Hall of fame: Alicia
Our newest hall of famer is one of our Spanish translators, who believes that culture is embedded in every language. A voracious reader, she maintains proficiency in English and Spanish through literature.
She advises budding translators to always be meticulous and aware of one’s limits.
What languages do you speak and what are your experiences with learning them?
I was born in Spain, so my native language is Castilian Spanish. When I was young, my family and I moved to a small town in Ontario, Canada, and I had to learn English. As a child, learning a new language wasn’t difficult and, within a few months, I was already fluent. I also studied French, but not to a level that enables me to translate it.
After high school, I studied English literature and, when I moved back to Spain, I was already bilingual. Since I’m an avid reader but an occasional writer, I make sure to keep both languages alive through literature.
I love Spanish and English equally, and I love how they make me feel different. Switching languages is like wearing a different set of clothes. You are essentially the same person, yet there is something in the language that makes you feel and even act slightly differently—maybe it’s collective memory or cultural ethos. I like to think that the culture of a language is embedded in its structure and words, and if you really dive into it, you can understand the country and its people more deeply, too.
What are your favorite translation tools?
What are your tips to become a Wordsmith?
There’s a lot of trial and error when doing Gengo jobs. The best piece of advice I can give is to read the style guide in your language pair. Read it well, learn it, and then read it again. I used to have it open in a tab as reference all the time, and I still often do now. Another tip is: review, review, review! No matter what you do, errors can still slip through the cracks, so proofread again.
Finally, be honest about your shortcomings. If you’re not having a good day, don’t translate. If you’re not sure, just don’t do it. In the past, I have seen my score go down to embarrassing levels because I overestimated my abilities or I didn’t review my work. Being too greedy or overenthusiastic about doing a lot of jobs often backfires.
Want to become a Gengo translator?