Meet the Translator – Hayley
In this blog, we speak to one of our regular translators, Hayley, about her experience working as a translator, her background and her passion for languages.
Hi Hayley, tell us more about yourself!
Hi! I’ve been a translator for 9 years now and have been working with The Translation People for over 5 years. I’m a native English speaker and fluent in French and Italian – so I translate out of my second languages into English.
How did you get started with these languages?
French has always been part of my life. Growing up, we would go to France several times a year for holidays – my parents speak French and I would spend my summers with groups of French friends. This really helped to consolidate the French I was then taught at school.
Italian, however, came to me much later in life and it wasn’t until university that I started studying it as part of my degree.
What qualifications do you have?
Languages have always been a passion and I studied them throughout school, starting with Latin and French and then adding Russian and German too. I left school with GCSEs in French, German and Russian, and A-Levels in French and German, before going on to attain a Bachelor’s degree in French and Italian, followed by a Master’s in Translation Studies. I started Italian from scratch in my first year of university, having made a start over the previous year’s summer holidays by taking lessons from a local Italian teacher. Some people thought I was mad starting a whole new language at university rather than continuing one I had already started at school, but I just knew I was going to love everything about Italian – and I was right!
What content do you specialise in?
I enjoy working across a diverse range of projects, but my specialist areas are predominantly luxury consumer products, legal and corporate translations. I’ve worked on websites and PR material for fashion houses, technology brands and vineyards (one of my favourites!), as well as legal certificates, T&Cs, court proceedings, tender documentation and contracts for a variety of businesses. ‘In a previous life’, I worked in the legal and luxury fashion sectors for many years and this professional background has given me a great foundation when working on these types of projects.
What kind of challenges have you come across when translating and how have you overcome them?
One of the most demanding elements of being a translator – but also one of the most enjoyable – is when first working with a new business. With each new business comes new vocabulary, a new tone of voice, new acronyms etc. To help hit the ground running, resources such as terminology databases, glossaries and brand/identity guidelines can be incredibly valuable.
In the event of any difficulties – perhaps I might need some clarification from the client, usually on context or specific in-house terminology – I find raising any queries early with the project manager is the best way to resolve this. The project managers at The Translation People are really good at liaising with the client on any queries and they often enjoy mulling over linguistic nuances with me!
Finding good clients can also be a challenge – some organisations do seem to regard translators as ‘commodities’. I’m lucky to work with The Translation People, which values and appreciates the skills of their translators.
What’s the best way to learn a language in your opinion?
For me, it has to start with the basics. I strongly believe that it’s about learning the foundations of grammar and verbs and learning how to ‘build’ the language from those fundamental building blocks. It’s quite a traditional approach, but it’s how I learned, and I find it to be the best method to make it ’stick’.
After that, I think it’s all about immersion. I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in France growing up and have since spent time living and working there. I also spent two years living in Milan which really took me from ‘knowing’ Italian to being fluent in it.
And if you can’t be in a country, then do what you can to bring that country to you: watch films and TV in that language, read books and news in that language – immerse yourself as much as you can.
What advice would you give someone looking to become a translator?
Alongside the language part, translation is a very technology-focussed industry. So, make sure to familiarise yourself with all the intelligent tools and software available, as well as keeping abreast of the latest technology and innovations.
Finally, why do you Love Language?
It is definitely the spoken word which is the main pull for me. The way a language sounds – its rhythm, its personality. Take Italian for example: I had no previous connection with Italy, so there was no real ‘reason’ for me to learn it, but as soon as I heard it being spoken, I knew it was a language I simply had to learn. Next on my list is Brazilian Portuguese!
Language is so much more than just the words coming out of your mouth – my whole body language changes depending on whether I’m speaking English, French or Italian!