Blog & Information
Our Featured Translator this week is Natali Lekka. Natali has a MA in Translation Studies from the University of Warwick in the UK and has been translating professionally from English and French into Greek since 2008. She specializes in marketing, advertising and transcreation. Natali is also a bilingual content writer and feature writer for brands and publications. In 2020, she launched “Content Writing For Translators”, an e-course that helps translators branch out to content writing. She was also named #11 of top 50 influencers in the localization industry by Nimdzi Insights.
Q: How long have you been a translator? Why did you choose this profession?
A: I grew up in a multilingual household. My mom who grew up in the former Belgian Congo is a French speaker and my first best friend at the age of six was an American girl, so I’ve always known I wanted to work with languages.
I studied to become a translator at the end of the 1990s, but it wasn’t until 10 years later that I decided to become a freelancer. Translation encompasses my two biggest passions: languages and writing.
Q: Do you remember your first translation job?
A: Back in the 1990s when I was still a student, I was asked to translate two pages of a very densely written French text into Greek. Not knowing what to charge back then, I asked for 5,000 drachmas per page. I couldn’t believe my luck when I made my first 10,000 drachmas from translating (about 30.00 USD). I thought no one could be in their right mind to pay me that much for my work!
Q: What was the funniest/most interesting experience in the job?
A: Even before I became a full-time freelance translator in 2011, most of the jobs I did involved languages. In 2005 I started working on a travel and property TV program for Channel 4 in the UK. I was sent to Spain to talk to real estate agents and interpret between prospective buyers and agents.
But the most interesting and life-affirming experience for me was meeting my husband-to-be through translation. He was looking for a Greek translator for one of his clients when a mutual acquaintance of ours put us in touch. I did an excellent job for him and kept it professional for about 2 years before our late-night conversations over gTalk evolved into something else. We still have that first e-mail he sent out looking for a Greek translator.
Q: Which social media do you use? What are your most favorite pages/accounts/groups to follow?
A: LinkedIn, hands down! I try to be active as often as I can, and it seems people like what I am posting because this year Nimdzi Insights chose me to be on their Top 50 Localization Influencers Watchlist. What an honor!
On Facebook, my three favorite FB groups to follow are: “Things Translators Never Say”, “Foodie Translators” and “Translators with CATs”.
Q: What are your favorite books?
A: Business development books aside, I am a big Nordic noir fan and love Icelandic authors especially. I am also a big fan of modern Japanese literature. Finally, I really like reading Gaston Dorren’s books about languages.
Q: What advice would you give to an up-and-coming translator?
A: Pick a specialization or two, read a lot and try to become the go-to person in your expert field. Many specializations does not equal more work. No one wants to work with a jack of all trades.
Make CPD part of your business plan and don’t hesitate to pivot or add more skills to your skill set. Learning about new skills such as writing, editing, CAT tools or DTP will only serve to make you better as a translator.
Q: What do you do to develop your professional skills? Webinars, conferences?
A: I am a serial course taker. I do both free and paid courses about various aspects of my business, especially marketing, which is my main specialization as a translator too. I also like attending trade shows in person (when that’s possible), as this allows me to find potential clients.
Q: What would you like changed or improved in the industry?
A: I think university modern language or translation degrees should become more applied, by offering to teach skills like CAT tools, marketing and small business administration. Learning about language and culture is very important of course, but that often leads to people graduating with a degree without knowing anything about starting a business or finding a client.
Moreover, the industry needs to assert itself and educate clients about the value it offers. Marketing translators for example should be paid the same as copywriters, as localization is copywriting in another language.
Q: What is the most important to be successful as a translator, in your opinion?
A: The most important thing in my opinion is to try and achieve a healthy work-life balance. As freelancers, we often find it difficult to switch off, especially when we have to work with clients from different time zones. There is also this flawed mentality that the more work we have, the more successful we must be, when this is, in fact, a by-product of the poor rates that are on offer in the industry. Our industry seems to consider burnout a badge of honor, but this needs to change. Success for me is having both a healthy lifestyle and a healthy bank balance. If you feel you need to work all the time to make ends meet, then consider raising your fees or creating some passive income.
Natali is one of the speakers at IEO 2nd conference Language Access and the New Reality on December 3-4, 2020. Together with Alessandra Checcarelli and Rafa Lombardino she will be speaking on the panel “Expanding skills and careers”. This panel will discuss the potential to diversify your career by acquiring new knowledge. Topics to be covered are content writing, live subtitling and voiceover.
The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) is one of IEO 2nd online conference’s Gold sponsors. CCHI administers a national, accredited, and inclusive certification program for healthcare interpreters in the U.S. CCHI is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization founded in 2009, with the purpose to assess medical interpreters’ competence and to help ensure quality of interpreting in any healthcare setting and in any modality of interpreting. CCHI is the only national certifying entity offering accredited comprehensive certification programs for medical interpreters.
CCHI offers two national certifications: CoreCHI™, a language-neutral core professional knowledge certification, and CHI™, a language-specific performance certification, available in Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish. CCHI counts over 4,400 certificants nationwide.
Plunet BusinessManager is one of IEO’s 2nd conference Platinum sponsors and the integrated management system for translation and interpretation businesses.
Would you like to know how you can manage translation and interpreting projects with one powerful software solution? If so, check out this fact sheet / flyer on Plunet InterpretingManager module.
What does an audio mixer do?
By Ernest Niño-Murcia
Have you seen posts on social media talking about audio mixers being used with Remote Simultaneous Interpreting platforms? Here’s a simple view of what these nifty devices do. Instead of swapping headphones and earbuds to listen to two different “channels” or audio streams, this mixer allows you to funnel all of those audio streams through one pair of headphones and literally dial in which one, or ones, you want to hear and at what intensity. Take a look at this brief demonstration.
This blog was first published on T.E.A. Language Solutions website. Ernest is one of the speakers at IEO 2nd conference Language Access and the New Reality on December 3-4, 2020. Together with Liz Essary and Janis Palma he will be speaking on the panel “Interpreting 2020: pivoting in the time of quaranteams and doomscrolling”.
Italian native conference interpreter, translator and respeaker for English, German and French languages, Alessandra has studied in Rome and Munich. She has mainly worked in Europe after obtaining a BA degree in linguistics and cultural mediation in 2007, and an MA degree in conference interpreting in 2010. She is a board member of Association onA.I.R.-Intersteno Italia, the Italian delegate association of Intersteno international federation for information and communication processing.
Q: How long have you been an interpreter and why/how did you get started in the field?
A: I have been a professional interpreter for more than 10 years. I started carrying out simultaneous interpreting assignments in 2008 on behalf of some voluntary organisations, while I was attending my master’s course in conference interpreting at the interpretation school in Rome, the city where I currently live and work. Then I won the Erasmus scholarship, and during my university days in Munich I carried out some liaison interpreting assignments on the occasion of international trade fairs in Germany. Then I went back to Rome to obtain my Master’s Degree in Conference Interpreting in March 2010. After a 6-month internship period as a translator and interpreter at the Italian Parliament, I started my career as a freelance interpreter in Italy and Europe.
Q: Why did you choose conference specialty?
A: I graduated in conference interpreting, but I also attended a community interpreting course and I currently work as a conference, community and court interpreter. I started studying foreign languages when I was a child and I decided to become an interpreter at the age of 12. When I attended the language high school I was curious about every subject and this is the main reason why I chose conference specialty: I could speak and translate languages and study everything I wanted – from medicine to philosophy – without ever getting bored!
Q: What was your first interpreting job?
A: An English<>Italian simultaneous interpreting assignment during a 3-day meeting of a religious congregation in Rome. It was voluntary work, but it was a huge international meeting with young people and it was so exciting and incredible!
Q: How do you prepare for assignments?
A: First of all, I always make sure that I have some previous knowledge about the topic and never accept assignments where topics are completely unknown to me. I study the conference material if available, I learn glossaries of previous conferences on the same topic, I look for new words on the Internet, I prepare and learn new glossaries. I study hard, but I also leave room for improvisation. Conference interpreting is much more than words, and working live is always a new challenge and adventure!
Q: Which is easier, translation or interpreting?
A: Both are difficult, but it all depends on your personality. I am extrovert, impulsive and love new challenges, therefore interpreting is a better fit for me. I think translation is very useful for learning new words and reasoning on their exact meaning, but I find it less fun… and I am not always so patient!
Q: What was the funniest/most interesting experience on the job?
A: Funny enough, a liaison interpreting assignment during a one-week technical course for blue collars on the functioning of industrial machines. It was a highly technical task and I had spent the previous days studying engineering in German and Italian. The attendees were very friendly and easy-going and I could not believe my eyes that they really understood what I was saying. I had learned a ton of words, trying to understand how all those mechanisms worked, but engineering was a secret to me, and still is!
Q: What was the saddest experience on the job?
A: A consecutive interpreting assignment where I had to convey the message of the CEO of a multinational company to the employees who were going to get fired. It was so sad to watch their faces while I was interpreting, that I almost felt guilty about what I was saying, even though those were not my words. I did not feel well, but I managed to carry out the task anyway.
Q: Which social media do you use? What are your most favorite pages/accounts/groups to follow?
There are so many interesting and informative pages, groups and accounts to follow on all social media platforms that it would be impossible to list them all. The social media profiles of interpreting associations worldwide are absolutely top-notch and let’s never forget the profiles of freelance interpreters and translators. Some colleagues are just great at working and marketing themselves! If you are social media fans, you will not miss them, they cannot fly under the radar.
Q: What advice would you give to an up-and-coming interpreter?
A: Always be passionate about what you are doing and never ever give up if things do not seem so easy at the beginning of your career. Just try to be the best version of yourself in every single assignment. Also learn about marketing and treat both small and big clients in a professional manner: their success depends on you.
Q: What do you do to develop your professional skills? Webinars, conferences? If the latter, which conferences do you prefer and why?
A: Conference interpreting is a seasonal profession and in low periods I keep training myself in the simultaneous and consecutive interpreting techniques. I am always on the lookout for professional development opportunities both on the web and in person, I read books of every kind, I watch films and webinars in my working languages on different topics, not necessarily on translation or interpreting. The interpreting profession is very dynamic and never boring, therefore anything that is of interest to you may also be useful in your job.
Q: What would you like changed or improved in the industry?
A: Client and colleague relations. Despite everything professional associations have done over the years to stand up for interpreters’ working conditions, there are still many clients in the market who do not know what interpreting is all about. We should focus more on client education and we should also learn to say “no” when we think conditions are not fair enough. Moreover, interpreters are competitive people by nature – or the market requires them to be competitive – and this is good if we want to improve our skills and competences, but it is not good if we cannot collaborate. When you work as a freelancer, collaboration with clients and colleagues is always key.
Q: What is the most important to be successful as an interpreter, in your opinion?
A: You are interpreting what a person is saying, so learn to concentrate and actively listen. Then put yourself into the speaker’s shoes. Interpreting is not about you, interpreting is pure communication.
Alessandra is one of the speakers at IEO 2nd conference Language Access and the New Reality on December 3-4, 2020. Together with Natali Lekka and Rafa Lombardino she will be speaking on the panel “Expanding skills and careers”. This panel will discuss the potential to diversify your career by acquiring new knowledge. Topics to be covered are content writing, live subtitling and voiceover.
Working on Voice Over Projects
Do you have a pleasant voice and good pronunciation? Have you ever translated something that was meant to be read aloud? Have you ever thought about becoming a voice over artist? Learn about the technical aspects of voice over recording and how to apply for projects in the area.
This blog was first published on Rafa Lombardino’s Youtube channel. Rafa is one of the speakers at IEO 2nd conference Language Access and the New Reality on December 3-4, 2020. Together with Natali Lekka and Alessandra Checcarelli she will be speaking on the panel “Expanding skills and careers”. This panel will discuss the potential to diversify your career by acquiring new knowledge. Topics to be covered are content writing, live subtitling and voiceover.