Top translation interview: getting to know English to Spanish translator, Roy

July 3, 2019
Top translation interview: getting to know English to Spanish translator, Roy

This week, we caught up with Roy, one of Tomedes’ top translators, to find out his views on everything from finding clients to the future of the professional translation sector. 

Roy is an English to Spanish translator who specialises in security/military, education, legal, general business and IT translation (software, games and apps). Demand for the latter is huge and still growing. Indeed, according to this research report on app usage by App Annie, users of the iOS App Store and Google Play downloaded over 90 billion apps in 2016, then spent nearly 900 billion hours using them. The staggering numbers highlight the need for professional app translation by hard-working linguists such as Roy. 

In that context, let’s settle down to get to know Roy a bit better. 

How long have you worked as a professional translator?

I have been working in translation for 13 years, including seven years as a freelancer.

Do you translate fulltime or do you undertake any other types of work? 

I'm a fulltime translator, although I also do pro bono work teaching on weekends.

What first attracted you to a career in translation?

I started reviewing translations as part of my job at a publishing company, and eventually started translating some projects, until I finally decided to become a fulltime translator.

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

I'm a compulsive reader, devouring everything from newspapers to the last novel published.

What is the best part of being a professional translator?

You get to decide what you want to work on and who you work for.

And the worst part?

There are not many bad things, but what bothers me most are short deadlines, particularly when they’re all at the same time!

How do you find your translation clients? 

Nowadays I don't. When I started as a freelancer, I used and to find agency clients. Now I've had the same regular clients for more than seven years, including Tomedes. From time to time a new client appears, but I don't search for them. Unless a regular client disappears, I like to stick to my client base.

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

Long ago I accepted, and never did it again, a job to translate a will, that ended being a photocopy of a handwritten document that was almost impossible to read. 

Have you ever turned down a translation project and why? 

Many, perhaps hundreds of projects. I turn projects down mainly for three reasons. The first one: I can't make it on time. I’m proud that I have never, ever turned in late a project. 

The second is the format: I only translate CAT materials. I'm not a DTP specialist, so I don't format the documents except for very minor fixes. 

The third is the topic: I only accept projects in my fields of work. I also don't accept anything contrary to my religious beliefs or with adult content, hate speech, or the like.

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

Yes, German and Italian.

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

I don't think this will be an issue, rather an opportunity. AI still is not actually intelligence, at least as we know it in humans, though machine translation will continue improving to the point where many documents will be fairly translated. 

Nespresso machines have not ended Starbucks, or Juan Valdez. On the contrary, things that are well-crafted by humans have more value.

Why is translation such an important profession? 

Translation is important in many ways, mainly because it allows people around the world to understand each other, enables knowledge transfer, commerce, etc. Without translation, you couldn’t even teach other languages.

Thanks very much for your time, Roy! 

If you would like to hear more musings on freelance translation, why not browse the Tomedes translation blog for further inspiration? 

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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