• 24 August 2020

An interview with our translator English:

For how long have you been translating?

Altogether, I have translated full-time for about 7 years. In between full-time translation, translation was a part of my duties on an ongoing basis, but not the focus.  So, I never really lost my skills, thankfully.   Altogether, over the years, I have applied translation, language, and writing skills for over 20 years.

My work has always entailed writing and language.  I started off as a language trainer, then worked as a full-time translator/interpreter on my 20s, then started my longest career path to date in my late 20s, as a TV and Film Producer in Europe and South Africa, from the late ’90s to 2016.

Writing persuasive pitches, scripts, and marketing copy was a large part of my work.  In multiple languages. Film is a language in itself. It tells a story through visuals, as well as sound and language. Lighting, angles, pace, and so forth are all part of this language. It’s the punctuation of film.

2. What made you decide to be translator?

As already alluded, I worked as both a language trainer, as well as a TV and Film Producer. I have had three distinctive, yet related, career paths in my life to date. In 2016 I decided to travel more, to live bi-continentally, so I needed a career which gave me absolute freedom of movement. I decided to become a full-time translator.

3. What technical developments did you experience and how did it influence your work?

Well, when I translated in the 1990s, we didn’t have CAT tools or any of the AI and MT we have today. I worked with hard copy dictionaries and thesauruses only. Thankfully, in my TV and film career, I kept up with the digital transformation and ever-changing software. So, in 2016, when I embraced the new technology, I was thankfully able to internalize and use various software and technology quite easily.

4. Tell us about your translation proces.

I read through the original text. I usually then insert the text into CAT software. I then translate line by line, quickly checking typos, spelling, and grammar as I go along. After completing the translation, I do one pass for technical issues (spelling, typos, syntax, grammar, structure).

I then do a second pass where I ensure that the translation flows well, and double-check any terms I’m unsure about, and replace words that I feel aren’t spot-on.  I always work with a thesaurus.  The correct word choice, which fits the tone and spirit of the original text, is important.

5. What is the most difficult part about translating?

I find specialized technical texts challenging, as I need to constantly research specialized terms, often in context, not just via a dictionary. It’s time-consuming.

6. What do you like about transalting?

The writing. I enjoy crafting texts, bestowing meaning to mere words, and adding emotion. The most amazing part is that I do not have a boss breathing down my neck and the high-stress levels of working in media production. I can work from anywhere, as long as I have in internet connection, and am free to travel.  I also relish the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment after completing a challenging job

7. What can you do for a translation that machine translation can’t?

I have always understood that language goes beyond the spoken or written word. It is very much about tone, about subtext and cultural attitudes, about how we use communication in all its forms. The way a text is written conveys a certain spirit or message. In any visual story, the script is the basis, the writing is always the most important aspect. I am fascinated by the various aspects of language. Translation work offers the opportunity to stretch and flex many of these muscles.

8. What make translating an art?

The translation work is both a craft and an art, which are inextricably joined together. You can certainly learn aspects of the craft; in fact, one should keep improving one’s skills, on an ongoing basis. Understanding linguistics, syntax, structure, and so forth, improve your craft and skill set.  The art comes in when you are able to translate the spirit of the original, to ensure that the intended message is beautifully crafted and has the intended effect.

We hope your enjoyed an interview our tranlsator English Magnette for Vertaal.nl


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