Bonus interview #2: Konstantina Drakou

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As promised, I have one last interview I wanted to share with you. I had the opportunity to ask my questions to the lovely Konstantina Drakou! Konstantina is a freelance translator and proofreader working with EN/DE/SV>GR, but she also provides interpreting services. She specializes in IT, tourism, fashion, legal, medical and business documents. When she’s not translating, you can find Konstantina blogging at Wordyrama. Let’s hear it from her!

Hello, Konstantina! Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Hello, Emeline! Let me begin by saying a big “Thank you!” to you for inviting me to take part in this wonderful activity! It is such a fantastic idea, well-done!

Before I got into the translation industry, I lived in the UK for a total of ten years (I completed my studies there) and then I worked for two blue chip multilingual companies (IBM and ExxonMobil) in the UK. After getting exposed to different terminology fields, I decided to set up my freelance translation business in Crete, Greece and I have been working as a freelancer ever since (I work form English/German/ Swedish into Greek). I also hold a part-time post at the Foundation for Research and Technology (Institute of Computer Science) so that I get as close to IT (a field of great interest to me!) as possible! You may find more interesting information on my website www.wordyrama.com.

You are a language-lover and it really shows through your blog. What makes you so passionate about translation?

Oh, a great question! Where should I begin… The expend of knowledge a translator accumulates throughout the years is remarkable! Each project is totally different to the previous one, and no day is dull! Excellent colleagues (some of which I dare to consider as close friends)form a large translators’ community, eager to always offer a helping hand and accept your helping hand in case of need!

How do you usually celebrate International Translation Day? Is this day special to you or is it just like every other day?

To my shame, I tend to totally forget it! Lost in projects sometimes for days, I do not check online to see what is happening outside the four safe walls of my office! I promise to remember next year!

Which difficulties do you face as a freelance translator?

I have to say, my biggest fear is the famine period. No matter how many years of experience a translator may have, a famine period (which can last only for a day even!) makes its presence. The fear of never getting any more work, yes, definitely is the biggest difficulty I face!

On the other hand, our profession has great aspects. What’s your favorite and why?

In dark, rainy, snowy winter days when everyone needs to get up, get dressed, go out, get in the car, drive to work, stay there for 8 hours, come back home, I am in my most comfy, warm clothes, sipping my delicious cup of coffee in my home office! On a more serious note, getting a project that will become a passion, one that I actually do not want it to come to its end, this is my most favorite aspect of our profession!

What do you think the future holds for us translators?

I am a very positive person, and I do not really want to accept that machines will replace humans. In fact, I do not really think it will come to it. We will always be around: THE WORLD NEEDS US!

I can’t think of a better way to close this project! Thank you so much for your contribution and support, Konstantina!

Bonus Interview: Valeria Aliperta

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Surprise, surprise! I know, International Translation Day ’13 was on Monday and our series of interviews is over but… I couldn’t resist posting one more (and maybe a last one sometime on Friday, hint hint…)! Valeria Aliperta gave me the honor of answering my questions. Valeria is the well-known founder of Rainy London Translations. An interpreter, a translator, a tutor, a conference speaker, and so many more, Valeria works from English, Spanish and French into Italian. She recently launched The Freelance Box, with fellow translator Marta Stelmaszak, through which they provide business courses for freelance translators.

Hello, Valeria, and thank you so much for your participation! Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Hi! As many probably already know, I was ‘born’ an interpreter and then diversified my offer – I became a translator, tutor, editor, VoiceOver artist and conference speaker. I run my own business – very Britannically called ‘Rainy London’ – and
even though from time to time I take on project management too, my combination is English, Spanish and French into Italian, my native language. Now I also run courses for translators, interpreters and freelancers under The Freelance Box (with colleague and friend M. Stelmaszak).

What makes you so passionate about languages and translation?

I remember that when I was 6 I wanted to be a journalist. I even got a much sought-after Olivetti typewriter for Xmas! I would draft the school journal and print it myself. I then started English at 11. That was it: since then, I had it very clear I was going to be an interpreter.
Languages open minds, open possibilities, open eyes. I love being that someone who, in the darkness, makes it possible for communication to flow amongst the great differences between peoples and cultures. After all, the best translator and interpreter is that who goes, so quintessentially so, unnoticed most of the time. Quoting my colleague and good friend Xosé (Castro Roig, @xosecastro) we ‘translate emotions’.

How do you usually celebrate International Translation Day? Is this day special to you or is it just like every other day?

I can’t say I celebrate in the classic way but I do love to dedicate the day to my many lovely colleagues – the messages and notes were so many! And it feels great to be part of an industry of peers. I’m lucky many of them truly are friends, too. I tend to do something or share an article on social media to involve/familiarise non-translators to what we do: we are so invisible sometimes, therefore in days like those it’s good to fly our own flag.

Which difficulties did you face when you established your freelance business? Do you still face those difficulties or have they transformed into other ones, as your business evolved ?

The difficulty was and always is finding opportunities (= clients). Unfortunately, this takes time and freelancers are known for either having too much or too little at their hands, right? I always say: never give up. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be. Just be patient. Then, of course there will be moments where the mountain seems too high, but don’t despair. The difficulties evolve but you do too, and you learn from experiences (bad and good alike). I personally suggest you plan, plan, plan. With a clear view of what we want to achieve, we can work towards it more efficiently. As for the challenges I face now, I still have to tackle the uncertainty of a freelancing job after all – so I recommend to never rely on one or two clients only. Try and diversify! For instance, I once used to do lots of transcription but I don’t anymore – the demand and the prices evolved and I adjusted too. If you find new ‘spin-offs’ for your business, you end up gaining.

On the other hand, our profession has great aspects. What’s your favorite and why?

I love being flexible. One of the words I abuse of is ‘boring’ . Because I like my life entertaining and challenging. That’s why I am delighted I’m not doing the same tasks all the time, and enjoy the variety that freelancing offers. I also love that thanks to social media, we are not alone anymore and being a people’s person, I love going to events and network – my main source of business really!

What do you think the future holds for us translators?

The future depends on us. Much talk about machines and the extinction of translation is going on now but I believe that the world is so big and varied that there’s always going to be a niche for everyone (provided quality is there, or course). Languages evolve and new needs arise… Just watch out for change and adapt accordingly😉

Happy belated Translators’ Day and hurray for us!

Happy belated International Translation Day to you, Valeria! And thank you for taking the time to do this interview!

Happy International Translation Day ’13!

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Happy International Translation Day ’13, everyone! That’s it, today is the day we have all been waiting for… The day where the long wait over, the day where all the quotes that have been received are published here on the blog!

I would like to thank the 80 people who kindly submitted their quotes, explaining  what translation is to them (sometimes very creatively, wow!), and also the 10 interviewees that generously shared their insights, stories, advice,… on our profession! Without you, this project wouldn’t have been possible!

For those of you who haven’t sent in your quote yet but would like to: there is still time! The project was so well received that I decided against closing it today. After all, this whole adventure was supposed to build a feel-good place so the more, the merrier, right? To know more about how to submit it, visit the Participate page!

Thank you, everyone, and have a wonderful day filled with words, creativity and languages!

Interview #10: Olga Arakelyan

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We finish this series of interview with none other than Olga Arakelyan. Olga is a professional freelance translator and a certified ESL teacher. She translates from English and German into Russian and specializes mainly in marketing, music, real estate, tourism, and education. She is also working on some exciting marketing and business training materials for translators at sharp-end-training.ru. You can find her on Twitter @Olenkaarakelyan, visit her English blog or, if you prefer reading in Russian, she’d be happy to see you in her Russian blog.

Hello, Olga, and thanks for supporting this project! Could you start by telling a little bit about yourself?

Hi Emeline, so happy to take part in your project! Well, my name is Olga, I am a freelance translator from English and German into Russian and a big fan of social media marketing and blogging. I am absolutely in love with languages and different cultures. I started translating and interpreting while I was a student and tried to combine it with teaching both English and Russian as foreign languages. For a few years I was literally torn between teaching and translation until I realized that both activities can complement each other.

You used to teach your mother tongue, Russian. What makes you so passionate about languages? How did your passion evolve into translation?

 I am absolutely convinced that language is music. I studied music since early childhood while at the same time studying in a special school where English was one of the main subjects. We even had a subject called “technical translation”. Though we didn’t exactly do technical translation in class I still think our teacher was fabulous. She managed to show us that translation is a fantastic profession. During her classes we often tried to translate poems, and that’s when I first experienced this unique, special music in my heart when I managed to find the right words to express the thoughts of different poets. It’s a very special feeling and I am not sure I can explain it. But because of that feeling I got hooked. I believe that translators are composers, especially those who do creative types of translation. So thanks to those classes I chose to study at the foreign languages department in university. As for teaching Russian as a foreign language, it was part of my job responsibilities together with translating and interpreting when I had a full-time job. So these activities always went hand in hand in my case.

How do you usually celebrate International Translation Day? Is this day special to you or is it just like every other day?

Normally, I try to free myself from translation work and try to network with my colleagues. I participated in some virtual conferences and that was a fabulous experience. And I make a special dinner on that day to celebrate. This time I am going to be pretty busy translating, but I will still make a special dinner J

Which difficulties do you face as a freelance translator ?

Hmm… I guess my difficulties are the same as for many colleagues. I face the same risk of meeting non-paying clients, the same fear of not being able to earn enough money. But it’s getting easier and easier with time. Now, many new clients come with a recommendation from my “old” clients, or they’ve read my blog, so it’s much easier to work with them because they already know what to expect. Plus, having a good reputation and not charging low rates really helps. I guess my biggest problem now is not having enough time for reading, another favourite occupation of mine, because I often have more work than I can possibly handle. I guess work-life balance is one of my biggest challenges, but I am working on it.

On the other hand, our profession has great aspects. What’s your favorite and why?

I love being able to see how my daughter grows, love working from home, love earning good money. My family is the greatest gift from heaven, so I love being able to work and build my own business and at the same time being a full-time mom and wife.

What do you think the future holds for us translators?

I think translators will be in demand as long as different cultures and languages exist. It’s that simple. I don’t believe any machine can possibly replace human translators (at least in my fields of expertise ;)). Texts done by machines don’t sound like music, and they never will.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Olga!

Interview #9: Megan Onions

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Today, we talk with the lovely Megan Onions. Megan provides French and German into English translations through her business, Speechmarks Translation. A language lover, she has just completed an MA in Translation which she studied for part-time. Read below what Megan thinks of our profession.

Hello, Megan and thank you for your participation! Could you start by telling a little bit about yourself?

Hi Emeline! Thanks so much for asking me to take part in your project. Drawing more attention to International Translation Day is a great idea, and I’m very happy to be interviewed along with so many friends and colleagues.

For those of you who don’t know me (feel free to say hi on Twitter – I’m @speechmarksxl8), I translate French and German into my native English under the business name Speech Marks Translation. I have been plying my trade for over 5 years now, working primarily in the following fields: marketing and advertising, sports and leisure, travel and tourism. For the past 2 years, I have been completing a part-time Master’s degree in Translation, which I will have finished by the time you read this!

What makes you so passionate about languages?

I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I have had some amazing experiences purely because I’m multilingual. The ability to understand another language allows you to see the world from a totally new perspective, which is something that we all need from time to time. The doors that languages can open are staggering, and we have all experienced the buzz that comes from helping others. I have done many a session of impromptu interpreting and it’s a wonderful feeling.

How do you usually celebrate International Translation Day? Is this day special to you or is it just like every other day?

I wouldn’t say that any celebrations have been official. I celebrate languages and talk about the benefits of translation throughout the year, but I do think it’s great to have a specific day that we can use to reflect on the current state of the industry and get the word out!

Which difficulties do you face as a freelance translator ? How has studying for an MA in Translation helped your business?

An issue that is mentioned a lot, and that certainly applies to me, is a lack of confidence. Working at home can distort my self-confidence, but meeting with colleagues at industry and social events is a great way to build confidence and relationships. Fitting in enough exercise can also be an issue but I am very lucky to live in beautiful, rural Herefordshire, which is great for walking!

Studying for my MA part-time has been ideal for me, as I didn’t have to go full-time with my business straight away. I was able to add a new qualification and build my client base gradually. It wasn’t always easy by any means, but I’m really happy with where I am now.

On the other hand, our profession has great aspects. What’s your favorite and why?

I think the lifestyle that my profession allows me to have is a major plus. I have been able to pursue other interests and build new specialities, branch out into related areas, such as copywriting, and set my own hours. I’m more of a night owl, so I schedule my work for the afternoon and evening. In contrast, I can shift things around to accommodate family time and other commitments if needed. Perfect!

Another great side to the industry is the wonderful friendships and professional relationships that I have built over recent years. As a newcomer to the profession, I was given such warm encouragement and great advice, which I am always happy to pass on to students, who contact me. We’re a very friendly bunch!

What do you think the future holds for us translators?

As Chris Durban says, the gap between the bulk and premium markets is growing ever wider. There will always be a lower end of the market and translators to fill it. What’s important is focusing on our own businesses and producing quality of work, which justifies fair rates. There will always be a place for excellent human translators and our professional network is becoming ever stronger. I look forward to seeing what the future holds!

Thanks for this very interesting interview, Megan. And again, congratulations on your MA!

Interview #8: Catharine Cellier-Smart

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The countdown to International Translation Day ’13 is almost over! But the fun doesn’t end just yet as today, we receive Catharine Celllier-Smart, a translator working with English and French. Catharine was born in London but now lives in the beautiful Reunion island (are you jealous?). She also blogs about our profession.

Hello, Catharine! It’s a pleasure having you participate in this project! Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
The pleasure is all mine, Emeline. I’m a freelance French to English translator. Originally from the UK (I grew up in London), I’ve lived in Reunion Island, a French overseas department in the south-west Indian Ocean, for about 20 years, apart from three years spent living in South Korea 2008-2011.
I worked for a long time for private sector companies doing non-language related work, but I often did translations during my free time. When my husband and I returned to Reunion from South Korea I knew it was the chance I’d been waiting for to start my own translation business as a full-time freelancer.

What makes you so passionate about translation?
I love helping people to communicate. Communication – in all its forms – really makes the world go round, and I definitely enjoy the fact that my language skills can help me be a part of that.

How do you usually celebrate International Translation Day? Is this day special to you or is it just like every other day?
It’s often just like any other day for me. If my commitments allow I try to attend the online conference(s) organised annually by a well-known translators’ website. There are no events held locally on Reunion, and there are so few of us translators on Reunion that it doesn’t really make it worthwhile to organise anything ourselves.
I do think International Translation Day is a chance to make the non-linguist population more aware of the work we do, although of course we also try to do that every day, don’t we?

Which difficulties do you face as a freelance translator? How is working on a remote island any different from being based on the continent?
Generally speaking I face the same joys and difficulties as other freelance translators. About half my work comes from local clients and I suppose that theoretically there’s less likelihood of non-payment as the island’s not that big – I could always go and pay my client a visit in person if needs be!
The remoteness means it’s always difficult and expensive to travel anywhere, and I miss the opportunity of attending conferences, training sessions, and social events in person where I’d meet other translators. I try to compensate by doing online training and by being active online, particularly in social media.
Extreme weather conditions can occasionally play havoc (did you know that Reunion Island has most of the world’s rainfall records?), but thankfully the volcano – despite being one of the world’s most active – is never a problem! Keeping my native English up to date used to be difficult when I first moved here, but thankfully internet and Skype have helped change that.

On the other hand, our profession has great aspects. What’s your favourite and why?
There are several, but if I had to choose just one: I enjoy the freedom to work when, where and how I want.

What do you think the future holds for us translators?

I think the future can be very bright. I’m perhaps more optimistic than translators who work mainly with agencies; I see more and more (direct) clients who need our services, and it’s definitely a tendency that’s on the increase. I’m a firm believer that the future is what we translators make it.

Thank you for your continuing support throughout this project, Catharine!

Interview #7: Catherine Christaki

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Today’s guest is Catherine Christaki. You probably all know Catherine for being behind the famous Weekly Favorites. An avid tweeter, Catherine blogs about social media and has regular guest posts that are chock-full of information for us translators. Catherine specializes in IT, medical and gambling texts.

Hello, Catherine and thank you for your participation! Could you start by telling a little bit about yourself?

Hello Emeline. Thank you for having me! I was born and bred in the beautiful island of Crete in Greece. At the age of 18, I left Greece to study French and German in the UK and during my 4-year degree I had the chance to live in Paris and Cologne as well. As soon as I returned to Greece, my translation career started and I also worked in the tourism industry for 3 years to supplement my income. After being a full-time translator for 11 years, I founded Lingua Greca Translations with my partner Christos Floros, also a translator. I translate mainly from English into Greek and I specialize in IT, Medical and Gambling texts. Most importantly: I love my job!

What makes you so passionate about languages?

I have always loved languages since I was little. I started with English at the age of 7 and then went on to study German, French, Italian and Spanish. Back then, it helped a lot than my older brother was studying for his PhD in the UK; I visited him for a month each summer and during my time there I read English books and helped him by typing English texts for his dissertation.

How do you usually celebrate International Translation Day? Is this day special to you or is it just like every other day?

It’s a very special day for all translators and since I joined social media in 2010 I have the chance to share it with colleagues worldwide. If work permits it, I usually attend local translation events in Athens, otherwise I just participate in online translation events.

Which difficulties do you face as a freelance translator? Does working along with another translator beneficial for your business?

The main difficulty I face as a translator is achieving a work-life balance. Working with and being married to a translator means that we rarely manage to leave the office at a “normal” hour. Our kittens sure miss us a lot when we are snowed under work. The benefits though are endless. We regularly work as a team (one translates and the other proofreads), I’ve never experienced the loneliness of working as a freelancer and he understands what I’m going through each day because he’s right there and experiences the same things.

On the other hand, our profession has great aspects. What’s your favorite and why?

The greatest benefit of working as a freelance translator for me is the freedom to work when I want and for as many hours as I wish. Sure, that rarely means less than 10 hours daily, but it’s my choice not someone else’s. Social media has opened many doors for me too. Meeting colleagues and making new translator friends has been very beneficial, both personally and professionally.

What do you think the future holds for us translators?

I think things are getting better by the day. We become more organized and business-driven. Nowadays (and even more so in the future) there is a plethora of resources available, online and offline, that helps us get better in our translation work with glossaries and translation forums and our businesses through the help of associations, workshops and events. No wonder translators are featured in yearly lists of the most in-demand and lucrative professions.

Thank you so much for this interview, Catherine!