|I was born on a flourishing grain farm in southern Saskatchewan which, for at least the following eight years became part of the barren dust bowl. I had turned six just before our family departed to live permanently in British Columbia. After completing high school in Vancouver, I spent ten years sailing on Canadian merchant steamships, during which time I enjoyed visits to numerous ports on both sides of both major oceans and the North American Great Lakes. Sailing is extremely pleasant on a calm sea under a cloudless sky with a gentle roll to the vessel, and extremely unpleasant in violent winter storms. But my main interest was the time spent in port mingling with the natives. The ever faster turnaround times in port and more especially the fact that Canada’s merchant fleet was fast dwindling, pointed me toward change.
After an intensive and time consuming search I was accepted as a trainee public health inspector/sanitarian in British Columbia. It took me a year to qualify and seven years to realize that I was not right for the job … so I left it. However, during those eight years I took correspondence, night and summer courses sufficient to complete the first two years of university. I had intended to proceed until I had earned at least one degree, but circumstances made this undertaking too difficult. It is true that a diploma is a status symbol and a door opener but that, I believe, is where its value often stops. Performance and ability, in my view, have little correlation with academic qualifications. Hands on training is another matter entirely. I found temporary employment at Expo 67, after which I gradually proceeded along an itinerary that eventually took me to Bergamo, where I enrolled in a Montessori training course beginning the following September. This gave me three months to absorb as much Italian as possible, which I did in Perugia and Naples.
Once I had completed the course, the person running the training center, unjustly in my view, provided me with no more than a certificate of audition. In any case I would not at that time have been allowed to teach in Italy where, by now I had wooed and won a loving wife with a darling daughter, and therefore simply remained. Work in Italy was difficult to find even for Italians. As a foreigner I had to take advantage of my language skills, being that I could by now manage, even if sometimes only barely, in six languages. I credit my trilingual upbringing and natural linguistic curiosity for facilitating language-learning.
The work I found, therefore, was with travel and tour agencies, as well as several years in the Lloyd’s of London office in Naples. While in Naples an office colleague introduced me to translation by insisting I work on various legal documents, often handwritten, for him. This gradually raised a hope in me that perhaps that could become a steady livelihood. Our little family then moved to Rome where for eleven years I worked as a freelance translator with as much work as I could physically and mentally handle. At the end of that period, though, also that fell apart when the agency for which I had done a great deal of work changed the rules so completely that they became unacceptable. A new start was necessary. This led to eighteen years in Montreal, seventeen at the Montreal Neurological Institute as secretary to neurosurgeons and neurologists, and secretary to two ethics boards. Translation during this period became a spare-time activity. I finally retired in 2005 and moved back to Rome, where our little family is comfortably ensconced in a suburban apartment.
Karl May Translations
“You don’t believe it? Well, then just think of the current example! The Sendador is guiding a large company of white people over the Paraná. These people want to go to Río Salado, which belongs to us. They want to live on our territory to look for the same yerba and fell the forests that […]
Get the Flash Player to see this content. Visit the South American Continent in an exciting tale by Karl May, translated by Kince October. Imagine overhearing the following conversation … “Pretend you’re giving him a letter of recommendation, but containing the two contracts, to Jordan. Should he be found and be shot, then the world […]
I have received your last letter and fully agree with your proposals. The deal is risky but should it succeed it would bring so much profit that we can risk an eventual loss. The powder is coming on the Seagull. We have mixed thirty percent charcoal into it. I hope you will succeed in smuggling […]
Corrida de toros? Yes, Corrida de toros! For how long now had there been no bullfights in Buenos Aires; when was the last time the Porteños had heard the whinnying of horses, the bawling of bulls, the shouting of the fighters and the cheering of the spectators! It was a long row of years ago […]
‘Along Unfamiliar Trails’ follows our entrepid narrator around the world. Within these pages we are transported to reindeer tents of Lappland, the camps of the Kurds in the trackless mountains of the Ottoman Empire. We stumble across the sands of the Sahara and rest in the Beduin camps before exploring the Wild West of the […]