A life with languages - Fatma Ehab

Fatma Ehab MCIL, a German<>Arabic translator and interpreter based in Dubai, discusses her journey as a professional linguist; for the original version in her native Arabic, see The Linguist 56,3.

Deutsch macht Spaß ('German is fun') was the first German sentence I learned from my father, who lived in Germany for several years. I owe him my passion for this language. He was the reason I chose to study German, as well as English, at secondary school in Cairo. My teacher saw my talent and love for German, and got permission for me to attend video conference seminars, which greatly enriched my language skills.

I studied German at Ain Shams University in Cairo, where I found great pleasure in attending lectures in translation, and transferring text from German to Arabic and vice versa. After four years of studying all aspects of the German language, as well as English and Arabic, I graduated in 2008.

I took conversation courses at the Goethe Institute, and translation courses at the Egyptian German Cultural Centre (ÄDK), which enabled me to secure a grant for the Austrian Language Diploma (ÖSD) at Klagenfurt University in Austria.

When I got back to Egypt, I was disappointed that my translation background did not qualify me to work for the translation agencies because it was purely academic. I felt that all my efforts were in vain. However, I was determined to prove my competence in this field and searched for an office that would accept me as trainee translator. Their work was mostly English/Arabic but I did not lose hope and, after gaining some experience, I was certified by the Egyptian Translators Association, where I worked for six years as a German<>Arabic translator.

A move to Dubai with my husband proved a good opportunity to develop my skills and practice in the English<>German language pair. I was admitted as a member of CIOL in 2016, which was a turning point in my life.

I compliment my language career with playing and listening to music, as well as sports including tennis and walking.