Laura Février, French/Portuguese/English to Romannian translator, tells Bewords more about her thoughts on translation.
Dear readers please feel free to react and discuss/comment on this interview (here on the blog)
1. Could you kindly tell us and our readers about your personal and professional background in a few words?
As I have always had a knack for foreign languages, I studied philology in Bucharest, Romania and in 2004 I started to work as an in-house translator and consultant for culture and education at the Embassy of Portugal in Bucharest. After a while, not being able to choose between my passion for translation and teaching, I decided to take on a job as a teacher of Portuguese at the University of Bucharest (2006-2010), while at the same time working as a freelance translator
2. Tell us please a bit more about your current professional situation and status. What does it feel to be independent and what are the associated advantages and limits?
At present, I am a full-time freelancer, translating from Portuguese, French and English into Romanian. I enjoy the liberty of being able to choose when, how much and with whom to work, although I sometimes wish I had the security and steady workflow of an in-house job. On the other hand, I believe that being independent and well organized allows me to be more flexible and enjoy the time I spend with my family.
3. What can you tell us about your mother tongue, the languages you translate from and the business associated to it (trends, sectors, etc.)?
When I started translating from Portuguese into Romanian, there were but a handful of translators for this pair on the Romanian market. At present, their number has increased significantly but quality is still a factor and a very good and reliable translator can survive and prosper. As for my other language combinations, French and English to Romanian, competition is fierce! Unfortunately, rates are low and one needs to first “educate” one’s clients before hoping to get decent pay for a well done job.
4. The value chain of the translation business is undergoing a strong evolution. With changes and impacts at different levels (players, tools, processes, customer relationships, etc.). What is or are the evolutions your consider the most important for you on the short or medium-term?
In my case, I think that a huge step forward is being able to work on large projects with colleagues all over the world. Managing a project over long distances has become a currency and I enjoy passing from small individual jobs to larger and more important projects. It also gives a more social dimension to freelancing. Since translation is about communication and efforts are being made at every level to ensure that communication becomes faster and more efficient, I believe everyone has to gain from the current state of play.
5. Do you think (especially in your country) that the cooperation between players (freelance translators, agencies, CAT tools providers) is satisfying and effective?
Most achievements for and in the name of translators in Romania have been made by the Romanian Translators’ Association (ATR: http://atr.org.ro/). Apart that, I would have to say that there is good cooperation between freelancers but I’m not sure of the effectiveness thereof, unfortunately.
On the other hand, agencies and translators, although they might appear to cooperate, are each trying to get the best out of a given job, and I suppose this is only natural. Regarding CAT, the advantage of Romanian translators is that they can – still… – buy them at lower prices than in Western Europe and this is where CAT providers have adapted themselves to on-site realities.
6. What about Machine Translation in your language? Did you test some solutions? Any feedbacks to share?
Romanian is a difficult language for MT, as there are inflexions for almost every word you can think of (verb, noun, pronoun, article, adjective etc) and it is difficult to establish rules and patterns even from a structural point of view. Therefore, when applying TM to Romanian, results are disastrous!
7. In your opinion, with advances in MT, will translators become "mere" proofreaders? Is-it foreseeable? Opportunity or threat?
I am quite sure that we’ll still have a lot of work to do. While some MTs could be useful in given circumstances (private use, information, etc.), I don’t think they are ready to replace translators. A good translation is done by a qualified Person. Nevertheless, I look forward to MTs that could ease our job, as I am sure that our expertise will always be needed.
8. Being an independent translator, what advice could you give to young professionals starting their career? Or, if you are starting your career, what kind of advice are you looking for? (some of our readers may be able to help you !)
My advice is… to look for advice from the very beginning! Even if it might seem a solitary profession, there are lots of communities and colleagues willing to help. Also, if one wants to gain experience, voluntary work (performed at the highest standards) is better than poorly-paid work (for which one tends to deliver poor results…). And don’t forget marketing!
9. Concerning websites for translators or translation platforms, do you count on them as a primary source of customers (for you personally) or do you see them as an extra?
They are my primary source of customers. A good profile on a portal is a translator’s shop window. If properly rearranged and dusted every so often, it brings good clients in.
10. What about social networks (Facebook, Linkedin, etc.)? How do you use them for your professional activity?
I find it difficult to think of Facebook as a professional network, I could just picture my linguistic findings floating in the midst of Farmville accomplishments, food recipes and angry thoughts about one’s boyfriend… However, I use LinkedIn and I can say I made some good contacts there.
11. Is there any other topic you would like to talk about here?
I have mixed feelings about the “translation tests”. While some of them got me good projects and clients in the past, I’m wondering if it is common practice in other professions and who is entitled to ask for and to evaluate such a test: the agencies or the clients as well? I mean, one wouldn’t ask one’s dentist to do a free “test filling” before proceeding, would one? Or a plumber to just fix the water tap for free in the hope of getting a bigger job later?
Discover Laura Février's profile on Bewords.
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