Made in England

Chateau de Martragny, Normandy, FranceI was born and bred in the university city of Oxford, England, where I left school with A-levels in French, Latin and Mathematics. I went on to study Modern Languages at Christ’s College, Cambridge, specialising in French and Dutch (the latter no doubt inspired by a family connection). During my time at Cambridge, I spent a year abroad as a language assistant in Annecy, France, and also spent the summer months each year working on a château campsite in Normandy.

In 1978, I moved to Groningen, the Netherlands, to take on a part-time post as an assistant lecturer with the university’s English Department. My main reason for doing so was that, although I had studied modern and medieval Dutch literature at Cambridge, I really needed to improve my spoken Dutch, which was pretty poor. Spending some time in the Netherlands seemed like a good idea. Little was I to know that I’d still be around over 40 years later.

After spending two hugely enjoyable years giving drama classes to second-year students and editing and contributing to the department magazine, I decided that the time had come to try and find a ‘proper job’. My next destination was Nijmegen, where I worked for Vertaalbureau Bothof as a translator and revisor for three years. It was a brilliant apprenticeship, as it gave me an opportunity to work on a tremendously wide range of material under the guidance of a highly experienced and gifted mentor.

In 1983, I moved to ING in Amsterdam (then known as NMB Bank), to work as a staff translator with the bank’s in-house translation department. Surrounded by masses of linguistic and technical expertise, I earned my spurs as a financial and legal translator, working on reports, speeches, staff magazines, loan contracts – in fact, anything that came our way. I took a a series of specialist courses during my time with NMB Bank, including two self-study courses at the Netherlands Institute of Banking and two summer courses in English law, which I attended at Oxford University and the University of Surrey (Guildford).

Five years later, in 1988, I was offered (and accepted) a post as an English lecturer at the Dutch National College of Translation in the southern Dutch town of Maastricht. As I was to discover, Maastricht rightly deserves its reputation as one of the country’s most welcoming and sociable cities. My responsibilities included classroom teaching, the individual supervision of final-year students and curriculum development. Another five years later, I embarked on a freelance practice as an English translator and editor. Initially, this was on a part-time basis, but in 1996, I took the plunge as a fully self-employed practitioner. I have not looked back since then!

I specialise in both financial translation and more creative work on brochures, staff magazines, newsletters and so forth. As a partner in Teamwork, I run courses, workshops and conferences for translators in conjunction with my business partner, Marcel Lemmens.

Boring but important

And, finally, the more humdrum bits:

Membership of examination boards

1991-2001:     External examiner, Sittard Business School.
1993-1997:   Member of English board of examiners, Dutch national examinations in translation and interpretation (‘staatsexamens’).
1996-2001: Member of English board of examiners, Dutch national examinations in translation and interpretation (‘SNEVT’).
2010: Member of English board of examiners, pilot examinations scheme for National Register of Certified Translators and Interpreters.
2011-2018:   Jury member, BBC/GNE Public Speaking Awards (for secondary schools in the Netherlands)

Additional information


  • Handboek voor de vertaler Nederlands-Engels (Wolters Noordhoff 1995, now available through Intertaal)
  • The Mother-Tongue Principle: Hit or Myth? (Alexandria Virginia: The ATA Chronicle, May 2016)
  • Mum knows best? Are translations always better quality when we work into our native language? Tony Parr puts the mother-tongue principle to the test (Milton Keynes: ITI Bulletin, November-December 2016)
  • Magical mystery tour: Tony Parr and Marcel Lemmens recently conducted two experiments based on Chris Durban’s ‘mystery shopper’ model. Here, they reveal the results (Milton Keynes: ITI Bulletin, September-October 2017)
  • Man against machine: Tony Parr looks at how new machine translation tool DeepL performs compared with two more established translation machines – and with real humans (Milton Keynes: ITI Bulletin, January-February 2018)