Meet the Translator – Rosa
In this blog, we chat to Rosa, one of our German to English translators, about her experience and background in translation.
How did you get started with languages and translation?
My love of languages started during my childhood in Los Angeles, California. I grew up in a bilingual household (Spanish, English) and was fortunate to attend a middle and high school which placed an emphasis on learning foreign languages. My French class in middle school and Spanish and Italian classes in high school were my favourite subjects. In university, I studied German as part of my degree in International Studies and participated in a total immersion program in Munich during my third year of studies.
I began translating fairly soon after I moved to Germany in my early 20s, when I would complete the occasional translation for a friend who worked at an advertising agency. But I did not seriously consider it as a full-time career until my mid-30s when I was raising my two sons. I discovered the benefits of freelancing for working mothers and found it to be a great solution for combining my professional ambitions and care-giving duties.
What content do you specialise in?
While I focused on marketing texts during the beginning of my career, I am currently specializing in the areas of corporate communication, contracts, higher education and CPD training. I intend to shift my specialisation to focus more on legal translations in the near future and am currently finishing my qualifications to become a court-sworn legal translator in Germany.
What kind of challenges have you come across when translating and how have you overcome them?
Languages are continuously evolving and new expressions are continually emerging. Translating some neologisms and truly capturing their nuances and connotations can be quite tricky. One solution I recommend is to see if an entry about the expression has been made on a translator platform, such as the proz.com portal. Very often other translators have had the same question or issue. While resources such as proz.com shouldn’t be used as authoritative sources, they can steer a translator in the right direction. Another challenge I often face is company-specific acronyms. The only solution here is to contact the project manager and the client for clarification.
How has your previous work experience helped you in your translation work?
From a linguistic perspective, working as an English teacher for 25 years has been essential for my ability to really understand how English grammar and syntax work and to enable me to translate successfully into English for different audiences and in different scenarios. From a content perspective, my previous work experience as a paralegal and accounting assistant in the U.S.A. has given me a solid foundation for researching specialised terminology and translating legal or business-related content.
What’s the best way to learn a language in your opinion?
While I am a fan of total immersion, I am also a firm believer in formal language training. It is essential for students to really understand how a language works. Students learning languages need a safe space to actively use their passive knowledge of a language. The fear of making mistakes and embarrassing oneself when speaking is best overcome when people can practice what they have learnt with others who are in the same situation. Hence, the ideal way to learn a language is to combine language courses with spending time in a country where it is spoken.
What advice would you give someone looking to become a translator?
I would advise anyone starting out in the field to begin working for an agency where they can get experience translating a variety of texts from different fields to find the subjects they excel at. Continuing professional development courses are a great way to develop expertise in the field(s) they are interested in specialising in. The more background knowledge a translator has on a subject, the higher the quality of the translation and the faster they will work, which in turn means more money in their pocket.
Finally, why do you Love Language?
I love language because it allows me to see life and society through another perspective. Every language has its own rhythm and I love the challenge of trying to reproduce it as an outsider.