In this issue, Mónica Machado is interviewed about some of the translation profession challenges for both well-established translators and newcomers, providing some advice to the latter
Interviewer – What do you think are the biggest challenges for well-established translators?
MM – Keeping up with business technology changes and upgrading technical knowledge in their working areas are probably the biggest challenges. Everyone knows how difficult it is to get used to new software after years working with a more familiar one. Keeping abreast of latest developments in a working area is also essential, since nobody will be able to provide a good translation on technical issues they don’t understand.
Interviewer – How do you keep updated on your specialist technical areas?
MM – Essentially, I try to read as much reference material as possible before a new job. Unfortunately, not all projects allow us this important familiarisation time. I also read specialist publications which are useful to learn about new technologies, equipment and services.
Interviewer – As for newcomers, what do you think are their biggest challenges and what would your advice be?
MM – Starting off in a new profession is always hard. Translation is no different. I guess the biggest difficulty faced by newcomers is to do with getting jobs and returning clients. It is also very hard to determine one’s market at first. Generalist translators work in all/any subjects and face a strong competition among themselves. Clients also have difficulty in choosing the right translator in this group as these translators often differentiate themselves by speediness and cost. Specialist translators offer something else of a higher value: specialist knowledge and industry dedication. To all new translators I meet I say they should be prepared to offer a value-added service, specialise, invest time and money in improving their own business and join a professional organisation.
Interviewer – What do you mean by value-added service, can you give some examples?
MM – I always say that translating is easy, so much so that simpler texts can now be translated by machines. However, a professional translator is a communicator and as such he/she must ensure that the translated text follows the standards, syntax, terminology and spelling in use in the country where text is going to be used, uses the right tone for the given audience, and does not sound like a translation. However, the items listed above should be part of the regular translator’s work and are not an added value. To me, adding value is about informing a client that the tone of their document cannot be rendered literally as it may be interpreted wrongly, improving clients’ originals where possible, ensuring the original is consistent so that the translation is consistent, doing a context check to make sure that any context issues are not simply repeated into the translation, just to mention a few.
Interviewer – Do you think machine translation may impact your business in the near future?
MM – I am sure that machine translation will impact many aspects of the translation industry. However, machines often make our lives easier and more interesting, so I hope that machine translation can evolve to process all the more boring and repetitive texts leaving the humans time to be creative and translate and transcreate the more challenging and interesting pieces of work.
This interview was first published in Issue 16 of the Monica Machado Translation Services newsletter, which can viewed in full here.
Mónica Machado is an English into European Portuguese translator, specialised in Oil and Gas, Mining and Geology, Environment, Hydroelectric Power, Renewables, HSE, Shipping and Business Legal Areas, working for Portugal and Portuguese-speaking African countries, such as Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe.
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