Charlie Gobbett

Who are you? Please introduce yourself
I’m Charlie Gobbett, a translator working from French and German into English with over 25 years’ service (when do I get my gold watch? 😉). After graduating with a degree in Modern Languages a third of a century ago I did the one-year Postgraduate Diploma in Translation and Interpreting at Bradford University. I live in the small, pretty south-Cheshire market town of Nantwich, not far from the Shropshire and Welsh borders.

Do you translate, interpret, or both? What are your areas of specialism?
I stick to translating these days, after a bit of ad-hoc and consecutive interpreting earlier in my career. In the 1990s I worked in the travel industry, so when I went back to translating as a freelancer I decided to specialise in travel and tourism but have progressively moved on to other specialisms, mostly acquired unintentionally. These days I work mainly in popular science, cosmetics/beauty, advertising copy editing and theatre translation. In the last couple of years I’ve also started taking on more work in sustainability, environment and agriculture.

Why did you decide to get into translation or interpreting?
From my earliest experiences I always loved learning languages. At a school careers evening when I was 15, I decided I was going to be a conference interpreter in Brussels. I was actually offered an interpreting traineeship at the European Parliament on graduating from Bradford but by then I had come to realise that I was more inclined to creative translation than interpreting at technical meetings about lawn mower noise emissions. I also have a reasonable command of Italian and Spanish and in the past have learned some Greek, Welsh and Polish. I can barely speak any of the latter three these days though – if you don’t keep them up…

What’s your favourite type of project?
Translating a newly discovered play! I’ve always had an interest in theatre, watching and also performing with various amateur groups. A few years ago, a French friend sent me a very funny play and I was seized by the urge to have a go translating it. I had a lot to learn about how the theatre industries in France and the UK work but I have now translated six French plays. I directed the world premiere of one of my translations (a comedy) at my local theatre last July and I have just cast another, a psychological thriller, for performance at another theatre in May. My most recent translation, Heaven-Sent, “a ferocious comedy”, will be staged in Northwich in December. I also have ambitions to make inroads into professional theatre and I have applied to the Arts Council for a Lottery-funded creative practice development grant.

What do you do outside of translation or interpreting?
Did I mention theatre? I’ve been to see 46 plays and a couple of musicals since last June. Oh, and hill walking, plus a bit of mountain biking and running every now and again. Nantwich is conveniently located within striking distance of the mountains of North Wales, the Peak District, Shropshire and the Lake District (at a push).

Charlie Gobbett is a theatre translator who makes ends meet by translating from French and German into English specialising in popular science, travel & tourism, cosmetics/beauty and the environment/sustainability. He is joint coordinator of the MAT Network.