Apostroph freelancers in the spotlight – Today: Pascal M.

Pascal joined our pool of freelancers not too long ago. He tried his hand at translation when he was studying literature and he enjoyed it so much that he decided to stick with it. Apostroph often relies on his copywriting and editing services too. He naturally always stays behind the scenes – even that time one of his translations appeared in the newspaper for everyone to read...

Middle-aged man in a suit

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where did you grow up and what made you want to become a translator?

I grew up in the Seetal valley in the Swiss canton of Lucerne. As a kid, I would daydream a lot and I always used to think that the gently rolling hills were like something straight out of Tolkien’s universe. I realised I had a way with words at an early age and I loved writing more or less from the moment I first mastered the skill. Writing essays was my favourite thing to do at school. And that never changed. But it was actually a coincidence that I ended up becoming a translator. I planned to offer translation services while I was studying as a way of earning a bit of cash on the side. So I randomly contacted a few companies and translation agencies. My first clients were always really happy with my work and recommended me to others. I enjoyed my translation work so much that my side hustle eventually became my bread and butter.

Which languages do you work with and which areas do you specialise in?

I translate from English, French and Italian into German. I studied English and spent a year of my studies in England. I picked up French when I was studying in Fribourg and I have family ties to Italian, with lots of my relatives living in Ticino or in Italy itself. And I married an Italian, which was obviously a pretty smart move!

When it comes to specialisms, I would say that I’ve gained experience in a wide range of areas. Automotive, watches and jewellery, software user manuals, project management, technical documentation and the list goes on... I’m a real generalist and I translate whatever lands in my inbox. I really enjoy reading up on a subject and learning new terminology. I also need the variety in my life! My work is never boring – I could be translating a police report one day and subtitling a video the next.

How long have you been working for Apostroph as a freelancer and how did you come across Apostroph?

I’ve been working with Apostroph as a translator, copywriter and editor since 2021. I was looking to broaden my client base and I came across the Apostroph Freelance Hub.

What do you enjoy about working with Apostroph?

The project managers are so nice to work with. They are all very professional in their communications but also friendly, kind and funny.

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of Apostroph? Why this word?

Appreciation. As a freelance translator, it’s pretty rare to receive positive feedback from a client. We usually just work on the basis that no news is good news! But Apostroph often sends over positive comments and I really appreciate it.

Would you like to tell us about something cool or funny that happened to you in your translating career?

When the Swedish Gripen was not included in the evaluation as part of the procurement process for the Swiss Air Force’s next fighter jet, the manufacturer’s press release needed to be translated from English into German literally overnight. That was the first and last time that I could open up the newspaper the next day and see one of my own translations on the page in front of me.

What does your typical working day as a translator look like?

I’m more of a night owl than an early bird, but I still try to be at my desk with my second cup of coffee by 8 am on work days. And then I usually follow the Pomodoro Technique. That means I concentrate fully on work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. Every 2 hours, I take a longer break. My wife and I take it in turns to make lunch now that she works from home most of the time too (a change brought about by the pandemic). As she’s employed, she has to clock back into work after an hour’s lunch break and that motivates me to get back to my desk then too. I do use a time tracking system too, but I don’t have to be as strict with my working hours as my wife does because I’m my own boss. Some discipline is required, however! I usually work until around 6 pm, but my working hours depend on how much work I have on. I have been known to stay at my desk until 9 pm or even 10 pm and I don’t have any problem with that. In that case, though, I do reduce the blue light on my screen

Would you take the same professional path if you could start over again?

If I was in exactly the same situation? Yes, I would. My work is a good fit for me and I’m a good fit for my work. I did work in the social sector for a while, which I found very fulfilling but stressful and tiring. Depending on the exact nature of your work in that area, the risk of burnout is real. After secondary school, I did also toy with the idea of studying law because I thought it would make good use of my linguistic and analytical skills. But, in the end, literature just appealed to me more. It combines aesthetics, psychology, history, philosophy and so much more. A dream come true for a generalist like me!

Do you have any tips for prospective linguists and other freelancers who translate for us?

My top tip would have to be don’t waste your time on a small computer screen. I recently bought myself a 35” curved monitor. You know, these screens don’t cost a fortune anymore and they will make it so much easier for you to get your work done if you’re someone who often needs two or three windows open at once.

Thank you for talking us through your trajectory, Pascal!

Want to know more about the freelancers in our pool? Was your entry into translation like Pascal's or was it quite different?

Please send an e-mail to freelance@apostrophgroup.ch.

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