Faces of Gengo: Emma

A language specialist who translates from French and Italian, Emma enjoys giving constructive feedback and sharing useful resources with translators. In her interview, she recounts her most challenging translation experience and imparts some useful advice that would benefit newer translators.

Nationality: American
Location: New Jersey, U.S.
Occupation: Translator
Gengo LS since: 2014
Language pairs: French to English and French to English (GB)

What languages do you speak? How do you maintain proficiency?

English is my native language and I translate from French and Italian. I work in these language pairs on a number of different subjects every week, so doing research for translation jobs definitely helps me maintain proficiency and also expand my vocabulary. When I’m not working, I try to read and listen to music in both French and Italian and also have conversations with my French- and Italian-speaking friends.

How did you become a translator?

I had been translating documents every so often while working as a hotel receptionist in France and as a French teacher in the Caribbean. It was a task that I really enjoyed because it challenged me to learn new terms and research different topics. When I came back to live in the U.S., I decided to get a Master’s degree in translation at NYU to pursue it as a career.

“My workspace and my lazy office assistant.”  

What have been your most challenging translation experience?

The most challenging translation experience was the capstone project for my degree. It was a very long and technical financial document. It’s one thing to work on a very complicated translation, but it’s a whole other thing to defend its accuracy in front of three of your professors!

What’s your favorite thing about being a translator? How about as a language specialist?

I love the idea of the flexible schedule, being able to work and travel at the same time and also choose the type of material I work on.

As a Language Specialist, I really enjoy giving constructive feedback and recommendations to translators. I try to share resources that I use with translators when I check their work. It’s important that translators share knowledge and resources with one another.

“The view behind my parents’ house where I grew up on Long Island, NY.”

Based on your specific cultural expertise, what are the best books or movies would you recommend to others?

I studied French and Italian film in college and there are some movies that I could watch over and over again. Especially any film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, such as “A Very Long Engagement” (“Un long dimanche de fiançailles”), and anything by Federico Fellini.

In terms of translation material, I highly recommend Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications by Jeremy Munday for any linguists interested in the theory behind translation.

What are your preferred translation tools?

I mainly use online resources but I also recommend that if you are translating technical material that you purchase dictionaries or glossaries for specialized fields.

Computer-assisted translation software is really wonderful for speeding up productivity and accuracy. I currently use Wordfast Pro and MemoQ.

What’s your favorite productivity tool or service?

Google Drive is great for sharing files between my computers and devices. I can switch computers and pick up right where I left off on a translation.

I also recently bought a dictation software program called Dragon NaturallySpeaking and it has really helped for translations that don’t require a lot of formatting. Translators do a lot of typing so it’s nice to give my fingers a break once and awhile.

“I love travelling. This is a picture from a recent trip to Philadelphia.”

What are your top tips for those translators who are just starting out?

The best advice I got when I first started was: Never miss a deadline. Deadlines are key in the translation industry. Concise and frequent communication with project managers and clients is also very important so that everyone is on the same page.

However, the best advice that I personally can give is to find a subject or language pair that you are passionate about. Your passion will show in your productivity and the quality of your work. Plus, you will have more fun at work!

Want to become a Gengo translator?


Jenie Gabriel

The author

Jenie Gabriel

Jenie creates and coordinates content for Gengo's marketing team. Originally from the Philippines, she was an advertising creative in Singapore before moving to Tokyo. In her spare time, you’ll find her wandering around the city or planning her next escapade.

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