We at Apex are very proud of our highly trained translators and linguists. We thought you’d like to know some of our translators on a personal level – how languages formed their careers, how education played a role, what travels they’ve experienced, their mentors or teachers, interests, hobbies, and other talents.
We’ve discovered our translators lead very interesting lives, the very opposite of hum-drum. A common thread that has become increasingly apparent is that our translators never stop learning. And that means one interest seems to spur on other interests, whether related or unrelated to the original specialty, and so on and so on.
Take a look at an interview recently conducted with an English / Spanish translator at Apex Translations:
Interview with Apex’s Star Spanish Translator:
(Q) How long have you been working as an English to Spanish translator?
(A) My first job as a translator was also my first real job, probably around 1976-77, working in a movie subtitling outfit in Mexico City. We usually had no scripts, so we had to watch the film by working a hand-powered moviola, then translate and adapt the dialogue to the number of characters allowed in two lines of subtitles. I then moved on to translating novels and finally to technical translations.
(Q) Growing up, did you speak two languages at home?
(A) No. My family was strictly monolingual, but they insisted I get a good English education, so I was enrolled in a school founded and run by American educators in Mexico, where I stayed from kindergarten up to what would be ninth grade and learned English there.
(Q) Do you have outside interests (other than your work), and what are they?
(A) Quite a few. Since I was very young, I write fiction and non-fiction and I have published eleven books with another book scheduled for publication in December and another one in Summer 2015). I’ve also written song lyrics. I work in the popularization of science and critical thinking in mass media and blogs, topics about which I frequently give public presentations in schools and other organizations. Finally, I’m an avid photographer, especially portrait and art. Science and technology popularization have the additional advantage of helping me to keep abreast of technical terms in many fields for which I translate. While doing all of this, I constantly listen to music from classical to folk to blues and rock, which also helps with slang and dated references.
(Q) It’s universally known that children can have an affinity for language while quite young. Can you share a memory or experience when you knew that it was easy for you to know and speak two languages easily? Was it connected to school or family or relationships….?
(A) Given that I started learning English at 5, I really have no recollection of ever being monolingual. I always listened to music and read in English. I must’ve been 11 or 12 when I did notice, while listening to some Beatles songs that my understanding of English and my vocabulary were much better than that of most of my peers, even those who had studied the English language all their lives. I also remember the first time I was in the US, when people told me I had no discernible accent even though my English pronunciation came only from movies, music, and dialogues with friends.
(Q) If you were not a top translator, what profession might you have taken and why?
(A) Rock star was always in the horizon. But now, I see myself as a communicator in many ways, so I would always be translating as well as writing. Most of my sources for science journalism are in English, so in a sense I translate incessantly even when writing for the newspaper…even though I feel very comfortable on the radio (I have been a presenter and frequent guest and contributor in Mexico and Spain), getting a regular show wouldn’t preclude devoting time to other forms of communication.
(Q) What living person do you most admire and why?
(A) I don’t know if “most” applies here – that would probably go for an unknown teacher in harsh conditions in a faraway place, but one person I do admire is Dr. Brian May. He was the extraordinary lead guitar and co-composer of the amazing work by Queen, then went back and got his astrophysics Ph.D. and currently works educating young people. I’d say he proves that one needs not to choose between the electric guitar and the telescope, art, or science, but rather enjoy the wonder and beauty of both worlds.
(Q) Do you have any favorite authors or writers or poets or lyricists? If yes, who are they?
(A) Many. Fredric Brown was an influence, as were Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Edmundo Valadés, Jorge Luis Borges, Poe, and Lovecraft, of course. Peruvian poet César Vallejo and Spanish Federico García Lorca are my particular favorites. I’m presently enjoying Goerge R.R. Martin’s work immensely. As lyricists, I must mention Leonard Cohen, José Cruz (Mexican blues artist), and John Jones of Oysterband, among many others.
(Q) When travelling, do you read a newspaper or listen/watch a news broadcast and think, “Oh no, he/she’s got it totally wrong!!” Explain.
(A) Translators tend to be wary. When something doesn’t sound right, the reaction is to back-translate it and try to make sense of what seems absurd. It happens to me all the time, both in Mexico and in Spain. A frequent offender is “billions”, which in English denotes 1×10^9 while the false friend “billones” actually means 1×10^12 (or English “trillions”). This muddles up astronomical and paleontological data all the time due to translators who know English but very little about the topic in itself.
(Q) Finish this sentence: Working for Apex Translations has given me…
(A) A great teamwork experience in eleven excellent years. Translators tend to be lonely, so it’s welcome to be a part of a tightly-knit professional translation services company with high but clearly defined standards and with people who are a pleasure to work with both professionally and personally. A shared sense of what we’re doing and what we accomplish with translations that communicate not only words, but ideas and frequently emotions are very important. While teleworking, I tend to feel as if I were in the same office with the rest of the team, with swift and clear communications and a common focus on outstanding quality.