way you lived your life and handled your profession taught me more about what makes a translator great than rendering hundreds of texts from Spanish into English. Your trusty 1000-page Merriam-Webster was always in your satchel to quell any doubt that may come up. Though, your ritual of looking up at the ceiling before diving into the dictionary was a lesson in discipline to pause and think and recall. Sometimes it worked, sometime not, but you always made your brain work and earn its place within your head. And it always seemed to irk you when you had to open the dictionary at last. It irks me now too when I have to look up things I should know.
Being well read and having a habit of reading good publications is an obvious requisite for a translator; you reinforced this notion by bringing me newspaper articles on shared interests from the Wall Street Journal and The Economist. One time when I asked you what your plans were for the weekend, you eagerly responded, “I have about two weeks of the Journal to get through”. I had to change my plans on the spot.
Going through the texts and homework assignments was always a pleasure as there would invariably be short quips or anecdotes about your time in Mexico or an old Latin professor. Your stories illustrated further your seemingly endless expanse of knowledge and your record at the London Bridge Pub quiz proved it. Although your team usually won the kitty, you were gracious enough to come and visit our lowly team during the breaks. Thank you for that.
Thank you for reminding us that a healthy mind leads to a healthy body and that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind.
Thank you for inviting me to play handball with you and your crew. And thank you for embarrassing me on the handball court.
Thank you for your off-the-cuff jokes in class.
Thank you for not liking Susan Boyle because “real singers don’t need microphones”.
Thank you for always talking about the Germans in a German accent.
Thank you for keeping in touch after graduation.
Thank you for explaining that “vital” and “essential” are not exact synonyms.
Thank you for teaching me to trust my ear if things “don’t sound right”.
Thank you for reinforcing the idea that learning is active, not passive.
Thank you for breaking me down to the core so I could grow into my potential as a translator.
Thank you, Carl.