vendredi 27 février 2015

No more translations from Jacques Guilbaud

I was sad to hear that Jacques Guilbaud died this week. I didn't know him well: indeed it is only today that I have had the pleasure of perusing his website, which bears impressive testimony to his many interests other than that of being a sworn ("assermenté") translator and interpreter in French and English within the French legal system.

But it was this official status which meant so much to me back in 2010 when I was just starting out as a professional translator. He, presumably over-committed, conferred a set of adoption papers to me, for rendering into English. The job–about ten pages–was notable for being delivered by hand, and I recall that it served as the justification for my first ever purchase of OCR software. (After geeking out on the reviews I opted for ABBYY FineReader, which is... fine). The files that ensued were saved as .odt in OpenOffice (as then was) and thence passed smoothly into OmegaT for segment by segment translation.

Though I say it myself, this was pretty cool and efficient, as I then had little work to do formatting the English version when the translation was completed. The job was equally delivered on paper, and Jacques was kind enough a few days later to judge the translation "immaculate"; quotable praise that was deeply appreciated at the time, as was the cheque which arrived with commendable promptness.

Jacques was old school–he gained his official status in the French system back in 1979, when the idea of a personal computer was an obscure Californian passion, the translator a master of recondite knowledge in communion with a collection of dictionaries, and possibly, if successful, a dictating machine and a secretary. The transcriber of such a tape would have heard a soft Canadian English, with its discernible vestiges from the Scottish highlanders who made northern America their home in centuries past; this I always found entirely delightful to listen to, quite apart from the variety and interest of substance in any conversation with Jacques. He will be sadly missed.

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