This is part of a series of interviews with translators, interpreters, and other language specialists around Washington, DC. Read other posts in the series here, here, and here. If you’re a linguist in the national capital area and would like to join in the fun, contact me.
Di Wu is a Chinese linguist specializing in engineering, localization, and technical texts in Washington, DC. Find him on LinkedIn.
Question: How did you get started in translation?
I started teaching Chinese part time in 2004. Then my previous company declared bankruptcy in 2005. I knew it was just a matter of time until I lost my engineering day job, and I’d better start an alternate career just in case. I started doing freelance translation in the summer of 2005, and the business did not pick up until a year later.
Q: Why do you keep going at it?
I love languages. I enjoy translation a lot more than my old engineering job. I did a year of full-time freelance translation in 2009-2010 until moving to DC area in late 2010 and started working as a full-time in-house translator.
Q: What advice do you have for a newbie?
If you build it they will come. Be patient.
Q: What’s the wackiest story or two you have related to translation assignments?
I have two stories. One of my freelance clients has a tendency to assign me ultra-urgent jobs (few thousand words in less a few hours) while asking me to reply ASAP about my availability, but then always asks me not to start until I get a confirmation.
Also, once I did a medical interpretation job for a poorly managed agency. They’d have up to four different people calling me four times a day to confirm an assignment I’ve already agreed to. One time one of those calls happened when I was walking around in a big hospital trying to find the right room, so I was quite annoyed.
Many thanks to Di for sharing! I know I can certainly commiserate with those urgent-but-don’t-start-yet job assignments. Ha! How about you? Share your comments below!