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!

Interview #6: Tess Whitty

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We continue our countdown to International Translation Day 2013 with today’s interview with Tess Whitty. Tess works with English and her native Swedish. She actually moved her business in Sweden for a year and has just come back to the States. Find out what she has to say about translation!

Hello, Tess, and thank you for your participation in this project! Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

I am an English-Swedish translator specializing in software and website localization, business communication and medical translation. My previous professional and educational background is in international marketing and business communications and I have now worked as a full time translator for 10 years (since 2003).  I became a translator when we moved to the US from Sweden and I have never looked back. Aside from my regular translation work, I serve as language chair and grader for the English-Swedish certification program, and chair for the Chapter/affiliate group committee for the American Translators Association.  I am passionate about my job and also give training seminars and presentations on translation and marketing skills for translators.

What makes you so passionate about translation?

 I did not plan on becoming a translator when growing up, but it must have been fate that brought me to my dream job, translation. I love translation because it involves my passion for languages and writing, but also that I learn something new every day, and it is a constant evolution process. The fact that I can work as a freelance translator, be my own boss and set my own hours is of course also very important for my job satisfaction. I have always been interested in other countries, languages and cultures and through this profession I get to meet so many interesting people, both as clients and colleagues, from all over the world.

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

 I usually celebrate it by doing what I love, i.e. translating. But I often also attend training and celebration events online, such as the ProZ freelance translator conference online.

Which difficulties do you face as a freelance translator? Did moving to Sweden help develop your business?

I do not feel that there are any difficulties that I cannot handle being a freelance translator, but one thing that can be difficult is to vet my clients and make sure that I get paid on time. As a freelancer it is also sometimes hard to find a good work-life balance, with freedom comes the responsibility to make it work. Also, for me, a Swedish native living in the US it is also very important to keep up with my native language, and something I have to be more conscious about than translators living in Sweden. In that respect, moving back to Sweden for a year certainly helped. I also took advantage of all the linguistic training opportunities there and made new business contacts. However, I almost felt that I would have needed to stay longer in order to really take advantage of all the business opportunities offered there.

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

 They are probably the same as the ones that makes me passionate about this career, the freedom, flexibility and the constant learning and development. It is hard to choose a favourite since all of these are important to me, plus the fact that I can work with things I am passionate about.

What do you think the future holds for us translators?

 I think the future for us translators is bright. It is a growing profession and becomes more and more popular among choices of professions. It is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and with the increased globalization and the lightning speed development of electronic communication; the need for translation will keep increasing. The development of machine translation will not make us translators obsolete any time soon, but I think it is important that we translators learn how to benefit from machine translation in order to keep up with the development.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your answers with us, Tess!

Interview #5: Nicole Y. Adams

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Today, our guest is Nicole Y. Adams. Nicole specializes in marketing for small-businesses. Now an established freelance translator, she even set up her own coaching system in order to help new translators develop their business. A prolific author, she has a highly anticipated book in the works which will deal with diversification in the translation industry.

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

Hi Emeline, thank you for inviting me to take part in this wonderful project. I’m really pleased to be a part of it! I run a boutique German/English translation business specialising in marketing, PR and corporate communications. I launched my business, NYA Communications, in the UK ten years ago and am now based in Brisbane, Australia. Apart from language services, I also offer coaching for fellow freelance translators to inspire them and help them to grow their businesses. I find it very rewarding to see someone’s business go from strength to strength after mentoring or coaching them, and I think it’s important that we all help one another in the industry and share our knowledge with colleagues.

 What makes you so passionate about languages and translation?

I’ve always been a language enthusiast. Maths and science have never been among my strengths, but languages have always come easily to me. Back in high school, my final thesis was on comparing the German translation of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath with its English original. So I must have had a thing for translation even then!

After working in-house for a number of years, I decided to go back to university in 2003 to complete a Masters in Contemporary English Language and Linguistics at the University of Reading, and I loved every minute of it. I never formally studied translation and took the exam to qualify as a state-certified translator in Germany as an external candidate, flying in from England just for the day. The examiners thought I was crazy, but I think some of us just have language and translation in our blood!

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

Well, it’s a great excuse to demand gifts from friends and family, isn’t it? 😉 But jokes aside, I usually spend it in the office like any other day and attend an online event, usually one of the online conferences Proz.com hosts every year to mark the occasion.

 Which difficulties do you face as a freelance translator ? Did studying your specialization (i.e. marketing) help develop your business?

For me personally, the main challenge was relocating from the UK to Australia in 2010. I took my client base with me, and while it all went smoothly overall, the time difference did prove to be an issue for some clients whom I now no longer work with. The second major problem has been currency loss. As nearly all of my clients are based in Europe, the declining exchange rate over the past three years since moving to Australia has made things a little interesting at times.

In terms of specialising, yes, I did study marketing communications and public relations to consolidate my practical experience. I believe when we specialise, practical experience, e.g. in a marketing department for marketing translators, is ideal, but it should be underpinned by theoretical knowledge and relevant qualifications. This combination will best equip us to position ourselves as experts in our fields and find the right clients who will happily pay our expert rates.

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

One of my favourite aspects about being a freelance translation professional is that I can meet up with fellow freelance colleagues for coffee or lunch to discuss the industry or the latest news and events. These ‘business meetings’ are definitely a major plus and I recommend everyone schedule in at least one every other week!

I was also thrilled that, as a solopreneur working from my home office, I could finally throw away my corporate wardrobe and work in comfort instead! I’m most productive in comfortable outfits and could no longer imagine working in a business suit all day.

The third and perhaps most important aspect is the huge amount of flexibility self-employment gives us. I feel blessed to enjoy a fantastic work/life balance, and I never need to miss out on my children’s school performances or other family outings because I can simply schedule my working hours to suit my personal preferences. I certainly couldn’t imagine a more rewarding career choice!

 What do you think the future holds for us translators?

I think the future is rosy for freelance translators. When I carried out a survey among 250 freelance translators in July for my upcoming book Diversification in the Language Industry (see http://www.xl8diversification.com for more information), I was thrilled to discover that while a total of 19.2% of respondents consider themselves ‘struggling freelancers’ today, only a total of 4.4% expect to be struggling five years down the track, with 6.4% seeing themselves working in-house or in another industry. This is very encouraging and indicates that there are fresh impulses in the freelance translation industry. Many of those impulses relate to diversification, meaning more and more colleagues will choose to offer services or products in addition to ‘pure’ translation. These services may be connected to their core service of translation, or they may relate to a completely different area of entrepreneurship within the language industry. I think these are very exciting developments, and I firmly believe that there are bountiful opportunities for freelance translators to grow their businesses and succeed in the language industry, today and in the years to come.

Thank you so much for this highly insightful interview, Nicole!