Interview #6: Tess Whitty


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!


2 thoughts on “Interview #6: Tess Whitty

  1. […] Other translators interviewed include: Olga Arakelyan, Megan Onions, Catherine Christaki, Tess Whitty, Nicole Y. Adams, Judy Jenner, Carolyn Yohn, Sara Colombo, and Lloyd Bingham. You can read my […]

  2. […] English? Isn’t there a computer program for that? Vitaminwater’s Translation Blunder Interview #6: Tess Whitty Interview #7: Catherine Christaki Interview #8: Catharine Cellier-Smart Interview #9: Megan Onions […]

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