Profiles of translators

Marta Vlaić is a professor of English and French language and literature and a university specialist in conference interpretation for English and French. She has loved languages for as long as she can remember.

She thinks she is just like all translators - curious - always reading or writing things down (a language hoarder), hoping all those words or interesting language solutions won't be forgotten. She was one of the members of Studio Nixa team.

1. Translation: a calling or an occupation?

I think it is both, and depends on where you are in life. Globally, people who really love translating surely view it as their calling, in a sense. Some friends who are translators tell me they would not wish to translate their whole lives, and this is not a problem, because being proficient in a language opens many doors.

2. A literary or a commercial translation?

Well... When I was studying I thought I would never translate literature because you had to have a knack for it, be very well acquainted with the language register and have a rich vocabulary and "the x factor", a gift for it. I think the same way today, but I would dare to translate a work a fiction, which I already had once. I certainly would not translate poetry, at least not for publication, except if somebody competent would tell me it is good.

3. Would you rather translate 100 documents containing 1 custom page each or one document containing 100 custom pages?

It depends. Longer documents are great because you can get familiarized with the terminology, you can make a glossary and spend a part of your time just putting the pieces of the puzzle together, because you are merely embedding the terms in the text. Sometimes, on the other hand, you get a diploma in which you invest 2 hours of your time. I think the combination of both is ideal. I like diversity.

4. What is your favorite translation in general and the favorite translation you did for Studio Nixa?

I find I am better at certain topics, some of which I discovered only recently. One of the topics I have a lot of experience in and that I love is religion and one of the new favorite ones is the environment. However, recently I enjoyed translating for Studio Nixa web page the most because all the texts were authored works so I had more flexibility when it comes to style.

5. Written translation or interpreting?

I will again start by looking at the past. Before I really thought that interpreters were people with superpowers, maybe not superheroes, but certainly people with an inherent predisposition absolutely necessary for that job. It is true that a predisposition is important, but most people possess it, and most people can listen and speak at the same time. As far as I am concerned, when I realized I could apply for a study of conference interpretation I gave it a try and I yielded excellent results. This was the beginning of a change in my way of thinking. But again I think that a combination of both is the ideal situation. I do not think you can be a good interpreter without being also a translator.

6. Simultaneous interpretation: the partner in the booth - always the same person or a different person each time?

I prefer working with a few individuals with whom I have worked with on many occasions. This makes me feel comfortable and relatively relaxed (because you always feel the adrenaline before your new interpreting engagement), and the job then also includes spending time with friends. I really did have such experiences and I am thankful for the wonderful people I know. However, I also interpreted with some new people and met some great interpreters that taught me a few things.

7. Written translation: With or without CAT tools?

For technical translation, definitely CAT. Trados is a wonderful tool which is really developed by now, and in combination with an embedded glossary it is the best solution for technical texts. On the other hand, there are topics which I would much rather translate without CAT tools. For example, I would prefer doing stylistically demanding texts, tourist texts and commercials without CAT tools.

8. Working from home or at the office?

I definitely like having office hours, a system and an office environment and I would not like to work only from home, but sometimes it's not bad to be in your pajamas and translate in a relaxed atmosphere. In any case, I only need my peace and quiet, especially for difficult translations. In those situations I don't even listen to my favorite music.

9. A freelance or a permanently employed translator?

Permanent employment provides security on many levels, and it enables you to rely on a recognized name in the world of translation, and experience behind it, and offers you the opportunity to learn form those more experienced than yourself. Translators who have larger families or small children prefer to work from home because it enables them to have more time for their family. It is a choice that depends on a persons priorities and affiliations and whether you are ready to start your business and fight for your place in the market.