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!