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A day in the life of ElaN translator Ambre Nulph-Forêt

12 August 2016

Ambre Nulph - Vertaalster bij ElaN Languages

An accurate translation succeeds or fails based on the translator’s knowledge. This is why ElaN Languages has an international network of 2,000 qualified translators who are ready to assist you. What’s the added value here? Every translation is revised. And this is where our team of 16 in-house translators/revisers comes in.

One of them is Ambre Nulph-Forêt, an English translator and reviser. We had a talk with Ambre about the finer points of translation and the challenges she faces every day. “Translating’s a touch of copywriting combined with a healthy dose of spelling and grammar expertise.”

What’s your average working day like?

“The day always starts with a giant mug of coffee. Then I’ll check my emails, and organise my to-do list based on the translations and revisions the project managers assigned to me. I plan my day around the deadlines, and then dive right in. Just to give you an idea, an ElaN Languages reviser proofreads between 10,000 and 12,000 words a day. In-house translations are usually between 2,000 and 2,500 words a day. This volume guarantees that we can send a translation back to the client that is practically perfect in every way."

What’s the best part of your job?

“My strength lies in translation. And when you’re good at something, it makes it more enjoyable to do. I love creating fluent, readable translations. This requires a lot of concentration, but the end result is well worth it. This is why it’s so great that I can work from the peace and comfort of my own home. I have pretty good working relationships with my colleagues, too, even if most of that is via emails and Skype. Everybody is really helpful and understanding.”

Good translation and revision is more than just stringing words together in another language. I feel like it’s ‘juggling with language’.

“I totally agree! It’s a balancing act: the translation has to be fluent in every sense of the word. It can’t sound like a translation at all, but rather like it was originally written in that language. But you can’t stray too far from the source either. To be able to do this properly, you must have an excellent understanding of the source and target languages. In short, translating’s a touch of copywriting combined with a healthy dose of spelling and grammar expertise.”

Most of the translators we work with use CAT tools and translation memories. Do you find these useful too?

“CAT tools and translation memories are indispensable for me. I save a lot of time when I’m translating because it automatically inserts perfect matches and repetitions. It’s also great for consistency because I can use the concordance function to double-check how I translated something in the past. I often remember things I’ve already translated, and so I use the translation memory to confirm what’s in my own memory.”

Do you get along well with your colleagues and the project managers? 

“Like I mentioned, I’ve managed to build up pretty good relationships with a lot of my colleagues. We go out for lunch together whenever I get the chance. I chat a lot with my colleagues Tim and Anja about more than just the right way to say something, or the right word to use for a specific kind of text, etc. ElaN also offers a lot of fun teambuilding opportunities and the ElaN Café is a great way for everyone to head into the weekend, relaxing over drinks, chatting, and getting to know each other a little better.”

How do you respond to client feedback? 

“It’s always great to get compliments from a client. But if there’s negative feedback, my initial reaction is usually: ‘Oh no they didn’t!’ I can be pretty impetuous and I’m more than a bit of a perfectionist. :) But then I take a step back and really look at the client’s comments. I then try to explain why I translated something the way I did. A lot of the times, it comes down to semantics and personal preference. When I do make a mistake, it’s difficult to admit it (because who really wants to admit they aren’t perfect, right? ;)). But the starting point for the entire team of translators and revisers is always the same. We learn the lessons that are there, and pass these along to whoever might benefit from it, and then it’s archived internally. And this is where ElaN’s added value lies in comparison to other translation agencies. We make sure to take this feedback into account for all future translations, in order to make them more consistent.”

Finally, translators are language lovers with a keen eye for grammar and spelling mistakes. Some people might even call them grammar Nazis. Do you consider yourself as a grammar Nazi?

“Oh, I’m a total grammar Nazi! I don’t consciously look for mistakes though; they just sort of stand out. I generally try to refrain from correcting people on the internet because it’s like trying to herd cats - useless. What drives me the craziest is coming across spelling/grammar mistakes in books by really well-known, prolific authors. I mean, honestly, they should have just come to ElaN first!”

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