All our lives are marked by milestones which appear clear in only retrospect. Each time we make major decisions or react to unexpected circumstances, we never really know what lies ahead. But looking back, we see how each key event – whether welcome or unwelcome –played a part in making us into the person we are today. A chance meeting, an unplanned travel experience, a divorce, a disease – all emerge along the journey as seemingly random events, and it’s only later that we recognise them as real turning points. That is certainly true of English and French into Italian and Spanish translator Patricia Ferreira, whose life and travels have taken her far from home, given her a varied career in languages, and culminated in an inspiring triumph over adversity.Read More
Many translators speak of how their final career choice was somehow the result of an action or decision by one or both of their parents, but few trace the journey back two generations to a grandparent. However, that’s exactly the case with long-term ProZ member Mario Freitas, whose grandfather – even though he wasn’t a career diplomat – served as Brazilian ambassador to El Salvador, Honduras, and Lebanon. It was in Beirut that Mario’s parents met – his father was of course Brazilian, and his mother Lebanese – and it was precisely because of that cosmopolitan experience that his father later placed Mario in an American school in their hometown of Belo Horizonte.Read More
While some translators had jet-setting parents who carted their kids with them across the globe, complete with international schooling, and others grew up amid several languages, surrounded by grandmothers or uncles muttering away in exotic tongues, Élisabeth Fuchs begins her interview by saying “My background’s not very interesting.” Ah, but appearances deceive. It may be true that she has lived her entire life in a 200-km radius, and that the most adventurous move was from Lorraine, in the northeast of France, to Alsace in the…er…northeast of France, when she was still a young child. But when you zoom in and look at the detail, every human story, every background, has its fascination, and Élisabeth’s is no exception.Read More
Imagine growing up in one country and enjoying your late adolescence and adult life in another – but without ever leaving your home town. Such was the experience of Tvrtko Štuka, who was born in Zagreb, in what was then Yugoslavia, although the city is now of course the capital of Croatia.Read More
Just close your eyes for a few seconds and type a sentence or two at your keyboard. Then open them and see how you got on. If you’re a touch typist, chances are you didn’t do too badly, but nevertheless you’re keen to check – a task for which you use your vision of course. Now imagine operating “in the dark” throughout your professional career, typing sentence after sentence, translation after translation, without ever being able to see the page, and without using any kind of speech-to-text software. The trick? Well, on your keyboard, there are tiny key bumps on the F and J keys, as well as on the number 5 on your numerical keypad. Perhaps you’ve never stopped to give them much thought. But for a blind person, they are essential, and orientate the fingers around the entire keyboard.
Welcome to the extraordinary world of Stefan Paloka.
Ah, now you have an advantage over me, because you’ve seen the photograph. But when the online interview window opened to reveal Lola Sugimoto, my initial surprise was that she’s not Japanese at all, but rather Italian American (née Calabro), with bits of the original Dutch settlers in New York as well as a smattering of Irish and German genes thrown into the mix. All the same, she’s married to a Japanese, speaks the language fluently – although she speaks English to her son –and has been in the country over a decade, so we’re definitely talking bicultural here…Read More
Imagine speaking one language at home, another while shopping in town, and yet another every time you come across someone who greets you in a third. That was a daily reality for the young Achille (pron: a-SHEEL) Yaya growing up in the central region of Benin in West Africa, tucked between Togo to the West and massive Nigeria to the East.Read More
Some translators end up feeling like fish out of water in their own families, where they are the only one with a penchant for languages, as if their gift sprang out of nowhere. Others are lucky enough to have parents who carefully foster and encourage a love of languages. Such was the case of Caroline Durant (stress the first syllable of the surname), whose mother was herself an aficionado of all things linguistic, and carefully nurtured her daughter’s interest.Read More
To some it might seem like a dream childhood. Based in glittering Dubai, but travelling the world with your parents, as your Egyptian father does a hush-hush job in military intelligence, working throughout the Middle East. Spending two-to-three months at a time in countries as diverse as Turkey, Iraq, Greece. Lebanon, Israel, Cyprus, Syria, Algeria and Morocco. But alas, the attractions of nomadism were lost on the young Islam Younis, who felt quite bitter about it at the time. Just imagine – the moment you make friends, you move on. You’re rootless, endlessly on the road, and your whole life lacks a sense of being settled.Read More
Sometimes when we look at translators who have achieved a notable level of success, we imagine that it must have been plain sailing, or that they just “got lucky” somewhere along the way. We forget the years of hard work, the risks taken, sacrifices made, the wrong choices and the lessons learned. The story of Martina Russo’s career is a case in point. She may well be CEO of a company today, with a finance officer and an entire admin team, but she’s worked hard to get there, and done several other challenging jobs as part of that journey.Read More
Many a translator ends up living in a different culture, far from home. That’s often part of the deal. But few are those, it could be argued, who don’t feel at home until they reach and settle in that second country. It’s as if they were simply born in the wrong place, and had to pack their bags and journey across borders or even continents to find the right one…Read More
For many translators, a love of the magic of foreign tongues is the springboard in to the profession. But of course that’s not the only gateway… For Anne Rametsi, for example, it was a passion for human rights discovered early in life that eventually led her to a life as a professional translator and university lecturer designing and delivering courses on translation.Read More
Christian Nielsen-Palacios is a man who has learned the meaning of the word “enough”. At 65, with two grown-up sons, a steady stream of texts from his favourite agencies, his house in upstate New York paid for, and all his essential bills covered, he’s reached a place of satisfaction that will no doubt be the envy of many. But it’s been a long and winding journey, which began far from where he is now, with several serendipitous events as milestones along the way...Read More