Translation: Live the job, live the language

July 23, 2014 by admin

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Gillian Westwood has been working as a translator with Rosetta Translation Ltd for around ten years – although the occupation wasn’t her first choice after leaving university, as she wasn’t keen on the idea of a desk job.

It was the right decision for her at the time. Once she graduated – majoring in Spanish and French, while taking Italian as a subsidiary – Gill worked at Air France for several years, immersing herself in the language and culture of the country. All of her friends and colleagues spoke French and it was only a matter of time before she became “fantastically fluent” herself.

Later she married a Chilean man and the couple lived in Chile for five years. The Spanish-speaking country gave her an ideal grounding for understanding the language and gave her the background required to eventually become one of our finest translators.

But what makes a good translator? Gill says: “It’s indispensable to have to go and live in the language. There are so many colloquial expressions and things to do with day-to-day living that often crop up in our documents and if you don’t know your way around certain systems in those countries, you wouldn’t understand what you’re translating.”

However, perhaps surprisingly, understanding the language and translating from one tongue to another isn’t always the primary aspect of the job. In her early days as a translator, Gill says she spent about 25 per cent of her time translating, with the remaining 75 per cent doing research.

Over the years, this study time has given Gill a good understanding of legal documents and a significant proportion of her assignments are now based in this area. Similarly, she also spent a large part of her career working in the banking sector, which is another specialism of hers.

From financial and insurance contracts to divorce settlements, wills, and birth and death certificates, you certainly can’t say Gill’s occupation isn’t varied. In the last couple of years, she’s also noticed that there have been an increasing number of references to EU legislation in many of her assignments, highlighting how her learning and need to research never ceases. So, what’s the most challenging aspect of her job?

“The deadlines! I find that when I first started, you would agree to the translation via telephone and it would be posted to you. Now – and it’s not so long ago – with the press of a button, the internet seems to have speeded everything up for everyone, so there are shorter and shorter deadlines. Sometimes, you’re cramming in many thousands of words a day.”

Despite tight turnaround times, Gill never lets the accuracy and standard of her assignments become compromised, proudly admitting she never signs off a piece of work unless she is 100 per cent happy with it.

It can understandably result in Gill burning the midnight oil on many occasions and she highlights flexibility as a key characteristic for anyone who wants to pursue a career as a translator.

However, Gill’s not complaining. On the contrary, you can hear the passion in her voice when she talks about a job she clearly loves.

Translators therefore have to not only live the language, but live the job itself – it is more than an occupation, it is a way of life. Cancelling social arrangements, locking yourself away from family and friends when a deadline is nearing, it’s all part and parcel of taking the work on.

Gill professes: “You have to love other cultures – and in my case, I just love the languages. Italian is so beautiful and Spanish is passionate too. French is lovely, as is the literature in all those languages. I enjoy speaking them very much and enjoy the nationalities in that part of world.”

Written by Helen Fream

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Andreea Mohan

Taylor Wessing LLP

We are very pleased with the services provided by Rosetta Translations. They always send very prompt responses, transparent prices and deliver their work product at the highest standards.

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American Express

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Conor McLarnon

Maximus Crushing and Screening

I have translated multiple projects with Rosetta now and I cannot emphasise how great the service they provide is; quality, turnaround time and pricing is the best I have found yet. The qualities of translations we receive are of the highest standard and communication from the start of a project to the end is consistent.

For a company looking into translations, I would highly recommend Rosetta as first pick, as the support and service they provide is first class.

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