Top translation interview: meet English-Hebrew translator, Israel

July 17, 2019
Top translation interview: meet English-Hebrew translator, Israel

In the next instalment of our series of interviews with Tomedes’ top translators, we chatted to Israel, a Hebrew-English translator who specialises in legal and financial translation. We found out what it is about professional translation work that has kept him translating fulltime for the past decade and where he sees the industry heading in the future. 

The future of the translation sector is, of course, of interest to all those who translate for a living. Many business and personal customers already use machine translation – the light is shining brightly for the masses. Indeed, this article on Google Translate from Business Insider reports that that platform alone translates 143 billion words every day. However, the continuing quality issues, when machine translation results are compared with those produced by humans, mean that human translators can rest easy in their beds – for now! 

With that reassurance in mind, let’s find out what led Israel to enjoy such a long career as a professional legal and financial translator. 

How long have you worked as a professional translator?

I’ve worked as a professional translator for decades, interspersing my journalistic and other work. For the past decade, I’ve translated fulltime. 

What first attracted you to a career in translation?

For many years it was just another skill, then it dawned on me that everything I’ve done in my life – all the reading, writing, travels, conversations, news, science, adventures – it all funnelled down to making me a natural translator.

How do you ensure that your language skills stay up to date?

I always read, always search, always keep abreast with developments in our little planet.

What is the best part of being a professional translator?

You get up to date – you know better, decide better. You always learn. You earn your bread.

And the worst part?

You’re always under scrutiny, often by less knowledgeable and meticulous persons.

How do you find your translation clients? 

Most are great. They know their fields and respect the profession. Some need Client School.

What is the hardest translation task that you’ve ever completed and why?

A full set of specifications for a major national infrastructure project – about 3,000 pages. I needed to learn a new profession: civil engineering. But it was fun and a job well done and well paid.

Have you ever turned down a translation project and why? 

Yes. It was about dissection of “lab animals”.

Do you speak any other languages in addition to those that you translate for a living? 

Arabic, Spanish and German, barely enough for small talk.

How do you picture the future of the translation industry, given the increased attention that many large tech companies are paying to machine translation?

For some clients, MT will be even over the top. But there will never be a substitute to smart human translation, which is what we do at Tomedes.

Why is translation such an important profession? 

Translation is the engine of the train of knowledge over the millennia. Without it, the Romans would have not learned from the Greeks, the Hebrews from the Babylonians and the latter from the Egyptians. The world would have not inherited the Bible and the Odyssey, which are the foundation of our civilisation. We translators are multipliers of knowledge.

Thanks very much for your time, Israel! We particularly enjoyed the idea of Client School – I’m sure all professional translators have come across clients who would benefit from attending! 

If you would like to read more about freelance translation, from those working in the sector to the latest freelancing tips, feel free to have a look around the Tomedes blog. We’re certain you’ll find plenty to inspire you. 

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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