Welcome back to our interview series! Let’s start the week and month inspired by another one of our amazing Greatest Women in Translation? Then please welcome another Brazilian translator, Luciana Meinking, nominated by Melissa Harkin.
1. Melissa Harkin nominated you to be our next interviewee. You two had a professional partnership that you described as extraordinary and one of those coincidences of destiny. Could you please tell us a bit more about how you two met and how this partnership started?
Melissa used to work for the same company as my sister. By that time she was still living in Brazil. I think one day Melissa might have told her coworkers that she was looking for freelance translators and that’s how my sister came to ask me for my resume. In fact, Melissa and I never met in person, which makes this story even more interesting (we are planning to meet in person this coming November during the ATA Conference in San Francisco!). I sent Melissa my resume and passed the translation test she requested me to submit. With the first job assignments I got from her, our relationship started to develop, and I am glad to say that I am extremely glad to have worked for her. It is hard to find someone who is also very detailed and whose professional standards are very similar to yours. I am extremely grateful to have had this opportunity – she was certainly a great peer and friend!
2. A lot of people treat their peers as competition and do not consider other translators may also be potential clients or even professional partners in the future. What’s your opinion on the subject?
I guess that’s true and it is something you see on a daily basis, especially if you are working as an in-house translator. It is surely conditioned by the difficult market and people’s fear of losing their jobs or clients. It might sound a bit idealistic but I would like to think about this in terms of finding the best professional partner or partners to actually come up with a good final product.
3. You started translating by chance while taking your PhD in Germany and, after that, gave up your area (Literature and Linguistics). Why did you change your mind and decided to venture into translation?
During the final year of my doctorate in Germany I was still figuring out what to do with my life. First I thought I wanted to pursue an academic career in the university, but the market was also not very good for that and the strong competition didn’t seem to me by then to be a path that I was willing to tread. So starting in the translation industry also happened per chance when an acquaintance asked me if I wanted to translate technical texts. It all seemed very interesting, getting to know a CAT tool for the first time, seeing how fast you can translate and how much fun it is to keep a terminological database. I guess I noticed quickly that I enjoyed translating and proof-reading.
4. You currently work as an IT QA tester. Could you please describe what you do exactly?
My work consists basically of localizing strings and running functional and linguistic quality assurance tests for the client’s products. It is very different from what I have been doing so far in terms of content, but it is an opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people.
5. You say a freelance translator’s life working home office is quite lonely. Do you prefer to work in-house as compared to home office? In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of working in-house x home office?
I am not really sure if I prefer one or the other. Right now, I enjoy working in-house because I have met wonderful people who hopefully will become friends. I think one of the cons of working in-house is, for instance, the fact that you have less control on the final product, which consists of patches of texts several other people have worked on and whose standards or linguistic preferences are not necessarily the same as yours. But this is actually also part of the learning process, I mean, learning to negotiate ways of getting to the same goal. I also think that in-house working also produces more unveiled competition. As for the pros, again, meeting people and actually having the opportunity to catch a glimpse on people’s lives is a very positive thing. It’s about having a bit of a change in your daily schedule, really, and having the opportunity to socialize. Home office work is quite lonely indeed and can be really tough. Apart from that, I guess you can produce a much better outcome by working on your own and exchanging information with a professionally trustworthy partner whenever you need help with a specific text or subject.
6. You say you do not have the typical freelance translator profile. What is this profile, in your opinion?
Maybe that is extremely subjective, but what I meant by that is that the typical freelance translator profile is someone who is willing to engage in some self-promoting and marketing strategy in order to find more clients, people who keep blogs and produce interesting socially engaging tools. I admire people who have the energy and especially the time to do this.
7. Now it’s your turn. Who do you nominate as one of our Greatest Women in Translation?
Now, since I cannot nominate Melissa Harkin anymore (oh, no!), I chose to nominate someone I have never worked with before but who was, maybe without even knowing it, a role model for me in my career as a translator. Her name is Regina Alfarano. She was my first instructor at NYU, when I took the online Certificate in translation course offered by that institution. So read this nomination also as homage to good teachers and educators, those you still remember after years have passed by.
Regina was an extremely dedicated and disciplined instructor, but, above all, in these hard linguistic times, you could see that she had that love for the Portuguese language that is, unfortunately, lacking in many people nowadays. You can see that she has a very strong linguistic background and that, without being a purist, she also cares for the language and what people are actually doing to it nowadays.