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Below is my profile that I contributed to the Langline discussion group. Reading the text below, please remember that it was written more than four years ago, but it is regularly updated.


How it all began. Genesis of a translator from a Polish backwater. For who in the world heard of Grabowko? When I was about 13 years old, I was doing quite well in primary school and my father suggested that I should get interested in a foreign language. My brother-in-law had an old English course book for self study, so the choice was to learn English. I took to it with such zest that my father started to ridicule my enthusiasm, which in turn resulted in shelving the book for a few weeks. But, as I caught the hook, when he wasn't looking I smuggled the book back to my desktop.

When I continued my education in secondary school, I already had my mind set on studying English at a university. And with two years of English self study before the secondary school (comprehensive/high school) I found coping with the harsh English teacher much easier. He was certainly an expert in English, but not everybody liked his discipline. However, it was him who recommended that I should continue my English education at  the Adam Mickiewicz University English Philology Institute in Poznań.

I passed my written exam with a lower score than I would have wished for, but the oral exam was a "flying colours" one. At  the "Mecca of applied linguistics", as some visiting lecturers used to call the Poznań University, I was taking between ten and twenty hours of practical English classes per week in the first and second year of study, and several other courses, some of which I enjoyed more, some less. Now I would approach some of them with a different attitude, but unfortunately time goes only one way. I had the opportunity to take classes and lectures in semantics, syntax, sociolinguistics, and computer science (which was not compulsory and rather theoretical, so I had to learn computers myself the hard way — by the way — does anybody remember computers where you had to park the HDD head?). In 1992 I passed my M.A. exam, got the diploma and returned to Kwidzyn.

Now it was high time to look for a job. The high school I had left was very eager to hire me as an English teacher but I hardly considered this option because of low pay. The local private entrepreneur, a relatively new species at that time in Poland, wanted to turn me into a travelling sales representative, while the local state-owned paper mill was ready to give me a job as a translator/interpreter. I chose the latter option, although the pay wasn't at all better than at  school. But a month later the paper factory was privatized and the financial aspect was much improved. So, they had a new English translator (the others had left earlier because of low pay) with no knowledge of the pulp and paper industry.

The chief process engineer recommended that I spend a week in each area of the mill. So I did, touring the areas, reading documents and flow sheets, gathering vocabulary. I wasn't able to complete the last leg of my tour, as the management was wondering where their newly acquired translator was...

The first document I translated was a pulp consistency transmitter description. Then came more translation and interpreting, and with them more experience. I can't say that after sixteen years I have gained all the experience in the world, but I certainly know how to approach the varied and diverse translation assignments I receive. During more than 7 years of my in-house career I managed to assemble a vast array of dictionaries and handbooks, both from the mill's library (these, for obvious reasons, had to be returned before June 1, 2000) and my own.

On June 1, 2000 I went over to greener pastures and devoted myself solely to freelancing. I was contemplating quitting the in-house job for some time before, and at the end of February I turned in the notice of termination. I was released after the three months statutory notice period. Since then I have enjoyed the path of a freelancer I chose...

I might add that my favourite word processing software used to be WordPerfect, and that I think I have mastered its macro programming language quite well, in the process of automating repetitive tasks. [ A few months after writing these words I said goodbye to WordPerfect, as its current owner, Corel, does not seem to have any interest in Polish users.] Later I switched over to Lotus Word Pro 97 - several years ago they released the English version of their software in Poland for free, a great idea! At the beginning of 1999 I switched over to Word 97, both at the paper mill and at home. So here's how Mr Gate$ pulls even the most reluctant ones to his fold... ;) Since then I have also been testing the Star Office suite (another product which was free at that time) and I was impressed. Having evaluated StarOffice 6.0 beta I can say that it's a superb office suite, but as they went commercial soon afterwards, I'm going to stick to OpenOffice, StarOffice's open source (and free) equivalent. For the first time since 1998 I have finally made friends with Linux and used KDE's Kate HTML editor to edit and update this page.

2008 was a breakthrough year. No Ms Windows on my new laptop, with Linux being its only production OS + my favorite CAT software, Swordfish.

Now, if you want to order an English<—>Polish translation from me, I'd be pleased to take up the challenge, and learn something new, as each new translation assignment brings with it something new to learn. In my free time I enjoy reading the Scripture and Scripture related material, occasional listening to shortwave, enhancing my programming skills [Perl, VBA], etc.

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