Tricky to master


Although it takes years to learn a foreign language and to use it fluently in writing or communication, it is not unattainable or impossible mission. A translator knows how to do the best translation which will suit desires of the language it is translated into.

People often joke about translation fails; there are a lot of pictures and photos presenting various and funny mistakes.

The purpose of this short article is to avoid those little and horrible mistakes and to do your job in an adequate manner.

  • You have to bear in mind that when someone tells you, “Pigs might fly,” it does not mean that pigs suddenly became mythical beings or birds – it means that something is not possible. You should always choose the adequate proverb for the country in which language you are translating.
  • You have to be familiar with the right meaning of the word, with the field that you are dealing with. Think about “net,” for example, whether it is related to sport or economics.
  • Try to avoid spelling mistakes. This kind of inaccuracies are not likely to be accepted, for example:

Thank you for you’re [instead of your] time.
Are there any dinner specirals [instead of specials]?

  • Be aware of punctuation!

Incorrect: Big boy’s drive big toys!
Correct: Big boys drive big toys!

  • Your grammar has to be perfect. You need to know where nouns, verbs, adverbs, or adjectives take place in the sentence. Respect the word order and see how the adequate structure of the sentences makes you an excellent translator!

Did John cut an apple with a knife?
Did John cut a knife with an apple?

  • Bare in mind names of people and places. They are not likely to be translated! It is acceptable to transcribe them but it is gaffe to change them in that way.

John (Gia, Ivano – Italy, Ivo – Bulgary, Jean – France, Jock – Scotland…)

  • Your vocabulary needs to be excellent. Turn two sentences into one, or three if you please, but please, do not change their meaning! It is the worst sin in this field of dealing with language. Sentences need to sound best possible in the language they are translated and they have to be understandable and correct.

Dogging point!  (?)
(It may not mean the same thing in Germany as it does in car parks in Essex)

  • If your language does not have an adequate word for the one that needs to be translated, you can use apostrophes and leave it as is or you can describe it using the appropriate sentence or homonyms and synonyms. Try to keep it original and not “destroy” it.
  • Some jokes cannot be literally translated. So, if the joke you have to translate keeping it funny is about cheap Scots, remember who is considered miser in your country!
  • I have already mentioned that your grammar needs / has to be perfect. If not so, you can be laughed about or you can change the meaning.

Your Grammar has to be perfect.
Not: Your Grammar has to is perfect.
Nor: Your Grammar has to will perfect.

Translating and interpreting is not an easy job to do. The fact is that people work on the above-mentioned skills for years and often make mistakes. The interpreter needs to know both languages he/she is working with. If only one language is mastered, the result can be catastrophic. Grammar,  verb tenses and vocabulary are essentials in this field of work. If one of these lacks, the job will be done poorly and in an inadequate way. It is important to follow the rules and to respect them.

Stay calm, check everything a dozen times and keep it original, whether you are ordering a shirt or translating official political documents!

About the author
cristina-oliveiraCristina Oliveira is an English and German translator and works as a freelancer, mainly on the online market. At the moment she is taking a master degree in teaching English as a second language for young learners at the ISCE Douro.



This is the first sponsored post on the blog. From now on, we will occasionally host sponsored posts on the 15th of the month.

Guest post: Kirti Vashee

Welcome back to our guest post series! We are already almost halfway through December and the Holidays are just around the corner. Any big plans?

While waiting for the Holidays, why not enjoy another great reading from a dear guest? I met Kirti Vashee at the last Abrates Conference, held this year in Rio de Janeiro. Then I had the pleasure of interviewing him for my podcast, TradTalk. You can watch or listen to the interview here. You can also read the article I wrote (in Portuguese) about this interview for Metáfrase, the Abrates magazine, here. And now you can enjoy the guest post he kindly wrote to the blog.

Welcome, Kirti!


A Machine Translation (MT) Action Plan for Translators

This is an article for those translators that have some interest in, or at least want to understand how to properly assess MT related work opportunities, or add linguistic value in large-scale MT projects. The need for translation of business content and other kinds of information on the internet continues to grow, but there are also changes that affect translators and agencies alike. The most interesting translation work is increasingly moving beyond the focus of traditional translation work and is likely to do even more so in the future. Thus, the most lucrative and interesting NEW translation opportunities, like at eBay for example, may require very different kinds of skills and competence but would still draw on basic translation and linguistic competence.

The forces that drive the increasing use of MT in the world, are largely beyond the control of the “translation industry,” continue to build unabated and can be briefly listed as follows:

  • More Content: The sheer volume of content that global enterprises, governmental agencies and any international commercial venture need to translate continues to grow.
  • Content Value: The value of business content increasingly has a very short shelf-life and thus traditional TEP (translate-edit-proof) approaches are increasingly questioned for information that may have little or no value after six months.
  • Short Product Life Cycles: The product life cycles in electronics, fashion, and many other consumer products get shorter all the time, so rapid, “good enough” product descriptions are increasingly considered sufficient for business requirements.
  • Volume & Cost Pressures: Enterprises are under continuous pressure to translate more content with the same budgets, and thus they seek out agencies who understand how to do this with rapid turnaround.
  • Changing Internet User Base: As more of the developing world comes online it becomes imperative for these new users to have MT to be able to get some basic understanding of existing web content.
  • Free Generic Translation: The universal availability and widespread use and acceptance of “free MT” on the internet has raised acceptance of MT in executive management circles too. This also drives the momentum for large new types of projects that would never have been considered in the TEP translation world.

So if we presume, that it is very likely that MT is going to be a fact of life for many professional translators in the 21st century, what new skills would a translator need to understand and be considered a valued partner, in a world where MT deployment and “opportunities” will continue to abound?

MT today, has already proven itself in professional use scenarios with most Romance languages, but we are still at a transition point in the use of MT in many other language combinations, and thus the MT experience can often be less than satisfying for translators in those languages, especially when working with translation agencies who are not technically competent with MT.

The New Skills in Demand

At a high level, the skills that matter in working with the professional use of MT, that we can expect will grow in value to global enterprises and agencies involved in large MT projects are as follows.

  • Understand the different kinds of MT systems that you would interface with. Translators that understand the different kinds of MT are likely to be much more marketable.
  • Understand the specific output quality of the MT engines that you are working with. Provide articulate linguistic feedback on MT output. Being able to provide articulate feedback on error patterns is perhaps one of the most sought after skills in professional MT deployment today. This ability to assess the quality of MT output is also beneficial to a freelancer who is trying to decide whether to work on a PEMT project or not.
  • Develop skills with new kinds of tools that are valuable in dealing with corpus level tasks and manipulations. It is much more likely that MT projects will involve much larger volumes of data and data preparation and global pattern modification skills become much more useful and valuable.
  • Develop skills in providing pattern level feedback and develop rapid error pattern identification and correction. Being able to devise a rapidly implementable test and evaluation routines that are useful and effective is an urgent market requirement. This paper summarizes the specific linguistic issues with Brazilian Portuguese that provide an idea of what this actually means.
  • Develop a corpus view that involves linguistic steering rather than segment level corrections. This is a fundamental change of mental perspective that is a mandatory requirement for successful professional involvement with MT. Understanding the competence of the translation agencies that you engage with is also a key requirement as it is VERY easy to mismanage an MT project and most translation agencies that attempt to build MT engines on their own  are quite likely to be incompetent.

What can you do?

  1. Learn and educate yourself on the variants of MT.
  2. Experiment with major engines from Google, Systran, and Bing and with specialist tools like Lilt and SmartCAT that allow easy interaction with MT.
  3. Understand how to rapidly assess MT output quality BEFORE you engage in any MT project.
  4. Don’t work with incompetent translation agencies who know little or nothing about MT but only seek to reduce rates with crappy do-it-yourself engines.
  5. Experiment with corpus management tools.

You can find much more information on the eMpTy Pages blog and on many translator forums.

It was a real pleasure to host you here on my blog, Kirti! Thank you so much for accepting my invitation and taking the time to write such an enlightening and useful post!

About the author
kvclrKirti Vashee is an independent machine translation technology and marketing strategy consultant. He was previously VP of Enterprise Translation sales for Asia Online and also  responsible for the worldwide business development and marketing strategy at Language Weaver (SDL). He has long-term sales and marketing experience in the software industry  working in both, large global companies (EMC, Legato, Dow Jones, Lotus) and startups . He is the moderator of the Automated Language Translation group with almost 5,000 members  in LinkedIn and also a former board member of AMTA (American Machine Translation Association). Kirti is active on Twitter and the blogosphere on MT and translation automation related issues. He received his formal education in South Africa, India and the United States. He is also an amateur musician who plays the sitar, bansuri and percussion.

Greatest Women in Translation: Naomi Sutcliffe de Moraes


As promised, I am back on my feet, and up and running with the blog’s editorial calendar.

Please welcome our new interviewee, Naomi, nominated by Elenice Barbosa de Araujo. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did.


1. You are an American/Brazilian (dual citizen) currently living in São Paulo, Brazil. Could you please tell us a bit more about yourself?

Well, I took Brazilian and English literature courses during my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at UCLA just for fun. All students take electives, and that is what I chose. I have always loved reading and writing, but at the same time I love math and physics. When living in the United States I spent some time in Recife (the northeast of Brazil) every year when I had enough money, and have lived here in São Paulo permanently since 1999. São Paulo was a bit of a shock. Recife and São Paulo do not feel like the same country!

2. With degrees in mechanical engineering and physics, you started working as a translator by chance. How was this beginning, without any prior formal training?

I had very bad luck when I arrived in São Paulo in 1999. I did not know many people, and the people I did know were not the right people to find a job. I left a wonderful job in Los Angeles, that I loved, and spent six months looking for a job in São Paulo through ads in the newspaper and employment agencies. No one needed a physicist with experience related to radar and rocket trajectories. No one was doing research and development in Brazil.

My first job was a disaster. My second job was not much better. I was hired by a Brazilian company’s R&D department, but instead of letting me do development, they wanted me to “first” translate their product manuals into English. I took some technical courses to learn their business (communications hardware) and started translating into English. It was not difficult, because it was technical and I understood the technical information. I mostly avoid engineering translations now because it is so hard to find terminology. I have spent 30 minutes trying to find the translation for one term, without success. Financially, it does not make sense for me to translate something technical in an area I am not thoroughly familiar with. I do not make enough per hour. Scientific translations, however, are great. The terminology can easily be found online, and there are few “moving parts” with complicated names.

After working for that company for about a year, translating the never-ending supply of new manuals, I decided to become a freelance translator and work from home. I had a lot more freedom, free time to do a PhD and play my cello in amateur orchestras, and made more money working for a wider variety of clients.

3. Afterwards, you did enroll in a professional course in translation and interpreting. How important do you think an educational background of any kind in translation/interpreting is when coming from other areas?

I enrolled in the course at Associação Alumni only 6 months after I started translating, so I did not translate without training for very long. I love to study (17 years as a university student so far!) and I really enjoy learning environments, whether virtual or in person. Whenever I am interested in a topic I automatically start thinking about which courses I could take to further my knowledge. I just finished 4 semesters of Hungarian. I have taken many courses on Coursera. I am incorrigible!

Many people do not realize that knowing a second language well is not enough. You must carefully study false cognates, many of which you probably did not even realize were false cognates. You must carefully study comparative grammar and syntax.

You must know both languages much better than a well-educated person, better than 99% of the population.

And you must know your personal quicksand areas, the things you must be extra careful about. In Portuguese we have a special word: desconfiômetro. This means knowing when to distrust your first reaction when translating, knowing when to distrust your solution and do some research to make sure you are correct. It takes time and practice to develop a good desconfiômetro, with feedback from a more experienced colleague.

For those who cannot take a formal course, I recommend they charge their clients full price, then spend half the rate to pay a more experienced colleague to edit their work before submitting it. This way the client gets a good translation, the less experienced translator learns from her mistakes, and the market does not suffer from inexperienced translators charging low rates to get clients who are unaware of quality issues.

4. Although you have degrees in mechanical engineering and physics, your doctoral (in linguistics) dissertation was on legal translation. Why did you choose a different specialization?

During the first 10 years of my translation career, I received ZERO requests to translate science and math. The engineering jobs were often very hard, because of the terminology, as I mentioned above. I kept on receiving requests for legal translation, and I used the method mentioned above. I accepted, translated the text, and paid a colleague to edit so I could learn from my mistakes. My PhD research showed me how little most legal translators know about law, me included!

I actually started my PhD in Luso-African literature. Really! I switched to linguistics because literary criticism was too subjective for me, coming from the hard sciences. I was translating mostly legal texts at the time, and my thesis advisor (Francis Henrik Aubert) was a sworn translator, so it made sense. Legal translation is difficult precisely because the two underlying legal systems are different. Engineering translation is difficult only because you need to find the names of 50 different types of screws, and there are few standard names that everyone agrees on.

I strongly suggest that all translators learn a bit about translation theory.

A great place to start is Vinay and Darbelnet’s book Stylistique compare du français et de l’anglais (English version: Comparative stylistics of French and English, ISBN 9781556196928). You do not need to know much French to understand the concepts. For those getting started in legal translation, I recommend Legal Translation Explained by Alcaraz and Hughes (ISBN 1900650465).

5. I was really impressed by the fact that you decided to take another bachelor’s degree in law to have a deeper knowledge of the area in order to keep translating contracts and legal documents! Do you think it really helped in the end? Would you recommend other translators do the same in their respective translation areas?

In retrospect, it was overkill to do a second bachelor’s degree. However, I can now translate legal texts at the speed of light without having to look terms up in the dictionary! Doing a financial cost-benefit analysis, though, I spent more time (and time is money!) learning about the law then I needed to in order to improve my translation speed and quality. I loved the course on land law, for example, but am unlikely to ever use that knowledge when translating. I could have taken just a few courses and reaped the same benefits, rather than doing an entire degree. It was not cost-effective.

6. Now you have moved back to your mathematical roots without leaving linguistics. How do you combine both?

Strangely enough, I am not translating much these days – mostly just physics, astrophysics and computer science articles. I am a visiting professor in the Center for Mathematics, Computer Science and Cognition at the Federal University of the ABC Region, in Santo André, Brazil. I teach English, mathematics and research methods to undergraduate students. As I mentioned earlier, I love learning environments, and I find teaching extremely fulfilling. It is a pity it pays less than translating.

My research on language learning involves mathematical linguistics, natural language processing (NLP), language acquisition theory, English-medium instruction (EMI), corpora, and complex dynamic systems. Fun!

7. Now it is your turn. Who is your role model?

It was hard to pick just one colleague as my role model. I have learned different things from different mentors along the way. I think that Doris Schraft is a good example of translation professionalism. She is ATA-certified in three languages! Spanish, Portuguese and French into English. This inspired me to begin translating Italian>English. She also focuses on legal and business texts. Focusing on one field and avoiding texts that are outside your realm of competence is very important. She is also a great example of service to others, as the leader of the Portuguese>English ATA Certification exam graders team. It is a thankless task, and I do not know how she finds the time. I still have a lot to learn from her.

Thank you so much for accepting Elenice’s nomination and my invitation to take part in the interview series, Naomi! It was an enormous pleasure to get to meet you and know a bit more about you. And an even greater pleasure to read your answers. Your passion for studying is amazing and I really liked to learn about your opinions on some topics.

What I learned from a bad year


After four months of silence, I stare at a blank page, finally trying to write a blog post again. Four months! It’s hard to believe I spent one-third of 2016 not writing on the blog, and it’s already almost 2017! To make matters worse, guest posts and the interview series did not follow their normal flow either. Totally my bad!

What happened?

2016 happened. Not one of my best years.

Brazilian political, economical and financial crisis. My complete inability to control my personal and business finance. A huge downtime period. My believing I can embrace the world and take on other responsibilities. And other consequences arising from these.

This is life: full of ups and downs. It’s up to us to always try to learn something, even (or especially) from the downs. And this is what I learned from my bad year:

Financial control
I always knew better, but never put it into practice. The more I earn, the more I spend. It has always been like that. However, if I don’t learn now, I never will.

As freelancers, business owners, entrepreneurs, you name it, we only earn money if we work. Therefore, vacation, sick leave, days off, dry spells mean no income. It is essential that we prepare in advance for all those situations.

Clients are never too much
We should never stop prospecting. If not to have a wide and diverse client portfolio (agencies, direct clients, overseas clients, local clients), to try to gradually increase our rates. We should never settle.

Service diversification
We must adapt in moments of crisis. There is nothing to do? Adapt to the market. See what it needs that you can offer. Learn a new language or something new, or develop yourself at something you already know so you can offer it as a service.

Side projects
As much as they can be nice, rewarding and fulfilling, we need to know when it’s too much and when it’s not worth it, for any reason. Is it stressing you too much? Is it really adding value to you as a professional? We should not be afraid of being selfish once in a while; after all, if we don’t think about and take care of ourselves, who will?

Visibility is not always good
Some people will love you, but a couple of people will hate you, misinterpret you, think they know you, when, in fact, they don’t have a clue as to who you are. But that’s life, right? Some people say even Jesus did not please everyone. And I’m well aware that I’m far, far away from getting this close to being compared to him or anyone for that matter. The problem is this handful of people affect us in such a way that can crush us, make us feel terrible, miserable human beings. However, just like with everything else in life, we learn, we adapt, and we move on.

So, yeah… Not a good year, if I consider I had more downs than ups. But since I only really learn with downs, it was, in fact, a good year for life learnings. Now it’s that time of the year again, Thanksgiving is next week, Christmas in a bit more than a month, followed by New Year and, finally, my birthday. And I take the time to reflect upon my rights and wrongs, acknowledge and be grateful for the people in my life and for what I have learned, and move on to 2017 with a new, mature mindset.

Now I’m ready to resume my normal blogging routine, which feels great. Check out the blog’s editorial calendar here and stay tuned for the next posts.

And feel free to share what you have learned in 2016.

Guest post: Dubbing translation (in Portuguese)

Sejam bem-vindos de volta a mais uma publicação de convidados! Hoje, recebemos o Paulo Noriega, tradutor especializado em dublagem.

Bem-vindo, Paulo!


O tradutor para dublagem e a versão brasileira

O longa metragem animado Branca de Neve e os sete anões (1938), um dos principais clássicos dos estúdios Disney, inaugurou a nossa versão brasileira. Durante muitos anos, a dublagem fez parte da vida de muitos brasileiros, por intermédio da TV aberta. Hoje continua muito forte e presente nos canais da TV fechada, e até mesmo em outros veículos, como a Netflix, que já conquistou milhares de adeptos em todo o mundo. Há muito a se falar sobre esse segmento que envolve uma grande cadeia de profissionais, mas antes, acredito que uma boa forma de introduzir esse tema é dar uma breve definição de dublagem. Há inúmeras definições, mas para efeitos mais didáticos, podemos dizer que é o processo no qual os diálogos originais de uma produção são regravados com diálogos falados na língua-alvo.

No entanto, essa transposição de falas de um idioma para outro não ocorre num passo de mágica e muito menos de uma forma simples. Na verdade, além de diversos outros profissionais atuantes nos estúdios de dublagem, há uma figura responsável pela missão de traduzir/adaptar as falas das mais variadas produções audiovisuais para o nosso idioma e criar um roteiro para os dubladores interpretarem: o tradutor para dublagem. Gosto de dizer que o tradutor dessa modalidade é uma espécie de recontador de histórias, pois é seu dever tentar manter o tom e a essência presentes na versão original do produto audiovisual que irá traduzir. Ele deve tentar captar o registro dos personagens e realizar essa transposição para o português brasileiro da melhor forma possível.

Esse segmento tradutório, até hoje relativamente desconhecido pelo grande público e no qual atua esse profissional, está inserido no campo da tradução audiovisual, que também abarca a tradução para legendas (legendagem), o voiceover e a audiodescrição (destinada aos deficientes visuais). Entretanto, o tradutor é apenas um dos agentes de uma longa cadeia. Além dele, há os diretores de dublagem e os dubladores, profissionais que darão vida e voz ao texto produzido pelo tradutor e que darão o seu toque pessoal e artístico no momento das gravações. Outra característica importante e digna de nota é que os tradutores desse ramo são freelancers e não atuam mais dentro dos estúdios de dublagem, sendo o ilustre estúdio Herbert Richers o principal expoente dessa antiga prática.

Agora, abordando um pouco mais os aspectos técnicos, o texto traduzido pelo tradutor desse ramo é feito no Microsoft Word, não sendo necessário o uso de softwares mais específicos, como vemos na área de legendagem, a exemplo do Subtitle Workshop e Horse. Além do arquivo no qual fará sua tradução, ele recebe o vídeo do produto audiovisual que irá traduzir e, na maioria dos casos, um script com as transcrições das falas na língua-fonte (inglês, francês, espanhol…). Esses três elementos são o que gosto de chamar de tripé do tradutor e, com eles em mãos, o tradutor está pronto para executar o seu trabalho.

A elaboração de uma boa tradução para dublagem é muito complexa e há inúmeros fatores que devem ser levados em consideração para realizá-la com maestria. Obviamente, quaisquer termos específicos de uma área, como medicina ou direito, devem ser devidamente pesquisados e traduzidos corretamente, e o tradutor jamais pode perder de vista que o texto que está traduzindo/adaptando precisa ser natural e fluido na nossa língua, já que ele será interpretado em estúdio. Além disso, há diversas sinalizações que precisam estar presentes no roteiro traduzido, a exemplo dos vozerios, que podem ser burburinhos de uma cena em um restaurante ou em um estádio, por exemplo, e as reações realizadas pelos personagens, como um riso, um suspiro ou um choro. Para completar, o tradutor deve fazer uma boa estimativa de fala, ou seja, ver se as falas traduzidas estão muito grandes ou muita curtas para caberem na boca dos personagens e tentar aliar isso a um bom sincronismo labial.

Tal como as demais modalidades tradutórias, é necessário se preparar para entrar nesse mercado que carece de profissionais capacitados e que entendam como a versão brasileira funciona. A nossa dublagem é considerada uma das melhores do mundo e precisamos, cada vez mais, de tradutores conscientes de seu trabalho e que busquem realizar um trabalho de excelência.

Sobre o autor
paulo-profissional-blog-carolinePaulo Noriega é tradutor do par de idiomas inglês-português especializado no campo de tradução para dublagem. Presta serviços de tradução para dublagem dos mais diversos gêneros para renomadas empresas do ramo, tanto do Rio de Janeiro quanto de São Paulo. Traduziu mais de 250 horas de produções audiovisuais e é autor do blog Traduzindo a dublagem, um dos primeiros blogs brasileiros dedicado à tradução para dublagem.

Guest post: Who is the Project Manager? (in Portuguese)

Sejam bem-vindos a mais uma publicação convidada! A convidada deste mês é a Monica Reis, com quem tive o prazer de trabalhar no Comitê de Administração do Programa de Mentoria da Abrates.

Seja bem-vinda, Monica!


Fonte: Unsplash

Afinal, quem é e o que faz um Gerente de Projetos de Tradução?

Muito se fala no Gerente de Projetos (o chamado PM, Project Manager) como a pessoa que tem o controle de tudo que acontece dentro de uma agência de tradução. É ele (ou ela) o responsável por determinar tudo que acontece em um projeto de tradução, indo desde a escolha do cliente até a data de pagamento do tradutor. O fato é que nem sempre a pessoa por trás do cargo de PM em uma agência está diretamente envolvida em todos os processos que acontecem até que um projeto seja entregue traduzido ao cliente. Muitas outras pessoas estão envolvidas e têm papel até mais determinante que o indivíduo encarregado de gerenciar o trabalho.

Quando recebemos um pedido de tradução de um PM, normalmente não pensamos em tudo que aconteceu até que o seu nome fosse lembrado para aquele projeto específico. Acreditamos que as tratativas com o cliente foram iniciadas ali e que a tríade Cliente – PM – Tradutor formou-se do nada, sem passar por outras áreas da empresa.

Para que aquele cliente tenha chegado até a agência, foi necessário que um representante comercial fizesse contato com ele oferecendo serviços de tradução. Houve uma negociação de valores (nem sempre o cliente acha que a tradução vale aquele preço) e prazo (o cliente sempre acha que dá para fazer em um tempo menor). Só depois disso é que o projeto chega às mãos do PM. Engana-se quem pensa que quem determina o valor de uma tradução é o PM; ele normalmente trabalha com os valores determinados pelo dono da agência e, em alguns casos, com margens negociadas pelo representante comercial. São raros os casos em que o PM tem o controle sobre o valor a ser pago por uma tradução. Em uma agência ideal, o PM trabalharia junto com o departamento de vendas para determinar o valor de cada texto de acordo com sua complexidade linguística e de diagramação, prazo e outros fatores relevantes. Entretanto, a maioria das agências trabalha com valor fechado para a lauda, com alguma diferença de valor para prazos menores do que o normal (a chamada “taxa de urgência”).

E por falar em valores, engana-se também quem acha que é o PM quem determina o valor da lauda para o tradutor. Novamente, entra em cena o dono da agência. O PM até pode tentar negociar um aumento nas tarifas, mas a palavra final nunca é dele.

Quanto à escolha do tradutor para um projeto, podemos dizer que a decisão é quase que inteiramente do PM. É o PM quem decide que tradutor alocar para um determinado trabalho; entretanto, outros fatores podem influenciar nessa decisão, como descontos negociados com o cliente (que, consequentemente, alterarão o valor da lauda para o tradutor), escolha do cliente, entre outros.

A reputação do tradutor em termos de qualidade, entrega no prazo correto e especialidade no assunto são aspectos fundamentais na hora de tomar a decisão pelo melhor profissional para um projeto de tradução; mesmo assim, um PM pode decidir escolher outro tradutor por diferentes motivos. Muitas agências preferem trabalhar com o mesmo tradutor para determinado cliente (usando aquela velha máxima de que “não se mexe em time que está ganhando”). Muitos tradutores são especialistas no assunto, mas não aceitam a tarifa paga pela agência e nem sempre o PM pode interferir nesse processo.

Outro conceito errado é sobre a seleção de tradutores novos. A dificuldade de receber uma resposta (seja ela positiva ou negativa) de uma agência nem sempre está relacionada ao desinteresse do PM em contratar novos talentos para a sua agência. Muitas vezes, o PM recebeu outro currículo que se encaixa perfeitamente nas necessidades da agência naquele momento; ou aquele projeto não vingou; ou ele está envolvido em outros projetos com maior prioridade. Um PM organizado vai manter os currículos enviados de tal maneira que possa fazer contato com os tradutores quando for oportuno. Já enviei currículos e recebi resposta imediata, mas já tive muito mais currículos respondidos meses depois de tê-los enviado a agências.

Pensa que acaba aí? Não! Ainda falta a fase de revisão, diagramação (se for o caso) e entrega ao cliente. E depois disso, ainda é preciso esperar para ver se o cliente tem algum comentário, sugestão ou crítica sobre o trabalho entregue. Cabe ao PM receber o feedback do cliente e repassar ao tradutor e/ou revisor, conforme o caso, para futuros ajustes. Ainda é preciso gerenciar crises (quando o tradutor não entrega a tradução ou entrega em um prazo posterior ao acordado; quando o cliente não aprova a tradução ou quando o cliente não faz o pagamento, só para citar algumas).

O que o tradutor precisa entender é que a função de PM exige muito mais do que o simples conhecimento de idiomas. O PM precisa, antes de mais nada, ser flexível, saber solucionar problemas com rapidez e saber lidar com os vários elementos humanos envolvidos em um projeto de tradução. Assim como nós tradutores reclamamos quando um cliente fica insistentemente perguntando se o projeto contratado já está pronto, o PM também acha inconveniente que tradutores perguntem insistentemente sobre currículos enviados, prazos de pagamento, peçam adiantamento, etc. Então, da próxima vez que você não tiver resposta sobre um currículo que enviou e em vez de achar que o seu currículo foi parar na lixeira, pense nas outras tarefas que aquele profissional tem que cumprir durante o dia. Escreva, mas use o seu bom senso para saber quando e como escrever. Cordialidade e respeito são ótimos e todo mundo gosta.

Agradeço imensamente a aceitação do meu convite para escrever aqui no blog, Monica! É sempre muito bom ter outras perspectivas do processo de tradução.

Sobre a autora
monica-reis-2Monica Reis é graduada em Letras/Tradução pela Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo (UFES). É tradutora técnica e jurídica do par inglês-português com mais de 15 anos de experiência. Membro da Abrates e da American Translators Association, faz parte do Comitê de Administração do Programa de Mentoria da Abrates e é editora-assistente da Revista Metáfrase, a revista on-line da Abrates.

Greatest Women in Translation: Elenice Barbosa de Araujo


Welcome back to our Greatest Women in Translation interview series!

Yes, I know, I let you down this past month. No post on the 20. And, this month, I changed the order of the interview and the guest post series; however, there was no guest post either. Let’s see if we can go back on track now.

Now please welcome this month’s interviewee, Elenice, nominated by Nancy Cristina Martorana.


1. Why not start by telling us how you met Cris Martorana, our last interviewee?

I was blessed to have Cris as my T/I teacher at Alumni. She’s been my English grammar tutor for many years now. I would say she is one of the strongest influences in my career as a linguist. I admire her for her eagerness to find ‘the word’, to learn the precise meaning of any given expression and its equivalent in Portuguese, and how to use it properly. We share the same passion, I guess. She is an extraordinaire teacher and one of the most loving and caring people I know. I was very flattered to be chosen by her.

2. On your CV, you list 42 books you have already translated. On a Google search, I found a reference to your translation of O livro essencial da alimentação infantil. And I can see you translate a lot of nutrition and gastronomy, as well as children books. How did you get to translate for this area?

These are the books I translated that were published. I did a few more that were either intended for private distribution or have never been published. And a couple other translations were sold to other publishing houses and printed under a different title, so I lost track of them. A few days ago I ran into a tittle that seemed familiar only to learn that it’s one of my works. My very first translation job was a fiction book. I’ve got a phone call a week after concluding my T/I course telling me that a fellow student had referred me. Then, by the time I was about to finish it, another fellow colleague who always resorted to me to clarify her culinary doubts referred me to her editor, so I got to translate my first culinary book. After that, I was doing another fiction book when the editor learned that I had a background in Education and had a deep interest for anything related to cooking and nutrition, especially regarding children’s health, and he assigned me a book on nutrition. He’d been looking for someone cut out for it, for quite a long time. That translation brought me at least a dozen more. From there the more I translated the more I learned. Wherever I travelled the first place I would visit on a new city was the supermarket, and the farmers market, and a range of local restaurants. In no time I started choosing my destinations based on the culinary experience they would offer me. The greater the diversity of cuisines I would be exposed to the better.   

3. You are such a diversified professional! Besides translating in several areas of knowledge (biology, parenting, health, children and adult literature, multimedia & TV, advertising, marketing, travel & tourism, education, psychology, sociology, software localization, general business, and the ones I mentioned in the previous question), you also work with editing, copywriting, and proofreading, dubbing, voice over and subtitling. Phew! That’s a lot! How do you manage everything? Do you usually work a bit with each area or do you usually naturally focus on a couple?

It might seem a lot, but it’s been now fifteen and a half years of hard work. And that’s exactly the beauty of the translation, you may get tired but never ever bored. Everyday we are faced with new challenges, and I have taken on quite a lot. In all these years I have never applied for a position nor send my resume without it being asked first; I was always approached by a client who came to me, referred by someone who knew that I was fit for that job. But as much as I’m a hard worker — and believe, I am — I only work on two or three projects at a time. Translating books allows me to keep editing and proofreading for my regular clients at a short notice. I’m used to working long hours a day, so it’s refreshing to take a break from one subject for working on another. Instead of distracting me, I’m able to focus more on the subject at hand. And then I return to the previous activity with fresh eyes, so my ideas flow faster. In fact, I find the exposure to a wide range of themes and to varied tasks extremely helpful for professional growth. For instance, translating a book gives me a broader vocabulary, and improves my fluidity of speech (or of text, if I may). Whereas editing subtitles or doing interpreting training makes my mind sharper, and considerably improves my concision, which in turn is a valuable asset while translating. But needless to say, I follow the golden rule: I would never work on a theme or area I do not feel confortable with, or for which I lack the required skills and/or reliable research tools. Other than that, it is my curiosity, my drive for learning and discovering new things, and my passion for the language itself and its rules, which navigate me through my career. Give me a challenging subject and I’ll gladly immerse myself in it and find my way though the text.

4. And, last year, you also found the time to work, for a semester, at PUC-SP, teaching Translation of Contemporary Texts from Portuguese into English. How was the experience as a teacher? Did you learn anything that you were able to apply to your own profession?

It was a fantastic opportunity. I took the course, and then to my surprise, I was invited by the teacher to fill in for her. I was able to combine my two callings, translation and education. Teaching is always a two-way experience, and the exchange with the students was very enriching. In addition to learning a lot from all the work involved in lesson planning, I also acquired a greater self-awareness as a professional.

5. Last year, you also took the Literary Translation Summer School at the City University of London. Could you tell us a bit more about the course and your experience?

It was one of my ‘student career’ highlights. It consisted of a weeklong hands-on workshop with a selected group of translators — all native speakers, except for me — under the guidance of one of the most important translators of the Portuguese literature, Margareth Jul Costa. As always in my life it was a bold move, but it absolutely paid off. Although short, it was worth a year at a regular course. I can’t wait to go back.

6. Now a personal curiosity. On our e-mail communications, you mentioned you were busy concluding a book. Could you tell us a bit more about it?

Indeed, I just finished another translation, and it was invigorating. New editor, new publishing house, a brand new theme. I was very inspired by it. The author opens her heart to speak to the mothers of young children about the worries and challenges of parenting. And she is so candid about her experiences in life, that women of all ages, mothers or not, can relate to it. In translation there is no such thing as the luxury of a generous deadline, that’s for sure (neither we can afford it). But despite the steady rhythm and the amount of effort to craft a beautiful text, it was the kind of job that reminded me how much I love what I do.

7. Now it’s your turn to nominate a woman you admire to be our next interviewee.

That has to be my dear friend and colleague Naomi Sutcliffe de Moraes, a brilliant and accomplished linguist. I’m sure her interview will be a hit.

I would like to thank Elenice, once again, for accepting Cris Martorana’s nomination and my invitation to be interviewed for our series. Now I cannot wait for Naomi’s.

Greatest Women in Translation: Nancy Cristina Martorana

Welcome back to our Greatest Women in Translation interview series!

This month’s interviewee is Nancy Cristina Martorana, nominated by Angela Levy.

Welcome, Nancy!

nancy martorana

1. You are American, but moved to Brazil in 1956. Why?
2. Every translator has a different story on how they became a translator. What is yours?

Since the answer to these two questions is interrelated, I will merge my answer.

I came to Brazil with my parents when I was only 10. At the time my Dad was an executive transferred to Brazil from a parent company in the United States. I did my schooling at Escola Graduada de São Paulo, better known as Graded School, and knew early in life that I wanted to pursue a career that involved languages. I had actually been in Brazil before, between the age of 8 months and 16 months, also because my Dad was transferred to Brazil from Romania (where I was born). However, My Dad’s company (ITT) won a bid to install basic infrastructure in Iran (Persia, at the time) and I was to spend the next 3 years in that country. Although it was my first language, I do not remember anything, not even after hearing it spoken by the natives years later. Because of all the countries we moved to, my mother decided to get a French governess, wherever we went to make my language learning more consistent. To make a long story short, I already knew in high school that I wanted to do my college at the translation/interpretation school of Geneva. However, I was rejected because I was too young (minimum age of 18) and had to speak three languages fluently to be accepted. This irritated me immensely to be discriminated, especially because of age. Today, as a teacher, I understand fully – years of experience are needed to pursue a career with any degree of success in translation/interpretation; as I tell my students, layers of knowledge are compacted year after year.

3. Although you teach both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting at Alumni, you have more experience with simultaneous than with consecutive interpreting. Do you prefer one over the other? If so, why? If not, what do you like and dislike in both?

In addition to consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, there are other oral forms, like intermittent and focus groups. Basically, consecutive requires rephrasing and own-writing-deciphering skills and the others are direct delivery of the language. I find consecutive the most difficult of all forms since it requires notetaking and notereading (your own notes!). I have done a total of 3 consecutive interpretations in my career, and although some people do prefer them (to my great surprise), I think that associative learning (memorization of translated word associations) is easier than rephrasing. However, consecutive training is a good learning method.

4. However, you go even beyond and also translate (both technical texts and books). Do you prefer one over the other (translation x interpretation)? If so, why? If not, what do you like and dislike in both?
5. Do you only translate from Portuguese into English (your mother tongue)? Why don’t you feel comfortable translating into Portuguese, even after living for so long in Brazil?

Again I will merge the two ideas since one leads into the other.

Actually, I do not like technical texts or books. If you consider that any text which is not conversational is technical, including literary texts, then I would have to say that I only like certain technical texts, including literary texts, where the technicality comes in knowing the language perfectly. Then, after a translator has sweated many hours looking up technical terms and can say that he/she has relatively mastered the subject, even though he did not do 5 years of college to learn the terminology, he is comfortable enough to say that he likes technical translation, but, mind you, only in that particular subject that he has mastered. I, for one, love to do cosmetics (actually very technical) because I have been translating its terminology for many years, and, even though I don’t know all the terms, I am comfortable to accept, even welcome, the challenge of finding those I don’t know. On the other hand, I will promptly refer any engineering or equipment maintenance texts to my colleagues who now master and welcome these fields, because of their years of exposure.

Books was the second question and my answer was that I don’t prefer them either. I think it all depends on your customer base. All my customers have short deadlines, and I don’t mean “for yesterday,” but short texts, commonly institutional, that don’t take more than a few days to complete. Because of the fast translation turnover of my customer base, I must give anyone wishing to translate a book a l-o-n-g delivery date, since I must translate the book at the same time as I fulfill the translation needs of my regular customer base. Sometimes it works out, and books authors accept the terms.

Lastly, you broached the issue of translation versus interpretation. This depends on one’s personal vision of one’s career. For example, it is difficult to be a teacher and also available for simultaneous interpreting, because you cannot miss too many classes. I saw many students invited to join the Alumni faculty after they graduated, but, since they were excellent interpreters, and the pay is much different, they chose to pursue a better paying and more personally satisfying career in interpretation, and very rightfully so, since they were very good at a very difficult profession. As for me, I was frustrated at the beginning of my profession by a colleague whom I was practicing my Portuguese (and she, her English) with. After scrutinizing my second translation into Portuguese, she had marked my paper with only a dab of red ink. However, all the joy I felt in seeing the few corrections (mostly commas), were abruptly crushed by the words, “It’s all grammatically correct, but it isn’t Portuguese.” I had failed to realize that Portuguese is very nominal, whereas English is very verbal. Now that I know, I can’t really say that it is too late, because my customer base has always been avid for translations into English, which I was better at than Portuguese, so why sweat it?

It is better to go with what you know!

As for the pay, my students reward me in so many other ways; I embrace teaching with great satisfaction – I love to teach; I found my core in teaching translation/interpretation.

6. You introduced the didactic material of the simultaneous interpretation oral skills segment of Alumni’s Translator and Interpreter Course and are responsible for updating it throughout the years. In your opinion, what topics should every interpretation course cover?

Yes, when Alumni added another day to its course to cover oral skills like simultaneous interpretation, I and the teacher responsible for “the other way around,” namely from English to Portuguese, asked how we should put together this course, what should be given. The answer we received was whatever and however we thought best. After many, many, many hours of toilsome thought, I decided that the best place to start was filling in the gaps of what was needed in the original Alumni course (creating a glossary based on the pertinent terminology of the interpretation job) and this led to organizing and managing the target of oral delivery. As mentioned before, I prefer associative learning (memorizing basic translation associations) to what I would call a “philosophical” didactic approach, but admittedly with tips on how to enhance delivery of the know-how.

Updating? Always, since language lives and breathes, always changing and updating itself. We translators must keep abreast.

Topics? Those that all translations and interpretation require, i.e., all involve some degree of marketing, management, economics and business. No matter what the topic, these are always addressed, because we are taking about companies that want to make money selling their wares. Apart from these, interpreters must know a little (or perhaps a lot!, but a little is good for starters, and experience provides the lots) of everything, because one never knows when a lecturer will make an example from a totally different field, or cite a current event from today’s newspaper. We interpreters always have to stay on our toes. For those more interested in literary translations (I would say that you practically have to choose between one or the other), the prerequisite is definitely knowing one’s own language. Even with all my college English and reading, and the many layers of knowledge that I have accumulated over the years, I could never equal this with the same dose in Portuguese, never! Moreover, I have to constantly update myself in my own language, as it lives and breathes at a heartbeat that I passionately desire to grasp.

7. Now it’s your turn. Who do you nominate as our next great woman in translation?

I would have to say it is Elenice Araujo. Hopefully she will accept.

And she has! 😀 Thank you, Nancy, for accepting Angela Levy’s nomination and my invitation, and for kindly taking the time to answer my questions. It was a pleasure to e-meet you!

Guest post: Pesquisa terminológica em tradução

Bem-vindos de volta à série de publicações convidadas!

Hoje seria dia da série de entrevistas, mas, impreterivelmente neste mês, invertemos a ordem. Portanto, a série de entrevistas será no dia 10.

É com imenso prazer que recebo um grande amigo, meu veterano, aqui no blog.

Seja bem-vindo, Deni!

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Source: Unsplash

O Google ou um corpus? Quem tirará minhas dúvidas?

Agradeço minha amiga Caroline Alberoni pela oportunidade de escrever para o seu blog. Ela já havia feito o convite há algum tempo, e desde então venho tentando pensar em um tema que possa ser interessante para os seus leitores. Nesse ínterim, propus para os meus alunos do curso de Tradução da UNILAGO que traduzissem uma publicação convidada como atividade da minha disciplina de Prática de Tradução. Essa, certamente, foi uma experiência muito proveitosa para os alunos e para mim!

Para a escolha do tópico que abordo nesse texto, retornei aos meus anos de graduação em Tradução e fui tentar resgatar o que havia fundamentalmente mudado na minha dinâmica como tradutor. Lembro-me que no início dos anos 2000, a Internet já fazia, de certa forma, parte de nossas vidas, e buscadores como o Yahoo, Cadê e AltaVista nos ajudavam a encontrar o que precisávamos naquele mundo de informações que já parecia ser um mar sem fim. Entretanto, foi o Google que popularizou as pesquisas que não eram exatamente uma busca por uma página, mas se tratava apenas de uma averiguação de frequência. Lembro-me de já usá-lo, nos meus exercícios de tradução (sobretudo de versão), para me certificar de uma regência, uma ortografia ou a formalidade ou informalidade no uso de uma palavra ou expressão.

Alguns anos depois, a quantidade de informações indexadas pelo Google aumentou enormemente. Dadas as diferentes tipologias de textos que são indexados, o Google foi “se especializando” e hoje é possível procurar apenas em notícias, textos acadêmicos e livros. No caso desses últimos, o Google ainda criou uma ferramenta chamada n-gram viewer (não disponível para o português), por meio da qual é possível contrastar a frequência de uma dada palavra ou expressão num período de tempo e ainda comparar com outra palavra ou expressão.

Para exemplificar o quão interessante pode ser o uso dessa ferramenta, tomemos uma publicação parte de uma recente série sobre gramática e uso, em que Michael Rundell, editor-chefe do dicionário da língua inglesa Macmillan, trata do uso de “different from” e “different to”. Com base em uma observação em corpus, ele conclui que “different to” é raramente usado no inglês americano, mas é comum no inglês britânico. Fui verificar o que o Google n-gram viewer tinha a dizer a respeito, com base em ocorrências em livros publicados de 1800 a 2008, e chegamos às mesmas constatações de Michael Rundell: “different from” é bem mais recorrente em ambas as variantes da língua inglesa (sempre foi), mas parece estar ganhando (discretamente) fôlego na literatura, nos últimos anos. Fiquemos de olho.

No exemplo que acabo de dar, tanto o Google quanto o corpus proporcionaram uma conclusão semelhante. Nesse sentido, noto que tenho encorajado meus alunos a valerem-se da Internet como forma de auxiliarem suas tarefas na disciplina de Prática de Tradução, mas com um olhar duvidoso sobre tudo o que esse mundo de informações apresenta. O grande volume de textos que vemos publicados on-line, hoje, tornou difícil até mesmo dizer o que, de fato, foi escrito por falantes nativos da língua e o que é produto de tradução (automática ou não). É na tentativa de tornar tais pesquisas mais confiáveis e representativas dos usos da língua que o corpus se mostra útil.

Caberia aqui uma rápida definição do que vem a ser um corpus (palavra latina, cujo plural é corpora). Trata-se de um grande conjunto de textos, selecionados segundo alguns critérios (para que o corpus servirá? Qual será sua extensão? Que tipos de textos farão parte dele?), em formato digital, de modo a extrair-se dele informações linguísticas relevantes. No meio acadêmico, esse tópico vem sendo tratado já há algum tempo, mas tem ganhado cada vez mais força com a Internet e com a grande capacidade de armazenamento e processamento dos computadores atualmente. Se antes, para criar um corpus, era necessário um árduo trabalho de digitalização de textos impressos, hoje é possível compilar um corpus a partir de textos que já se encontram disponíveis na Web, de maneira rápida e automatizada, e que podem servir para propósitos diversos. Um tradutor, por exemplo, diante de um trabalho sobre meliponicultura ou mineralogia, além de recursos como dicionários e sites especializados pode recorrer a um corpus compilado especificamente para a tradução de um texto e extrair dali termos atuais, se pensarmos que tal corpus foi constituído a partir de textos recentes, encontrados na Internet.¹

Mas por que não utilizar, simplesmente, o buscador do Google para fazer essa mesma tarefa? Afinal, compilar um corpus exige que se faça a seleção dos textos e que eles sejam armazenados com certa sistematicidade (em arquivos que sejam legíveis por programas específicos que processam corpus). É preciso ter em mente, contudo, que uma busca no Google, hoje, pode retornar resultados que não correspondem, muitas vezes, à realidade de usos. É justamente a vastidão de textos que são indexados por um motor de busca como o Google que desabona a sua utilização quando estamos em dúvida sobre um certo termo ou um uso. Os textos ali presentes podem ter origens que não são exatamente as mais confiáveis (a menos que estejamos buscando no Google Livros, como exemplifiquei acima).

Recentemente, em um exercício com meus alunos de Prática de Tradução, o termo “recycling containers” apareceu no texto de partida, o que gerou uma certa variedade de opções nos textos de chegada. A tradução mais frequente foi “recipiente de reciclagem” (três ocorrências); “contêiner de reciclagem” e “container de reciclagem” foram, cada um, a opção de dois alunos; uma aluna apresentou “contentor de reciclagem”, em seu texto (o que parece ser também a tradução do Google Tradutor para “recycling container”).

Ao recorrer ao Google, é possível verificar que “recipiente de reciclagem” é a opção mais frequente, seguida de “contentor de reciclagem”. Embora “recipiente de reciclagem” me parecesse uma possibilidade plausível, eu não estava satisfeito com essa tradução. “Contentor de reciclagem” estava fora de questão, mas como mediador-professor da disciplina, eu deveria motivar minhas decisões e expô-las aos alunos. Intuitivamente, pensei em “lixeira de reciclagem” como uma tradução apropriada, mas a frequência do Google indicava que esse termo era menos frequente que “recipiente de reciclagem”².

É aqui que o uso de um corpus parece-me apropriado e mostra vantagens sobre o Google. Utilizei um corpus que está gratuitamente disponível na Web e faz parte de um conjunto de recursos disponibilizado pela Linguateca³. Mais especificamente, utilizei o corpus CHAVE que, por sua vez, faz parte do AC/DC, um conjunto de corpora, convenientemente armazenados e acessíveis de um mesmo local. O CHAVE conta com textos jornalísticos da Folha de S. Paulo e do jornal português Público. A escolha recaiu sobre esse corpus, pois, eu gostaria de atestar que “contentor” era uma palavra mais utilizada em Portugal.

Duas buscas confirmaram minha hipótese, mas, para tanto, foi necessário especificar que uma busca deveria retornar apenas resultados dos textos brasileiros e a outra, apenas textos portugueses. Para tanto, adicionei à busca a restrição [variante=“BR”] e [variante=“PT”]⁴, respectivamente. Conforme previa, não houve uma ocorrência sequer de “contentor” no português brasileiro; já na variante portuguesa, foram 930 resultados.

Era, então, o momento de embasar a minha escolha (“lixeira de reciclagem”) para a tradução de “recycling containers”. O Google, como já antevi, não me ajudaria, pois, dava como vencedor “recipiente de reciclagem”. Apelei, assim, para um outro corpus, disponível on-line, o ptTenTen. Esse corpus encontra-se armazenado na ferramenta Sketch Engine (veja nota de rodapé 1) e contém alguns bilhões de palavras (o que é bastante significativo). Além disso, o ptTenTen, assim como o CHAVE, permite que se façam buscas nas variantes brasileira e portuguesa ou separadamente.

Minha breve pesquisa confirmou, numericamente (ainda que com números baixos), o que eu suspeitava: “lixeira de reciclagem” é o termo mais frequente entre aqueles apresentados como opção de tradução para “recycling container”, conforme o quadro abaixo.

Captura de Tela 2016-08-01 às 11.24.32

Vale ressaltar, reafirmando o que digo acima sobre o grande volume de informações na Internet hoje (e que acaba sendo indexado pelo Google), que percebi que muitos dos resultados para a busca “contentor de reciclagem” eram páginas de sites como Alibaba ou sites gerados com o auxílio de tradução automática, além dos textos que haviam sido escritos em outras variedades não brasileiras do português.

Com essa experiência de tradução que aqui apresento, busco fomentar uma reflexão sobre um aspecto da competência do tradutor, isto é, como a prática tradutória tem sido afetada de modo a favorecer o texto final, minimizando esforços e tempo, tão caros num mundo onde o tradutor nunca foi tão necessário. A utilização de corpora parece, num primeiro momento, acrescentar mais um trabalho às já muitas tarefas do tradutor, todavia, esse exemplo, ainda que simples, mostra que nossa intuição pode ser confirmada ou refutada com dados mais confiáveis.

¹ Uma ferramenta que pode auxiliar um tradutor nesse sentido é o Sketch Engine, um processador de corpus que funciona on-line e que a partir de algumas palavras-chave (o termo correto aqui seria “seeds”) busca a Web e compila um corpus com base nessas palavras-chave. O Sketch Engine é capaz de processar corpora de diversas línguas e oferece recursos diversos, desde uma lista de frequência de palavras presentes no corpus até as chamadas word sketchs, em que é possível ver padrões de coocorrência de palavras. A ferramenta pode ser acessada em

² No momento em que escrevo esse texto “recipiente de reciclagem” ocorre 74 mil vezes, enquanto “lixeira de reciclagem” tem 20,5 mil ocorrências.

³ A Linguateca é um um centro de recursos para o processamento do português que conta com o apoio de diversos pesquisadores no Brasil e em Portugal. Os recursos da Linguateca podem ser acessados em

⁴ Essas restrições de busca e tantas outras tornam o uso de corpora interessante. O corpus precisa conter informações (nesse caso, a que variante do português pertence o texto) e essas são adicionadas manualmente ou automaticamente. Outro tipo de informação útil e que é possível adicionar automaticamente são as categorias gramaticais das palavras. Um corpus anotado com esse tipo de informação permite buscas mais interessantes do que aquelas que o Google oferece. Por exemplo, podemos pesquisar por “casa” como forma verbal de “casar” em vez do substantivo.

Muito obrigada por ter aceitado meu convite e dedicado seu tempo em escrever algo tão interessante e útil para o blog, Deni! Foi um grande prazer recebê-lo aqui.

About the author
facebook08Deni Kasama é formado em Tradução pela UNESP de São José do Rio Preto, onde recententemente concluiu também seu doutorado. Atualmente, é docente na União das Faculdades dos Grandes Lagos (UNILAGO), além de atuar como tradutor e revisor freelancer de textos acadêmicos. Suas pesquisas recentemente têm se concentrado nas contribuições da Linguística de corpus para a Tradução e a Lexicografia.

Ergonomics in the professional translator’s workplace

Captura de Tela 2016-07-21 às 15.59.24

Source: FCOS Box

On July 12 and 13, I attended the Ergonomics and technologized knowledge work: cognitive effort, creativity, and health issues workshop held at FALE (Faculty of Languages), UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais), in Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil. The workshop was organized by Prof. Fabio Alves (UFMG) and Prof. Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow (ZHAW), and supported by the Brazilian-Swiss Joint Research Programme (BSJRP) and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.

Besides having personal intentions (I wanted to interview Maureen, Fabio and Adriana Pagano for the podcast – and I did!), I also represented Abrates at the event.

The workshop was fantastic because it fostered interaction among researchers and professionals in interdisciplinary areas, such as translation studies, applied linguistics, health, ergonomics and other technical fields. Only about 20 people attended the event, but it ended up being great for networking and exchange of ideas in a more intimate and personal level. I was the only professional translator; everybody else was a researcher and/or university professor.

Prof. Fabio Alves opened the event with some numbers regarding UFGM:

  • The university has about 3,000 undergraduate students and 600 graduate students.
  • It is the only Brazilian federal university with 2 Excellence-graded programs, both in Languages and Linguistics.

Everyone deserves a break!

Prof. Maureen then presented on “Ergonomics matters for translators and other knowledge workers.” And she started in great style by applying common knowledge and research into practice: she stopped for a 5-minute break every 20 minutes. In the first break, we stood up and  introduced ourselves to the people next to us. This was great to break the ice and already get to know some of the attendees. In the other breaks, we also had to stand up and did some quick and simple stretching exercises, following an occupational therapist from ZAHW. I loved the idea! The Swiss researcher and professor talked about the research she conducted with other colleagues recording translation processes of professional translators at LSPs, institutions and freelance environments. They analyzed not only their physical environment (chair, table, computer, etc.) but also their social situation (people, systems, etc.). Since competence in language technology, such as CATs and MT, is now a prerequisite for professional translation, our memory has been extended by the use of multiple applications and resources, and the disadvantage is that we can offload too much, affecting our emotional state and concentration.

from Greek: ergon = work, nomos = laws

Prof. Maureen’s main goal is to study the human side of usability, focusing on the user, rather than on machines or tools, or even productivity. Therefore, ergonomics, on her study, encompasses:

  • Physical: concerned with human anatomical, anthropometric, physiological and biomechanical characteristics as they relate to physical activity. Simply put, physical ergonomics involve equipment (desk, chair, keyboard, mice) and their design; use and distortion of hand/wrist when typing and handling the mouse; sitting for too long in one position, resulting in pain and muscle stiffness; context factors, such as noise levels, lighting, temperature. Consequence: negative impact on accuracy and translation quality. For example, did you know QWERTY (English) keyboards were arranged to prevent mechanical typewriters from jamming, not for ergonomic reasons?
  • Cognitive: concerned with mental processes (perception, memory, reasoning, motor response) as they affect interactions among humans and other elements of a system. Simply put, cognitive ergonomics involve human-computer interaction (HCI), computer responsiveness, digital resources, over-crowded screens, disturbances and interruptions, and time pressure. The consequence here is also the negative impact on accuracy, translation quality and productivity. As we, professional translators, are well aware of, even slight delays in computer responsiveness can negatively affect task perfomance and potentially contribute to stress.
  • Organizational: concerned with the optimization of sociotechnical systems, including their organizational structures, policies and processes. Simply put, organization ergonomics involve sociotechnical issues, teamwork and communication, self-concept and professional identity, and job satisfaction. Consequence: negative impact on company loyalty and organizational development.

In a nutshell, the translational action is a complex system and sociological event that involves various actors and factors where every small detail of the interaction matters. What we currently see are translators adapting to machines, instead of the contrary.

The brain is not only in the skull, it involves the entire body.

Prof. Fabio followed, and his talk was about LETRA (Laboratory for Experimentation in Translation at UFMG): “LETRA’s perspective on cognitive ergonomics and human-computer interaction.” His presentation was in Portuguese in order to provide the interpreter students in the booth (yes, there was an interpreting booth in the room!) a chance to practice Portuguese into English interpretation. According to UFMG’s Director of International Affairs, the lab carries out research on human-computer interaction related to processes involved in: post-editing tasks of MT output, development of interactive MT interfaces, and development of translation applications comprising a combination of speech recognition, MT output and HCI. The process maps the translation expertise, taps the translation process and models task execution. The methodological approach involves pre-task questionnaires, keylogging, eye tracking, direct observation, task recalling and text analysis. The results of the studies conducted at LETRA allow the design of interactive platforms and applications geared to improving/enhancing translators’ performance and interaction among users, and the development of training programs.

Prof. Adriana Pagano, coordinator of the area of Translation at UFMG, presented next on “Ergonomics and usability testing in the design of applications for chronic condition management and health promotion.” The goal of her study is to design an app to promote adherence of teenagers to treatment of diabetes and user empowerment, facilitating self-directed behavior change. The group comprising the study is called Empoder@ and aims at developing a conceptual and methodological prototype for the design of tools to assess educational interventions oriented towards self care and empowerment. Questions such as smartphone and internet use, app features and avatar were asked to teenagers in order to find out what they prefer. Note that the focus here as well is on the human being: developing an app adapted to the user, not the contrary.

Ursula Meidert, from ZAHW, followed with her presentation “Physical ergonomics at computer workplaces: Findings from ergonomic workplace assessments and interviews.” The study was conducted by an inter-professional project team: the Institute of Occupational Therapy and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting. As Maureen also pointed out, not only physical work environment factors, but also context factors, such as ambient noise, lighting and temperature, can influence the performance of people who work at computers (translators included), and they can even represent risk factors for health problems. Typing and using input devices (touchpad, mice) involve the entire body, and constant repetition of certain movements can cause an overload of muscles.

Did you know women generally complain more about health than men?

Besides interviewing participants, the researchers also visited workplaces (freelancers’ offices, enterprises and institutions) and assessed their ergonomics, recorded screens and translators themselves while working. Problems were more often observed among freelancers and younger professionals, therefore, the researchers’ recommendation is that: basic ergonomic knowledge be integrated into BA and MA programmes, ergonomic training be provided to practitioners and information about ergonomics be disseminated through professional associations. They also recommend an individual workplace consultation by an occupational therapist before any health problems emerge.

The last activity on the first day was a workshop, “Cognitive and Physical Ergonomics of Translation: What can we do to make a computer workplace more ergonomic?”, presented by the occupational therapist Michèle Gasser (also from ZHAW) and Ursula Meidert. Michèle started by saying that the worst problem of professional translators is the one-sided strain: sitting in the same position for a long time. The physical load on the body throughout the day remains the same, causing problems, especially when the workplace is not ergonomically adequate and/or the translator has the wrong posture. Ergonomic adaptations to the translator’s abilities must be made, but it is advisable that the translator also have a healthy life (regular exercise), take regular breaks and frequently change the working position. Here are some of the orientations:

  • The computer screen should be positioned so that the light from windows comes from the side, preventing reflections or glare. The light should always be indirect. Office light should not be directly above the head.
  • The feet should be flat on the floor, forming a 90-degree angle by the knees and the hips. This is important for posture and blood circulation. If, for any reason, when making these adjustments the feet do not reach the floor, a footrest should be used. However, the best condition is that the table and the chair are adjustable in order to allow the feet to touch the floor. There should be a gap of two fingers between the knees and the seat.
  • The arms should also form a 90-degree angle and rest on the table. Armrests are not really necessary.
  • The backrest should be flexible enough to lean back for occasional relaxation, but still providing enough resistance to support the back, that should press lightly against it. The curve of the backrest should support the lumbar lordosis.
  • The computer screen should be straight in front of the translator at an arm’s length. Now here’s something new: the top of the screen should be one hand width below eye level, not on eye level! However, this will also depend on the size of the screen and on the CAT the translator is using. The rule of thumb is that the nape is straight, not curved, and the translator is slightly looking below, not straight ahead.
  • The keyboard should be directly in front of the translator. Allow enough distance so that the heels of the hands can rest on the table, and are not floating.
  • The mouse should be next to the keyboard, as close to it as possible.
  • When working with two monitors, whenever possible, the main screen should be straight ahead and the second, stand next to the first, at an angle. However, when both screens are used equally frequently, both should be angled and positioned accordingly.
  • When working with paper documents, they should be placed between the keyboard and the screen, preferentially supported by a holder.
  • When working regularly for long periods on a laptop, it is important to use an external keyboard and mouse, and all of the above orientations apply. However, a larger external monitor is also recommended.
  • Ideal equipment: big non-glare screens, adjustable chair in height and backrest and adjustable table.

A peace and quiet work environment is also essential. Avoid interruptions and misunderstandings by communicating your working days and time.

Useful link:
FCOS Box: Safety, health and ergonomics in the office

Another recurrent topic during the event was usability and its connection with ergonomics, topic that was also addressed by Rossana Cunha, a research student from UFSC (Federal University of Santa Catarina). The goal of her study was to bridge the gap between corpus-based tools, ergonomics and usability by a user-oriented methodology. The results indicated that, despite the concern for providing a user-friendly interface, the system she analyzed did not make use of known usability and ergonomic methods. And here I add something one of the presenters mentioned: SDL Trados was questioned if they conducted usability tests. Surprise, surprise (or not): “Usability? What is it?” was their answer. The problem here, and with most of the CATs we use, is they are developed by developers only, with no involvement of translators whatsoever.

Next on the second day, Arlene Koglin and Norma Fonseca, both from UFMG, presented on “An analysis of work-related medical issues and ergonomic aspects in Brazilian translators’ workplace.” They mentioned the importance of introducing usability and ergonomics in early stages of university courses to make students aware, and not only buy the coolest CAT in the market. The results of their research can contribute to increasing awareness of the physical and cognitive aspects of professional translation as well as to improving translators’ working conditions. Now here is the great news: they plan on publishing the results of their study to the professional translation community, not only to academic professionals. So we may have something new coming up soon… 😉

Last but not least, Maureen presented with Peter Jud on “Cognitive ergonomics of computerized translation work.” Besides being a translation teacher at ZAHW, Peter is also a professional translator, so it was interesting to see his intakes from both sides. According to them, it’s all linked: physical, organizational and cognitive ergonomics. Therefore, disturbances and interruptions at the workplace can also negatively influence the translator’s work. All levels, players and aspects should be taken into account: physical aspects, translator training, translation teacher training, software development, research, organizational aspects, clients/agencies.

To sum up all the learnings from the event, all participants and presenters were asked to talk a bit about their impressions, and the key points were:

  • Usability was the keyword of the event, as an object of study, approaching it from different angles and disciplines.
  • Keeping people in the middle is what matters.
  • Translators don’t have a voice: we (researchers) have to listen to them!
  • Being keen and open to new approaches is essential.
  • This workshop and the discussions we had may be the stepping stone of something larger to come.