About me

Helo, Non ydw i, shwmae!

I’m Non, a 30-year-old student from Cardiff. When I finished my undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology many years ago, I confidently said that whilst I still wanted to be curious and learn many new things, I was done with studying. Happily, I was wrong, and have since gained a master’s degree in Professional Translation Studies, a Postgraduate Certificate in Interpreting, and several other *professional development certificates. I’m so glad that I was wrong and *premature in *declaring the end of my journey in education! Every one of the courses I’ve studied has been *enriching and I’ve gained skills, knowledge, experience, and confidence in my abilities along the way. I’ve also been able to take advantage of opportunities which may not have otherwise come my way. It’s obviously good to be wrong sometimes!

I’m currently halfway through my PhD which is investigating the ways in which court *interpreters make changes when *interpreting between two languages, and how these changes affect the jury’s opinion of the defendant*. It’s rare that the same thing can be said in exactly the same way in two different languages. Also, interpreters work in real time, out loud, with no easy way to ‘edit’ their interpretation, so changes are always likely! I’m *fascinated by the changes that occur during translation and interpretation, the relationships between language, culture, and power and the often-ignored *interpersonal nature of the interpreter’s role. I hope that my current research will have real world impact and help people to understand how best to help the court interpreter in their role.

Outside of my hectic life as a PhD student, I’m also a mother to two fantastic children and wife to a fabulous husband. I sing in a band and have a small business selling greetings cards with images of pigs and dogs on them!  I’m also a keen (some would say obsessive) runner and swimmer and enjoy entering races, especially 10k which is my preferred distance. I sometimes race in costume too! My favourite animals are pigs and an interesting fact that ties together my love of running and my love of pigs, is that the pig’s reputation as lazy is completely unfair. In fact, pigs can run a 6-minute mile and, on a very, very good day with a flat track, mild weather, and plenty of sleep the night before, so can I!

Languages and me: Welsh

I learned Welsh alongside English at home and didn’t truly appreciate the value of my *bilingualism until I moved away to university. I went to a Welsh language Primary and Secondary school where I was a member of the Urdd, went on residential trips to Glanllyn and Llangrannog and competed in the Eisteddfod. We learned ‘dawnsio gwerin’ in Primary School PE classes and enjoyed a good Twmpath. In primary school we explored the Mabinogion; Welsh folktales and traditions such as the Mari Lwyd.

We also learned a lot about Welsh history and how our national language was treated as a *nuisance and something that should to be stamped out. More recently, I was horrified to hear about the ‘Welsh Not’ and the changing of Welsh surnames, such as ‘Ap Rhys’ to the more ‘acceptable’ English version ‘Price’. Perhaps it was these early experiences that sparked my interest as an adult in the relationships between culture, language, and power.

Moving from Cardiff to Bristol for university wasn’t an enormous culture shock, but it still opened my eyes to some things I’d taken for granted, such as bilingual signs and free medical prescriptions! I had a very international and *intercultural group of friends, yet I noticed that some people would say negative things about Wales and Welsh that I was sure they wouldn’t say about other languages. This angered me. I think I experienced that *cliché of not knowing what you have until you’re missing it – at home I could speak Welsh or English and I found myself missing Welsh conversations.

I also noticed more anti-Welsh language bias* in my old workplace; colleagues used to say that translating documents into Welsh was ‘a waste of time, because everyone understands English so it should all be in English’. This of course ignores the many people who speak Welsh at home, at work, and in their social circles. Let alone anyone who would just rather read a document in Welsh instead of English! Facing anti-Welsh attitudes made me feel closer to and more protective of my identity as a Welsh speaker. Sometimes we need something to rebel* against in life!

In my first couple of workplaces after university, I was often asked to translate simple things and quickly found that I really enjoyed it. So much so that my last job was as a translator. I was then offered a *funded opportunity to study for a master’s degree and during that degree I *tried my hand at interpreting and absolutely loved it! It was hard working full time and studying for my master’s part time, but it was well worth it – I think the best part might have been bringing my then 6-week-old son to a seminar with me!

Both my son and daughter attend Welsh language schools and I’m very proud that they will also grow up bilingual. Outside of school they are also *immersed in Welsh culture; we read Welsh and English books at home, watch Cyw on tv and enjoy going to Tafwyl and to The Egin. My husband is from Newcastle and spoke only English before meeting me, but he now enjoys watching Pobol y Cwm and Rownd a Rownd with the subtitles on and knows a few important Welsh words such as *cwrw!

Languages and me: GCSE French

I chose to study French at GCSE, despite all the jokes about my name….it was funny the first time someone pointed it out, honestly! I enjoyed learning a new language and we were lucky to have a very creative teacher who had us singing songs to help us learn different things such as the alphabet.

A creative way that I approached learning French was by watching the Champions League matches on French TV channels to pick up words from the commentary! It was actually a good way to get used to different accents and was easy to follow because I could also see what was going on too. I also used to tell my Mum that watching football was ‘revising!’ As much as I joke, this really was a useful and enjoyable thing to do alongside more traditional revision methods.

I considered taking French for A-level and sometimes regret that I didn’t, as I’ve forgotten quite a lot of what I learnt at GCSE. However, I chose to study 5 A-levels back then and couldn’t squeeze in another!

I actually thought that I’d forgotten all of my French but was pleasantly surprised when I went to university and one of my housemates was Moroccan. His first language was Arabic, second French and third English and whilst he could get by in English, he found speaking in his third language all day exhausting. He used to bring French-speaking friends over to our house and I found that I could understand almost all of what they said, and they could understand much more English than they could speak. This meant that because of the understanding I’d developed studying French GCSE, and despite having lost almost all of my speaking ability (or maybe the confidence to speak), I could hang out with this group of French and North African students in our kitchen and enjoy each other’s company despite what could be considered a *language barrier.

My Student Life and Future Me

My student life is a little unusual in that I study at Aberystwyth University but am a distance learner, as I live in Cardiff with my family. I generally work from home and most of my learning is *asynchronous which means that I can choose my own hours and fit them around school hours, my husband’s job and my own needs to run and swim as often as possible. This is an enormous *privilege but equally is something that should be treated with great care; it takes a lot of *discipline to make time for work when you can do your work at any time. Also, working from home requires you to have clear boundaries so that you avoid always being in ‘work mode’.

After I complete my PhD and become Dr Non, I hope to find a job in research; ideally as an academic member of staff at a university. I also wish to keep pet pigs!