Boot translator

As a family historian as well as a translator I thought, in an idle moment, that I’d have a look to see how many people gave their occupation as translator in the censuses we have access to (i.e. 1841 to 1911). There were only a couple of hundred and most of those were on the 1911 census. There was however a disproportionately high number of translators working in the boot and shoe trade. On the other hand there were also a number of people who gave their occupation as translator of languages. It seemed unlikely that there would have been a huge demand for language translators specialising in boots and shoes, when no other specialist areas were listed, with the exception of one umbrella translator. Clearly all was not as it seemed and translation must have been a process in the boot and shoe industry and nothing to do with languages at all. A quick check with the OED and all was revealed. A little over a hundred years ago a cobbler who renovated old boots was called a translator. Just another example of how the language evolves. This is not an invitation to send me your old footwear.

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