Tag Archives: Translation

1 Linguist, 3 Questions with Alison Hughes

12 Jun

Today’s 3 questions are with Alison Hughes, a French to English translator who is based near Glasgow and specialises in creative texts.

Here are her answers:

  • If you could change one thing about your freelance translation career up to this point, what would it be? 

In an ideal world, I would have had a more structured approach and possibly specialised earlier. However, as with a lot of other female translators, I started out freelance with a 5 year old and a very young baby so it just wasn’t possible. In a way it is also nice to specialise later in my career because I feel I have the confidence that comes with experience.

  • What is the best piece of advice that you have been given by a fellow translator, or about business in general? 

This probably came from a tweet I read as recently as last Sunday. Think of how much your work is worth to the customer (and not how long it takes you to do it/how many words it is) and charge accordingly. OK so this is probably another “ideal world” situation but there are some customers it could be appropriate for and is a confidence booster in cases where you refuse to let agencies beat you down on price.

  • If you weren’t working in the language services industry, what would you be doing? 

That’s easy – something to do with food. I’m coeliac and have to follow a strict gluten free diet. A couple of years ago I was looking into setting up a business called Good Life Gluten Free to advise restaurants how to cater for the GF diet and also a website with gluten free ideas. Again, circumstances weren’t right at the time and it didn’t get past a prototype of the website and business cards. The opportunity has gone as there are now many resources but running a dedicated GF cafe with my sister is a tempting proposition.

Thanks, Alison!

Alison Hughes Translator

Alison Hughes is a French to English translator specialising in marketing and creative texts. She is also the coordinator of the Media Arts and Tourism Network of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI). You can take a look at her website here and follow her on Twitter @AHcreattrans.


1 Linguist, 3 Questions with Catherine Jan

8 Jun

Today’s interviewee is Catherine Jan, a French to English translator who maintains one of my favourite translation blogs, Catherine Translates. Here are Catherine’s answers:

  • If you could change one thing about your freelance translation career up to this point, what would it be?

I’d like to work with a partner. I think I’m good at some aspects of translation and business and just terrible at others. It’s a dream of mine to find someone to team up with and make business decisions together, do peer-editing, check terms, share marketing efforts,and so on.

  • What is the best piece of advice that you have been given by a fellow translator, or about business in general? 

I was encouraged to join the Société Française des Traducteurs. I’ve met many SFT colleagues in the flesh at workshops or at the monthly SFT café matinale in Paris, and also online. I also get access to its private email discussion forum.

  • If you weren’t working in the language services industry, what would you be doing?

That’s hard to imagine! I think I’d either be a corporate blogger or work with young children.

Thanks, Catherine!

Catherine JanCatherine Jan is a French to English Translator from Ontario, Canada, who is now based in Paris. She specialises in web content such as websites, press releases, blog posts and news articles. Check out her website here.

You can follow Catherine on Twitter at @TranslateTrad

1 Linguist, 3 Questions with Percy Balemans

7 Jun

Today’s 3 Questions are with Percy Balemans, a German and English to Dutch translator with her own blog at Translating is an Art.

  • If you could change one thing about your freelance translation career up to this point, what would it be?

Nothing really. I’ve tried quite a few things in my career up until now, from working as an in-house translator for an agency to leaving the translation industry altogether and gaining experience in areas as diverse as technical writing, copywriting, system administration, website development and even teaching scuba diving courses. Looking back it almost feels as if all these different experiences have prepared me for my freelance translation career and I’m quite happy with what I’m doing right now. I would say that maybe the best preparation for a freelance career is to gain experience in other ways first.

  • What is the best piece of advice that you have been given by a fellow translator, or about business in general?

Specialize and market yourself as the expert in that particular subject area. Freelancers often seem to be afraid to specialize, probably because they think they will “miss out” on jobs. But in my experience, most clients, especially direct clients, prefer someone who really knows what they are talking about in their area of specialization than someone who claims to be able to do any kind of translation, and in five or six language combinations too. It may not be easy at first to find a subject area that suits you, but that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with trying out a couple of things before you settle on one or two subjects you like and that suit you.

  • If you weren’t working in the language services industry, what would you be doing?

I’ve been away from the translation industry for almost 15 years, so I have tried other things, although they were mostly language-related as well. Having done other things, I now know that translation is what I really want to do.

Thanks, Percy!

Percy Balemans, Translator

Percy is a  English-Dutch/German-Dutch translator specialising in advertising (transcreation) and creative translations, mainly on the subjects of fashion, art and travel and tourism. Visit her website for more information: www.pb-translations.com.

You can also follow Percy on Twitter at @pbtranslations

Link Love

5 Jun

Here are a few great links I have come across lately*:


Naked Translations – Translating “vous” and “tu” in English

The Business of Translation – 10 Tips for Working Efficiently and Productively with a Professional Translator


The Freelancing – Pricing a Project. Getting Your Fee. And Staying Sane.

The Anti 9-to-5 Guide – How Professional Envy Can Help Freelancers

The No. 2 Pen Blog – Four Deadly Business Blogging Sins

*Disclaimer: these posts may not be new, as I have added a lot of blogs to my feed reader over the past few weeks

1 Linguist, 3 Questions with Valeria Aliperta

4 Jun

The first in my series of short interviews with fellow translators is with Valeria Aliperta, a translator, interpreter and Italian tutor, who works with English, French, Spanish and her native Italian.

Here are her answers:

  • If you could change one thing about your freelance translation career up to this point, what would it be?

I’ll probably had moved to London earlier! I’m happy with every bit of it but always eager to improve as I like challenges. Also would have taken more CPD courses/events but time is never enough!

  • What is the best piece of advice that you have been given by a fellow translator, or about business in general?

Always be nice to everybody, always be clear/honest in what you want/give, always bring business cards with you. This is what I’d say to people myself, too!

  • If you weren’t working in the language services industry, what would you be doing?

A hard one. I’ve always loved languages so I never really thought of a plan B. Based on current passions/experiences, I think marketing and advertising or fashion would be my choice. In any case, something that involves communication.

Thanks, Val!

Valeria AlipertaValeria Aliperta (Ass. ITI MCIL DPSI) holds a BA in Translation Studies, a MA in Conference Interpreting and runs her own business, Rainy London Translations in London. Both a conference interpreter and a translator, she works from English, Spanish and French into Italian but also project manages other combinations. Her main fields of expertise are IT & web, fashion, design, marketing, legal and advertising.

She has a soft spot for blogging, technology and social media and that’s also why she writes a blog http://rainylondontranslations.posterous.com/. She is a regular contributor to the ITI Bulletin and her brand has been mentioned in several marketing and media presentations in webinars and events.

You can reach her via info@rainylondontranslations.com or on Twitter @rainylondon.

Introducing 1 Linguist, 3 Questions

1 Jun

Microphone - Translator Interview Blog Series

Inspired in no small part by this set of interviews carried out by Sarah Dillon on her fantastic industry blog There’s Something About Translation, I have recently been in contact with a number of my fellow linguists, in order to produce a set of brief but brilliant insights into their lives as freelance translators and interpreters. I hope that these short interviews are interesting and inspiring for newcomers to the industry, and thought-provoking for the more established among us.

The questions are the following:

  1. If you could change one thing about your freelance translation career up to this point, what would it be?
  2. What is the best piece of advice that you have been given by a fellow translator, or about business in general?
  3. If you weren’t working in the language services industry, what would you be doing?

Many thanks to all who responded – stay tuned for the series!

If you would like to contribute to the series, please get in touch!

Friday Fun: Mark Twain’s German

25 May

Today’s post is for the German speakers out there. When people ask me which languages I speak, the word ‘German’ often provokes a response something along the lines of: “That must be so difficult” or “Aren’t all of the words in the wrong order?”

German is of course known for its lengthy words, some of my favourites being Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung (speed limit), and Niederschlags-wahrscheinlichkeit (chance of rain) and Schwarzwälderkirschtorte (the famous black forest gâteau).

It is true that there are some particularly complicated grammatical structures, but isn’t that true of any language? That said, any learner of German will be faced with the infamous subordinating conjunctions such as weil (because), which ‘send’ the verb to the end of the clause. This is described to great effect by one of my favourite quotations on language by the wonderful Mark Twain:

“When a German dives into a sentence, you won’t see him again until he emerges at the other end with the verb between his teeth.”

Twain was a speaker of German and wrote about his experiences (and frustrations), with getting to grips with the language. In 1880, he wrote an essay entitled “The Awful German Language“, which contains some hilarious gems that I would like to share with you here:

“and after the verb — merely by way of ornament, as far as I can make out — the writer shovels in “haben sind gewesen gehabt haben geworden sein,” or words to that effect, and the monument is finished.”

“For instance, the same sound, sie, means you, and it means she, and it means her, and it means it, and it means they, and it means them. Think of the ragged poverty of a language which has to make one word do the work of six — and a poor little weak thing of only three letters at that. But mainly, think of the exasperation of never knowing which of these meanings the speaker is trying to convey. This explains why, whenever a person says sie to me, I generally try to kill him, if a stranger.”

“In the German it is true that by some oversight of the inventor of the language, a Woman is a female; but a Wife (Weib) is not — which is unfortunate. A Wife, here, has no sex; she is neuter; so, according to the grammar, a fish is he, his scales are she, but a fishwife is neither.”

(Source: about.com)

Are there any aspects of your second or third languages that drive you mad sometimes?

Non-Fringe Benefits

24 May

Just a short post for the ladies today.

Have you ever thought about how your hairstyle affects your work?

I was at the hairdresser a few days ago (one of the benefits of the freelance life), describing what I had in mind this time. My lovely stylist, Amanda, asked me whether I had thought about having a fringe (bangs, for my colleagues across the pond). I considered it for a little while, but decided against it. Heavy, blunt fringes are ‘in’ at the moment but, apart from the fact that my very curly hair would probably not behave well enough, I know some of my friends have had problems with headaches when reading or looking at screens for long periods of time. Hardly ideal for my line of work!

Have you ever found that seemingly trivial choices like choosing a hairstyle affect your work?

(By the way, I went for a very short, curly bob – I’m ready for summer!)

What Inspires You? A Musical Interlude

22 May

Working with music on: some love it, some can’t stand it.

I go through phases and change my working environment throughout the day. I find that this gives me more energy (a change is as good as a rest, they say) and music can get distracting if I know the words to songs. An alternative to this is instrumental tracks, a few of which I have linked to below. Even if I’m not working, I find this music extremely inspiring, so I hope you enjoy it (go on, give yourself a little break!):

  • The Heart Asks Pleasure First – Michael Nyman (listen here). I absolutely love piano music – I have always said that I would love to learn to play the piano, but it’s always been one of those things that has slipped through the net. This is a deep and brooding piece that I have loved since the first time I heard it.
  • La Noyée – Yann Tiersen (listen here). I was introduced to Yann Tiersen’s music late, after all of the popularity of Amélie had died down, but this particular track has really stuck with me. I find it very uplifting – it makes my mind soar and gives me a rush that makes me think anything is possible.
  • Ludivico Einaudi is another composer who has caught my eye (or rather, ear). My brother, a musician and composer, introduced the Italian’s music to me a few years ago. He always has someone new for me to listen to, a product of his extensive knowledge and eclectic tastes. My favourite piece of Einaudi’s music is this one.

As the stars of Monty Python used to say, and now for something completely different:

  • John Mayer. I know a lot of people, of very different age groups, who enjoy Mayer’s music, although it is fair to say that my other half does not share my feelings here! I tried and failed to narrow down my selection to one, so here are my favourite two John Mayer tracks for relaxing and recharging for a little while (after all, we freelancers deserve it!).
  1. Freefallin’ – a cover of Tom Petty’s famous version from 1989 (listen here)
  2. Slow Dancing in a Burning Room – (listen here)

There are, of course, many more tracks on my working playlist, but I won’t inundate you with them! Do you have any favourite tracks to work to? I look forward to receiving your recommendations for inspiring pieces of music.

The Freelance Translator’s Reading List: Additions

14 May

Apologies for the extreme lack of posts lately. Now that the academic year is racing to a close, my MA commitments are inevitably taking over for a few weeks. Nevertheless, I have managed to find some time to add some of the great suggestions I have had from colleagues to the Freelance Translator’s Reading List (original post here).

I was delighted with the response I had to the idea of grouping some our favourite language and translation books together, and I would like to thank my fellow tweeting translators for adding to my wish list.

I will present each book here, along with a short note about the translator who suggested it:

  • On Writing – Stephen King (as recommended by the inspiring Chris Durban at a professional workshop)
  • Screw It, Let’s Do It – Richard Branson (not language-related, but a very popular motivational book)

Suggested by Alison Hughes (@AHcreattrans), a French to English creative translator, based in Milngavie, Scotland. Alison is also the coordinator of the Media, Arts and Tourism within the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI).

  • Mouse or Rat: Translation as Negotiation – Umberto Eco

Suggested by Anna Lycett (@keycheck_t9n), who provides English and Polish language services and is based in Leeds. Anna also maintains an industry blog, mainly directed at newcomers to the profession (read it here).

  • Through the Language Glass – Guy Deutscher

Suggested by Percy Balemans (@pbtranslations), an English and German to Dutch translator, who specialises in advertising material (transcreation), fashion, art, travel and tourism, journalism and human rights.

This book was also mentioned by Laura Bennett (@culturetrans), who is currently reading it.

Thanks again to everyone who got in touch. I have certainly enjoyed reading all of your thoughts, and I hope that others have too. I can make a start on my Christmas list now too 😉

If anyone still has suggestions, I’d love to hear them!