Sue Farmery

Who are you? Please introduce yourself

I’m Sue Farmery, a freelance French to English translator living in Oxfordshire with my husband and two children (although one is away at Uni most of the time now). I grew up in Hertfordshire and after spending 4 years in Surrey, France and Spain completing my undergraduate degree, I moved to Oxfordshire for a graduate job in international consumer market research in 1997 and have happily settled in the area.

Do you translate, interpret, or both? What are your areas of specialism?

I translate. Having attempted some Spanish interpreting in my degree, I decided I didn’t have the skillset for interpreting and have a huge admiration for those that do.

In terms of specialisms, I draw on my commercial and academic background. My career in market research was mainly focused on alcoholic drinks, and I was also lucky enough to work in the Champagne region on two occasions for university placements. Wines and spirits texts don’t come my way as often as I would like, though, and the majority of my corporate translation – usually press releases, corporate newsletters, blog articles or social media posts – is in other fields.

More recently, I started translating academic research papers in addition to commercial texts. While recently studying for a Master’s in Translation, I opted to conduct a research project and write a research dissertation for the final module. I was concerned whether this would be as relevant for my career as the extended translation project (chosen by the majority of students), so I’m really pleased that I can directly put these academic writing skills into practice now that I’m a translator.

Why did you decide to get into translation or interpreting?

I was determined to carry on using my languages after I graduated, and a position in international market research requiring foreign languages seemed ideal for putting my languages and international business degree into practice. However, whilst I was able to use my French and Spanish in the role – for example, checking questionnaire translations and travelling to France and Spain to conduct project briefings – I didn’t have the opportunity to use my languages anywhere near as much as I had hoped. As a result, I was happy to permanently leave the market research sector behind when I took a career break to raise a family.

During my career break and then whilst working part-time when my children were at primary school, I knew I wanted to retrain to use my languages, I just didn’t know how or what for! It was only when I read an article in a local magazine, about a freelance translator who had studied a Master’s in Translation, that I gained the inspiration to do the same in 2018. I completed the degree in 2020 when it was obviously an incredibly difficult time to start a business, but I persevered and was thrilled to have my achievements and efforts officially recognised when I won ‘Best Newcomer – Freelancing’ in the 2023 ITI Awards.

What’s your favourite type of project?

I enjoy the creativity of translating social media posts. Sometimes these involve coming up with puns or even rhyming poems, which are lots of fun, and I like how this sort of translation allows me (or even encourages me) to move away from a direct translation.

Conversely, I also enjoy getting my teeth into research papers even though these are the polar opposite style-wise (and length-wise!) to social media posts. The authors are usually very passionate about their research and I love being part of the process and putting my market research hat back on (albeit with a social sciences slant rather than a consumer product one).

What do you do outside of translation or interpreting?

I’m a very social person and love meeting up with friends and family outside of work. I’m lucky enough to have made a couple of French friends locally, and it’s always great to combine catching up in French over a coffee. In terms of hobbies, I’ve always swum to keep fit. For a few years now, I’ve also been attending a weekly Clubbercise class with friends, and my daughter when she’s at home, and this always gives me a mid-week boost! And whilst I’m more of a “fair-weather short-distance” cyclist than an enthusiastic one, I do try to keep the dust from building up on my bike! As well as being aware of the exercise and environmental advantages, I also love the fact that if you cycle for a night out, no one has to be Des!

Sue Farmery translates from French to English, specialising in corporate communications, wine and spirits, and research (social sciences and market research).