Megan Waters

Hall of fame: Catrina

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We would like to welcome Catrina to our distinctive roster of hall of famers. A translator in two language pairs, Dutch to English and vice versa, her childhood hobbies kick started her journey to English fluency and her overseas work experience greatly influenced her translation career. She believes a combination of flexibility, dedication and luck is vital to her success as a Gengo Wordsmith.

What languages do you speak and what are your experiences with learning them?

Dutch is my native tongue and English is my second language. I speak German, French and some Japanese with varying degrees of proficiency, but I wouldn’t feel confident enough to do translations in those languages.

Learning English was a gradual but easy process. It came to me very naturally because I used the language daily from a relatively young age. Here in the Netherlands, a great deal of the media we consume is English, and I definitely learned most of it outside school. My childhood was heavily filled with English video games, like Sonic the Hedgehog and Pokémon on my trusty old Gameboy. I read stories and books in English, watched subtitled cartoons, studied and sang lyrics of countless English songs and would speak English with friends online from all over the world on TeamSpeak or Skype.

After traveling to Japan, teaching English in South Africa for several months, and studying English Language and Culture at the University of Groningen for almost five years, I now feel as confident speaking English as I do speaking Dutch, and sometimes express myself better in English.

It hardly means I never make mistakes, though. Sometimes, I come to the awkward realization that I must have only ever seen certain words like “leisure” and “ukulele” in print and I have been mispronouncing them my whole life. And while my accent sounds generically American, I use British words such as “rubbish” or “sweets” unknowingly. When writing, I also sometimes spell words like “favorites” and “colors” using British spelling if I have been working on a British English project for a while.

What are your favorite translation tools?

My absolute favorite is Memsource. It can be used for free, it’s easy to determine how much progress you are making on your project, you can build translation memories and termbases, and I particularly enjoy the auto-machine translation option that you can set (to Microsoft or Google Translate, for instance). Those machine translations are very rarely useable, but they can offer a base around which you can build your own, very human, not so robotically-butchered translation.

I have worked with several other tools, such as memoQ and SDL Passolo, but they haven’t significantly increased my productivity. When it comes down to it, I also don’t mind simply working with two Word files side by side.

What are your tips to become a Wordsmith?

Dedication and flexibility are good traits to have. You have to be willing and able to work hard when there’s a spike in work availability. After all, the sooner you successfully complete one collection, the sooner you can start another. At certain points, I must’ve worked for six hours straight, in the middle of the night. I’m a night owl, so this is a small sacrifice. I’ve even taken my laptop with me on occasions when I went to see friends, so I could still get some work done!

But honestly, you also need a bit of luck! If you find yourself in an active language pair or a part of a project that offers a good amount of work consistently on a weekly or even daily basis, then you will reach that 500,000-unit milestone much faster. It also helps to deliver high-quality translations to stand out from the rest so that Gengo’s clients are inclined to select you as a preferred translator.

Want to become a Gengo translator?

Megan Waters
Megan Waters
Megan manages all things translator-related as Gengo’s Community and Digital Content Manager. Born in South Africa but now based in Tokyo, she’s passionate about languages and people. Megan spends her free time exploring secondhand shops, camping in the mountains and hosting the occasional dinner party.