What does translation mean to you?

“What does translation mean to you_” (1)

Image created by Erick Tonin

September 30 is International Translation Day. According to the UN, which recognized the date two years ago, “International Translation Day is meant as an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of language professionals, which plays an important role in bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, understanding and cooperation, contributing to development and strengthening world peace and security.”

Most of us love what we do (well, I know I do!), so I decided to ask ten translators from different areas what translation means to them.

Below you’ll find, in alphabetic order, Alison Entrekin, Brazilian Portuguese into English literary translator; Anna Ligia Pozzetti, Japanese-English-Brazilian Portuguese interpreter; Carolina Ventura, English-Brazilian Portuguese sworn translator; Judy Jenner, court-certified English-Spanish interpreter; Laila Rezende Compan, Spanish-Brazilian Portuguese subtitler; Paloma Bueno, Brazilian sign language interpreter; Paula G. de Brito, Brazilian translation student; Paulo Noriega, English-Brazilian Portuguese dubbing translator; Sherif Abuzid, English into Arabic translator; and Thiago Araújo, Brazilian game translator.


1. Alison Entrekin

A translator:

  • scrutinizes her friends’ turns of phrase for future usefulness;
  • shouts “PAUSE!” mid-film and races off to take note of whatever the main character just said because it’s exactly what she needed two months ago;
  • fiddles with texts after she has delivered them;
  • carefully curates lists of novel swear words, slang and saddle parts because, well, you never know when they might come in handy;
  • stalks truant words in dreams with a gold-panning dish and a butterfly net;
  • knows that “thesaurus” comes from the Greek word for treasure;
  • suspects that other translators have better and rarer words than she does.

 A few facts about words:

  • The best words come in shampoo bottles and appear mid-lather, when your hands are too wet to do anything with them;
  • There are more words in my shampoo bottle than butterflies in Peru.



Alison is an Australia literary translator who translates from the Portuguese.



2. Anna Ligia Pozzetti

For me, translation means connecting cultures. When it comes to Japanese and Portuguese, besides the close relationship that both countries have, since the largest Japanese community outside Japan is located in Brazil, the cultural and language gap is significant. To be able to translate those languages, it is crucial to deeply understand what differentiates those cultures to be able to transfer the specifics in a way the other part can understand. It is an amazing journey of searching and studying, choosing carefully the right word, even for a small project. There are so many things that both countries can learn from each other in order to evolve and improve that, for me, it is an honor to enable communication and be part of this experience. It is the best job ever!



is a Japanese into Brazilian Portuguese translator and interpreter with more than 7 years of experience managing Komorebi Translations.


3. Carolina Ventura

As I am a certified public translator (aka sworn translator) who translates mainly school and personal documents, to me, translation means enabling my clients to fulfil their dreams of studying, working and living abroad. While many of my colleagues think that academic transcripts, diplomas, certificates or police records are dull documents and that translating them is boring, in each one I see a dream waiting to come true, and I’m always happy and honored to be part of the process. I also translate texts in the free, non-sworn modality, like scientific papers originally written in Portuguese for Brazilian journals that also publish them in English. In this case, I think that translation is the means to disseminate the findings of Brazilian scientists in other countries, something I’m very proud to do.

Foto Carolina Ventura

has been working as a certified public translator in the State of São Paulo, Brazil, since 2000, and as a freelance translator since 1996.



4. Judy Jenner

Translation means the world – and that’s not hyperbole. As translators, we have the power to enable global trade and communication at any level, in any field or sector. We help make the world work. Being part of that is incredibly powerful, and I am grateful that I get to do this for a living.

Judy Jenner_profile_small - Copy

is a German and Spanish translator and federally court-certified Spanish interpreter in Las Vegas, Nevada. She serves as an ATA spokesperson and runs her boutique T&I business with her twin sister, Dagmar.



5. Laila Rezende Compan

I’ve been asked a lot of questions about translation, but this is the first time someone asks me what translation means to me. I thought about this question and how I could put my feeling into words for days, and here it is:

Translation means to me a bridge that can take us to learn something new – a new song, a new dish, a new culture. Thanks to translation, we are able to talk to people from other places and learn new knowledge. However, deep down, I don’t think I can actually define what translation means. It’s a simple word with an extremely complex meaning when I analyze the greatness it carries.



Laila is a dubbing and subtitling translator, speaker, subtitling teacher, and creator of the blog Tradutor Iniciante.



6. Paloma Bueno

Translating is like building bridges. To me, videos, texts, and even sign language videos are translation, because all of them involve research and review.



Paloma is a Brazilian Sign Language translator and interpreter | Audiovisual Accessibility.


7. Paula G. de Brito

Explaining what translation means to me can get a little sappy, if I’m honest. Before I decided to study it, I was preparing to enter Medical school and, since it wasn’t what I wanted to do in life, I was pretty unhappy and hopeless. Then, I found myself translating a couple of short stories and games, in an attempt to relax, trying to feel better. So, when I think about the meaning of translation, I immediately think “life-savior.” In many moments, translating kept me going. And I know that it is bigger than me and my life dramas. Translation affects so many different people in so many ways. It’s so powerful that I can’t help but love it. Translation to me, among other things, means the world.



Paula is Brazilian and is an undergraduate student in Translation at Universidade Paulista, Brazil.



8. Paulo Noriega

To me, translation is an attempt to transfer the same emotions, feelings, and experiences of the source language into the target language, regardless of the media, using the available linguistic tools. It’s like trying to put the pieces of a puzzle together using different pieces but trying to recreate it as close as possible. It’s knowing how to win but also learning how to lose, because there are inherent losses in the process. Despite the linguistic adversities, tight deadlines, and client interventions, translators have the duty to make all possible efforts to transfer the original message to its target-audience in the best way possible.

paulo-profissional-blog-carolinePaulo is an English into Brazilian Portuguese translator specialized in dubbing translation. He has translated more than 300 hours of audiovisual productions and is the author of the blog Traduzindo a Dublagem, one of the first Brazilian blogs dedicated to dubbing translation.


9. Sherif Abuzid

Translation is a window to other worlds. Being a translator since 2004, I read and translate in different fields and work with people from different cultures. This has helped me understand the world better and made me a better person. Translation taught me diversity is inevitable and I have to embrace the other. My job as a translator enabled me to read stories from people all over the world and learn new skills and consume a huge amount of knowledge.


Sherif is an English to Arabic translator and blogger with about 15 years’ experience in translation and localization.



10. Thiago Araújo

Translation is my profession, my call, my way of supporting myself, but it goes deeper. Translation is my way of expressing my creativity through someone else’s words. Particularly in game localization, one can often be extra inventive, let their imagination run wild. Translation keeps me motivated. With so many challenging wordplays, precise researches, rich poems, tricky puns, humor, cultural adaptation… There’s not a single moment of boredom. I truly feel like I’m reading a book, or rather like I’m the writer myself — except that I tell a different story every month, even every day, and I love it.


is a fan of games since childhood. He has been living his dream localizing games (currently almost 90 titles) for the past 7 years, also coordinating small teams of Brazilian translators.



What about you? What does translation mean to you?

Guest post: Subtitling software

Hi, my dear readers! Please do not think I do not love you anymore, because I certainly do. I hope you miss me as much as I miss you! 😦

As some of you may already know, I’ll be on vacation for two weeks in early April, so things are crazier than usual on this side of the computer. I promise I’ll give more attention to the blog when I return from my vacation.

For now, please welcome our return guest, João Souza.

Welcome, João!


Genius Subtitler – a peek at the development of a subtitling tool

Genius Subtitler is a subtitling software designed by experienced professionals in the Brazilian Audiovisual Translation market. Our efforts are channeled at bridging the gap between expensive made-for-companies-suites and subtitlers, maximizing productivity and improving overall quality with the most needed features any subtitling software should offer for a fair price. GS is developed in a partnership between programmers and subtitling instructors with the intent to facilitate learning, mainly in on-line environments.

The roots of Genius Subtitler dates back to the years 2010/11 when the software started being developed by a major subtitling agency in Brazil. At the time, still just an intern and beta tester, I realized how the software had a positive impact on the workflow of the company and was eager to see it as a game-changer in the next few years. It is crucial to mention here that at that point most of the actors in the AVT industry in Brazil had no middle ground, companies as well as freelancers had either to afford expensive suites or resort to unreliable, limited and far from professional free solutions. The ever growing AVT market alongside with its inherent technical aspects dictated by more recent audiovisual content distribution technologies, like streaming, and the demand for faster turnarounds called for affordable and efficient software solutions. Unfortunately, by reasons beyond my power, the software, which by the time was widely used by employees and contributors, had its development halted. However, this fact actually marked the beginning of a new chapter for Genius Subtitler.

As a subtitling instructor, training new subtitlers and also helping in the updating of subtitlers’ skills from companies where I have worked as a consultant, I realized that working with the above mentioned free and amateur software solutions was like banging my head against a brick wall. And that was when I contacted the company that started developing Genius and was surprisingly welcomed to bring the project back to life. I have taught on-line Subtitling courses through ACME E-Learning where I am director of pedagogy, so the first issue addressed was the ease of use of the software’s interface. We had to be sure it was accessible and clean enough to help subtitlers concentrate only in the information they need for a job, be it translating from scratch, working with a template, proofreading or during quality check. Then we worried about proofreading features that allowed clearer and more precise feedbacks to help apprentices on their way to join the workforce and last but not least productivity boost features aimed at facilitating mostly the technical aspect of subtitling.

Although it has been designed with apprentices in mind, Genius Subtitler is a professional scalable tool capable of being seamlessly integrated to the workflow of companies irrespectively of its size as well as meeting the needs of individual freelancers.

Anyone remotely related to the field of translation knows about the technological challenges we have to face, and I dare to say these challenges are maximized when we are dealing with audiovisual content, however challenges are the fuel that keep us at Genius Soft going. So you might be asking yourself about what the future holds for us… well, check our Facebook page and website for news and stay in touch. By now, all I can say is that we are extending our expertise to Dubbing Translation and Audio Description and looking forward to incorporate new features to Genius Subtitler.

Thank you, once again, for accepting my invitation and taking the time to write to our blog, João! I’m not a subtitler, but it’s a pleasure to publish about the software. I’m sure a lot of people will benefit a lot with it. Great job! 🙂

About the author
P.002João Artur Souza is the Pedagogical Director at ACME e-Learning, where he teaches on-line courses, webinars and workshops on a regular basis. He is a visiting professor at Universidade Veiga de Almeida (UVA) teaching an Audiovisual Translation non-degree graduation course. João Souza has been a translator since 2009, having translated more than 200 hours of different genres for major TV broadcasts. His abilities extend to QC, proofreading and subtitler’s training.
He is a graduation student at PUC-Rio working on his dissertation on subtitle processing.

Guest post: Subtitling (in Portuguese)

Hello, dear readers! Hope you’re having a great beginning of the week. As of me, I’m quite anxious with the World Cup, as it has been for more than three weeks now. Today, Brazil plays on the first semifinal against Germany at 5pm (UTC -3). Who are you supporting?

Meanwhile, let’s welcome today’s guest, Jéssica Alonso, who wrote about subtitling.

Welcome, Jéssica!


Legendagem: muito além de uma simples tradução

Se você costuma assistir a séries ou filmes legendados – seja no cinema, na televisão ou na internet – e gosta de prestar atenção também ao idioma falado pelos atores, muito provavelmente já se indignou ou formulou questões sobre uma ou outra escolha tradutória. É verdade que erros de tradução podem acontecer, mas muitas vezes as críticas acontecem por desconhecimento sobre a tradução específica para legendagem, uma forma de tradução audiovisual com características bastante peculiares.

Começarei abordando uma questão técnica: devido ao tamanho da tela, normalmente as legendas devem ser compostas por no máximo duas linhas de aproximadamente 32 caracteres cada, contando os espaços. Isso significa que, não importa quantas informações o falante diga, sua fala deve caber no espaço limitado destinado para aquela legenda. Surge então o primeiro desafio: a velocidade de fala é maior que a velocidade de leitura. Por esse motivo, o legendador muitas vezes vê-se obrigado a simplificar e reduzir o conteúdo do que foi dito oralmente, precisando selecionar as informações mais importantes a serem passadas para a linguagem escrita. É um excelente exercício de síntese e é sempre bom ter um dicionário de sinônimos por perto, já que quase sempre vale a pena optar por palavras de significado semelhante e menos letras.

Outro fator norteador ao se produzir legendas é o tempo mínimo necessário para a leitura. Pesquisas indicam que o brasileiro precisa de 1 segundo para ler, em média, no máximo 15 caracteres. Dessa forma, 1 segundo é o tempo mínimo que uma legenda deve permanecer na tela, considerando-se que um período mais curto fará com que a legenda “pisque”, impossibilitando a leitura. Então, se uma pessoa consegue ler no máximo 15 caracteres por segundo, uma legenda de 30 caracteres precisará ficar visível por no mínimo 2 segundos para que o telespectador tenha tempo de realizar uma leitura confortável. É aí que entra na legendagem, para a surpresa de uma tradutora formada em Letras, a matemática! (Nada que uma regrinha de três não resolva, mas, ainda assim, são cálculos!) O tradutor deve atentar para a proporção entre o número de caracteres e a duração da legenda. Se o tempo disponível for muito curto, cabe ao legendador achar uma solução, seja reduzindo mais o texto, seja unindo a legenda em questão com a anterior ou a posterior.

Após a tradução do vídeo segundo o que é ouvido – às vezes com o auxílio de um roteiro escrito –, o legendador deve também realizar a marcação do momento em que a legenda entra e sai da tela, processo chamado de timing. Por se tratar de um tipo de tradução que agrega diferentes estímulos, o visual pelas imagens e pelo texto escrito e o auditivo pelas falas e sons, o espectador espera que a tradução daquilo que é ouvido entre e saia simultaneamente com a fala do personagem. Há nesse quesito também outra convenção bastante adotada pelas produtoras: a duração da permanência da legenda na tela deve variar entre 1 e 6 segundos, uma vez que um tempo maior pode fazer com que o espectador releia a legenda, o que não é aconselhável. O tradutor, nesse caso, deve optar por “quebrar” a fala do personagem em mais de uma legenda com durações mais curtas, utilizando as respirações e pausas feitas pelo falante para auxiliá-lo na divisão das legendas.

Além das limitações em relação ao número de caracteres por linha, aos tempos mínimo e máximo de duração da legenda na tela e à velocidade da fala versus a velocidade da leitura, há também as restrições impostas pelas próprias produtoras. Assim como grande parte das agências de tradução ou dos clientes, muitas produtoras desenvolveram ao longo dos anos seu próprio guia de estilo, documento que deve nortear algumas das escolhas do tradutor legendador. Como você já deve estar imaginando, este documento é o responsável, na maioria das vezes, por sua revolta ao ouvir um “F*ck!” saindo da boca de algum personagem enfurecido com uma arma na mão em um filme do Tarantino e ler algo como um simples e inocente “Porcaria!“. Muito provavelmente o tradutor sabe a correspondência mais adequada para a expressão em português, mas seu “chefe” não admite o uso de linguagem de baixo calão em suas produções.

Muito ainda poderia ser dito sobre o fazer tradutório na área de legendagem. Há a questão dos diálogos, das onomatopeias, das palavras ditas sem som – como um cochicho –, dos sotaques em um mesmo idioma, da tradução de músicas, da divisão ideal das legendas, de seu formato, cor e posicionamento, entre muitas outras. Acredito, porém, que, abordando os quatro pontos acima, consegui desmistificar e esclarecer um pouco o trabalho do legendador, trabalho este que exige muitos cálculos e jogo de cintura para lidar com questões intra e extralinguísticas. Por isso, da próxima vez que for incomodado por uma questão tradutória ao ver um filme, lembre-se dos tantos outros aos quais você assistiu e leu sem nem perceber. Pois estes são os trabalhos de melhor qualidade: aqueles em que o tradutor entra no escurinho do cinema com você, sussurra as falas em seu ouvido e sai de fininho antes que as luzes acendam-se novamente!

Thanks a lot for your excellent contribution to our blog, Jéssica! I loved learning a bit more about subtitling, and I’m sure those who don’t work with it did too. It was a pleasure hosting you here. 🙂

Would you like to ask any questions to Jéssica? If not, feel free to make any comments as well.

Author bio
10525058_4433273566003_2109372173_nJéssica Alonso é tradutora formada em Letras com habilitação em português e alemão pela USP e pós-graduada em Tradução de Inglês pela Estácio de Sá. Fornece serviços de tradução desde 2011 e legendagem de vídeos em inglês e alemão para o português desde 2013. Já legendou diversos tipos de produções audiovisuais como séries de comédia e suspense, documentários sobre biologia, reportagens sobre automóveis e vídeos institucionais. E-mail: jessicatradutora@gmail.com. Perfil do ProZ.