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!

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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!