Not all translators are born that way. Sometimes in life you first need to find out what you don’t like in order to find out what you do.

A life with English since the age of 11

When I began my English education at the age of 11, I had no idea that it would become my life! I passed an exam to study in a secondary school which taught wholly in English. Those schools (Anadolu Lisesi/Anatolian High School) were very popular at the time in Turkey. I passed the exam even though I took it after the sleepless night my brother was born.

I’ll never forget the first song we learned: “If you are happy and you know it…” Imagine a class of 11-year olds clapping their hands, stomping their feet and shouting, ‘Hooray!’ Funnily enough, it was the first song both of my daughters learned growing up in England.

My life before translation

After graduating in Chemical Engineering in 2004, I worked as a sales engineer in the field for 3 years. However, as soon as I realised it was not my cup of tea, I decided to seek a profession I could love.

I spent a year working in a backpackers’ hostel in Olympos, Turkey. I might have left a piece of my heart there, but I knew that more awaited me elsewhere.

Next, I moved to Istanbul and translated my first book while adapting to life in the big city. I would never have imagined following the path to become a translator as a profession. I was still doing other things and translation was just a hobby.

In 2009, I swapped one big city for another and moved to London where I realised that I wanted to centre my work and life around my language skills. It just felt so natural and had nothing to do with my brief London careers in hospitality, childcare… So in March 2010 I registered to become a freelance translator. 

Translation career

Early in my career, I did not know what to do and accepted any jobs that came my way including Turkish to English translations and court interpretation. I soon realised just because you are a native Turkish speaker and fluent in English not every translation or interpretation job is appropriate.

Then I knew what I had to do. I channelled my ongoing passion for travel and tourism and began my ongoing relationship with industry leaders. Having 9 years of experience in this sector I find I cannot make a reservation without checking for localisation errors.

In the following years, through my work with Busuu, the world’s leading online language learning provider, I became more interested in linguistics. Thus, I began a degree in Turkish Language and Literature through the Turkish Open University, and reference books became my best friend! 

The nuances of both Turkish and English still amaze me every day while discovering new English words and exploring the Turkish language ever more deeply. Though I find myself becoming more and more annoyed every time I see misspellings or punctuation errors in both languages.

Subsequently, I decided to undertake a recognised qualification so I could develop professionally and in 2017, I took the CIOL’s DipTrans exam, which I passed with two distinctions and a merit.

Later that year, I was informed I had won the Peter Newmark Award as the Best Candidate in Literature for my translation of an extract by A. S. Byatt. I received the award from Prince Michael of Kent and have since become a CIOL Member. 

As a literary translator of fiction and non-fiction, I am a member of the Society of Authors. I am also a member of ITI and last year I took over the regional co-ordinator role for the ITI East Anglia.

Let’s get personal

I met my husband, John, while I was living in London and we moved to Norwich in 2014 after our first child was born. Home of the British Centre for Literary Translators and the National Centre for Writing, there isn’t a better or more beautiful place to raise my two daughters bilingually. 

It is impossible not to miss one’s home, where you grew up, especially while your family and loved ones are still there; but I’ve realised it is possible to have more than one home. And Norwich is where I feel at home again.

When I am not working, I might be dancing or doing yoga with my little daughters and meditation is where we find peace.

I have loved cooking since the age of 8 and am still discovering new recipes and ingredients every day. It can be a challenge trying to cook Turkish meals when all you have is English ingredients and every recipe turns out a surprise.

Also, in recent years, I have been trying to grow fruit and vegetables in our garden, one might even say I am getting green fingers. So, I am always happy to receive advice and tips, if you have any, on getting rid of weeds and dealing with shrubs.

In fact, any projects linked to these interests would be a delight to work on. You can always drop me a line for anything relating to the Turkish language.