The bulk of my work consists mainly of two areas: art texts and books for art galleries, museums and publishers, and certified translations of personal documents. The first area has not really been impacted yet: galleries and museums are still receiving EU funding where applicable and, unlike some of my colleagues, my work is not dependent on long-term contracts between a client and their EU partners (many translators have lost major clients due to such contracts not being renewed). So as long as the UK is in the EU, this source of work should remain stable.
In contrast, my other source of work changed overnight. Literally. I used to regularly help individuals to apply for work or university places in France, Belgium or the UK, but since the 24 June 2016, I have had one such client. Although unsurprising, it is nevertheless painful to see how people are hindered in their ambitions and in their wish to learn and share experiences with other cultures and simply have the life they want. Less predictable, and perhaps sadder still, if not worrying, is that many Franco/Belgian-British happy couples would also use my services to get married, either on the Continent or in the UK. Again, since the referendum, I have had two such requests only. Does it mean that people are not sure whether they will be able to stay together beyond Brexit and cannot commit as a result?
Unexpectedly, one new reason for certified translation queries appeared just as suddenly as the rest dried up: French citizenship applications. It turns out that France (along with Italy) allows its citizens’ spouses to apply for French citizenship even if the couple lives abroad. As a result, in the initial six months following the referendum, I had a new influx of requests from British citizens desperately trying to retain a European passport. This has now calmed down, although I still get these little jobs now and again.
While this new source of work somewhat mitigates the losses, it is an on-going reminder of this insane and damaging situation. Certified translations give me an insight into what people do with their lives and it is a heart-warming feeling to know that I can play a part in helping them achieve their dreams. But this turn of situation has been heart-breaking. Receiving the occasional email from an excited client saying, “Thanks to your services, I am now a French citizen!” is what keeps me going while hoping that nothing actually happens on the 31 October or beyond.