... a wordsmith at YOUR service.

For English voice-overs, I charge £30/€33 per hour.

For French voice-overs, £50/€55 per hour.


Occasionally, I have been asked to provide voiceovers, in both English and French, generally of a theatrical nature, and, indeed, for theatre itself.

One such French piece, namely Shhh..., for which I had provided both the translation and voice-over, for a Masters student in Audio and Visual Communication, Alice Boutell, even went on to win an award - a British Animations Award.  Watch at your leisure...

She also requested the interview below:

1: You've studied and taught English and also perform theatre, what kind of language does the original poem Shhh use and whose writing could you compare it to?

I loved the original poem, instantly. For me, that’s how poetry is; if it doesn’t grab you immediately, it’s over. It was mainly its tone; it has a Shakespearean quality to it. It sounded rhetorical, very persuasive, and seductive – it somehow reminded me of Shylock’s grand soliloquy in The Merchant of Venice, or Henry V’s rebuking of the French messenger early on in the play. I could go on but I’ll just say that this is the kind of seduction I’m talking about, with subtle threat behind it. And the poem managed to seduce me without any of those particular concrete Shakespearean connotations, and it’s written in a simple vernacular. Great stuff.

2: We went through the poem together before recording in English to check the structure and flow for speech. We chose which words needed emphasizing and which were superfluous. Does this process often happen when you prepare to produce a play?

Well, any good play, or any good piece of literature, for that matter, shouldn’t contain superfluous language; every word should count, regardless of its task. It’s just that, as you say, we emphasise certain words for a whole host of reasons, but primarily, with regard to theatre, for the director’s take on the play. And that’s why we can perform the same plays over and again, because we give them our own interpretation. Just look at Helen’s poem, we had slightly different takes on particular words at times, and I really enjoyed your takes, I think we collaborated really well. But I might not have seen what you saw had I read it alone. Someone else coming along to do the voiceover would have given you something entirely different, I’m sure…

3: You very generously translated the poem from English to French for me, I think it adds to the poem's seductive nature. What else do you think it lends the poem?

Although languages and cultures can be very similar, they still tend to differ subtly. And I think it’s those subtleties that eventually give language learners a different perspective on the world. Metaphors are the best clues. For example, English uses a lot of war imagery; French doesn’t, and leans more toward the idea of seduction, hence why you might find it more seductive…

 4: A direct translation from English to French would have made little sense. How did you have to alter the poem's structure when translating it?

I didn’t need to alter the structure too much, to be honest. But generally – or at least classical, traditional – poetry tends to use a French structure anyhow, syntactically; Shakespeare, for example, becomes a lot easier to read once you’ve learned French. But that’s another reason we think of French as the language of love, because to the English it sounds like poetry.

5: There are some French words which have multiple uses such as 'caresse', what other parts of the poem or French language contains words which intone a different meaning or action? 

Well, I always say that every word has a unique meaning per context, but I’ll not go down that pretentious road. I’ll just say that most of the non-‘grammar words’ in the poem will have many meanings. It’s interesting, though, reading the poem again, how seductive in a sexy way it sounds, in comparison to the English version. Like what I said further up about the metaphorical language, that you could use the French verb ‘caresser’ in most situations, like brushing by someone’s coat. Talk about the language of love, dear me!

6: You mentioned before that the French like to repeat words in their sentences. In English this would seem like the writer or speaker has a weak command of language. Why this cultural difference, what does is lend to French?

It’s a funny one, the idea of repetition. When I said that I was thinking about literature in particular, and I know that as an English writer I’m quite uptight about it, I think most writers are. But although many French writers would argue the contrary, that they don’t like repetition, I’ve never seen much real proof of it, unless you go back a number of centuries. But French is different anyway like that, grammatically, and maybe that just produces more repetition in general. If you take the idea of possession, say ‘Peter’s brother’s son’s cold’s getting worse, you could say that there’s repetition there with the ‘s’, but it’s quick, we get away with it in English. In French, because possession doesn’t work like that, we have to go round the houses a bit, and it makes sentences longer, as do English phrasal verbs etc, hence why translations are generally shorter in English, and why, in the end, you naturally end up with more repetition in French… Phew!

theatre pics, courtesy of pixabay