This month, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Christi Bishop Vergez, an american translator and interpreter based in France.
NAME: Christi Bishop Vergez
PROFESSION: Sworn Translator & Interpreter
WORK LANGUAGES: French and English
PLACE OF RESIDENCE AND WORK: Pouillon and Biarritz, France
What kind of translation work do you do and what type of clients do you work with?
While a large percentage of my business is legal and certified translations (court orders, summons, marriage and birth certificates, transcripts, diplomas, etc.), I also translate websites, texts for ballet, tourism/travel, gastronomy/wine, fashion, basic medical/pharmaceutical and most recently numismatics (coin collecting). For both translating and interpreting, my clients include the French courts, police, gendarmerie, customs, attorneys, solicitors (called “notaires” in France), translation agencies, businesses and private clients.
Can you provide a brief description of your typical work day?
For translation, it’s usually a 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. day unless I get an urgent request requiring me to start earlier or work later. Interpreting is a whole other ballgame – nothing typical about it at all. Every assignment is different. Just a few examples are interpreting for French customs or police after a drug bust (which can start early in the morning and run until late at night, or even in the middle of the night), a live radio interview with Ben Harper (falls in the “once in a lifetime” category), civil wedding ceremonies, business meetings, reading of deeds of sale for English-speaking clients selling or buying property in France, and most recently, I was hired by a French designer to interpret while his workshops and home were photographed by an American photographer, and an American journalist interviewed him for a book that will be published in November.
What aspects of your profession do you enjoy most?
I enjoy translating and meeting different people from all walks of life. They sometimes have interesting stories to tell and I often get to translate those stories. I enjoy making it possible for people to communicate with each other who don’t speak the same language. The freedom that working freelance provides is also at the top of my list.
Which aspects do you least enjoy?
Chasing late payments – there’s nothing worse than giving it your all to provide a top quality translation on time, only to have a client pay late or not pay at all. Because of this, I now require payment before delivery from private clients, and I ask companies and agencies for a deposit whenever a job is over 1,000 Euros.
How long have you been working as a translator?
Officially since 2009, but all of my jobs prior to that involved translation in one form or another.
Did you in fact study to become a translator? If not, what did you study originally?
At 18, I joined the US Army as a French linguist for four years (I was already fluent) and attended an Intermediate French Course at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. After my time in service, I earned a BA in French at the University of Connecticut, which included one year abroad at the Faculté des Lettres in Rouen (Mont Saint Aignan), France.
What is your career path? Why did you make the decision to work as a translator?
The “translation bug” first bit me while I was a French military linguist. I once got to interpret between 80 French paratroopers and American soldiers at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. It was totally exhilarating to say the least. After college, I worked as an international sales rep, an air freight manager for an international freight forwarder, an admin assistant for a Franco-American tour operator, an English teacher in France and as an executive assistant at a French import-export company – all jobs that required some form of written or oral translation between French and English. Just before being laid off from the last job for economic reasons, I filed an application with the Tribunal d’Instance (regional court) in Bayonne, France to become a sworn FrenchEnglish translator and interpreter. I was sworn in the following year and registered my freelance translation business.
My only regret is that I didn’t start working earlier as a translator. I’m finally doing what I love.
Is translation your sole professional occupation? If not, in what other fields are you involved?
Yes, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
For more information, feel free to explore Christi’s website: www.helpinghandinfrance.com.
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