When I was younger, I didn’t care about languages too much. I started to talk quite late – when I was two years old – as my mother told me. She worried about me and even brought me to a doctor to check if everything was alright with me. But then, suddenly, the words shot out of me like a waterfall. Once I started to talk, I basically never stopped. I learnt to read and write and both came really natural and easy to me. I was very keen on reading as a child: my mom always read out stories to me and I never wanted her to stop, because I was always so intrigued. At that point, I wasn’t really aware of the fact that there were also other languages in the world; I was really baffled when we got introduced to English in school. I got hooked immediately and since then I have never stopped being fascinated by the idea that other people on this planet speak other languages.
Some years later, when I was in school, I started hanging out with my best friend a lot and we talked for ages. I was always intrigued by his way of speaking. Not only did he use lots of words I didn’t know at the time, but also the way he structured his sentences to convey his point was remarkable. Basically, he made me aware of how important it is to mind your own language. Not only you can make sure that your intended meaning does get conveyed, but also how much power you can exert when you can control your language. Whether it’s about convincing others, presenting yourself to the other people, or simply gaining a much better understanding of everything – the limits of my language stand for the limits of my world, as Wittgenstein phrased it.
It was also the time when I rediscovered my passion for reading that, after having spent several months travelling in New Zealand, made me want to study English Studies, which I eventually did. In my studies I also had to deal with linguistics, a subject that I soon became very fond of and that opened up a whole new world to me. I ended up understanding English on a deeper level, but I also learnt a lot about how we as humans think and create meaning in our world. Lastly, I also started to get interested in my own language – German – since the principles of linguistics can be applied to all languages.
At one point during one’s studies everyone has to face reality: What do I actually want to do after my studies and where should all this lead to? After having played around with the idea of becoming a German teacher for foreigners, I was still unsure about it. During that time, I found some old stuff on my hard drive. It turned out be old translations I worked on when I was 16. In fact, I had tried to translate one of my favourite games called “Chrono Trigger” from English into German, since it had never been released to Germany. Actually my translations were rather awkward, but they sparked a new idea. Why not becoming a translator? I had worked on a few translations before, without really considering to make it my profession. But now was the time. I had a plan and I was confident.
Instead of further focusing on English Studies, I decided to conclude my studies with a programme in Translation Studies to get the theoretical background. I still wasn’t sure how to move on the actually living and working as a translator and basically how to get started. This is when my girlfriend came into play, because incidentally (or maybe not?) she was also an aspiring translator at the time we first met. She gave me the confidence and belief that I can make it out there and that I should start applying for projects, even with a degree still on progress. I visited her in the US, met her colleagues and established my first connections with the industry. I dared to take the necessary steps to become a real translator, which means I applied for jobs that I found interesting and managed to land me some eventually And with every project I gained more confidence, knowledge and experience. Now I find myself in a dreamlike situation – I can independently work on projects that I (mostly) enjoy and that earn my living. And I have plenty of other new plans for the future.