Meet Angela Levy – PLD Distinguished Speaker 2014


Elenice Barbosa de Araújo (PLD Leadership Council member)

Angela Levy at the PLD Annual Party in Chicago

Angela Levy at the PLD Annual Party in Chicago

Angela Levy is widely known as Brazil’s interpreting pioneer. The daughter of a journalist and chief editor, she’s a self-taught English speaker, translator, and interpreter. She is also the co-founder of Associação Alumni, in São Paulo, Brazil, and founder of its famed translation and interpretation program, where she has been teaching for over four decades. She started her career as an interpreter in 1950, working for the American Consulate in São Paulo, at first doing the broadcast of Voice of America, and then doing consecutive and simultaneous interpreting.  Among the leaders, politicians, diplomats, and stars for whom she interpreted are Frank Sinatra and Bob Kennedy. After marrying a prominent neurologist, Levy specialized in the medical field, and interpreted for more than two decades from Portuguese and French into English at conferences in Europe, Asia, and America, while raising her five children.

Nearing the tender age of 86, Levy works full-time, dividing her time between her teaching duties and her translation company specialized in medical journals, books, and magazines.

Tereza Sayeg – current President of the Association of Professional Conference Interpreters (APIC) in Brazil and AIIC member working for European institutions, IDB, ECLAC and others – is a former student of Levy’s. She shared these thoughts:
“For most translators and interpreters in São Paulo, Angela needs no introduction, for she mentored many of them. And what else can I say about her, other than that she is a force of nature? She has inspired, enchanted, hypnotized, and motivated us, all the while teaching us the true value of humility, showing us that we knew nothing about translation or about the Portuguese language. That is what we learned from her: to nurture our curiosity, to become diligent researchers, and to develop an insatiable desire to learn. And most importantly, to do all of that without losing our sense of humor and our ability to have a good time at work. Angela was and still is a role model. I am confident that I speak for many others when I say that we have a lot to thank her for the individuals whom we’ve become. Thank you very much, beloved master, and please accept my warm hug.”

Levy was the PLD Distinguished Speaker at the ATA’s 55th Annual Conference, in Chicago, a tribute to her many years of dedication to our profession and to the Portuguese language. She presented two sessions: the first one was given in Portuguese on Thursday at the PLD Division. She discussed the basic aspects of translating and interpreting in the medical field, and has graciously offered us this glossary of Medical acronyms  from English into Portuguese to share with our members.

In her second session, Levy presented to a room filled with novice and seasoned interpreters and interpreting trainers, about the first steps to become a successful interpreter. She enchanted the audience with her personal experiences, especially from the beginning of her career. Her most important tips are the same she has taught hundreds of students: keep your spirit of inquiry active, study all the time, maintain high standards of professional ethics and, above all, take care of your reputation. As for her final message, I’ll leave you with her closing words in Chicago:

“Dear colleagues, I hope these pieces of advice will help you through the demanding, exhausting journey, through the bumpy road that will make of you that special, talented, most sought-after, one-in-a million professional interpreter or translator, hailed by everybody in the business as the one whose career should be looked up to by all colleagues, one that, besides all these professional qualities, is also blessed with an endearing, nice, friendly, genuine personality.”

Elenice Barbosa de Araújo is an independent Brazilian Portuguese translator with 13 years of professional experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Education from the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC-SP) and a full certificate in translation and interpretation from Associação Alumni. She has translated dozens of books and magazine articles, and lives in São Paulo with her family.

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