February 10, 2016

A Confessed Saudosista*

Photo Credit: HubSpot

This & That ― Vignettes of a Professional Journey
a column by Ines Bojlesen


At the beginning of my career in São Paulo, translating for direct clients was my reality. Whether clients were law offices, insurance companies or manufacturers, telephone calls and personal visits to their sites were our means of communication.

For a couple years, I translated for a large engineering company that dealt with paint and final assembly systems. They needed their highly sophisticated e-coating manuals translated. They knew the terminology was complex and did not expect me to be knowledgeable about their product. They asked that I worked with them in coining new terms in Portuguese and making sure the text was grammatically correct. I was invited to tour their plant to understand their painting process. Two engineers met with me a couple of times, and together we created the glossary for their system.

A similar experience occurred with an insurance company. One of its agents worked with me to be sure that I understood the terms and that the translations would correspond to the Brazilian insurance market. I still use the notebook I created as we developed the glossary.

Both jobs were a win-win experience for both clients and myself. They knew their products and needed my linguistic skills. Terminology was important and therefore it was developed as a team effort, combining our expertise. I remember many other instances when I called my client and asked for explanations, for more reference materials, resources or for the best wording options. What I remember―and I now long for―is the human touch, the face-to-face communication I enjoyed in those cases!

Years went by and the computer replaced the typewriter. Transmittal of files via the phone was a novelty until the Internet took over. Telephone calls were replaced by email or by brief Skype communications. Even emails issued by a person are now often replaced by systems that generate messages forwarding prospective jobs. I need a username and a password to log in to accept or decline the job. No “good morning,” no personal touch carried in the message.

I miss being a person, talking, writing, and communicating with another person. Business is business, I know. But it can be conducted in a more productive and rewarding manner when we interact with people.

I sense that people are afraid to be “personal” in their messages. Calling someone now is considered a disruption, an imposition, while written or recorded messages can be accessed at the convenience of the receiving party. However, sometimes a brief call can clarify something that would need a carefully crafted message.

In my decades of work as a translator, I have never regretted caring enough to get to know the people I work with. I respect their distance if they so prefer, while I enjoy an exchange of words that shows we belong to human “kind”. The quality of my work or their management has never been compromised by our interacting.

Do not get me wrong: the fact that I long for less automated communications does not mean I dislike the new tools. They help me be competitive and cater to the immediacy of our translation world.

You can call me old-fashioned, a saudosista, if you will. Or better still, call me or write a response to my blog! I would love to hear or read what you have to say!


Saudosista:  eulogizer of the past


February 3, 2016

PLD Member Spotlight: Let’s Meet Camila Fonseca

Camila Fonseca

New Hampshire


What I do:  
I am an ATA-certified translator and a medical interpreter. I also work as a home-based therapist working with families served by the Department of Children and Families and counseling parents who are facing termination of their parental rights.

I’m most proud of:
Lending a voice to disenfranchised immigrants is a source of pride and joy. I am also proud of having passed the ATA certification exam, particularly because English is not my native tongue. I am just as comfortable in English as I am in Portuguese, but passing the exam was really special. I am happy with my fluency in Spanish as well, but not so excited about my French – a language I only grasp.

My background:
I grew up in São Paulo and moved to California in the 1990s. I went to college in Riverside, where I got a B.A. in Anthropology, and later moved to Florida, where I obtained a master’s in Social Work. I lived in Spain in 2008 and interned in a mental health clinic in Valencia.

Why do I belong to the PLD?
It helps me keep up with our ever-changing industry.

Major challenge(s) in my career:
Juggling motherhood and a busy professional life.

A favorite project:
My favorite project was my very first translation assignment. Fresh out of college, I was awarded a contract with a Brazilian governmental agency to translate ILO (International Labor Organization) training materials from Spanish into Portuguese. It was thrilling to have access to important documents and to feel part of a relevant effort involving the U.N. and the Brazilian government. That project made me think for the first time about translation as a profession.

What I’m reading now:  
I am reading Still Midnight, by Denise Mina. It is about the aftermath of a kidnapping in Glasgow’s Indian community.

January 27, 2016

Update: Translators in Podcastland

Photo credit: DeathToTheStockPhoto.com

Photo credit: DeathToTheStockPhoto.com

Rafa Lombardino

As you may have noticed, our Portuguese Language Division now has its own podcast: PLD ShopTalk, whose third episode was posted last week.

After revisiting Bianca Bold’s post from April 2015, which featured a list of podcasts of relevance to translators and interpreters, here are a few more podcasts we have found out about:

Do you have other podcasts you would like to recommend? Please leave a link in the comments below so we can check them out, too!